Health Sciences Centre
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition): My question is to the Acting Premier. Madam Speaker, it has been learned that a nurse at the Health Sciences Centre has contracted tuberculosis, TB, and the minister's response to the situation when it was raised with him was to state that he would address the problems immediately, the conditions that promote the spread of tuberculosis. When we tabled the Health Sciences Centre memo from the president about the critical conditions of the hospital, on page 3, it specifically mentioned the limited isolation capabilities and the fact that at the Health Sciences Centre this could lead to the transmission of diseases like TB.
I would like to ask the minister, will he now fulfill his election promise for the capital requirements at the Health Sciences Centre, and will he fulfill the commitments he made publicly in the media to proceed to deal with the physical conditions at the Health Sciences Centre?
Hon. James McCrae (Minister of Health): Madam Speaker, as a result of the review of the proposed integrated plan for urban hospitals, we will have a good understanding of what capital requirements there will be at Health Sciences Centre, and elsewhere, and it will be at that time that we would address the issue raised by the honourable member.
But his credibility is totally out the window, because he is advocating for Health Sciences Centre and turning his back on all the other hospitals now, whereas just a little while ago it was his party's policy that a more balanced approach be taken. They have lost all their credibility.
Mr. Doer: Madam Speaker, the capital promise made by the Premier (Mr. Filmon) during the election campaign, the specific promise made by the Premier dealing with the Health Sciences Centre included the ventilation capacities and the proposals for capital for the ventilation system at the Health Sciences Centre, a point that we raised on May 13 in this House in terms of the broken promise. It is the government's promise to proceed with capital requirements at the Health Sciences Centre. The minister has said he will deal with the problems that have developed in terms of the tuberculosis case.
I would like to ask the Acting Premier, will he now proceed with his government's election plan and his election promise which, presumably, included all the health care facilities when they made the commitment for the $112 million for the Health Sciences Centre?
Mr. McCrae: It is important, Madam Speaker, as we address the needs of an integrated health system for Manitoba that we identify appropriate priorities. That is exactly the process that we are in. Whatever capital requirements are taken care of at the Health Sciences Centre, they ought to be consistent with the objectives of an integrated health plan for the city of Winnipeg. That is something we will be making announcements about within a month or so.
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition): Madam Speaker, if the minister is saying they did not have an integrated plan when they made the $112-million commitment in the election campaign, I find that very, very worrisome and very disappointing.
I have a general question on tuberculosis. It is a disease that is--as the World Health Organization has identified--primarily hitting people who are in the lowest socioeconomic conditions with the greatest economic challenges. In fact, between '92 and '93, there have been unofficial reports that tuberculosis has increased by some 15 percent and a great deal of those cases are reported in the inner city.
I would like to ask the minister, what is the caseload of tuberculosis? Has it increased, and are those increases taking place in the inner city of the city of Winnipeg?
Hon. James McCrae (Minister of Health): I will ascertain for the honourable member the statistics that we have respecting his question. Of course, we regret any health care professional who comes into contact with disease and contracts that disease. We would certainly offer our commendations to people who work in the health care sector, because they do put themselves at risk from time to time and we will do everything we can to ensure that risk is minimized, but the honourable member did say that we should have known what the integrated plan is. Where has he been all these months? What has he been doing, sleeping?
We have been working with design teams. We have been working with all the experts in the field to develop an integrated plan. He suggests we should have had one a couple of years ago. What does he think we have been doing since last fall when we began all the work of the design teams? The man has been sleeping at the switch all winter, Madam Speaker.
Regional Health Boards
Ms. Rosann Wowchuk (Swan River): Madam Speaker, when we were first told about regional health boards, we were told that the first boards would be appointed for a short term and then we would have election of boards. When we look at the board that has been appointed, we see that this is really a Tory board with quite close ties to the Conservative Party, and now this board is going to be making Tory cuts to health care services in rural Manitoba.
I want to ask the Minister of Health what he is afraid of. Why is he backing off his decision to a promise that he made that we would have elected boards in rural Manitoba?
Hon. James McCrae (Minister of Health): I look forward to discussions over the summer which will flow as a result of the tabling of this legislation. That is how we got to where we are, Madam Speaker, by having very broad and wide discussions and consultations with Manitobans about regionalized health.
The honourable members feels that she has a case to make, too. I want to hear it, and I think others will want to hear her case where the regional health authorities have no taxing authority and yet she wants to press for elections. Let us talk about that. I think that kind of debate ought to go forward. We elect our school boards; school boards levy taxes. We elect our city town councils, R.M. councils; they impose taxes. We elect legislators; they impose taxes. Regional health boards do not impose taxes. That is an issue that needs to be discussed and I am quite happy to engage in that discussion.
Ms. Wowchuk: I want to ask the minister why he rejects the recommendation of his own advisory board, the board that has set up the process, the board which the minister said would develop the plan. Why has he rejected the most important recommendation that they made, that there would be elected boards from rural Manitoba?
Mr. McCrae: Madam Speaker, there are a few items that are still the subject of controversy and the lack of consensus, and this is one of them. Quite frankly, the issue of election is one of those things, the issue of whether providers ought to be in a position to make decisions about the expenditure of money in the various regions, and there are one or two other issues as well that remain to be discussed further.
The honourable member is quite right to raise this question and she will be quite right to be part of the discussion that ensues all summer. By the way, this legislation, like all other legislation in Manitoba, which is fairly unique in Canada, is the subject of public hearings in this building and that will be part of the process here.
Ms. Wowchuk: Madam Speaker, I want to ask the minister how he expects the public to have any confidence in the future of health care decisions if he is retaining the power to make decisions as minister or by his hand-picked board? Will the minister follow through on the recommendation that was made by the advisory board that says half the board will be elected by April 1997?
Mr. McCrae: The honourable member asks, well, why should the public have any confidence and I say because they are involved in bringing us to where we are. There is nowhere in Canada where there is more public input into health care reform than in Manitoba--
An Honourable Member: Protests.
Madam Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. McCrae: The honourable member for Kildonan (Mr. Chomiak) says, protests. That is part of an expression of opinion, too. We have had protests with respect to the Winnipeg hospital integration plan and it is a way to get the point of view across. We attended public meetings, and the honourable member for Brandon East (Mr. Evans) was there with me at a big meeting in Brandon where the public let go and let us have their points of view. It is important that we know those things, so protest is also part of the public consultation process, but there has been much more than protest. There have been other vehicles for ascertaining the viewpoint of members of the public. That is the process we are in, and we are doing it right here again today. I think that is why people should have some confidence in what we come up with.
City of Winnipeg
Ms. Becky Barrett (Wellington): Madam Speaker, Winnipeg, unique in all of Canada in that it is home to two-thirds of the province's population, has many serious problems which include, but certainly not an exhaustive list, increasing youth crime, record numbers of food bank users and a crumbling infrastructure. The Premier's (Mr. Filmon) only response to these issues has been to accuse the city of whining and bleating.
I would like to ask the Minster of Urban Affairs if he, unlike his Leader, recognizes that Winnipeg's problems are also Manitoba's problems.
Hon. Jack Reimer (Minister of Urban Affairs): Madam Speaker, the member is right in her assertions that Winnipeg does form a very significant part of Manitoba in the fact that close to 60 percent of the population is located in this area. For that reason, this government recognizes that the city of Winnipeg is an integral part of the economy of Manitoba and in giving grants and support systems to the City of Winnipeg it is unprecedented as to the amount of money that the province does give to the city. In overall comparisons to Winnipeg and other areas in western Canada, support to the City of Winnipeg, including social assistance, is over 17 percent compared to the City of Calgary at 6 percent and the City of Edmonton at 6.5 percent. Our commitment and our dedication to Winnipeg has been and will continue to be very, very generous.
Ms. Barrett: Does the Minister of Urban Affairs not see the inherent dichotomy between his words in Estimates that the Department of Urban Affairs continues to perform the important role of facilitating and supporting intergovernmental relations between the city and the province, and the Premier's inflammatory, derogatory and highly offensive shrugging off Winnipeg's concerns as bleating and whining?
