March 24, 2017
For Immediate Release

Hutchings Says Federal Budget Ignores Newfoundland and Labrador’s Needs

Keith Hutchings, Finance Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The Government of Canada’s latest Budget proves that the quiet diplomacy of the Ball Liberals with Ottawa is not delivering the results that Newfoundland and Labrador needs. The latest federal Budget acknowledges those needs and then goes about ignoring them.”

Hutchings said he was surprised to hear provincial Finance Minister Cathy Bennett dismiss the federal Budget as if it has no negative impact on our province or her own upcoming Budget.

“Ottawa’s Budget included graphs that clearly show the impact of falling oil prices on the revenues and the economies of Canada’s oil-producing provinces, specifically naming Newfoundland and Labrador, but then it fails to adjust the unfair Equalization formula to help offset the impacts of those severe revenue declines. The inflexibility of the Equalization program is Ottawa’s problem to fix, but they have ‎done absolutely nothing to make the program fair for Newfoundland and Labrador. We’ve been raising this issue for 16 months, but the Ball Liberals have opted to be silent instead of trying to convince their federal counterparts to revisit the fiscal capacity calculation of the formula. Reasonable taxation for reasonable services is guaranteed under the Constitution of Canada. I would suggest the current Federal budget and the 2016 provincial Budget do not support such a concept.”

Hutchings said, “The federal Budget also fails to provide for the $400 million Fisheries Investment Fund that Mr. Trudeau promised our province in writing. That failure is hardly surprising, when our own Premier – instead of holding the Prime Minister to his word – is pretending no such promise was ever made, leaving our fishing industry without the investment funding it needs to take full advantage of CETA – another absolute failure of the Ball Liberals’ ‘say-nothing-do-nothing’ diplomacy.”

“Because the federal Budget‎ ignores Newfoundland and Labrador’s significant concerns, people here will have to brace for a provincial Budget that will magnify the impact of last year’s horrendous provincial Budget – a lazy tax-and-fee exercise that crushes our families and employers with a level of taxes that the Conference Board of Canada said will make us the only province in Canada this year to have negative GDP growth. Instead of pressing Ottawa for measures that would allow us to deliver comparable public services at comparable rates of taxation, the provincial Liberals seem content to let our exorbitant tax rates remain as high as they are, while this province’s economy bucks the national trend by declining while others’ economies are growing,” said Hutchings.

“The Ball Liberals’ proposed economic plan delivered by their Liberal ‘captains of industry’ has been a dismal failure; it’s our people who are suffering; and sadly, the Liberals have no direction, no plan, and continue to kick the can down the road,” he said.

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Media Contact:
Heather MacLean
Director of Operations and Communications
Office of the Official Opposition
(709) 729 6105
heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca