Index of News Releases – Archives 2017

2017-JAN-03: Highway Snowclearing Cut Makes a Tragedy Far More Likely; Opposition Demands Reinstatement of Service
2017-JAN-06: Premier’s Latest Fiscal Message Raises Serious Questions About Leadership and Understanding of What It Means To Be Part of the Canadian Federation
2017-JAN-09: Liberals Finally Reach One of their Budget 2016 Economic Targets: 5,700 Jobs Lost in 12 Months
2017-JAN-09: Liberals’ Talk of Making Gas Tax Permanent to Meet Carbon Tax Obligations is Concerning
2017-JAN-10: What is the Status of the Generic Royalty Regime?
2017-JAN-12: Stand-in Transportation Minister Not Truthful About Snowclearing Cuts
2017-JAN-13: Politics Out of Paving? Where’s the Evidence?
2017-JAN-13: Emera Has More Confidence in Electricity Markets Than Newfoundland and Labrador Premier
2017-JAN-13: Hutchings Seeks Status of AG Report: Review of Ball Government’s Actions in Change of Nalcor CEO
2017-JAN-24: Will President Trump’s TPP Action Affect NL?
2017-JAN-25: NL Records the Steepest Rise in the Cost of Living in Canada, A Direct Consequence of Ball Liberal Tax Increases
2017-JAN-26: Province Loses Labrador-Grenfell Health Board Chair Over Political Behavior of Mitchelmore
2017-JAN-27: Will the Liberals Stop the Marine Atlantic Rate Hike?
2017-JAN-31: Why is Hawkins Hiding the Complete List of Roadwork Rankings?

2017-FEB-07: HST Overpayment News Troubling, Minister Delays Updating People Even While Pre-Budget Consultations Ongoing
2017-FEB-08: Liberals Use ATIPP Exemption to Hide Snowclearing Overtime Cost Projections
2017-FEB-08: Statoil Exploration Drilling Plan is Encouraging
2017-FEB-09: Federal and Atlantic Canadian Official Opposition Leaders Oppose Trudeau’s Carbon Tax
2017-FEB-10: New Census Data Proves the Canceled Mobile/Witless Bay Middle School Badly Needed: What’s the Plan?
2017-FEB-16: PC Opposition Welcomes CETA, Demands Fisheries Fund
2017-FEB-16: Questions on Nalcor CEO Employment Contract: Questions Continue
2017-FEB-17: PC’s Welcome More Agricultural Land, Call for an Even Broader Strategy
2017-FEB-21: In Light of Auditor General’s Report on Ed Martin’s Dismissal, Who Will Be Held Accountable?
2017-FEB-21: What Are Premier Ball and MHA Letto Doing to Help Wabush Mines Pensioners?
2017-FEB-23: Premier Giving Up Minimum Processing Requirements Without Getting the Promised $280M CETA Fisheries Investment Fund from Ottawa?
2017-FEB-24: PC’s Welcome IOC’s Wabush 3 Expansion: Their Confidence Will Drive Growth

2017-MAR-01: PC Opposition Honours James McGrath
2017-MAR-01: Liberals’ Inaction Undermines Mistaken Point UNESCO World Heritage Site
2017-MAR-08: PC Executive Council 2017
2017-MAR-09: Liberals Don’t Know Where They’re Moving Lands Branch, or Whether It Will Save Money or Cost More
2017-MAR-10: Premier Ball Fails to Deliver on Trudeau’s Written Commitment to a 70% Share of a $400M NL Fisheries Investment Fund
2017-MAR-24: Hutchings Says Federal Budget Ignores Newfoundland and Labrador’s Needs
2017-MAR-27: Premier’s “Report Card” Ignores Needs of the People
2017-MAR-28: ‘Way Forward’ Only Looks Backward: Throne Speech a Missed Opportunity, Offers No Plan for Growth and No Focus on People
2017-MAR-29: PC Opposition Proposes Summit on Inclusive Education; Shocked as Ball Liberals Vote Down the Opportunity to Listen
2017-MAR-30: Equalization is Paying for Other Provinces’ Surpluses and Tax Cuts While the Ball Liberals Refuse to Fight for Fairness for NL

2017-APR-06: Budget Leaves Crushing Tax Burden in Place as the Liberals Project Higher Unemployment, Slowing Economy in 2017
2017-APR-10: $11,000 a Day for Subsidized Free-Ski Weekend at Marble Mountain While Tax Burdens on People Remain in Place
2017-APR-11: Why is the Finance Minister Hiding the List of $65 Million in Cuts? Release the List Immediately, Says Davis
2017-APR-12: Health Budget Fails to Keep Pace with Rising Costs
2017-APR-22: Opposition Calls for Leadership and Action from Minister of Fisheries

2017-MAY-05: Budget 2017 Reveals Scope of Giveaway on NL Fisheries Fund
2017-MAY-05: Opposition Demands Liberals Respect Independent Recommendations to Restore Financial Integrity of MHA Pension Plan
2017-MAY-10: Why Did the Premier and Cabinet Cancel the New Middle School that the School Board Recommended and the Region Needs?
2017-MAY-16: PC Opposition Demands Ball Liberals Stop Hiding $1.9M Muskrat Falls EY Report, Oversight Committee Reports
2017-MAY-17: PC Opposition Resolution Calls for Action Immediately On Joint Fisheries Management
2017-MAY-30: House of Assembly Closes Spring Session Early
2017-MAY-30: Voisey’s Bay Community Development Initiatives in Limbo Because of Liberal Indecision

2017-JUN-01: Did the Liberals Saddle Taxpayers with the Burden of Paying Husky’s Carbon Tax on the West White Rose Extension?
2017-JUN-12: MHAs Dave Brazil and Steve Kent to Attend Expo Labrador
2017-JUN-13: What Are the Liberals Doing for Plant Workers and Wharf Monitors Sidelined By Ice?
2017-JUN-14: Six Weeks After Financial Briefing, Finance Minister Still Fails to Provide Answers to Budget Questions
2017-JUN-16: Minister Spending Money on the Wrong School Project: Why Is He Ignoring NLESD Board Recommendation for a New Middle School for the Southern Shore?
2017-JUN-16: Davis Calls on Premier to Make Change and Reassign Responsibilities for Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
2017-JUN-22: Premier Fueling Uncertainty in Oil Industry, Providing No Answers on Carbon Tax
2017-JUN-22: Stan Marshall’s Interest in Fortis a Very Big Issue If Province Talking With Fortis on Gull Island Development
2017-JUN-22: Twillingate Fish Plant Workers Left to Fend for Themselves: No Plan, Even As More Bad News is Expected
2017-JUN-28: Important Questions, Serious Allegations: Commission an Independent Audit of Muskrat Falls Project Now
2017-JUN-28: Opposition Writes Premier, Minister, Nalcor CEO Asking When They Learned Of and Received the SNC-Lavalin Report
2017-JUN-29: Opposition Supports Tech Sector Partnership, Which Continues an Aspect of the Previous Government’s Innovation Strategy
2017-JUN-29: Minister Had One Year to Fix Respiratory Therapy Program and Protect Students
2017-JUN-29: Potential to Restart Wabush Mines Welcomed, But Will There Be Anything for Current Pensioners?

2017-JUL-04: Minister Admits in Letter No Fisheries Fund Agreement Has Been Completed or Signed
2017-JUL-05: Long-Awaited Review of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Overdue
2017-JUL-12: Majority Oppose Carbon Tax; Where’s the Plan?
2017-JUL-12: How Many Government Appointments Delayed?
2017-JUL-20: Liberals Bring Confusion to R&D Corporation with Sudden Changes
2017-JUL-20: Unanswered Questions on Quebec Cooperation Agreement
2017-JUL-20: Changes Needed to the Building Accessibility Act

2017-AUG-01: PC Party Announces Leadership Selection Committee Co-Chairs and Rules
2017-AUG-03: Why Didn’t Premier Halt McInnes Cooper‎ Spending Long Before Now, If Government Had In-House Expertise?
2017-AUG-03: Bond Rating Agencies and Business Community Need Clear Signal from New Finance Minister
2017-AUG-07: Government Has Already Met With Suncor Officials Who Want Terra Nova Field Royalties Cut
2017-AUG-07: Major Unanswered Questions: Opposition Says House Should Be Open Longer Than a Half-Hour
2017-AUG-07: Premier Blatantly Dismisses Concerns of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians
2017-AUG-10: Cabinet Shuffle a Missed Opportunity for Labrador and Indigenous People
2017-AUG-15: Questions Remain Unanswered Concerning Government’s Relationship With Law Firm
2017-AUG-15: Liberals Who Taxed Auto Insurance Now Study ‎Reasons for High Costs
2017-AUG-16: NL Seniors Impacted by Canada Revenue Agency Processing Delay
2017-AUG-17: Suicide Reports Show Urgency of Implementing All-Party Recommendations
2017-AUG-18: New Minister Should Release the Complete Roadwork Ranking List
2017-AUG-18: Opposition Concerned by Report the Vale Underground Mine is On Hold
2017-AUG-18: Ferryland District Road Maintenance Causing Concerns for Residents, Business and Tourists
2017-AUG-23: Tax Review Will Report Too Late to Avoid Serious Damage
2017-AUG-24: Is the Liberal Government Hiding the Muskrat Falls Loan Guarantee Term Sheet?
2017-AUG-29: Minister Must Provide Answers on Respiratory Therapy Program

2017-SEP-01: Newly Announced Atlantic Fisheries Fund Shortchanges NL, Raises Questions
2017-SEP-07: Documents Show the Flu Shot Decision Was Made Without Cost Analysis, Consultation or Public Health Focus
2017-SEP-07: Premier and Ministers Silent on Changes to Federal Liberals’ Business Tax Changes: Small Business Owners Fear It Will Hurt NL’s Small Businesses and Economy
2017-SEP-11: Kent to Step Down as MHA; Davis Commends Long-Serving Colleague
2017-SEP-12: PC’s Call for House to Open to Amend Unconstitutional Provisions on Special Balloting
2017-SEP-12: Would Have Been the Perfect Time to Press Prime Minister and Federal Cabinet on Issues Important to NL
2017-SEP-13: Another School Year Begins With No Action to Improve Educational Outcomes
2017-SEP-13: CBS Library Announcement Short on Details, Timelines, Budget
2017-SEP-14: PC Party of NL Begins Signing Up Members and Supporters
2017-SEP-27: Atlantic Opposition Leaders Call on Provincial Liberals to Condemn Tax Attack

2017-OCT-03: Dangerous Road Conditions Being Ignored
2017-OCT-04: Why Isn’t Ball Clearly Saying “Stop” the Federal Business Tax Measures?
2017-OCT-04: With CETA Now in Place, What Did NL Get for Giving Up MPRs?
2017-OCT-06: Monday Marks 150th Anniversary of Act of Heroism By Captain William Jackman of Renews
2017-OCT-10: Progressive Conservative Party Calls for Nominations in the District of Mount Pearl North
2017-OCT-13: Two Seek PC Nomination in the District of Mount Pearl North
2017-OCT-16: New ‘Special Ballot’ Bill is Fundamentally Flawed
2017-OCT-18: Nomination Meeting in the District of Mount Pearl North
2017-OCT-19: Opposition Wins Major Improvements to ‘Special Ballot’ Election Bill
2017-OCT-25: Jim Lester to be PC Candidate in Mount Pearl North

2017-NOV-21: Jim Lester, PC MHA-Elect for Mount Pearl North
2017-NOV-24: Prescription Monitoring Act Goes Too Far

2017-DEC-04: Will NL Companies Have First Priority to Supply Marijuana Products to this Province?
2017-DEC-07: No Confidence the Minister Knows the Status Of Workplace NL Appeals
2017-DEC-08: Liberals Dodge Accountability in Fall Sitting of the House
2017-DEC-08: Mandatory Reporting to Child and Youth Advocate Falls Short
2017-DEC-15: PC Official Opposition Pays Tribute to John Hickey
2017-DEC-19: Secrecy Raises Concerns About Liberals’ Health Cutting Agenda
2017-DEC-21: What Do New Power Line‎s Mean For Holyrood and Winter Power?
2017-DEC-29: Clarification of Membership Sign-Up Deadline

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2017-JAN-03: Statoil Exploration Drilling Plan is Encouraging

January 3, 2017
For Immediate Release

Highway Snowclearing Cut Makes a Tragedy Far More Likely; Opposition Demands Reinstatement of Service

Barry Petten, Transportation Critic for the Official Opposition, says, “The Ball Liberals’ choice to slash highway snowclearing services is making driving treacherous, jeopardizing lives and making an avoidable tragedy far more likely.”

“The governing Liberals – with the support of their entire caucus – have taken snow plows off the province’s major highways and are risking the lives of everyone who needs to use these thoroughfares to get to the places they need to be. Some people need to travel early to get to and from work, to make flight connections, to deliver goods or to deal with emergencies,” said Petten.

“In past years, these highways would have ‎been plowed in similar snow conditions, and driving them would have been much safer than it is now. The only difference this year is that the Liberals made the deliberate choice to leave the plows off the road when our highways need to be cleared.

“People are posting photos of highways in abysmal conditions with not a plow in sight. It’s shocking to see major highways left in such a state when drivers are using them.

“Drivers are telling us they are very worried that they could get stuck in snow on the highway or go off the highway entirely. It’s a tragedy waiting to happen, and it could all be avoided if the Liberals would just listen to the people and reverse their cut to the 24-hour snowclearing services that had been in place,” he said.

‎Petten said, “The Liberals demonstrated very poor judgment when they diverted money that could have been used for 24-hour snowclearing to fund another Labrador-island tunnel study, replicating work that had already been done. A recent tunnel study showed it would cost upwards of a billion dollars to finance a tunnel that would not even accommodate vehicles but would only use cable cars – essentially a passenger-only ferry. To re-examine a project that the province cannot afford instead of addressing the very real threats to public safety shows a serious lapse in judgment on the part of the Liberal Cabinet and the entire caucus of government members who voted for this Budget cut.

“When we suggested that 24-hour snowclearing was the greater priority, the Liberals refused to listen – and they are still stubbornly ignoring the many people who are pleading for the restoration of highway snow plowing services before someone is injured or loses their life in a tragedy‎ that proper, timely snowclearing could prevent,” said Petten.

– 30 –

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

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2017-JAN-06: Premier’s Latest Fiscal Message Raises Serious Questions About Leadership and Understanding of What It Means To Be Part of the Canadian Federation

January 6, 2017
For Immediate Release

Premier’s Latest Fiscal Message Raises Serious Questions About Leadership and Understanding of What It Means To Be Part of the Canadian Federation

Keith Hutchings, Finance Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “Premier Ball’s fiscal messaging this week raises serious questions about his leadership and his interpretation of what it means to be a member of the Canadian federation.”

Hutchings said, “As reported by various news media, the Premier said‎ his government has already made significant cuts in spending at the management level, yet neither the Premier nor the Finance Minister have been able to put a dollar figure on how much they have actually reduced spending.

“Before Premier Ball removed executive members, the Liberals went on a patronage hiring spree, putting friends and failed Liberal candidates in key management positions and then stepped up firing of others to make way for more appointments. It wasn’t an exercise in fiscal prudence; it was an exercise in political patronage – the very thing the Premier promised not to do,” said Hutchings.

“The Premier and Minister of Finance cannot tell us the fiscal impact of their executive cuts, and as they terminated some executive positions, new Liberal appointees were on the way in. This is the ‘new fiscal management skills’ the Premier spoke of? I challenge the Premier or Minister of Finance to produce the exact numbers showing the net savings their management measures have saved, once patronage hires have been factored into the equation.

“Unlike our administration, which met the oil revenue problem head on with a multi-year fiscal plan to get the province back to surplus by maximizing attrition measures and other initiatives while minimizing the consequences, the Ball administration kicked the can down the road – first to the fall budget, which they reneged on, and now to the 2017 budget, a year too late to begin what they needed to do a year ago.”

Hutchings said, “Probably the most shocking part of the Premier’s message this week was his statement about equalization, which is our constitutional right as a member of the Canadian federation.”

As reported by The Telegram, the Premier told reporters that the government is looking to the 2019 renegotiation of the Canadian equalization formula. He said: “I would argue that the equalization formula is probably not even relevant for our confederation right now … But that discussion will happen at that table.”

Hutchings asked, “When is it relevant if not today? Tell the people of our province who are being taxed on the purchase of books, whose home care hours have been cut, who pay the highest gas taxes in the country, who pay a levy to live here, who now pay more in personal income tax, and so much more, that equalization is not relevant. ‎Under the Constitution of Canada, it is reasonable level of taxation and reasonable level of service for Canadians, including Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. The equalization program is meant to balance that level for all Canadians,” said Hutchings.

‎”Six provinces are receiving equalization to cover revenue shortfalls right now, this year, under the current rules of the program – (which can be changed at any time) – which bar Newfoundland and Labrador from qualifying. We need the rules changed now, not two years from now, so that equalization can help to cover some of the oil revenue shortfall that we are experiencing right now. To hear the Premier say that he’s prepared to wait until 2019 and that the formula is probably not even relevant to our Confederation right now is shocking. Why isn’t he advocating for Newfoundland and Labrador to receive the fair share that we need?

“Quebec is getting $10 billion in equalization this year while at the same time Ottawa is investing another billion to invest in Quebec-based Bombardier while Newfoundland and Labrador gets zero. How is that fair? This is the same Quebec that Premier Ball now seems to want to enter into firm power purchase agreements with, so ‎that when the commodities markets rebound, we won’t have enough surplus energy left to support the new mining operations in Labrador? Maybe the Premier’s economic plan is to have us buy back our own power again, to support new mining operations in Labrador in the future. The Premier’s economic planning is just as deficient as his fiscal planning, and both are leading the province to ruin,” said Hutchings.

“Equalization is entrenched in the country’s Constitution as a basic right of provinces to be able to provide reasonably comparable levels of public service at reasonably comparable levels of taxation. It is not a small matter when the federal government is enforcing made-in-Ottawa rules that deny us what the Constitution promises us. Our people are being taxed to death because of our oil revenue shortfall, and they and their employers are deeply concerned that, instead of fighting for equalization fairness, the Premier is going to force them to bear all the pain. This rollercoaster ride of uncertainty is undermining our chances of weathering the fiscal storm. Yet, the Premier is not willing to fight his federal Liberal friends for fair treatment under the equalization program. ‎This calls into question his ability to lead.

“No wonder the vast majority of people are deeply dissatisfied with this Premier’s leadership. Instead of serving the people of the province, he is bowing to the will of his federal masters. Instead of battling Ottawa for fairness, he is battling our province’s people and destroying our economy in the process. As our people brace for yet another round of fear and uncertainty, the Liberals are heading into their fourteenth month without a viable fiscal plan, without a viable economic plan and without the willingness to stand up and fight for fairness for Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Hutchings.

– 30 –

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

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2017-JAN-09: Liberals Finally Reach One of their Budget 2016 Economic Targets: 5,700 Jobs Lost in 12 Months

January 9, 2017
For Immediate Release

Liberals Finally Reach One of their Budget 2016 Economic Targets: 5,700 Jobs Lost in 12 Months

Keith Hutchings, Finance Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The Ball Liberals have finally reached one of their 2016 budget predictions – but unfortunately for the province, their prediction of 30,000 job losses throughout Newfoundland and Labrador is well underway.”

The latest data from Statistics Canada show a drop of 5,700 jobs in the province between December 2015 to December 2016, bucking the national trend of job growth. Nation-wide, it was the best year for job growth since 2012. Not so in Newfoundland and Labrador, which suffered a 2.5 per cent employment decline in one year, the largest drop in the country.

Hutchings said, “In the 2016 Budget and again in the fall fiscal update, the Ball Liberals projected that Newfoundland and Labrador, under their governance, would suffer the loss of some 30,000 jobs by 2020, with thousands of those losses occurring by 2017. The Liberals’ bleak predictions have proven to be accurate – and it’s no surprise. They have proven in 14 months that they have absolutely no economic plan to create the conditions for job growth. In fact, their business and personal tax hikes and uncertainty of economic planning have depressed consumer spending as we predicted, depressed employer hiring and made local enterprises less competitive. No wonder the province’s economy is in freefall.”

“The truly sad aspect of this news is that these job losses represent the livelihoods of thousands of individuals and families across our province. People are looking to the government to create the conditions for growth in our economy, but the Ball Liberals are instead letting people and our economy down,” said Hutchings.

– 30 –

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

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2017-JAN-09: Liberals’ Talk of Making Gas Tax Permanent to Meet Carbon Tax Obligations is Concerning

January 9, 2017
For Immediate Release

Liberals’ Talk of Making Gas Tax Permanent to Meet Carbon Tax Obligations is Concerning

Barry Petten, Environment Critic for the Official Opposition, is calling on the Environment Minister to clarify his statement that the province is looking at making a portion of the increased gas tax permanent‎ in order to meet the province’s carbon tax obligations under the agreement the Ball Liberals just made with Ottawa.

“The Ball government assured people last spring that their massive gas tax increase would be temporary. Even as a temporary measure, the increased gas tax has outraged people because of its heavy impact on the costs of driving, and of buying food and other products that are transported ‎around our province,” said Petten. “The increased gas tax is causing hardship for families and hurting our economy by making local employers less competitive. People want the gas tax cut back. They don’t want any part of that increased tax to become permanent. It is not a logical option.”

Petten said, “The Muskrat Falls Project represents our province’s action on greenhouse gas reduction. The Liberals have been so intent on condemning the project that they are unwilling to acknowledge that it is one of the most important initiatives anywhere in Canada to reduce carbon emissions. Muskrat Falls will do our part in reducing carbon emissions, and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians should not have to pay twice through their taxes at the pumps.”

“Minister Trimper talks about wanting to ensure that the carbon tax measures they introduce don’t hurt our economy. But what he doesn’t seem to realize is that his own Liberal government’s increased gas tax is already having a major negative impact on our economy.

“The extra tax that consumers pay for gas is money they cannot spend on other things to drive our local economy. When they pay more for food because the gas tax is raising freight costs, that is also money they cannot spend on other things. When local employers have to pay more to run their operations because of the higher gas tax, they are less competitive, and that hurts their bottom line and costs jobs in this province. ‎Those are reasons to avoid raising taxes. It’s time to lower the gas tax, not consider making the tax permanent,” said Petten.

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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

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2017-JAN-10: What is the Status of the Generic Royalty Regime?

January 10, 2017
For Immediate Release

What is the Status of the Generic Royalty Regime?

Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, is asking Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady for an update on the status of the generic royalty regime she has been mandated to establish for offshore petroleum developments.

Hutchings said, “After the former administration announced the details of a generic royalty regime on November 2, 2015, Mr. Ball was reported as saying he was supportive of the initiative. He said at the time that a Liberal government ‘won’t reinvent the wheel from scratch‎‘. He said if such plans are ‘ready to roll out, then we will implement those plans. We will not be slow‘ – but the Liberals have been very slow and have announced nothing despite their promise to act swiftly.

“In fact, the Ball Liberals placed this commitment in the 2016 Throne Speech, their policy agenda for the 2016-17 year. Yet, there is no sign of the generic royalty regime that the previous administration had already developed and that the Ball Liberals promised in their Throne Speech to implement.”

Hutchings said, “The Natural Resources Minister was given the lead on this and specifically directed to make this happen.‎

The Minister’s December 14, 2015 mandate letter states: “Your actions to create conditions‎ for increased offshore exploration and development include… establishing a generic royalty regime for future developments….” The mandate letter follows on the 2015 Liberal red book commitment (#2.3.4.5) to: “Establish a generic royalty regime, in consultation with stakeholders, that applies to all future developments. This ‎will provide greater certainty around fiscal terms associated with developments in our jurisdiction and provide much-needed stability to operators.”

Hutchings said, “More than a year has passed since the Premier mandated Minister Coady to establish a generic royalty regime. What is the delay in implementing the generic royalty regime that we developed more than a year ago and that Mr. Ball said he would not reinvent but move quickly to implement? Why is the Minister delaying implementation, pretending to be developing something new when this has been ready to implement for more than a year? When will the Minister get around to putting the generic royalty regime into effect in order to remove the uncertainty in the industry that the delay is causing?”

“The Liberal red book prefaced the commitment to a new generic royalty regime‎ by saying ‘regulatory certainty and maintaining an attractive and stable business environment for operators and investors is critical to the long-term success of the industry.’ If the government is really treating this as critical, then the Minister ought to be on top of the file and prepared to provide an update on progress whenever people ask,” said Hutchings.

“The Liberal government has been doing a poor job of maintaining an attractive and stable business environment. The business environment in this province for the past year has been full of uncertainty and unpredictability. Their ever-changing position on the carbon tax is adding yet another layer of uncertainty, on top of the delay in implementing the generic royalty regime. Our offshore industry ‎is moving forward on the strength of past policies, particularly the previous government’s energy plan, but if the current government is not careful, this province will lose ground to other jurisdictions that are getting ready to leap ahead once oil prices rebound,” he said.

The PC generic royalty regime is defined at the following link: http://www.nr.gov.nl.ca/nr/royalties/generic_orr.pdf

Its announcement is recorded at: http://www.releases.gov.nl.ca/releases/2015/nr/1102n06.aspx

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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

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2017-JAN-12: Stand-in Transportation Minister Not Truthful About Snowclearing Cuts

January 12, 2017
For Immediate Release

Stand-in Transportation Minister Not Truthful About Snowclearing Cuts

Barry Petten, Transportation Critic for the Official Opposition, says, “The ‎stand-in Minister of Transportation, Eddie Joyce, is not being truthful about Liberal cuts to snowclearing and the serious impact those cuts are having on the people of the province.”

Petten said, ‎”The Minister is misleading when he has argued there are no changes in snowclearing operations this year compared to last year. The Minister knows that his government cut $1.9 million from the 24-hour snowclearing budget, changing the overnight snowclearing operations that had been keeping our highways in safe condition for driving. That budget cut – supported by every single member of the Liberal caucus in the House of Assembly – has had a severe impact on highway snowclearing this winter, putting people’s lives in jeopardy. Equipment is not on the road when it is needed, but is being called in long after it is needed, leaving many drivers to brave the highways when they’re not fit to drive.”

The Minister stated on January 4 (VOCM) that “snowclearing operations [are] working as they should” and issues raised are being blown out of proportion. People are rightfully outraged about this comment when Liberal reductions to 24 hour snowclearing has led to unsafe road conditions on numerous occasions.”

‎The Minister stated on January 10 (CBC) that snow plows will be put in operation when there is 6 cm of snow in the forecast. However, officials of the Transportation and Works department have said the protocol actually indicates the forecast must call for more than 10 cm of snow. The department’s media relations manager issued information that the protocol limits snowclearing operations to “high traffic routes when the forecast calls for more than 10 cm of snow, winds at 50 km/h, or freezing rain‎.‎” Have the triggers to get equipment on the roads changed?

Petten said, “The Minister has described call-back protocols that are not working, and are leaving some of our busiest roads in poor condition while ice builds. The Minister has said there are no problems with getting snowclearing equipment on the road when required, and all ‘available’ equipment is on the road when it is needed. That is not true. Availability reports show that, at times, 50 per cent or more of equipment available for use is actually sidelined with mechanical troubles. The Minister should proactively release equipment reports immediately.”

“The Minister has dismissed a shortage of mechanics as a significant issue, saying there are only ‘four or five’ mechanic positions unfilled province-wide. But reports in the media indicate there are that many vacancies in one depot alone, with others elsewhere; and mechanic positions have been posted for 6-8 months without interviews, leaving positions unfilled. The department doesn’t have the staff to fix the equipment, which means the equipment is not ready when it is needed. The equipment is off the road at times when it would have been on the road in previous years. Drivers see the difference, and that’s why people are so outraged at the Minister’s denials that anything has changed.”

