"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


The Justice Minister declines to put a value on the services of the Acting Child and Youth Advocate:

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, the Cabinet unilaterally selected John Rorke as the Acting Child and Youth Advocate after heavy-handedly removing Darlene Neville from that position. They selected Mr. Rorke, Mr. Speaker, without going through any selection process. They chose to pay him $175 per hour, $100 an hour more than any other advocate who has served in this position.

I ask the minister today: Why is government willing to pay such a substantial salary to an individual who refuses to even advocate for children and to even discuss his reports publicly?

MR. F. COLLINS: Mr. Speaker, the people of this Province were well aware in September of the chaotic conditions that existed in the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate. The situation down there was in shambles; it was in chaos. Government had to take action. The action of the government was confirmed and verified in the Noseworthy report. We had to do what we had to do in the interest of the children of our Province.

The second piece of that process, Mr. Speaker, was to have somebody go in there in an interim position, an acting position, to do the job, to clean that office up. We did that, Mr. Speaker. We got a person with impeccable characteristics; he has done the job. Contrary to what the Leader of the Opposition says, he has advocated for the children of our Province. He is doing a tremendous job. He has impeccable characteristics. We are delighted to have him there. We put no price tag on him.

MS JONES: Other officials in the House of Assembly, such as the Auditor General, the Citizens’ Representative, the Information and Privacy Commissioner, all make less than half of what Mr. Rorke’s salary is. While Mr. Rorke is making the equivalent of over $300,000 per year, in this year’s Budget the government has only estimated $107,000 for the Child and Youth Advocate salary.

So I ask the minister: According to your own Budget Estimates, one, when will you be selecting a new, substantially lower paid permanent Advocate; and why is there such a discrepancy between what is budgeted for this year and what is being paid to Mr. Rorke at present?


MR. F. COLLINS: Mr. Speaker, we make no apologies for the appointment of John Rorke.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. F. COLLINS: I imagine he is eminently qualified and has done a fantastic job. He has cleaned up a mess. He has cleaned up a mess in a short time. He has advocated for the vulnerable children of this Province. We put no price tag, Mr. Speaker, on his efforts. We are happy with the results. It was one of the best decisions this government ever made to get such great results in such a short time.
Mr. Rorke thus stands in sharp distinction to certain other well-paid, but lesser mortals within Danny Williams-Government, those who, as the dearly-departed Tom Rideout revealed three years ago, not only have a price tag, but, curiously, are paid by weight:
MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is on record as stating that FPI workers should take a wage cut in order to keep their jobs. Meanwhile, Premier Williams just gave his staff, in his office, salary increases which amount to nearly $100,000. Some of these wage increases amount to $13,000 a year - a wage increase of $13,000 a year - more than any of the fish plant workers that we have been talking about in this House for the last two days are going to make next year or made last year, I say to those opposite.

I ask the Minister of Environment, and the member representing the plant workers in Marystown and Burin: Do you agree with the Premier, that fish plant workers should take a pay cut while his staff, his own personal staff on the eighth floor, should receive massive increases in pay?

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, I think everybody knows that the small number of people who work in the Premier’s office and assist the Premier, as leader of the government, in overseeing and managing and providing day-to-day advice on running government departments, government operations that are, I think, budgeted now to be something in excess of $5 billion, those people are working day and night, seven days a week, twelve months a year, to provide advice to the leader of the government.

Mr. Speaker, all that has been done in the reclassification and the reorganization of staff in the Premier’s office is to bring those who were at the ADM level closer to the ADM level of pay across the system, and those who should have been at the DM level closer to the DM level of pay across the system. That is what has happened in the Premier’s office, Mr. Speaker. Those staff are worth their weight in gold. They provide great service to the people of this Province -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RIDEOUT: - and they are working for a Premier who has contributed more in three or four years to the growth and the betterment of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador than practically every other Premier who went before him.


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