Mr. Reimer: The member has pointed out a very significant observation in the fact that the City of Winnipeg does have the designation of having a ministry as the Minister of Urban Affairs dedicated to this great metropolis we call Winnipeg. The idea behind it is that there is a liaison, there is a co-ordination and there is a recognition of the uniqueness of Winnipeg. This uniqueness is also expressed around the interdepartmental activities, whether it is dealing with the department of social services or Environment or whatever the various departments are. There is a co-ordination, there is a recognition of concerns, and it is an ongoing dialogue that this department has with all other departments in the government of Manitoba.
Mr. Gord Mackintosh (St. Johns): Madam Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice.
This week I received and I presume the Minister of Justice also received a report from our new national Crime Prevention Council, which, while estimating the cost of crime to Canadians at at least $46 billion a year, said, and I quote, the evidence is conclusive that the most effective way to prevent crime is to ensure healthier children, stronger families, better schools and more cohesive communities.
My question for the minister is, when will this minister finally acknowledge the critical link between these conditions, especially in Winnipeg, conditions this government continues to worsen, and our crime rate, apparently the worst of all the provinces?
Hon. Rosemary Vodrey (Minister of Justice and Attorney General): Madam Speaker, I do reject a great deal of what the member has said in his preamble. However, I will draw his attention to the Estimates that were covered, the Ministry of Family Services, the Estimates covered in the Ministry of Health, we are in the Estimates now of the Department of Justice, where ministers of this side, where this government has been able to show the amount of money in dollars which are there in support of children and families and support to members of the community.
Madam Speaker, it is also the view of this government that we need community participation to deal with any concerns around community safety, and it is this government that has been working very carefully with communities to set up their participation within the justice system to reduce the crime rate, to work at the prevention end.
Mr. Mackintosh: Would the minister get a grip on what every other Winnipegger knows and at least explain her failure to by now have in place and working a single one of these 33 promises on crime from the election, or at least help with programs to deal with the growing threat of gang violence, begin to turn around the despair that is driving this? Why her dormancy, Madam Speaker?
Mrs. Vodrey: It was kind of hard to hear the last phrase; it was shouted so loud it kind of lost its effect through the earphone through our sound system. But let me just tell the member what some of the initiatives are that this government has taken in order to deal with youth crime and violence in particular.
First of all, this government fulfilled its promise to put 40 more police on the street through the city of Winnipeg. I believe that is a very significant promise, and it also deals with the questions previously raised by the member for Wellington (Ms. Barrett). It deals with questions raised by the member for St. Johns.
We have to deal with this matter legislatively through the Young Offenders Act. What our government has also said is, through the Young Offenders Act, if they will not bring parental responsibility back in through that act, then this government through its own areas of responsibility through the civil justice side will bring parental responsibility back in. That bill is introduced and is now before the House for the House's consideration.
We also have brought into effect in Manitoba a number of other initiatives which I am happy to talk about now or in the process of Estimates.
Mr. Neil Gaudry (St. Boniface): Madam Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture.
Firstly, I would like to probably congratulate the government for supporting the J.M. Schneider plant in St. Boniface, the fact that we read in the paper that it was fair competition and fair negotiations. Given the minister has publicly stated on December 15 and again at a hog producers' meeting in Selkirk that he would ensure $300,000 in outstanding levies owed to Manitoba Pork would be collected by July 1, the date on which dual hog marketing comes into effect--there has been some movement. Manitoba Pork is now collecting levies on hogs shipped to the United States, but still no levies are being collected on hogs shipped, at least prior to November 1995. Will the minister confirm that Manitoba Pork is still owed $300,000 in outstanding levies?
Hon. Harry Enns (Minister of Agriculture): Madam Speaker, I can confirm for the honourable member for St. Boniface that there is still a significant amount outstanding. The honourable member is correct that a portion of those levies owing has, in fact, been transferred to Manitoba Pork, and it is the intention of the government to encourage the full repayment of those outstanding levies. There is apparently some difficulty in assessing the responsibility. It is the position of the group of producers under whose management they work, Elite Swines of Landmark, that it is an individual decision. Letters have gone out, strongly worded letters, I might say, have gone out to all of those producers indicating that these levies are still owing.