Petten said, “The Minister has said everything is under control and the government is doing what it needs to be doing to ensure the safety of motorists. That is obviously untrue. This year’s snowclearing efforts are markedly different from those of past years, and drivers do not feel safe or secure while traveling over unplowed highways. They believe the government’s $1.9 million cutback has placed them at a significantly greater risk, and they are calling for the 24-hour snowclearing budget to be reinstated before a tragedy occurs.”

“Before the Liberal government can fix the problem they’ve created, they need to stop denying that a problem exists. Instead of telling people they don’t know what they’re talking about, they need to start listening to what people are saying, because people are very concerned about the deplorable state of our highways this winter,” said Petten.

Petten referred to statements that Minister Joyce made on December 5, 2011 while in Opposition about snowclearing on secondary highways. ‎”Lives are being put in danger because of government’s policy,” Joyce said. He called on the government “to return to a policy where depot supervisors have the authority to determine highway conditions and react accordingly, regardless of the time of day.” He said surely “we can find the additional funds to make our highways safe for the people of this province.” Petten said the Minister should remember his own words, now that the responsibility rests on his shoulders. It’s time for the Liberals to reverse their 24-hour snowclearing cuts.

– 30 –

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

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2017-JAN-13: Politics Out of Paving? Where’s the Evidence?

January 13, 2017
For Immediate Release

Politics Out of Paving? Where’s the Evidence?

Barry Petten, Transportation Critic for the Official Opposition, is asking Premier Ball why he is hiding the evidence to back up his claim that his government has taken politics out of paving.

In a speech on January 12 to the Association of Heavy Civil Engineers, the Premier said his government is choosing road projects based on economic impact, safety and input from users in order to take politics out of paving.

Petten said, “This is the same Premier who claimed to be taking politics out of public appointments at the very same time that he was appointing Liberal supporters and failed Liberal candidates to seniors roles in the public service and firing others to make way for his friends – so people have a very good reason to demand evidence before taking this Premier at his word.”

“I raised the issue of roadwork priorities in Question Period on April 11 and 13, 2016,” said Petten. “I requested the entire list of road projects evaluated by the department, ranked in order of priority based on the evidence of need. The Minister would not supply that list. Nine months later, I am still waiting for that list. Neither the Minister nor the Premier will provide it. If the government does not have a list of all roadwork needs ranked in order of priority based on hard evidence, then how could they possibly be organizing their roadwork priorities on the basis of need? And if they do have the list, why are they refusing to disclose it, unless they have something to hide that contradicts what the Premier is saying?”

Petten said, “What shocked me last April was learning from the Transportation Minister that the department was not actually finalizing their roadwork priorities on the basis of need, but sending their roadwork list to the Premier’s office for approval. How is that taking the politics out of anything? Either the roadwork list is being finalized according to the experts’ evidence of need, or else some considerations other than the evidence of need are coming into play.”

“It certainly appears that politics is playing a very big role in determining which roads get funding from the Ball government, despite the Premier’s statements to the contrary. Otherwise, the final decisions would not be made outside the department where the experts and the evidence are,” said Petten.

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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

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2017-JAN-13: Emera Has More Confidence in Electricity Markets Than Newfoundland and Labrador Premier

January 13, 2017
For Immediate Release

Emera Has More Confidence in Electricity Markets Than Newfoundland and Labrador Premier

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, says Nova Scotia’s Emera has more confidence in the strength of New England electricity markets than Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball.

Emera announced this week that it plans to build an Atlantic Link project, which includes a 563-km subsea high voltage direct current (HVdc) electric transmission cable between New Brunswick and Massachusetts – more than triple the length of the 170-km subsea cable between southwest Newfoundland and Nova Scotia – to deliver 900 megawatts of clean energy to the American market.

Emera has provided its reason why the Atlantic Link is needed, stating: “The project is being developed in response to an expected 2017 solicitation for up to 9.45 terawatt hours (approximately 1,200 megawatts) of hydro and/or wind energy mandated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” http://investors.emera.com/file.aspx?IID=4072693&FID=37487986

Emera’s project website expands on this by stating: “This project is being proposed in response to an expected 2017 procurement for clean energy mandated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The procurement is intended to diversify the Commonwealth’s energy mix and help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, contributing to GHG reduction targets established under the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act. This energy is also needed to replace the ISO-New England energy that will be lost with the scheduled closure in mid-2019 of the Pilgrim Nuclear Station.” http://www.atlanticlink.com/en/home/the-project/faqs.aspx

By contrast, Premier Ball upon returning from meetings with Eastern Canadian premiers and New England governors in Massachusetts in September 2016 appeared to dismiss any electric market opportunities in New England and went as far as to say there may not be a New England market for Newfoundland and Labrador hydroelectricity.

“Premier Ball and the Liberals have been dismissive of the fact that North American markets are in the hunt for new green power sources. Emera has identified an opportunity and is positioning to sell clean energy into Massachusetts, at the same time that Premier Ball has dismissed any opportunities. Emera is willing to invest in new infrastructure to capture the very New England market that Mr. Ball sees no future in. Is the Premier out of the loop or simply not on top of issues?” said Davis.

“The fact is that New England states have been developing legislation and policy to allow for the importation of Canadian green energy that would: 1. create greenhouse gas credits; 2. create a larger market for New England instead of stand-alone states; and 3. allow for long-term contracts that would be beneficial to the market and more importantly to the supplier (for example, Canadian clean energy sources). After the Emera announcement this week, Premier Ball confirmed there are no discussions taking place between the Liberal government and Emera. The fact is there were strong discussions between Nalcor and Emera under our administration concerning New England opportunities. Has something changed? Why are Premier Ball and Minister Siobhan Coady not on top of yet another important natural resources issue? The Premier appears to be comfortable to wait and see what happens,” said Davis.

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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

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2017-JAN-13: Hutchings Seeks Status of AG Report: Review of Ball Government’s Actions in Change of Nalcor CEO

January 13, 2017
For Immediate Release

Hutchings Seeks Status of AG Report: Review of Ball Government’s Actions in Change of Nalcor CEO

Keith Hutchings, Finance Critic for the Official Opposition, has written to the Auditor General to ask when he expects to release his report on the circumstances around the departure of the former CEO of Nalcor and how it was handled by the Premier and Natural Resources Minister.

On May 29, 2016, Premier Ball wrote to the Auditor General stating: “Pursuant to section 16 of the Auditor General Act and in accordance with OC2016-071 the Lieutenant-Governor in Council is requesting that you inquire into and report on the appropriateness of the severance benefits received by Mr. Edmund J. Martin upon cessation of his employment as Chief Executive Officer of Nalcor Energy. Please be assured of the full cooperation of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in the conduct of your review.” http://gov.nl.ca/publications/pdf/AG_letter_2016.pdf and http://www.releases.gov.nl.ca/releases/2016/exec/0529n01.aspx

Hutchings said, “The questions surrounding the former CEO’s departure are indeed far from transparent after weeks of questioning in House of Assembly to the Premier. The questions remain unanswered by the Premier and his Natural Resources Minister nine months after the fact. The Premier refused to release a Justice department review of the matter even though the Auditor General said doing so would not prejudice his own inquiry. With so few answers about how the Premier, his Natural Resources Minister and others handled this matter, we are eager to see what the Auditor General has found in his own review.”

The Official Opposition wrote to the Auditor General on July 4 to urge him to issue his report, not to Cabinet, but directly to the House of Assembly, and also to expand the scope of his inquiry to include all matters pertinent to a thorough review, not just the issues narrowly defined in the Premier’s letter.

“The Premier’s and Minister of Natural Resources’ stories and recollections on what transpired during the departure of the former CEO of Nalcor, on whether he was terminated or quit, and on what entitlements were due, were unclear and changed regularly last spring during question period in the House of Assembly, raising a number of flags. It is important that the facts be reviewed and released publicly as quickly as possible,” said 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

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2017-JAN-24: Will President Trump’s TPP Action Affect NL?

January 24, 2017
For Immediate Release

Will President Trump’s TPP Action Affect NL?

Keith Hutchings, Official Opposition Critic for Finance, said, “The Ball Liberals need to assess and respond to how Newfoundland and Labrador may be affected by US President Donald Trump’s move on Monday to pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. The intention to withdraw from the TPP has been known for some time, so the province has had some lead time to consider the potential implications and discuss with employers, industry and concerned groups what actions could be taken.

“The new President has also announced his intention to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), another move we have seen coming for quite some time. This agreement has been in place since January 1994 and many local companies have benefitted as well as employees and communities. Have discussions taken place with the federal government on what the national government’s action will be?” said Hutchings.

“We have very strong bilateral and multilateral trade relationships with specific American states that have been developed over a very long time. The New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers have negotiated agreements that may protect our trading relationship, even if things change at the national level. But it is vital for our Premier, our trade minister and the ministers in critical sectors to understand where the opportunities and vulnerabilities lie, and take actions that will leave us stronger, not weaker, as the trade rules are being renegotiated.”

“People of the province were less than impressed when the Premier was last in New England, downplaying the opportunities for electricity export at the very time that Emera was seeing opportunities that our own Premier missed,” said Hutchings.

According to the Economy 2016 document: “The U.S. remains the largest export market for Newfoundland and Labrador seafood products, representing 39.6% of export value in 2015.” Specifically, “The U.S. remained the largest export destination for snow crab, accounting for 74.0% of export value.”

The province has also been working for years to develop other trade opportunities in the United States – for example, in energy, ocean technology, aerospace, defence and security.

“This is a critical time for the Liberal government to appreciate what’s at stake, to have a firm understanding of the needs and concerns of all our industries and enterprises, and to be strong in protecting our best interests. We must not lose ground. The Premier and Minister have a responsibility to inform the people of the province on what actions they are taking to ensure trade interests are protected at home and in Ottawa,” said 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

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2017-JAN-25: NL Records the Steepest Rise in the Cost of Living in Canada, A Direct Consequence of Ball Liberal Tax Increases

January 25, 2017
For Immediate Release

NL Records the Steepest Rise in the Cost of Living in Canada, A Direct Consequence of Ball Liberal Tax Increases

Keith Hutchings, Official Opposition Critic for Finance, said, “As a direct consequence of tax increases imposed by the Ball Liberals in their 2016 Budget, Newfoundland and Labrador has recorded the steepest rise in the cost of living of any province in Canada, according to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada.”

“The Ball Liberals smothered our families with simultaneous increases in the HST, tax on insurance and tax on gasoline, which doubled overnight,” said Hutchings. “On top of that were other tax hikes and fee increases. During our filibuster in the House of Assembly, we continuously warned the Liberals that their approach would take a huge toll on consumer spending of the average family, and the statistics have proven we were right. Families, small businesses and our overall economy are suffering from being crushed by an enormous tax burden that many cannot bear.”

“The Consumer Price Index estimates changes in the cost of living over time once taxes are applied to the goods people buy. As StatsCan has reported this week, this province’s CPI rose by 4.1 per cent from December 2015 to December 2016, the steepest leap in the country,” he said. “This is certainly not the kind of leap the Liberals promised.”

“With so many tax hikes for necessities families cannot do without, their income dollar continues to shrink. Discretionary spending is no longer available to many families and that erosion of spending power is compounding, and hurting our economy – an economy that the Liberals have no plan to drive economic activity and investment in,” said Hutchings.

“The CPI is not just a statistic. It represents real pain that families are suffering. It represents family budgets that are stretched to the breaking point and not meeting their needs. As consumer spending power shrinks, it is making our economy constrict and head in the wrong direction. Without a sound strategic economic plan, the Liberals continue to drive our economy south, with growth and prosperity not high on Premier’s Ball achievement list.”

“And sadly, the Liberals are not even listening to the families who have been telling them this past year that they are suffering and need a new approach – a way forward out of a dismal Budget 2016 and a government that compounds the problem by discouraging investment with negativity and cynicism toward our province’s potential,” said 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

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2017-JAN-26: Province Loses Labrador-Grenfell Health Board Chair Over Political Behavior of Mitchelmore

January 26, 2017
For Immediate Release

Province Loses Labrador-Grenfell Health Board Chair Over Political Behavior of Mitchelmore

Steve Kent, Health Critic for the Official Opposition, is calling on Premier Dwight Ball to reprimand Minister Chris Mitchelmore over behaviour that has just cost the province the Chair of the Labrador-Grenfell Regional Health Board Authority.

“It has come to light that Minister Mitchelmore – who is not even the Minister of Health – conspired to politicize recent health care announcements in the Labrador-Grenfell region, by excluding the local health board chair from announcements that were not just in the region in which he serves, but in his very home community,” ‎said Kent.

“Although others were invited to attend, board chair Raymond Norman was ‎excluded, even though one of the announcements was in his home town of Roddickton and the others – in Flower’s Cove and St. Anthony – are in the region he serves as board chair,” said Kent.

“This was not just ‎an outrageous slight, but it undermined the chair’s effectiveness in his role, which advocates for health care services for the people of the region. Minister Mitchelmore’s interference has led to the resignation of Mr. Norman, whose role was undermined as a result of not being notified or included in announcements in the region.”

“Minister Mitchelmore’s behaviour is appalling, and should not be tolerated by the Premier. I am urging the Premier to publicly reprimand the Minister for the outrageous manner in which he has conducted himself as a representative of the provincial government. To politicize health care announcements for political gain at the expense of the integrity and smooth functioning of our health care system is unacceptable,” 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

 

Chair’s resignation letter, as webposted by CBC:
As .PDF

As .txt file

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2017-JAN-27: Will the Liberals Stop the Marine Atlantic Rate Hike?

January 27, 2017
For Immediate Release

Will the Liberals Stop the Marine Atlantic Rate Hike?

Steve Kent, Business and Tourism Critic for the Official Opposition, says, “The Ball Liberals need to speak up and demand that the Trudeau Liberals stop Marine Atlantic from raising fares on the Gulf ferry service.”

“The Gulf ferry service was guaranteed as a condition of our province’s union with Canada in 1949; that’s how essential this service is to our people and economy,” said Kent. “Marine Atlantic, a Crown corporation established to meet that obligation, has instead been raising the costs of using the ferry service year after year, essentially putting a toll on access to and from Newfoundland and Labrador. It is wrong, and it has to stop.”

Marine Atlantic raised rates by 4% in 2012; 4% in 2013; 3% in 2014; 2.6% in 2015; 2-3% in 2016; and 2.6% in 2017.

Kent said, “This will hurt our tourism industry. It will hurt local consumers, whose goods will cost even more. We are already leading the country in inflation, thanks to the Ball Liberals’ tax increases. It will also hurt importers and exporters – local employers who rely on the ferry service to transport goods. It will make local firms less competitive nationally at a time when the provinces are about to lower trade barriers. If we cannot compete on an even playing field thanks to the tolls that Marine Atlantic places on our marine highway, then we will lose opportunities, revenue and jobs. In a federation of equals, that’s wrong. It’s wrong to discriminate against us for our geographic location in this country.”

Kent said, “Federal and provincial Liberals who were very vocal about this while in opposition are shockingly silent now that they are in a position to actually do something about it.”

In 2012, Judy Foote – now the province’s Minister in the Trudeau Cabinet – stated: “All Newfoundlanders will see the effect of the rate increases in their goods and services as all provincial businesses who use Marine Atlantic to import and export goods will simply pass the extra fees on to their customers.” She said: “The bottom line is that I don’t agree with the increases, and I don’t think they are necessary. If they are necessary, I feel the government of Canada should absorb those increases and find another way to make up any shortcomings.”

Also in 2012, Gerry Byrne – then a federal MP and now a Ball Liberal Cabinet Minister – called for the provincial government to join others in fighting increases. He stated: “It’s only then that we will likely see any long-term permanent change to this service.” He said: “We need to stand together but, more importantly, we need to speak out.”

Kent said, “All that talk was nothing but empty rhetoric if Mr. Byrne and Ms. Foote are not prepared to use their positions now to actually help Newfoundland and Labrador avoid these latest increases.”

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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

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2017-JAN-31: Why is Hawkins Hiding the Complete List of Roadwork Rankings?

January 31, 2017
For Immediate Release

Why is Hawkins Hiding the Complete List of Roadwork Rankings?

“Release the List, Minister!”

Barry Petten, Transportation Critic for the Official Opposition, is challenging Transportation Minister Al Hawkins to release the complete list of ranked roadwork requests – not just those approved, but also those the government rejected – so people can judge for themselves whether the Liberal government’s roadwork decisions were really and truly evidence-based, free of politics as they claim.

“Why is the Minister hiding the full list? Why doesn’t he want people to see how their roadwork request scored on the government’s ranking scale? Why is he hiding this information from citizens, mayors and councilors, government and opposition members of the House of Assembly and the media? Why can’t people see how their roadwork requests ranked and find out why some of them were not considered to be priorities?” asked Petten.

The government’s five-year roadwork plan states that projects were approved according to “the evidence-based ranking system.” However, the plan published on January 31 contains no ranking information whatsoever for any projects that were not approved, and no ranking information for any of the projects approved to begin after 2018.

“If the government did an ‘evidence-based ranking’, then did the government rank every proposal before deciding which requests were the priorities? If they didn’t, then how can they call their decision ‘evidence-based’? And if they did, then show us the complete list,” said Petten.

In 2013 as Liberal leader, Dwight Ball stated: “My approach has always been to put a priority list in place on roadwork so people living in those areas will understand where their roads rank.”

The government’s news release of March 21, 2016 stated that roadwork projects had “gone through a rigorous assessment and ranking by our regional engineering experts, based on such criteria as safety, condition and economic impact.”

Petten said the Premier’s claim to have taken politics out of roadwork is similar to his claim to have taken politics out of appointments – a claim that he has not been able to back up.

“Where are the missing rankings? I challenge Transportation Minister Hawkins to release them now. People went through a great deal of trouble to tell government their roadwork needs. The government admits they received more than 560 submissions. People have a right to know how their needs ranked on the government’s score card,” said Petten.

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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

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2017-FEB-07: HST Overpayment News Troubling, Minister Delays Updating People Even While Pre-Budget Consultations Ongoing

February 7, 2017
For Immediate Release

HST Overpayment News Troubling, Minister Delays Updating People Even While Pre-Budget Consultations Ongoing

Keith Hutchings, Finance Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The news that Newfoundland and Labrador will have to pay a significant amount of money back to the federal government this year because of a $140-million HST revenue overestimate is troubling – but just as troubling is the Ball government’s handling of the issue. The Finance Minister launched pre-Budget consultations without giving people a clear indication of the fiscal impact or what the government intends to do about it.”

“We understand that the federal finance department wrote to the province in December to state that our province’s cut of the Harmonized Sales Tax pool will drop this year to make up for overpayments. The Minister has said she wasn’t expecting the amount to be so high and budgeted $89 million. When was she made aware of overpayments? When was the amount budgeted for this fiscal year? Why was there no disclosure before the first pre-Budget consultation that the Minister attended? Is our Finance Minister disclosing all the facts?”

“Are we working with the federal government to smooth repayments over a number of years, or having it rescinded for Newfoundland and Labrador, as all other Atlantic provinces will receive equalization payments totaling approximately $3.8 billion in 2017. Maybe we can finally get the Liberal provincial government to ask the Liberal federal government about access to equalization. Why hasn’t the Minister fully disclosed the actual impact on the province’s bottom line, projections for the 2017 budget, and the options she is considering to deal with it?” asked Hutchings.

“The province’s portion of total HST revenue is estimated in advance based on economic indicators and reconciled later‎. If the estimate was too high, that’s a sign that our economy is performing worse than expected – something we predicted would happen after the Ball government crushed our economy with a raft of tax and fee hikes. Our province continues to be challenged from a budgetary perspective, partly because of the decline in commodities such as oil, and partly because the Ball Liberals have failed dismally in creating an environment for private sector investment while driving the economic and employment growth that they heralded from their ‘captains of industry.'”

Hutchings is calling on the Finance Minister to provide a full accounting of the overpayment by year, the repayment request, any efforts to have the repayment deferred, spread over a longer period of time or forgiven, and the impact on the province’s fiscal bottom line. “What will be the implications if the Ball government is not willing or able to get the repayment reduced? The Minister of Finance needs to be talking openly about this right now so we can all be part of the conversation, not leaving people in the dark.”

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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

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2017-FEB-08: Liberals Use ATIPP Exemption to Hide Snowclearing Overtime Cost Projections

February 8, 2017
For Immediate Release

Liberals Use ATIPP Exemption to Hide Snowclearing Overtime Cost Projections

Barry Petten, Transportation Critic for the Official Opposition, says, “The Ball Liberals – who made openness and transparency their number one priority prior to being elected – are now hiding their snowclearing overtime cost projections behind an ATIPP exemption.”

The Official Opposition submitted a request under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act for: “Any and all records related to projected costs of overtime for snow clearing personnel this year and the actual cost of overtime and related records for last year.

The Ball government responded that, while the actual cost of overtime for snow and ice control for the 2015-16 year was $4,245,119, they would not provide the information for the current year. Their response started: “Access to the remaining records, and/or information contained within the records, has been refused in accordance with the following exceptions to disclosure, as specified in the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act): 29. (1)(a) The head of a public body may refuse to disclose to an applicant information that would reveal advice, proposals, recommendations, analyses or policy options developed by or for a public body or minister.” Their reasoning? “The records requested were prepared as analyses for a public body or Minister and therefore constitute policy advice or recommendations as defined under subsection 29(1)(a) of the Act and therefore must be refused.

Petten said, “It is absolutely unbelievable that the Ball government would hide their budgeted snowclearing overtime cost projections for the current year. A cost projection is not a secret. It is a basic piece of budgeting information that the public and their elected representatives have a right to see and a responsibility to question. It is a basic principle of accountability that you ought to disclose what you expect to spend.”

The government made a major change to snowclearing operations in the 2016 Budget. In their “Detailed Expenditure Reductions for Budget 2016-17”, which they published with their 2016 Budget, they eliminated 24-hour snowclearing with the rationale that “This decision will make the program more efficient and/or effective” and achieve savings in 2015-16 of $1,936,000.

Petten said, “On what basis did they project a nearly $2 million net savings? We are questioning the government’s assumptions. We want to know how they arrived at their numbers. To do that, we need to see the records showing their projected costs of overtime for snowclearing personnel this year, and compare their projections with the actual costs. Why are the Ball Liberals hiding the information needed to compare their 2016 projections with their actual performance? So much for openness and accountability! Release the information now. Let’s see if they were warned about the consequences of cutting snowclearing operations the way they did.”

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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

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2017-FEB-08: Statoil Exploration Drilling Plan is Encouraging

February 8, 2017
For Immediate Release

Statoil Exploration Drilling Plan is Encouraging

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, says, “Statoil’s plan to drill two new exploration wells in the Flemish Pass Basin is very good news for Newfoundland and Labrador.”

“Their exploratory wells are farther and deeper than the producing fields in the Jeanne d’Arc Basin, making them costlier, so Statoil’s determination to proceed is a sign that they believe this new region will yield results that are worth the investment. For our province, their optimism means new investment and new opportunities at a time when the oil industry is eager for good news,” said Davis.

“Our administration was always optimistic about our long-term energy prospects. That is why we developed the province’s first comprehensive energy plan in 2007 and established a provincial energy corporation to lead us forward to opportunity. While others argued that ‘oil is not a policy’, we saw the benefits of taking a strategic approach to energy development.”

“In fact, Nalcor was modeled on Statoil, the Norwegian energy company that was instrumental in bringing a relatively poor-off European jurisdiction similar to ours to success. By emulating Statoil and working with them and others to drive success, we in this province can build the kind of future that Norway has built – strong, successful and resilient enough to weather tough times. The key is having a long-term growth strategy in the energy sector. Norway has it. We had it. We need to renew it so we can make the most of the opportunities before us and not let them slip away,” he said.

“While this is positive news for our province – the Liberals need to provide some clarity on the status of the generic royalty regime they promised to implement? Our administration announced the generic royalty regime more than a year ago, on November 2, 2015. The current Premier said at the time that that a Liberal government ‘won’t reinvent the wheel from scratch‎’ but if such plans are ‘ready to roll out, then we will implement those plans. We will not be slow’ – but in actual fact, the Liberals have left the industry hanging for more than a year without the clarity the industry needs. The Liberals have been silent on its status. Are they making changes, and if so what are the differences? Are they watering it down?” said Davis.

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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

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2017-FEB-09: Federal and Atlantic Canadian Official Opposition Leaders Oppose Trudeau’s Carbon Tax

Federal and Atlantic Canadian Official Opposition Leaders Oppose Trudeau’s Carbon Tax

February 9, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HALIFAX, NS – Interim Leader of the Official Opposition and Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, along with the Leaders of the four Atlantic Progressive Conservative parties, Jamie Baillie of Nova Scotia; Blaine Higgs of New Brunswick; Paul Davis of Newfoundland and Labrador, and interim Leader Jamie Fox of Prince Edward Island, today issued the following statement, criticizing the Trudeau government on its carbon tax that is already affecting all Canadians:

“Too many hard-working Atlantic Canadians are finding it difficult to make ends meet. A Trudeau carbon tax will make it even harder. Not only will it increase the price of food, transportation and fuel but it will also make virtually everything more expensive. Atlantic Canadians can’t afford the increase nor should they have to accept it. Atlantic Canada’s economy is in serious trouble and now Justin Trudeau is setting it up for failure. His government is doing nothing to create good jobs in the region, and instead is punishing Atlantic Canadians by imposing another tax.

“Voters in the Atlantic region sent 32 Liberal MPs to Ottawa and no one is fighting for them. Conservatives are the voice of the taxpayer and we will continue to stand up for Atlantic Canadians and hold Justin Trudeau accountable for raising taxes on families. Liberal Premiers have just rolled over and accepted it. Atlantic Canadian Liberal Premiers need to send a strong message to the Trudeau government. Justin Trudeau needs to abandon this carbon tax. We need to look at ways to improve the environment and protect our waterways; a carbon tax will not do that.

“Conservatives at both the federal and provincial level will always stand up for hard-working Atlantic Canadians. We will fight to ensure the region isn’t forgotten.”

Ambrose met with the four Atlantic PC leaders Saturday morning at the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Annual General Meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Ambrose, Baillie, Higgs and Fox attended in person and Davis by phone.

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For more information:

Mike Storeshaw
Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition
613-222-7484

Angie Zinck
Office of the Official Opposition (NS)
902-225-1630

Bob Fowlie
Office of the Official Opposition (NB)
506-453-7494

Heather MacLean
Office of the Official Opposition (NL)
709-729-6105

Jeff Himelman
Office of the Official Opposition (PE)
902-314-2497

Les chefs de l’Opposition officielle fédérale et du Canada atlantique s’opposent à la taxe sur le carbone de Trudeau

9 février 2017
POUR DIFFUSION IMMÉDIATE

HALIFAX (Nouvelle-Écosse) – La chef de l’Opposition officielle et chef intérimaire du Parti conservateur du Canada, l’honorable Rona Ambrose, accompagnée des chefs des quatre Partis progressistes-conservateurs du Canada atlantique, Jamie Baillie, de la Nouvelle-Écosse, Blaine Higgs, du Nouveau-Brunswick, Paul Davis, de Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador, et le chef intérimaire Jamie Fox, de l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard, ont fait la déclaration suivante aujourd’hui, soutenant que la taxe sur le carbone du gouvernement Trudeau touche déjà tous les Canadiens :

« Un trop grand nombre de Canadiens de l’Atlantique ont de la difficulté à joindre les deux bouts. La taxe sur le carbone de Trudeau rendra les choses encore plus difficiles. Non seulement elle va augmenter le prix des aliments, du transport et du carburant, mais elle va rendre pratiquement tout plus cher. Les Canadiens de l’Atlantique ne peuvent pas se permettre cette augmentation, et ils n’ont pas à l’accepter. L’économie du Canada atlantique éprouve de sérieuses difficultés, et Justin Trudeau la pousse vers le gouffre. Son gouvernement ne fait rien pour créer des emplois dans la région, préférant punir les Canadiens de l’Atlantique en leur imposant une autre taxe.

« Les électeurs de la région de l’Atlantique ont envoyé 32 députés libéraux à Ottawa, et aucun d’entre eux ne se bat en leur nom. Les Conservateurs sont la voix des contribuables, et nous allons continuer à défendre les Canadiens de l’Atlantique et à demander des comptes à Justin Trudeau pour l’augmentation du fardeau fiscal des familles. Les premiers ministres libéraux provinciaux baissent les bras et l’acceptent. Les premiers ministres libéraux du Canada atlantique doivent envoyer un message fort au gouvernement Trudeau. Justin Trudeau doit abandonner la taxe sur le carbone. Nous devons chercher des façons d’améliorer l’environnement et de protéger nos voies maritimes, et ce n’est pas ce que fera une taxe sur le carbone.

« Les Conservateurs, aux paliers fédéral et provincial, vont toujours défendre les Canadiens de l’Atlantique qui travaillent fort. Nous allons nous battre pour assurer que la région n’est pas oubliée. »

Rona Ambrose a rencontré les quatre chefs PC du Canada atlantique samedi matin à l’Assemblée générale annuelle progressiste-conservatrice de la Nouvelle-Écosse tenue à Halifax. Ambrose, Baillie, Higgs et Fox y ont assisté en personne, et Davis par téléphone.

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Pour obtenir plus d’information :

Mike Storeshaw
Bureau du Chef de l’Opposition officielle
613-222-7484

Angie Zinck
Bureau de l’Opposition officielle (N.-É.)
902-225-1630

Bob Fowlie
Bureau de l’Opposition officielle (N.-B.)
506-453-7494

Heather MacLean
Bureau de l’Opposition officielle (T.-N.)
709-729-6105

Jeff Himelman
Bureau de l’Opposition officielle (Î.-P.-É.)
902-314-2497

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2017-FEB-10: New Census Data Proves the Canceled Mobile/Witless Bay Middle School Badly Needed: What’s the Plan?

February 10, 2017
For Immediate Release

New Census Data Proves the Canceled Mobile/Witless Bay Middle School Badly Needed: What’s the Plan?

Keith Hutchings, MHA for Ferryland, is urging the Ball government to revisit their Budget 2016 decision to cancel the new middle school for the Mobile/Witless Bay school system in light of census data released by Statistics Canada proving that the region is one of the fastest-growing areas of the province, in particular the town of Witless Bay which has seen almost a 40 per cent increase.

“As a result of high residential growth in the Bay Bulls to Bauline region and on expert engineering advice in 2014 from BAE-Newplan Group, the school board recommended and the provincial government of the day announced a new middle school for the Mobile/Witless Bay system in the 2015 Budget. But to the shock of the residents of the region, the Ball government canceled (not deferred) the school project in their 2016 Budget,” said Hutchings.

“Budget 2016 referenced building an extension to Mobile Central High, but there has been no evidence as to how this will accommodate the overcrowding at St Bernard’s K-6 nor how it addresses the concerns and recommendations of the 2014 report,” said Hutchings.

“The educational needs of one of the fastest-growing areas of our province have to be met. What is the Ball government’s plan to meet those needs after they canceled construction of a new school that was to accommodate the current population growth surge which will no doubt continue?

“Good governance requires that you identify infrastructure needs and you plan to meet those needs responsibly, so you don’t end up spending even more of the taxpayers’ money down the road on ad-hoc, crisis-management measures that result from failing to prepare properly in the first place,” said Hutchings.

“The BAE-Newplan report on the options for Mobile/Witless Bay school system is sitting on the Minister’s desk, and clearly tells him what needs to be done. The previous administration and the school board both reviewed the recommendations and concluded that proceeding with the middle school was the most educationally and fiscally responsible course of action to take. The region was in disbelief when the government veered off course by canceling the new school and leaving no identified alternative to meet the identified challenges of our students,” said Hutchings.

The BAE-Newplan Group’s November 2014 report ‎entitled “Long Term Planning Report for Mobile Area Schools“, prepared for the Department of Education, stated: “…based on the cost comparisons for renovations and expansions at each site as compared to the cost of a new facility, the more practical solution may be to construct a completely new facility to service the elementary grades. This would leave St. Bernard’s to serve the primary grades while Mobile High will continue its present function. This will eliminate the need for physical disruption of students and staff at the existing common resource spaces required for the comfort and convenience of both students and staff.

The report’s Conclusions and Recommendations stated: “Based on our review, we believe the most practical and efficient approach is to construct a new facility to better address the requirements of the intermediate grades, i.e. Grades 5-8 inclusive.

Hutchings has written the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District on January 5th and copied the Education Minister, urging him to make the Mobile/Witless Bay middle school a priority for the 2017 Budget. To date, no response has been received.

“On behalf of the people of the region, I am requesting that the new Mobile/Witless Bay middle school facility recommended on November 26, 2014 by the BAE-Newplan Group be included by the provincial government among this year’s school infrastructure projects as part of Budget 2017,” said Hutchings. “The educational needs of the youth of this rapidly-growing region of our province must be met through responsible planning, and proceeding with the middle school project is the most responsible, cost-effective approach that will cause the least disruption, hardship and chaos to students and families.”

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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

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2017-FEB-16: PC Opposition Welcomes CETA, Demands Fisheries Fund

February 16, 2017
For Immediate Release

PC Opposition Welcomes CETA, Demands Fisheries Fund

Keith Hutchings, Intergovernmental Affairs Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “We welcome news that both the European Parliament and the Canadian House of Commons have approved CETA, paving the way to remove more than 98 per cent of trade barriers between Canada and the European Union, but now we expect the Government of Canada to honour Justin Trudeau’s commitment to Newfoundland and Labrador that Ottawa will provide its share of the Fisheries Investment Fund that he promised us.”

Members of the European Parliament voted on February 15 to approve the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). On February 14, the Canadian CETA implementation Bill, C-30, passed third reading in the House of Commons and was introduced in the Senate. More than 90 per cent of the agreement is expected to come into effect provisionally as early as April 1. The next steps before full ratification will include legislation at the local level.

Hutchings said, “This is the time to ensure we are ready once trade barriers fall and markets open up. When our administration negotiated with Ottawa on matters that included the removal of minimum processing requirements in our fish processing sector, Ottawa promised that it would contribute 70 per cent of a $400 million Fisheries Investment Fund – $280 million – to support new technology, innovation, science and marketing in the fishery and help our harvesting and processing sectors be ready to compete as effectively as possible in the European marketplace. We must take full advantage of the new opportunities that will open up across Europe to sell our seafood products virtually tariff-free, but to do that, we need to ensure our harvesting and processing sectors are ready.”

In December 2014, while a federal opposition leader, Justin Trudeau wrote to Premier Paul Davis, stating: “The abolition of minimum processing requirements is clearly of great concern to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and your government’s support of the CETA was earned, in part, by a promise from the Government of Canada to help the industry adjust to the new reality. That promise should be honoured.”

Hutchings said, “The Ball Liberals have been very quiet on this issue, which involves hundreds of millions of dollars that Newfoundland and Labrador was promised and needs to receive. We have a firm commitment from Mr. Trudeau. It’s time for the funds to flow. There is nothing to negotiate. It’s time to get on with it.”

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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

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2017-FEB-16: Questions on Nalcor CEO Employment Contract: Questions Continue

February 16, 2017
For Immediate Release

Questions on Nalcor CEO Employment Contract: Questions Continue

Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition advises, “The Auditor General advised in a letter dated January 23, 2017 – in response to my December 19 request for a review of the employment contract of the Nalcor CEO – that: ‘The Office of the Auditor General has currently set its work plan for the period to September 30, 2017. In the summer of 2017, we will commence planning for our fall/winter schedule. We will give careful consideration to the information contained in your letter as we develop our work plan.’

On August 23, Hutchings initially wrote the Auditor General to request a review. On August 31, the Auditor General responded: “The Conflict of Interest Act, 1995 provides guidance around issues of conflict of interest and sets out processes for determining and reporting on potential conflicts and administrative processes. Section 14 of the Act requires that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council appoint a Conflict of Interest Advisory Committee. Among other duties, the Committee shall ‘advise a head of an agency or deputy minister as to whether a public office holder is in a conflict of interest’. In my view, seeking the views of this Committee would be the most appropriate first course of action to take to determine if there has been a contravention of the Act or if the appropriate processes around potential conflict of interest have been followed.”

In September, Hutchings wrote the Premier, asking that the Committee be appointed to review the new CEO’s contract in relation to the former CEO’s contract to see if the new contract is appropriate. The Premier ignored the request as per direction from the Auditor General for 3 months. “The Natural Resources Minister replied on behalf of the Premier the day after the House closed on December 14, but again clarity and why shares held in various corporations that interact with Nalcor could not represent a possible conflict for current Nalco CEO remain unanswered,” said Hutchings.

Hutchings said “In the fall sitting of the House of Assembly, the Official Opposition asked for clarity and justification on changes made to the contract of the current Nalcor CEO from the Premier, the Minister of Finance, and the Minister of Natural Resources. We raised numerous questions which remain unanswered on how the Conflict of Interests Act was being met and adhered to as is required. Quite simple; the Premier has a responsibility to tell the people why the Liberal Government believes there is no conflict of interest, actual or perceived.”

On December 7, Hutchings brought a private member’s resolution to the House asking for an open and transparent review. The resolution stated: “BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly urges government to request the Conflict of Interest Advisory Committee pursuant to section 14 of the Conflict of Interest Act, 1995 to review the terms of employment contract of the Chief Executive Officer of Nalcor Energy and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and determine the appropriateness of the employment contract; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House urges the Lieutenant Governor in Council to ensure the Conflict of Interest Advisory Committee’s report on this review be made public.”

The sitting Liberal Government, cabinet and caucus voted against this motion. They blocked the review and voted not to release any information that could justify the acceptance of their decision. The members of the NDP and the Independent Member voted with the Official Opposition for the Motion and that a review occur and the review be made public.

Hutchings said, “I reached out to the Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, which is well recognized in the fields of ethics and assessing conflict of interest, and was advised that the circumstances described do cause concern, do have the possible appearance of conflict of interest, and should be independently reviewed.”

“Unlike the previous CEO of Nalcor, whose contract expressly forbid him from having interests in a company or his immediate family such as Fortis, the new CEO’s contract – which apparently was revised months after he was hired – permits him to have substantial financial interests in Fortis and possible other corporate entities that may have business interactions with Nalcor, even though those interests may conflict with obligations as Nalcor’s CEO and decision making processes.”

“The optics are absolutely terrible. Nalcor is responsible for overseeing and negotiating electricity agreements, not just throughout the province, but across eastern North America, in the very areas served by Fortis and its subsidiaries, such as Newfoundland Power, Maritime Electric, FortisOntario and utilities in the United States. The general principal of Conflict of Interest guidelines is that no one is put in a position of authority or decision making that can result in any material financial benefit or materially suffer from the decisions of the Crown corporation he/ she now runs because of substantial continuing interests in Fortis, or other corporate entities where shares are held. The ability to make decisions cannot and should not result in the ability to impact value of shares in another corporate entity.”

Hutchings asked, “When and how and on whose direction was the contract for the Nalcor CEO altered to create a possible conflict of interest? How can we be assured that the best interests of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are protected?

“I wrote to the Auditor General requesting a thorough, independent‎, impartial investigation of this matter. However, the Auditor General has responded by saying that the earliest his office can even consider whether to conduct such an investigation is the summer of 2017, and even if he were to agree to proceed, an investigation would have to start even later than that. The Ball’s Government ignoring of a means to address this through the Conflict of Interest Act and an advisory council is even more disturbing. The question is why?”

“Who is looking out for the best interests of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the meantime? Every month that passes is a month when Nalcor is making decisions that significantly affect Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Are there discussions with Hydro-Quebec? With Fortis? With Fortis entities such as Maritime Electric? With others? We need to know that the people’s best interests are paramount in all of those decisions and not compromised in any way,” said Hutchings.

“We need an independent, impartial body to look into this matter, to see what happened and whether it was appropriate, and to tell us if and how we may be vulnerable. The Ball government has repeatedly refused to commission such an investigation. Indeed, there are unanswered questions about the involvement of the Premier, the Minister and others in the transition at the helm of Nalcor. People still do not know what transpired,” 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

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2017-FEB-17: PC’s Welcome More Agricultural Land, Call for an Even Broader Strategy

February 17, 2017
For Immediate Release

PC’s Welcome More Agricultural Land, Call for an Even Broader Strategy

Kevin Parsons, Agrifoods Critic for the Official Opposition, welcomes the expansion of Crown land available for agricultural production, saying the recommendation is straight out of the 2015 PC policy blueprint – but Parsons also called for other measures that will be needed if the province is truly committed to making food security a priority by driving local production.

“The expansion of Crown land available for agricultural production is a great beginning, but that is just one element. An even broader array of actions will be needed to help farmers and agricultural producers take full advantage of the opportunities in our province to increase local food production. We have made great strides in recent years and have major success stories to celebrate – in cranberry production, for example- but making additional Crown land available for agriculture must be accompanied by a broader strategy, and we have already put forward suggestions to help with that,” said Parsons.

“In our 2015 policy blueprint, we committed to ‘make food security a provincial priority,’ to ‘protect and expand farmland,’ and also to ‘relax Crown land s policies for farm use’,” said Parsons.

