August 3, 2017
For Immediate Release

Why Didn’t Premier Halt McInnes Cooper‎ Spending Long Before Now, If Government Had In-House Expertise?

Keith Hutchings, Finance Critic for the Official Opposition‎, says, “The new Finance Minister’s decision to distance himself from McInnes Cooper immediately after being sworn in, and acknowledging that government already had in-house officials with the expertise to do the work related to public sector negotiations, raises important questions that need to be answered.”

The new Finance Minister said the firm has “withdrawn its services” from the government and they will not be replaced because the Minister believes Treasury Board and the Justice Department already have the expertise to do the work that the outside firm had been hired to do.

But the Premier supported the decision to hire the firm despite the costly duplication we identified many times, stating in Question Period on May 2, 2016: “Using McInnes Cooper, bringing their advice to the table is important for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”

The Liberal government paid the outside firm a quarter of a million dollars of taxpayers’ money. Was this a good use of public money when no one could ever tell us what the service was for? Added to that, we have seen little evidence that things are on the right track to reach a negotiated agreement, and now the talk is of starting with a clean slate?

Hutchings said, “If the Ball Cabinet really agonized over Budget cuts and taxation decisions with absolutely everything on the table, how ‎did the Premier and his Cabinet colleagues not recognize that the decision to spend a quarter of a million dollars to duplicate in-house expertise was out of touch and should have been reversed long before this to spare cuts elsewhere?”

“The Liberals were cutting health care, education and basic services while crushing families and employers with unbearable taxes. Did no one at the Cabinet table speak up to challenge the outrageous waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars to duplicate expertise the government already had in-house?”

“It’s not like it was an expenditure the government didn’t notice. Our Caucus raised this issue in the House of Assembly several times, as did the public service unions, raising ‎questions about the Liberal government’s waste of money to hire a consultant to duplicate work the government already had officials equipped to do,” said Hutchings.

“The Premier and every Minister in Cabinet has to wear this decision to allow this outrageous waste of taxpayers’ money in a time of deep and hurtful spending cuts. Unfortunately this is another ill-advised decision of the Ball administration not to make sound choices in governing this province,” added Hutchings.

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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