Of course the minister went back home, became the premier of the province and, as the story goes, lived happily ever after.
He is not living very happily these days because he knows the word is out that come the next election he will not be the premier. He might be the prime minister. As a Newfoundlander, if he wants to be the prime minister I will be one who will support him. The unfortunate thing is that the party he wishes to lead will not be the party in power. Therefore he cannot be the prime minister. Forgetting all that, he is very upset today with his colleagues.
The minister of fisheries and aquaculture in Newfoundland, John Efford, a well known name across the country, is quoted as saying he is completely and utterly dissociating himself from his federal Liberal brethren. The head of the fishermen's union in Newfoundland-Labrador, Mr. McCurdy, is completely irate with the decision of the minister. Representatives from industry have said that there will not be a Liberal elected in Newfoundland in the next federal election.
When I asked a question of the minister of fisheries yesterday he should have listened. He should have gone back and talked to his colleagues. Despite the fact that five members from Newfoundland were not saying anything, he should have told them that he would not let any more Newfoundland and Labrador shrimp go to any extra entrants in the industry because the industry cannot sustain it. If the quota is increased, which it should not be, it should go to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador who are adjacent to the resource and who so badly need the work.
We can understand why everyone is so upset. We saw our Liberal colleagues huddling behind a curtain today when their own minister made an announcement. I presume it was with their blessing. Surely a minister would not announce it if the five of them were against it. I will get away from that issue as they are a number of other issues. Because it is such a current issue it points out clearly the way in which parts of rural Canada in particular are being treated. My colleagues from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick know only too well how their areas are being treated by the government.
Most of the emphasis tonight has been on health care because it is the most important issue in the country. The state of our health care is definitely the most important issue facing the country. I will not repeat what I have said in the past, but my province has been decimated by the cuts. The change in formula in 1993 devastated Newfoundland despite the fact that our premier was one of those who was here in cabinet and perpetrated the cuts.
Newfoundland, with its declining population, suffers more than any other province in Canada. Despite the fact that every province is suffering because of the CHST per capita arrangement Newfoundland is suffering more than any other.
There is great demand upon the few dollars that each province has for the health care system in order to look after the sick and the aged. As the provinces have to put more and more money into the escalating health care budgets it leaves less money for them to put into anything else. One of the groups suffering tremendously is our youth. CHST funding is supposed to be for health and post-secondary education, but nobody talks about post-secondary education and nobody is interested in investing in our youth.
Just a few days ago in Toronto, Credit Counselling Canada was set up. The president is Mr. Fifield from Newfoundland. One of its main objectives is to help young people who have a great burden of financial debt as a result of borrowing to go to school. Across the country from sea to sea to sea, students are trying to better their lot. They know that we are in a competitive market. They know that competition is not from the person next door any longer. It is not the next community. It is not the next town. It is not the next province. It is all around the world. We participate in a global economy. When we search for jobs we are competing with people from all over the world.
Our young people have to be trained. They have to be confident. They have to come out with an optimistic outlook on life. How can they be trained if they cannot afford to be trained? How can they be optimistic if they do go through the process of borrowing for an education and come out of college or university with a $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 or even $60,000 loan hanging around their necks?
That is not the way to build the country. We have to build the country on our resources, and our main resource is our young people. In order to build on a solid foundation, it must be a well structured and well educated one. It is up to all of us to make sure that each and every child, regardless of where he or she is born in this great country, has the opportunity to receive a full and proper education without any encumbrances from the outside, especially financially. We should be there to assist, to promote and to encourage. It is something we are forgetting to do.
Let us look at HRDC. I wish my friend with the boondoggle echo was here, because there is a lot more to HRDC than the billion dollar mix-up. I will not say it is a loss because HRDC says that it was not a loss, that it was just poor paperwork.
Can we imagine hiring an accountant who at the end of the year said that everything was perfect except there was no paperwork to cover a billion bucks? I am not sure how long that employee would be working, but with the Liberal government it is okay. A $1 billion mistake does not matter because most of the next year can be taken to adjust it. That has happened during the past year.
Members have asked why the JCP applications they submitted, or their constituents submitted, were not being approved? Why are Canada jobs fund applications, which used to be the old transitional jobs fund, not being approved? Why are targeted wage applications not being approved?
These questions go to the people who work in the local offices of HRDC. When we call we may not get an answer. They are so busy going back through the records to try to find where all the money went that they cannot do the job at hand. Staff was caught over and over and over. It is exceptionally hard for a handful of people to try to do a job the minister should have done years ago.
They have been told to go through the files, to crawl through the drawers, to get into the closets and to go under the beds to find the files with the missing information that will justify the expenditures. Some of them off the record will tell us that it was suggested to them that perhaps they could make a few changes while they were doing it.
That is the kind of government we are looking at. These are the kinds of examples we face. I know my time is up. If I had another two hours or so I could touch on a few things that I would like to say, but there will be another day.