In announcing our agricultural policy on November 19, 2015, our leader, Paul Davis, discussed an even broader approach. He said:

  • We will drive growth in our agrifoods sector – growth to sustain communities and jobs, to advance our food security, which right now is unacceptably low, and to supply people with the kinds of healthy, locally grown food that we ought to be eating.
  • Our plan is to set bold targets for food security. We will collaborate with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture, farmers and others throughout our agricultural sector to substantially increase the amount of local food people in this province can access and eat. By 2025, what percentage of the food we eat could be produced locally? Let’s aim high.
  • We will pursue this strategy by making it easier for new entrants to get their farms up and running;
  • by protecting and expanding farmland and relaxing Crown land policies for farm use;
  • by removing the restriction on farmers relative to selling timber cleared from their land;
  • by working with farmers to facilitate succession planning to sustain family farming operations;
  • by capitalizing on opportunities to expand primary production of berries, beef, lamb and pork, and harnessing that growth to drive value-added processing; and
  • by making it easier to get local produce in the markets.
  • Working collaboratively with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture and farmers, we will identify barriers to accessing healthy, local food, and find solutions.
  • We will bring farmers and others together to strategize on the best way forward for growth.
  • We will identify ways to address issues of transportation, storage, producers’ access to local retailers and so forth.
  • We will promote and invest in local farmers’ markets, which showcase locally grown goods and promote a greater understanding of the important role of agriculture in our economy and society.
  • We will promote community gardens where seniors’ groups can help us get back to our traditional roots and live healthier lives in the process. (This is an initiative our administration strongly promoted to benefit seniors and also youth)
  • We will partner in support of farmers’ forums and the “Agriculture in the Classroom” program so young people can help us lead the way.
  • We will work with organizations and provincial schools to expand programs that ensure all school-age children have daily access to healthy foods.
  • We will invest in Kids Eat Smart to expand the program, and strengthen the program’s linkages with local food producers.
  • We will also continue to invest in food access for northern and remote communities.

Parsons said, “Young farmers need to be able to access capital. We should consider allowing them access to our business programs and establishing a guarantee program similar to the fisheries loan guarantee program.”

“A good announcement has to be followed by others. There is no single announcement that, by itself, will lead us to greater food security. We need a multi-layered approach that collaborates with agricultural producers and helps them get us to where we need to be. They are willing. They need to find a willing partner in the provincial government,” said Parsons.

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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

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2017-FEB-21: In Light of Auditor General’s Report on Ed Martin’s Dismissal, Who Will Be Held Accountable?

February 21, 2017
For Immediate Release

In Light of Auditor General’s Report on Ed Martin’s Dismissal, Who Will Be Held Accountable?

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, is asking, “Who will be held accountable now that the Auditor General has exposed untruths and incompetence at the Cabinet level in the termination and remuneration of the former CEO of Nalcor, Ed Martin?”

Who decided Mr. Martin would leave? The Premier said over and over again that Mr. Martin left of his own accord and the Board made the choice to provide him severance, but the Auditor General says that was not true. Mr. Martin left because the Ball government ‘constructively dismissed’ him, and the Board provided benefits because they were obligated to do so. The $6 million payout was triggered, not by Mr. Martin or the Board, but by the Premier and his Ministers; yet they tried to make Mr. Martin and the Board take the fall for their own actions. That is shameful,” said Davis.

Who knew the decision to dismiss Mr. Martin would have enormous costs? The Natural Resources Minister said she didn’t know – however, the Auditor General revealed that she requested and received a copy of the employment contract a month before Mr. Martin was dismissed – the contract that spelled out those details. The Premier said he didn’t know – but the Premier’s Chief of Staff received a copy of that very same contract a month before Mr. Martin was dismissed. The Minister of Finance said she didn’t have any discussion about this with the Premier or any Minister – but as the former chair of the Nalcor Board, she was obligated to know the details of Mr. Martin’s contract and the costs of dismissing him. Yet, it was the Minister of Finance’s Budget speech that triggered Mr. Martin’s dismissal, according to the Auditor General. She knew it would cost the province millions of dollars; yet she did it anyway,” said Davis.

“This was an orchestrated deception of the people of the province by the Premier and two of his Ministers. The payment of all those millions of dollars was triggered by Premier Ball and his Ministers, who effectively cut Mr. Martin loose, lined up someone else to replace him, and tried to make Mr. Martin and the Board take the blame.

“Someone has to be held accountable, and the buck has to stop at the top,” said Davis.

“The Minister of Finance ought to be removed as the head of Treasury Board given the reckless incompetence she demonstrated in the triggering of Mr. Martin’s dismissal without due regard for the consequences for the taxpayers of our province.

“The Minister of Natural Resources ought to be removed from the head of that department in light of her statement that she didn’t bother to read the copy of Mr. Martin’s contract that she requested and received from the Board just weeks before his dismissal.

“And the Premier? The lack of leadership he has demonstrated is inexcusable. Either he demonstrated gross incompetence by failing to seek the costs of terminating Mr. Martin when his own Chief of Staff had just received that very information – or else, more believably, he knew full well the costs and chose not to tell the truth about it, while also choosing to mislead the public about who was responsible for Mr. Martin’s dismissal. He could have been honest, open and forthright about the decision to terminate Mr. Martin, but he chose instead to be deceitful and pretend it was the choice of others. That speaks volumes about his leadership, and he must be held accountable for choosing the path of deception instead of the path of openness and honesty,” said Davis.

“Premier Ball tried to make it look like the Nalcor Board did this, or Mr. Martin did this, as if they did something wrong – but the Auditor General backs up the Board and Mr. Martin and shows the incompetence of the Premier and the untrustworthiness of the things he said. The Auditor General’s report is a scathing indictment of the Premier’s lack of leadership in his own office and his failure to be honest with the people of the province. This was a test of leadership, and Premier Ball failed,” said Davis.

Auditor General’s report

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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

 

February 21, 2017
For Immediate Release

Media Advisory: Official Opposition to Hold Media Availability

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, will be available to the media today (Tuesday, February 21) at 2:30 p.m. to respond to the release of the Auditor General’s Report on Severance of the former CEO of Nalcor.

The availability will be held outside of the House of Assembly, East Block, Confederation Building.

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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

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2017-FEB-21: What Are Premier Ball and MHA Letto Doing to Help Wabush Mines Pensioners?

February 21, 2017
For Immediate Release

What Are Premier Ball and MHA Letto Doing to Help Wabush Mines Pensioners?

Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, says there is no evidence of action by either Premier Dwight Ball or MHA Graham Letto despite the government’s vote in favour of a motion committing to help current pensioners of Wabush Mines, whose pensions were not protected when Cliffs Natural Resources entered bankruptcy protection under the federal Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

The Liberal government brought forward a resolution in the House of Assembly in 2016 to support the efforts of some Members of Parliament to amend the federal legislation so that, in future, pensioners will be better protected. The PC caucus proposed an amendment to “urge the Parliament to give these changes retroactive effect so the pensioners of Wabush Mines may benefit from this action”. The government supported the PC amendment.

Hutchings said, “The pensioners of Wabush Mines have been waiting too long for action from this government, and the Premier. What actions have the Premier and MHA Letto taken to help the pensioners who were severely impacted?‎ Talk is just posturing unless it is followed by action, but where is the evidence that the Premier, as Labrador’s Cabinet representative, has taken action to address the injustice, abandonment and hardship these pensioners are dealing with?

“If the company’s financial circumstances have improved since 2016, the workers should benefit from that.”

A recent Quebec court decision ruled that Quebec courts would have jurisdiction to decide matters on pensioners in this province. ‎The Quebec court ruled “that it has jurisdiction to deal with the issues related to the interpretation of the Newfoundland and Labrador Pension Benefits Act in the context of the present proceedings under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and that it will not refer those issues to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Hutchings said, “This looks like a decision that needs a second look. Perhaps a higher court would reach a different conclusion. Something seems to be wrong when a Quebec court will decide on the application of Newfoundland and Labrador legislation to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Is this fair and just? Is there is an opportunity to assist pension plan members through the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal? Where are Premier Ball and Graham Letto on this issue?”

“This is about trying to restore the benefits of pensions that the Wabush Mines employees spent many years contributing to. They deserve to be protected, just as others who are owed money by the company are protected. The workers who contributed to their pension plan should be among the first to be taken care of, not the last,” said 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

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2017-FEB-23: Premier Giving Up Minimum Processing Requirements Without Getting the Promised $280M CETA Fisheries Investment Fund from Ottawa?

February 23, 2017
For Immediate Release

Premier Giving Up Minimum Processing Requirements Without Getting the Promised $280M CETA Fisheries Investment Fund from Ottawa?

Keith Hutchings, Official Opposition Critic for Intergovernmental Affairs, is asking, “Is Premier Ball preparing to give up minimum processing requirements (MPRs) in our province’s fisheries as part of the CETA trade deal with the European Union without getting the full $280-million Fisheries Investment Fund that Ottawa agreed to give this province?”

“In May 2015, when the federal government of the day tried to renege on their Fisheries Investment Fund agreement, our government said we would pull MPRs off the table. Our administration’s trade minister stated: ‘Given there’s been no movement on the fishery fund … we’re not giving up our jurisdictional authority for minimum processing requirements. We’ve simply said that’s off the table for Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Hutchings.

Hutchings asked, “Has Premier Ball given up the fight, and put MPRs back on table? Will he now just relinquish MPRs – which is an area of provincial jurisdiction – to Ottawa, for free? It is interesting to note MPRs are not used by other Atlantic provinces. Based on the Premier’s comments, he is giving up MPRs without getting the full $280 million Ottawa promised us.

“Premier Ball has been telling people that our administration did not really have an agreement with the federal government for a Fisheries Investment Fund. That’s not what Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said in December 2014 when he wrote to Premier Davis stating: ‘The abolition of minimum processing requirements is clearly of great concern to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and your government’s support of the CETA was earned, in part, by a promise from the Government of Canada to help the industry adjust to the new reality. That promise should be honoured.’ Mr. Trudeau’s letter said the promise included a Fisheries Investment Fund that ‘addressed industry development and renewal as well as worker displacement’, and was valued at a contribution of $280 million from the federal government to Newfoundland and Labrador – exactly what we have always said.

“But if Premier Ball disagreed with Prime Minister Trudeau that the promise was not secure, why didn’t he draw his own line in the sand and pull MPRs off the table unless Ottawa guaranteed our province $280 million for a Fisheries Investment Fund? The Belgian region of Wallonia – the most economically challenged region in their country – demanded and received concessions to approve the CETA deal. Our Premier could have done the same, for very similar reasons. And he could have used Mr. Trudeau’s 2014 letter to Premier Davis to remind the Prime Minister of his own commitment. It would surely have been an effective way to secure the fisheries fund our province needs. Did Premier Ball use all the levers to get this promised funding, or is he giving up those levers without securing the full funding we were promised?” said 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

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2017-FEB-24: PC’s Welcome IOC’s Wabush 3 Expansion: Their Confidence Will Drive Growth

February 24, 2017
For Immediate Release

PC’s Welcome IOC’s Wabush 3 Expansion: Their Confidence Will Drive Growth

Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, welcomes the decision by the Iron Ore Company of Canada to expand their operations by developing the new Wabush 3 pit.

“The company’s decision is not just an important sign of their confidence in the future of mining in Labrador West, but a move that will boost the confidence of other mining companies looking to Labrador,” said Hutchings.

“Labrador West has a solid record spanning several decades of creating wealth for companies that invest there. Labrador has not just the high-quality ore that developers require, but a world-class work force‎ with a proven record of delivering for investors.

“Soon, our province will be bringing new hydro power on stream on Labrador’s Churchill River that will fuel the growth of operations that need secure energy sources. Muskrat Falls power will help to drive new growth and economic opportunity in Labrador, and that’s one of the reasons we supported the decision to build it and ensure needed electricity would be available for future industrial opportunities. Energy means jobs and growth,” he said.

“We are very excited for both current and future workers of Labrador West and their families, because this expansion ‎is what they have been waiting to hear. Uncertainty in the commodities markets took a heavy toll on families and the local economy, but IOC’s vision and confidence have replaced that uncertainty with optimism about growth to come. They are proving that confidence is contagious, and that’s a lesson all of us need to keep in mind as we look to the future of our province. First we need to believe in our capacity to grow, because confidence is the fuel that makes growth happen,” said 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

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2017-MAR-01: PC Opposition Honours James McGrath

March 1, 2017
For Immediate Release

PC Opposition Honours James McGrath

Paul Davis, Leader of Official Opposition, has expressed his sympathies to the family of former Newfoundland and Labrador Lieutenant Governor and Member of Parliament James McGrath.

“Jim McGrath dedicated his life to serving the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, starting when he was just a teenager with a keen interest in the Confederation debate. He represented our province in the federal Parliament as the MP for St. John’s East, and was first elected in 1957. While unsuccessful in the following election, he persevered and was elected six more times, serving from 1968 to 1986,” said Davis.

Davis added, “He sat in the federal Cabinet as our Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. He was chair of the special committee that introduced the practice of electing the Speaker by secret ballot. He chaired the Standing Committee on Human Rights. He then accepted the call to serve as Newfoundland and Labrador‎’s eighth Lieutenant Governor from 1986 to 1991. What a remarkable career of public service.”

“To his family and friends, I express our deepest sympathies as Leader of the Official Opposition and Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, the Party in which he proudly served‎. He has earned a place of honour in our province’s history by dedicating his life to making all our lives better,” said Davis.

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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

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2017-MAR-01: Liberals’ Inaction Undermines Mistaken Point UNESCO World Heritage Site

March 1, 2017
For Immediate Release

Liberals’ Inaction Undermines Mistaken Point UNESCO World Heritage Site

Barry Petten, Environment Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The Ball Liberals appear to be undermining the province’s commitments to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by not meeting obligations directly affecting Mistaken Point, which – after many years of planning and hard work in the community – was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2016. With recent changes to the former Environment and Conservation department and governance changes, things appear in chaos. The world is coming to Mistaken Point this year, and the Liberal government is not ready.”

The Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve has among the oldest multi-cellular fossils in the world. It is now the first provincially-managed World Heritage Site in the province. In Question Period on March 1, Petten held the Ball government to account for recent government changes affecting the site.

“Can the Minister provide the analysis and rationale for the decision to divide the Parks Division from the Natural Areas Division, and put the Natural Areas operations in the Department of Fisheries and Lands while placing the Parks operations under the Tourism department? Aren’t the province’s Natural Areas going to be viewed as significant tourism sites?

“How does the government intend to keep the commitments of the management plan objectives it is obligated to maintain under UNESCO status for Mistaken Point? In Budget 2016, the Liberal government eliminated the Manager of Environmental Education, a position that included ‘presentation and interpretation’ responsibilities of the site. It was one of only two key management positions with responsibilities for the new World Heritage Site and needed to continue to implement UNESCO’s management plan,” said Petten.

Petten added, “The management plan requires an advisory council of ‘community and science’ must be struck and operating; but since July, nothing has been done. A required memorandum of understanding is still not finalized with the local community. Plans for the interpretation centre have not been finished, and the tourism season is rapidly approaching. Four identified additional positions were advertised and we are told are now on hold. Will there be a full complement of staff in place to work with tourists by the spring?”

“We have heard from the region that over 700 requested tours were turned away from visiting the Mistaken Point site last year because of a lack of resources. Visitation to the site is up 70 per cent from the prior year. Far more tourists will be expected to seek out the site this year, given its UNESCO status and national and international exposure. We are told that the Interpretation Centre at Portugal Cove South was advised by government that they were not permitted to take reservations for this summer. Can the Minister give assurances that the appropriate resources will be in place to ensure tourists are served, opportunities are not lost and our reputation is not damaged? Will site enhancements to the interpretation centre and staffing commitments be adequate to meet visitation demands for Mistaken Point when it opens and fulfill UNESCO obligations?” asked Petten.

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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

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2017-MAR-08: PC Executive Council 2017

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD the President’s Letter and Registration Form

 

Dear Progressive Conservatives:

Please see the attached registration form for the upcoming Executive Council
Meeting to be held in Clarenville on April 7-9, 2017. Registration will begin Friday
evening with the meeting expected to conclude Saturday at 5pm.

This is a critical time for our party and the focus for this meeting will be a
presentation on the recommended changes to the constitution around Membership,
Leadership Contests, and other pertinent constitutional amendments. As we move
forward and chart a direction for the party it is critical that you join us to decide
how our constitution will look. With a leadership contest and a provincial election
on the horizon we need you on board to help us succeed. A more detailed agenda
will be forth coming following registration.

The cost of registration is $100.00 per delegate, and $75.00 for youth delegates. The
cost of registration includes 1 ticket to the Meet and Greet Reception Friday night,
nutrition break Saturday morning and lunch Saturday afternoon. Please note that
Dustabella’s Restaurant will be offering a full buffet breakfast to participants for a
cost of $10 per person from 7-9 am on Saturday; also note that additional tickets to
the Meet and Greet Reception can be purchased for $15.

Please ensure registration is received no later than Monday, March 27th. Note that
payment is due upon registration – you will not be considered registered until
payment has been received.

Information on registration, payment, and accommodations is enclosed in this
package.

If you have any questions, please contact Den Stone (427-0035), Charlotte Halleran
(368-6165), or Desmond Whalen (427-9548).

Regards,

Graydon Pelley
President, PC Party of NL

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2017-MAR-09: Liberals Don’t Know Where They’re Moving Lands Branch, or Whether It Will Save Money or Cost More

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, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca

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2017-MAR-10: Premier Ball Fails to Deliver on Trudeau’s Written Commitment to a 70% Share of a $400M NL Fisheries Investment Fund

March 10, 2017
For Immediate Release

Premier Ball Fails to Deliver on Trudeau’s Written Commitment to a 70% Share of a $400M NL Fisheries Investment Fund

Kevin Parsons, Fisheries Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The Ball Liberals have failed to deliver on Prime Minister Trudeau’s written commitment to provide Newfoundland and Labrador with a 70 per cent share of a $400 million Fisheries Investment Fund, which would amount to a federal investment of $280 million specifically for Newfoundland and Labrador.”

“A Fisheries Investment Fund for Newfoundland and Labrador was negotiated with Ottawa with respect to the removal of minimum processing requirements in our fish processing sector. The funding announced today falls significantly short of the $280 million that was negotiated. Premier Ball is telling us to settle for $100 million, a fraction of what was promised and a fraction of what our fishing industry needs,” he said.

Mr. Trudeau made the commitment in writing to former Premier Paul Davis in December of 2014. The text of the letter is included in the attached backgrounder.

In his 2014 letter, Mr. Trudeau wrote: “your government’s support of the CETA was earned, in part, by a promise from the Government of Canada to help the industry adjust to the new reality. That promise should be honoured.

Parsons said, “Premier Ball is telling us we have to settle for a $100 million share of a $325 million fund for all of Atlantic Canada when clearly this is a breach of an agreement. He has refused to fight for, and failed to deliver, the $280 million in federal funding for Newfoundland and Labrador’s Fisheries Investment Fund. That funding is needed now to deal with what is happening in the fishing industry today and to deliver on the five pillars of the program – marketing opportunities; fishery science; research and development; infrastructure; and workplace adjustments. Why has Premier Ball been unwilling and unable to deliver on the commitment his federal counterpart and friend made to Newfoundland and Labrador in writing? It is simply not good enough.”

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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

BACKGROUNDER

The December 2014 letter from Liberal leader Justin Trudeau states:

Relevant links:

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2017-MAR-24: Hutchings Says Federal Budget Ignores Newfoundland and Labrador’s Needs

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

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2017-MAR-27: Premier’s “Report Card” Ignores Needs of the People

March 27, 2017
For Immediate Release

Premier’s “Report Card” Ignores Needs of the People

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, says, “The Premier’s self-congratulatory ‘report card’ on his flimsy ‘way forward’ document is really just an exercise in trying to divert people’s attention from the Liberals’ failure to address the real needs of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and grow our battered economy.”

“The ‘way forward’ document says practically nothing about the issues that really matter to the people of the province. It’s full of fluff words like ‘review,’ ‘begin,’ ‘proceed’ and ‘develop’, but lacks the concrete actions that will make a real difference in people’s lives. Sadly, halfway through his second year in office, the Premier has no progress to report.”

“What’s worse is that they have not even kept the few deadlines they set for themselves. They’ve actually modified their commitments to hide their failure to achieve them. They’ve quietly extended their own deadline for a generic royalty regime, even though our government already announced it in 2015, two years ago. They also cheated on their own report card by including decisions the English School Board had already taken to reduce the government’s footprint,” he said.

Davis added, “The Premier expects Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to hold him to a lower standard than the one he promised in 2015, when he committed to an economic growth plan. Where is the economic growth plan the Premier promised? Halfway through their second year, the Liberals have not only failed to deliver a plan for growth, but sent our economy reeling by overtaxing consumers, leaving thousands of public employees worried and afraid to invest, and sending businesses and other employers into decline. While every other province is expecting to grow in the coming year, this province under the Liberals is in freefall, and people are worried about what’s to come. The Liberals have failed to lead and floundered without direction. Nothing in their ‘way forward’ document delivers the comprehensive, sound, strategic economic plan our province needs.”

“This Liberal government does not have a plan, and people are losing hope and losing patience. Survey after survey shows the vast majority of people in this province are deeply dissatisfied with the performance of this government. After being crushed by exorbitant tax increases and unending uncertainty, who can blame people for being dissatisfied with the Ball Liberals? The only ones patting the Ball Liberals on the back for their ‘way forward’ charade are the Ball Liberals,” said Davis.

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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

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2017-MAR-28: ‘Way Forward’ Only Looks Backward: Throne Speech a Missed Opportunity, Offers No Plan for Growth and No Focus on People

March 28, 2017
For Immediate Release

‘Way Forward’ Only Looks Backward: Throne Speech a Missed Opportunity, Offers No Plan for Growth and No Focus on People

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, says, “The Ball government’s latest Throne Speech – two years into their term – is a missed opportunity that spends most of its time looking backward instead of laying the foundation for growth with a solid economic plan that includes tax relief for overtaxed Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”

“There is virtually nothing new in this year’s Throne Speech, and certainly nothing to give people confidence that the government has a plan to lead. No vision – no plan – no hope – no focus on people. They spend pages taking credit for growth achieved by the former administration’s energy and tourism strategies, but offer no strategies of their own,” said Davis.

“The speech also overlooks many issues that matter to people. It ignores the fish processing sector and the Fisheries Investment Fund they failed to deliver, and makes almost no reference to rural Newfoundland and Labrador. It mentions Labrador only as an afterthought while ignoring its enormous growth potential. It fails to include the generic royalty regime that our offshore sector has been promised for two years to give the industry certainty. It makes no reference to Mistaken Point, which just received prestigious UNESCO status and needs guidance to capitalize on that. It provides no specifics on classroom inclusion, a serious issue for teachers, parents and students.”

Davis said “The speech is full of vague words like ‘advance,’ ‘focus,’ and ‘outline,’ but short on details. Some of the phrases are ominous, like ‘we will do better with less’ – a phrase that will only worsen the uncertainty that has crushed our economy by discouraging consumers from spending.”

“The Ball Liberals still don’t get it, and that is why people of the province are very dissatisfied with the government’s performance. Nothing in this speech demonstrates that the Liberals have learned their lesson. They continue to flounder without a plan. People are demanding better. Newfoundland and Labrador deserves better,” said Davis.

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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

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2017-MAR-29: PC Opposition Proposes Summit on Inclusive Education; Shocked as Ball Liberals Vote Down the Opportunity to Listen

March 29, 2017
For Immediate Release

PC Opposition Proposes Summit on Inclusive Education; Shocked as Ball Liberals Vote Down the Opportunity to Listen

David Brazil, Education Critic for the Official Opposition, brought a private member’s resolution to the House of Assembly on March 29 calling for a summit to discuss the challenges of inclusive education and constructive solutions with all stakeholders in education.

Brazil said, “It is absolutely shocking that the Ball Liberals voted down the opportunity that teachers, parents and students are crying out for – to have the challenges of inclusive education addressed publicly so the things that are not working are clearly identified and effective solutions are clearly identified. When the opposition parties and independent member are supportive and interested in finding solutions – the Liberals are not interested in hearing what people have to say about inclusive education or supporting the teachers and students who are trying to cope with the challenges of an education system in distress. The Minister is saying the time for listening is over.”

Brazil said, “Inclusive education is a major issue of concern for teachers, parents and students. Many teachers are telling us they are not getting the support they need to enable inclusive education to function effectively. Without that support, the quality of education of our students is being compromised, and teachers are being pushed to the breaking point.”

Tracey Perry, the Official Opposition Critic for Children, Seniors and Social Development, said, “While the Task Force on Improving Educational Outcomes gave people the opportunity to raise a broad range of educational issues, there were so many concerns on the table that inclusive education was competing for the attention it needed. What better way to address the challenges than at a public summit dedicated to the issue of inclusion, where all the problems and all the potential solutions can be considered openly.”

The resolution that the Liberals rejected stated: “Be it resolved that the House of Assembly urge the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to convene a public summit in 2017 to discuss the challenges of inclusive education and constructive solutions with the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association, the Faculty of Education of Memorial University, the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils, specialist educators, classroom/subject teachers, instructional resource teachers, student assistants, guidance counsellors, educational psychologists, program specialists for student support services, school administrators, parents, students, advocacy groups for persons with disabilities, other special interest groups, experts on inclusive education practices, legislators representing all parties in the House of Assembly and members of the general public.”

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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

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2017-MAR-30: Equalization is Paying for Other Provinces’ Surpluses and Tax Cuts While the Ball Liberals Refuse to Fight for Fairness for NL

March 30, 2017
For Immediate Release

Equalization is Paying for Other Provinces’ Surpluses and Tax Cuts While the Ball Liberals Refuse to Fight for Fairness for NL

Keith Hutchings, Finance Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The national Equalization program will pay for surpluses, tax cuts and spending increases in other provinces while Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are buried under exorbitant taxes and service cuts because the Ball Liberals refuse to fight their Liberal friends for fairness.”

Quebec’s 2017 Budget (delivered on March 28) is their third balanced budget in a row and includes $7 billion in tax cuts plus new money for education, health care and transportation. Quebec will receive $11.081 billion in Equalization in 2017-18 to help pay for all that.

New Brunswick’s 2017 Budget shrinks their deficit and makes record investments in health care and education. New Brunswick will receive $1.76 billion in Equalization in 2017-18 to help pay for that.

Nova Scotia’s 2017 Budget will be brought down on April 27, but their Finance Minister has already reported that it will be balanced and include tax relief, and they will also report a surplus for 2016-17. Nova Scotia is receiving $1.779 billion in Equalization in 2017-18 to help pay for that.

Ontario’s 2017 Budget will be brought down in April, but their Finance Minister has already reported that it will be balanced. Ontario will receive $1.424 billion in 2017-18 to help pay for that.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s total share of Equalization in 2017-18 is zero.

LINK: www.fin.gc.ca/fedprov/mtp-eng.asp

Hutchings said, “The Constitution of Canada makes clear that provinces have the right to deliver comparable levels of public service at comparable rates of taxation. But Newfoundland and Labrador – whose revenues fell sharply and remain down because of global oil prices – has raised taxes and cut services to cope. That is not fair treatment under the Constitution.”