Mr. Neil Gaudry (St. Boniface): My supplementary question to the minister: Manitoba has suggested that it would double the production in the period of five years. Given that Alberta and Manitoba will do it over 10 years, what would be the biggest impediment to achieve the goal of the Manitoba government?
Hon. Harry Enns (Minister of Agriculture): Madam Speaker, the opportunities for growth certainly continue to exist. Every week just about we receive more and more trade delegations from different parts of the world that indicate their need and their preference for Canadian and Manitoba pork.
Certainly it will require a great deal of attention as to how we develop expanding pork operations in an environmentally acceptable way. This government has no intention to interfere with the planning rights that exist at various local government levels with the municipalities, but the Department of Agriculture assists through the creation and the refinement of guidelines and regulations that hopefully will make this important aspect, this opportunity of growth in agriculture possible.
Certainly, with the announcement that the honourable member referred to about one of our major processors, J.M. Schneider, whose requirements will be in the range of two million hogs for that operation alone, should breathe, and are in fact breathing a great deal of confidence on the part of everybody involved in the pork industry in Manitoba.
Mr. Neil Gaudry (St. Boniface): I thank the minister for his answer.
To the Minister of Environment: Can the Minister of Environment tell us if all the concerns of Environment have been addressed in regard to hog producers?
Hon. Glen Cummings (Minister of Environment): Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question from the member because, as with any growing industry, we have to be continually cognizant of any impacts that might flow from expanded production and constantly be working with industry to improve methods, in this case, of handling waste.
If the member were to ask, are all problems solved, I think we would be irresponsible--to say that we have to continue to work diligently with the industry, that is one thing that I am very confident of, that the industry has taken upon itself to make sure that the impacts within the province will be mitigated and reduced, and in fact it is considered a major thrust within the department working with the industry at this point.
Ms. Marianne Cerilli (Radisson): Madam Speaker, Winnipeg needs all the low income quality housing that it can get, yet we have a Minister of Housing who is looking at demolishing 20 units of perfectly good housing at 390 Behnke Road in St. Vital. He claims that no decisions have been made, yet he has ordered those tenants to move, and he claims that there is a 10 percent vacancy rate in public housing when he knows this is not the case for two- and three-bedroom units as are in the Behnke Road complex.
I want to ask the minister if he will do the right thing and not waste this perfectly good housing in St. Vital and maintain it not only for the families that are living there now but for all the families that could live there in the future.
Hon. Jack Reimer (Minister of Housing): I am glad the member for Radisson brought this question up again because yesterday she tabled some information regarding the vacancy rates and the figures were perceived to be of the amount of units that were vacant in Winnipeg. I should point out that the figures the member tabled were of 1994 vintage and since that time things have changed. The vacancy rate in Winnipeg overall, as mentioned before, is approximately 10 percent. The total amount of units available is 7,581. Of that amount, there are 760 that are vacant, so that it is actually a little bit over 10 percent. So, Madam Speaker, there are vacancies available. There are two- and three-bedroom vacancies. In fact, in south Winnipeg there are approximately 70 units that are vacant at this particular time.
Ms. Cerilli: Madam Speaker, I would like for the minister to explain if that is the Conservative government's logic now: because there are vacancies that means you tear down perfectly good buildings. I want him to explain if the provincial response to the federal abandonment of social housing is to sell for demolition each public housing unit, unit by unit, in the province of Manitoba. Is that the policy of this government?
Mr. Reimer: Madam Speaker, the member for Radisson has indicated, and quite rightly, that the federal government has indicated that they want to get out of public housing. They have offered to unload, if you want to call it, their social housing portfolio here in Manitoba onto the Department of Housing here for the government of Manitoba. A decision on that has not been taken.
On the fact of the matter that the member is referring to as the downloading of funding, I should point out that over the next two years the federal Department of Housing will be downloading $230 million that they will not have into the market, so it has ignited and generated a review of all programs of all aspects of where its expenditures go. Our commitment to public housing will remain there, but at the same time, the priorities and the redirections of where money is spent has to be critically analyzed.
