March 9, 2017
For Immediate Release

Liberals Don’t Know Where They’re Moving Lands Branch, or Whether It Will Save Money or Cost More

Barry Petten, Lands Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The Ball Liberals have no idea where they’re moving the Lands Branch of the government.” The government announced the move two weeks ago on February 22, but when questioned about the details in the House of Assembly on March 9, Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Steve Crocker could not answer any questions about the move to Corner Brook, including where it is moving, how it will save or cost money, or whether its service delivery will be impacted.

“Minister Crocker said on March 9 that the move will save money, but when asked how, he was unable to say. Crown Lands is currently located in a government-owned building in St. John’s. We understand that in order to move the Crown Lands Branch to Corner Brook the government will now have to lease the space out there. When asked whether the Lands branch will occupy existing government space or lease new space, the Minister did not know,” said Petten.

“There is already a Regional Lands Office in Corner Brook in another separate building. Will the two Crown Lands Offices in Corner Brook be merged? When asked, the Minister did not know,” said Petten.

On February 22, the Premier said the move reflects ‘the guiding principle of doing better with less. We are following that principle with these changes, as they will result in streamlined operations, reduced costs, and a new approach to delivering effective programs and services to residents and community and business leaders throughout the province.’ Minister Crocker stated on February 22 that ‘as a government, we have to work smarter and more efficiently.’ But when questioned on the record in the House, the Lands Minister could not say how the move will reduce costs or result in smarter and more efficient operations,” said Petten. “They don’t know what they’re doing.”

“Workers located on the east coast are having their lives thrown into turmoil, but the government is unable to tell people how moving the office makes sense, whether it will save money, or even where it is going. We have heard there may be as few as two of the current employees moving to Corner Brook. What are the implications if the other 28 employees don’t move? Anyone who has had any dealings with Crown Lands knows that it can be a very complicated process. We understand that as a direct consequence of this decision to move to Corner Brook, the Crown Lands Branch will now be losing the most senior and experienced employees within that division. How will eliminating this pool of expertise help Crown Lands be more efficient? The Minister simply does not know,” said Petten.

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Media Contact: Heather MacLean, Director of Operations and Communications,
Office of the Official Opposition
(709) 729 6105, [email protected]