City of Winnipeg
Social Concerns--Inner City
Ms. Jean Friesen (Wolseley): Madam Speaker, the impact of this government's welfare cuts on the community I represent has been immediately visible. Across the road from this Legislature at All Saints Church, at the food bank and at the soup kitchen, they must now serve an additional thousand meals a month. No government can continue to close their eyes to that human condition, nor to its impact upon the inner city of Winnipeg.
I want to ask the Minister of Urban Affairs (Mr. Reimer) what he is prepared to do, what plans he has to deal with the long-term deficit that his government has created for the health and, indeed, the survival of the communities of the inner city.
Hon. Bonnie Mitchelson (Minister of Family Services): Madam Speaker, I thank my honourable friend for that question because, again, it allows me the opportunity to tell all Manitobans that we believe that the best form of social assistance is a job and the welfare reform initiatives that have been undertaken by our government do speak to employment first. Every opportunity that we have to work with families, with women and with children--because I do not believe that we want to see for families and children in the province of Manitoba a lifelong dependency on welfare and a lifetime of poverty, all of the initiatives that we have put in place under welfare reform will indeed try to assist people to become independent, to become self-sufficient, to have jobs, to improve their socioeconomic status, and I think that is in the best interests of all Manitobans.
Ms. Friesen: Madam Speaker, I would like to table some information from Winnipeg Harvest which shows that the largest increases in requests for assistance from Winnipeg Harvest this past year are coming from families with children under a year old, where the increase is 19.4 percent, and those from ages seven to 12, where the increase is 16.7 percent.
I want to ask the Minister of Urban Affairs (Mr. Reimer) to recognize and act upon the emergency his government has created for the inner city with welfare cuts that are simply unconscionable.
Mrs. Mitchelson: We are aggressively pursuing options to ensure that children are well nourished and children in fact do not go to bed hungry. We only have to look to some of the initiatives that are ongoing through the community like the Andrews Street Centre which in fact is running moms helping moms programs, and they have a community kitchen which I think is the right kind of concept, where women have the opportunity to come in with their children to learn how to prepare nutritious meals and in fact take those meals home to serve their families for parts of the week.
Some Honourable Members: Oh, oh.
Madam Speaker: Order, please. A very serious question was asked, and the minister is responding to the question asked. I would ask for the co-operation of all honourable members in maintaining order so that those interested members can hear the response.
Mrs. Mitchelson: Thank you, Madam Speaker, for those comments, too, because I do listen very carefully to the questions that are put in the House, and I would like consideration, the same kind of respect from the opposition when I am trying to answer those questions because I do take the question very seriously. I would hope they would listen to the answer in the same manner.
I do want to indicate that those kinds of things are happening and, in our communities, we are looking to some of those projects that are ongoing and seeing whether in fact we can expand and develop in partnership with community organizations good nutritional programs for children.
Fleet Vehicles Agency
Mr. Jim Maloway (Elmwood): My question is to the Minister of Government Services. If there were car dealers on the board of the Fleet Vehicles Agency working on a plan to privatize leases, that is, in my opinion, putting the foxes in with the chickens.
Yesterday, the minister agreed that, if car dealers were on the board, it would be a conflict. He went on to say that there were no car dealers on the board.
Can the minister tell the House whether Bob Kozminski and Jack MacIver were ever on the board of the Fleet Vehicles Agency, and what period of time were they on the board? What date were they appointed, and what date did they resign?
Hon. Brian Pallister (Minister of Government Services): The Fleet Vehicles Agency Advisory Board was set up in conjunction with the establishment of the Fleet Vehicles Agency in this province. Anyone who would have any casual, passing interest in who was on the advisory board would simply have to read the annual reports from the special operating agency. If they did that they would find, in perusing those annual reports, who the members were of the special operating agency advisory board.
Yesterday I put on the record in this House the members of the special operating agency advisory board and I would invite the member opposite, if he would choose to do a minimum amount of research, he could simply consult with the SOA annual reports. The members of the advisory board are listed in each of those annual reports and if he has a sincere interest, as I would hope he does, in having that question answered, he would do that research and that information would become available to him.
To continually rise in this House day after day and attempt to cast aspersions on the owners of private auto dealerships, does not pass to me as legitimate criticism and borders on simply being hateful and malicious, frankly, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for Elmwood, with a supplementary question.
Mr. Maloway: My supplementary to the same minister. I would like to table copies of the annual report of Fleet Vehicles Agency Advisory Board 1994-1995, and I would like to ask the minister to explain to us why the original copy of the annual report given to us had both of these people listed as members. Could he explain that, and why the report was changed?
Mr. Pallister: The phrase bottom dweller comes to mind. I have absolutely no record and neither have I seen any record of any member of our SOA advisory board being an auto dealer. I have absolutely no record. The word-processing machine in NDP caucus headquarters is going full-tilt I guess, Madam Speaker.
Some Honourable Members: Oh, oh.
Madam Speaker: Order, please.
An Honourable Member: You do get a third question.
An Honourable Member: . . . you cannot tell the truth.
Point of Order
Mr. Pallister: Madam Speaker, on a point of order, from his seat, I distinctly heard the member for Thompson (Mr. Ashton) suggest that I was not telling the truth. I have come to this House to serve my constituents and the people of this province, treating every member here with the respect that they should deserve and never, never did I come here on the assumption that a member would chirp from his seat and call another member a liar unless he had some good case to make for saying that.
Now I understand the rules of the House protects members from being called liars and I have always questioned that rule, given the fact that I have so frequently heard things that qualify very well to be described as lies come from other members, but, nevertheless, if the member for Thompson has a case to make, let him make it. Let him not chirp from his seat and call me a liar in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Manitoba.
Mr. Steve Ashton (Thompson): On the, I assume what was a point of order, Madam Speaker--
Madam Speaker: Yes.
Mr. Ashton: Madam Speaker, I did not call the minister a liar or for that matter a baldfaced liar. I suggested that the minister was having some difficulty and the term I used was not telling the truth. If you will check with Beauchesne, it has been ruled in the context to be parliamentary. Quite frankly, I have in front of me a copy of the Fleet Vehicles Agency Advisory Board and if the minister, instead of taking shots at the member--
Madam Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member for Thompson was recognized to put his case regarding the point of order raised by the honourable Minister of Government Services, and I believe I have heard his comments. This is not a time for debating the issue at hand.
Mr. Ashton: Madam Speaker, I just wanted to retable the document in case the minister was not aware of why we were raising the concerns about getting the truth out on the Fleet Vehicles Agency Advisory Board and Mr. Kozminski.
Mr. Pallister: If I may, Madam Speaker, to help clarify this point of order, if I may table what I have--a copy from the 1994-95 annual report which lists the Fleet Vehicles Agency Advisory Board members, as well, for the benefit of members who are interested in the truth.
Madam Speaker: On the point of order raised by the honourable government House leader--
Some Honourable Members: Oh, oh.
Madam Speaker: Order, please.
Are the members now ready for the ruling? On the point of order raised by the honourable Minister of Government Services, I did not hear the comment made by the honourable member for Thompson from his seat so, therefore, it is a dispute over the facts.
I would once again caution all honourable members that, continually, when you start making comments across the Chamber from one side to the other, undoubtedly some member is going to interpret it as being inflammatory and a disruption will erupt as just witnessed. Now I would ask for the co-operation of all honourable members in ensuring that we can continue with Question Period without disruption.
Manitoba Telephone System
Mr. Tim Sale (Crescentwood): Madam Speaker, yesterday we raised questions about a contract between Manitoba Trading Corporation and Faneuil ISG in regard to a $16-million item for a database. The minister responsible indicated that subsequent to the April memo, which we tabled yesterday, there were two additional deals that were made in regard to Faneuil, Trading and the Manitoba Telephone System.
Can the minister tell the House why Manitobans should have confidence that their privacy is being respected when there is still apparently a $16-million fee being paid for a database which is available to anybody else for a tiny fraction of that amount?
Hon. Glen Findlay (Minister responsible for the administration of The Manitoba Telephone Act): Madam Speaker, MTS's database, which is being utilized by Faneuil in campaigns to bring back customers to MTS, is used only for the MTS campaign.
The document the member referred to yesterday of April '95, I believe it was, was a document that represented a proposal, that after that document came forward that proposal was terminated. Then subsequent proposals came forward and two operating activities between Faneuil and MTS took place. One is an access company and the other is a database agreement between MTS and Faneuil, and both of those agreements fully protect absolutely the confidentiality of any data that MTS uses in those programs, in those agreements in a value-added business activity.
Mr. Tim Sale (Crescentwood): Madam Speaker, will the minister, if he is so confident that these new deals protect Manitobans fully, table the agreements with the House so that Manitobans can be assured that in fact their privacy under the CRTC is being maintained, and will he explain why Faneuil should pay $16 million for something that is available for a fraction of that price to any other telemarketer who requests it?
I would also like to table--and the minister should perhaps indicate to the House that he misled the House yesterday, perhaps unintentionally--that there is a $3-million subsidy in this deal. The debentures for $19 million are transferred to Trading; the licence is $16 million from Faneuil. It is a $3-million subsidy. The minister had the numbers backwards. If he wants to correct it, he will also correct that there is, in fact, a $3-million subsidy, not a $3-million profit.
Hon. Glen Findlay (Minister responsible for the administration of The Manitoba Telephone Act): The member raised a number of questions in that particular presentation that he made, but, Madam Speaker, $16 million today is worth $19 million over five years. That zeroes out.
Madam Speaker, can I explain it very simply to the member. You take a dollar in this hand and you transfer it to this hand and you have four quarters. It is of equal value. That allows a development of an economic activity in the province of Manitoba that generates a significant success in MTS winning back customers. In fact, if the member does not trust MTS or the missions that they are on of winning back customers, I would ask him to look at the last Echo, which listed the large number of customers won back to MTS in terms of long-distance service--very successful, and I congratulate MTS and Faneuil in so successfully running a business in the province of Manitoba.
Aboriginal Solidarity Day Act
Mr. Eric Robinson (Rupertsland): Madam Speaker, June 21 is fast approaching, a day of solidarity for aboriginal people, not only in Manitoba but indeed across Canada. This day was identified many, many years ago and was solidified with a resolution back in 1981 by the Assembly of First Nations. It solidifies our kinship as First Nations people with Mother Earth, the Creator and all our relations on Mother Earth.
I would like to ask the Minister of Native Affairs if he will support The Aboriginal Solidarity Day Act, Bill 201, which is currently in the House, and acknowledge the contributions made by aboriginal peoples towards Canadian freedom and democracy, and at the same time submit it for a vote before the House and before we rise on Thursday.
Hon. Darren Praznik (Minister responsible for Native Affairs): Madam Speaker, I think, as an individual member of this House and as a minister of the government, we certainly feel that a day to recognize the contribution of aboriginal peoples to our country and as part of our country is certainly most appropriate. With respect to the passage of the bill, the member for Rupertsland, like every other member of this Assembly, is familiar with the rules and processes for the passage of the bills. He does me a great honour to somehow think that I have control over that process. Like all other members of the Assembly, he knows the rules. Bills are submitted, they go through processes. Sometimes bills are advanced, in which case, those are arrangements that are arrived at between House leaders.
Mr. Robinson: Madam Speaker, I wonder if I could ask the minister to confirm his problem with the word solidarity and perhaps give that explanation not only to members of this House but aboriginal people throughout this province and Manitobans in general.
Mr. Praznik: The wonderful thing about being part of a parliament or democracy such as this is we are 57 members who come to the Assembly. The member brings a private member's bill to this Assembly. There is a process by which it should go through. There is an opportunity for members to debate that bill, to express their views and opinions on it. If they have changes which they wish to make to the legislation, there is an opportunity to move such amendments in committees.
I stand firstly--as a minister and as an individual I am very supportive of recognition of a day for aboriginal peoples. I am also equally supportive of the process of this parliament and the rights of all members of this parliament to debate legislation in the proper process and to have an opportunity to make their contribution.
I wonder why the member for Rupertsland wishes to circumvent that process.
Madam Speaker: The time for Oral Questions has expired.