“Whenever we have demanded that Premier Ball fight the federal government for fairness, he has refused. Today he says he will entertain discussions with the federal government down the road. He would rather crush our people and economy than take on his Liberal friends in Ottawa. That is appalling,” 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

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2017-APR-06: Budget Leaves Crushing Tax Burden in Place as the Liberals Project Higher Unemployment, Slowing Economy in 2017

April 6, 2017
For Immediate Release

Budget Leaves Crushing Tax Burden in Place as the Liberals Project Higher Unemployment, Slowing Economy in 2017

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, said, “Last year, Budget 2016 imposed more than 300 tax and fee hikes on Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and Budget 2017 reduces just one of them. The crushing load of heavy taxes on everything from retail sales and personal income to insurance and books will continue to overburden families and employers, and leave Newfoundland and Labrador the only province in the country to slip into recession, with lower incomes and higher unemployment, in 2017. That is not the growth the Liberals promised to deliver. Instead of creating the conditions for growth, the Liberals are driving our economy into the ground. The Liberals’ failed approach is crushing people and costing opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Davis said, “While we are pleased to see the deficit headed in the right direction, the budget improvements the Liberals are reporting this year don’t reflect sound fiscal management by their government, but energy investments by the previous government. Our energy investments over the past decade are now paying huge dividends, and higher oil revenue is the only bright spot in the Budget, improving the bottom line by half a billion dollars. The Liberals’ own management initiatives have saved less than $100 million. The uncertainty continues to hang over our economy, and that does not bode well for our future.”

“The devil is in the details, and many of the details of this year’s Budget choices are hidden – not provided in the Budget documents. We will have many questions to ask in the weeks to come as we dig into the Budget documents.”

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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

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2017-APR-10: $11,000 a Day for Subsidized Free-Ski Weekend at Marble Mountain While Tax Burdens on People Remain in Place

April 10, 2017
For Immediate Release

$11,000 a Day for Subsidized Free-Ski Weekend at Marble Mountain While Tax Burdens on People Remain in Place

Barry Petten, Official Opposition Member for Conception Bay South, is questioning the Ball government’s priorities when they are paying $11,000 a day to re-open the Marble Mountain ski hill at a loss on a free-to-use basis on Easter weekend while at the same time continuing with hundreds of increased taxes and fees on the people of the province.

“Families are enduring exorbitant taxes while students and patients are enduring education and health care funding shortfalls at the same time that the government is dipping into the public treasury to subsidize a free-ski weekend at Marble Mountain. When they say ‘every dollar counts,’ boast to be ‘strong fiscal managers,’ and have recognized they continue to reach into the pockets of people – they choose to put a heavily subsidized free-ski weekend ahead of the real needs of the people. The Ball Liberals have their priorities upside-down,” said Petten.

In Question Period in the House of Assembly on April 10, Petten asked: “At a time when Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are struggling to get by under the weight of the Liberal government’s excessive taxes, does the minister think that it is reasonable to reopen Marble Mountain and offer a three-day free-for-all on the backs of the taxpayer? With all the Liberal tax and fee increases, people are struggling, and you think it’s a priority to give away free tickets and ski rentals?”

Petten said, “The government is grasping at straws to justify the appalling misappropriation of limited public funds.”

Petten said ironically, the Member who answered the question on behalf of the government, the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, is also the Member for Terra Nova district, the site of the White Hills Ski Resort, which is not being afforded a similar luxury.

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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

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2017-APR-11: Why is the Finance Minister Hiding the List of $65 Million in Cuts? Release the List Immediately, Says Davis

April 11, 2017
For Immediate Release

Why is the Finance Minister Hiding the List of $65 Million in Cuts? Release the List Immediately, Says Davis

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, is demanding that Finance Minister Cathy Bennett immediately release an itemized list of the $65 million in cuts from the zero-based budgeting approach highlighted by the Ball government in Budget 2017.

The cuts are mentioned in a fact sheet the Finance Minister released on Thursday with the Budget, but with no details. The fact sheet entitled “Our Plan” stated: “Budget 2017 includes savings of $283 million from actions in the following areas: Implementing a zero-based budgeting approach, saving $65 million. Reviewing expenditures of agencies, boards and commissions for anticipated savings of $42 million. Removing duplication and streamlining management structures within departments, agencies, boards and commissions to make them more efficient and focused will achieve savings of $31 million. Annualizing the impact of actions implemented in 2016-17 accounts for $68 million in savings. Net savings of $77 million including actuary calculations and other accrual adjustments.http://www.budget.gov.nl.ca/budget2017/plan/ourplan.pdf

Davis said, “The only information the Finance Minister gave the people of the province about the $65 million in savings is that single sentence. This is a significant amount of money, but the Minister refuses to provide details. If there is a list identifying the $65 million, release it.”

“In last year’s budget, the Liberals took the ‘lazy’ approach of downloading their budget shortfall on the backs of Newfoundland and Labrador taxpayers with more than 300 tax and fee increases, 299 of which they are keeping in place. This year, they have taken the ‘secretive and mysterious’ approach by not telling people what they are planning to cut,” he said.

“When asked for a list of the cuts the Liberals intend to make this year that amount to $65 million, the Minister refused to provide it. Instead, she criticized us for not waiting until later, during the Estimates Committee meetings weeks from now. When journalists asked for the list, she took the same approach, refusing to answer repeated questions. The Minister is satisfied to keep the details of the Liberal budget a mystery.”

“What is the Finance Minister hiding? Where is the government planning to cut? Tell people,” said Davis.

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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

 

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2017-APR-12: Health Budget Fails to Keep Pace with Rising Costs

April 12, 2017
For Immediate Release

Health Budget Fails to Keep Pace with Rising Costs

Steve Kent, Health Critic for the Official Opposition, said the province’s 2017 health budget fails to keep pace with rising costs, just as predicted.

“Canada’s Health Ministers told the Government of Canada last December that, without an increase in health transfers, provincial health funding would not keep pace with the rising costs of providing it. They said funding was needed to increase just to break even. The Ministers made it clear that a 3% increase was not enough. Manitoba’s Health Minister said a minimum increase of 5.2% would be required. The Fraser Institute said cost pressures increase at a rate of between 4.6% and 6.3%. Past governments were increasing health transfers by a rate of 6% to cope with rising costs.

“Unfortunately, this province’s 2017 Budget funding for Provincial Drug Programs, Physicians’ Services, Dental Services, and Regional Health Authorities and Related Services did not increase this year by the amounts that Health Ministers have been telling Ottawa they need,” said Kent.

· If Provincial Drug Programs funding had grown by 6% this year, it would be $151,935,312, but it is actually $139,644,700 – a shortfall of $12,290,612.

· If Physicians’ Services funding had grown by 6%, it would be $504,601,658, but it is actually $497,506,900 – a shortfall of $7,094,758.

· If Dental Services funding had grown by 6%, it would be $518,239,088, but it is actually $508,286,400 – a shortfall of $9,952,688.

· If Regional Health Authorities and Related Services funding had grown by 6%, it would be $2,323,187,478, but it is actually $2,224,823,300 – a shortfall of $98,364,178.

· In those four areas, the shortfall from 6% growth this year is $128,372,236.

Kent said, “If funding fails to keep pace with rising costs, then cuts are inevitable. The Minister of Health is not being forthright with people in disclosing his plan to do more with less. Our government had a plan, which included repurposing health offices, streamlining and partnering. This government refuses to tell people what their plan is. Last year, they downloaded their shortfall on Regional Health Authorities, which cut frontline services, some of which they reinstated under public pressure. It’s a chaotic way to manage a health care system on which so many people rely”.

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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

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2017-APR-22: Opposition Calls for Leadership and Action from Minister of Fisheries

April 22, 2017
For Immediate Release

Opposition Calls for Leadership and Action from Minister of Fisheries

The Official Opposition is calling on the Ball Liberal government to step up and demonstrate leadership to help address the uncertainty which exists in the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery. Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition has written the Federal Minister of Fisheries, Dominic Leblanc and the Provincial Minister of Fisheries, Steve Crocker to express concern about the unrest and to encourage immediate action from both Ministers.

“We believe that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are united in the belief that action is needed immediately to help address challenges and the future of the fishery. This includes a management plan, improved research, an open and honest understanding of the science, respect for the experience and knowledge of harvesters, and improved communications and partnership with all stakeholders, “ said Davis. “Where are the Federal and Provincial Ministers of Fisheries, the Premier, and Federal Members of Parliament who represent the people of our province? What actions have they taken to address the escalating situation with the fishery?”

There are a number of avenues that could be pursued which include: a federal summit led by the Federal Government to be convened immediately in Newfoundland and Labrador; an immediate process to set up a joint management structure for the fishery; reinstatement of an all-party committee; reinstatement of the $400 million dollar fisheries fund which was promised by the Prime Minister, and the release of details of new science investments that have been established and how research will review the fishery ecosystem.

“We are concerned for the well-being of Mr. Richard Gillett whose circumstance is symbolic of the unrest and frustration in the province,” said Kevin Parsons, Opposition Critic for Fisheries. “We have encouraged both Ministers to act now, demonstrate leadership and show a willingness for a cooperative effort to ensure the best interests of the fishery, all harvesters, processors and Mr. Gillett.”

“It is critical that both the Federal and Provincial Minister of Fisheries and the Liberal government take immediate action to ensure the people of the province that they will stand by the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery, and put the needs of the people of the province first,” said Davis.

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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

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2017-MAY-05: Highway Snowclearing Cut Makes a Tragedy Far More Likely; Opposition Demands Reinstatement of Service

May 5, 2017
For Immediate Release

Budget 2017 Reveals Scope of Giveaway on NL Fisheries Fund

Kevin Parsons, Fisheries Critic for the Official Opposition, is concerned that with the crisis in the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery, the Ball Liberals seem to be doing very little to help address the challenges and seem content to sit back and wait for the Federal Government to tell them what to do next.

“In Budget ’17 estimates meetings, the Minister of Fisheries confirmed that Newfoundland and Labrador will receive only $7 million in federal funding in 2017 if an agreement can be reached. The Liberals still don’t have an agreement, timelines or details on how the Atlantic Fund will help industry in our province. At a time when people are struggling – it is not good enough,” said Parsons.

“How did the Ball Liberals manage to let fisheries funding fall from $400 million, when we had a public commitment from the Prime Minister to honour the $400 million agreement our government had achieved? How pathetic has the province’s representation been when they’ve settled for just 2.5% of what we were promised?”

Parsons added, “How does that even begin to compensate Newfoundland and Labrador for the decision to relinquish Minimum Processing Requirements (MPRs) with respect to the European Union under CETA? We are the only Atlantic province with MPRs, and the $400 million fund was intended to be exclusively for our province’s use as a condition of our decision to relinquish MPRs for EU countries. The Ball Liberals let Ottawa turn our exclusive fund into an Atlantic-wide fund, of which we are getting a pathetically small share.”

“How does that amount of funding even begin to prepare our fishing industry to seize the opportunities that are opening up before us? Why doesn’t the Ball government care about maximizing Newfoundland and Labrador’s opportunities in one of our province’s most important rural industries at a time when our economy desperately needs new opportunities for growth?

“Premier Ball has become the master of giveaways. To keep the peace with Liberals across the country, he is giving away the opportunities and funding that Newfoundland and Labrador ought to be fighting for. Who is fighting for our province while Mr. Ball sells us out? It is a shameful neglect of duty, and our people and economy are suffering because of it,” said Parsons.

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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

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2017-MAY-05: Opposition Demands Liberals Respect Independent Recommendations to Restore Financial Integrity of MHA Pension Plan

May 5, 2017
For Immediate Release

Opposition Demands Liberals Respect Independent Recommendations to Restore Financial Integrity of MHA Pension Plan

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, is suggesting that the Liberal Caucus respect the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act by accepting the recommendations for MHA Pension Plan reform as recommended by the independent, arm’s-length Members’ Compensation Review Committee (MCRC).

Davis has written to the Speaker and other members of the House of Assembly Management Commission, asking that a meeting be convened immediately to address the issue.

At the last meeting of the Management Commission, the Government House Leader brought forward an alternative set of recommendations developed by the Liberal Caucus to modify the MHA Pension Plan in ways that varied significantly from those recommended by the independent MCRC.

Davis said Mr. Justice Green was adamant in his 2007 report that public confidence in the integrity of the House of Assembly would not be restored unless MHA benefits are determined by a body that is independent of MHAs and operating at arm’s length from elected officials.

In his report – in which he used the word “independent” more than 100 times – Green stated: “It is time to return to a more principle-based system. The need to rebuild public confidence requires it. As has been stressed many times throughout this report, transparency and accountability are essential to the maintenance of public confidence. A compensation-setting process that is engaged in under a veil of secrecy, by people who make the decision in the context of a conflict of self-interest and public duty, will not pass muster. An independent review process that takes place in the light of public scrutiny is the least that is required.”

Davis said, “The Liberal Caucus proposal does not meet the standard that Mr. Justice Green established. There is no provision in the Act for any process other than the one laid out in section 16 to make recommendations on MHA pensions. Any other process is out of line.”

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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

 

Link to 2007 Green Report

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2017-MAY-10: Why Did the Premier and Cabinet Cancel the New Middle School that the School Board Recommended and the Region Needs?

May 10, 2017
For Immediate Release

Why Did the Premier and Cabinet Cancel the New Middle School that the School Board Recommended and the Region Needs?

Keith Hutchings, MHA for Ferryland, said Premier Dwight Ball misinformed people on Facebook Live on Tuesday night when he said the Newfoundland and Labrador English School Board had made the decision to cancel the new intermediate school for the region, which the previous administration announced in Budget 2015.

Under questioning in the House on Wednesday, Education Minister Dale Kirby contradicted the Premier by stating once again – as he had done on April 4 – that it was the Premier and Cabinet, not the Board, who made the decision soon after coming to office in 2015 to cancel the new middle school project that the previous administration had approved in Budget 2015.

In fact, the Chair of the English School Board wrote a letter on March 22, restating their position that the new school needs to proceed. Their recommendation was based on an extensive study undertaken by the Board, which provided evidence about the projected pace of growth in the region.

Hutchings said, “The Liberal Cabinet chose instead to fund a school extension, an option that is not adequate, not cost-effective and not practical to meet the growing needs. With the tight boundary lines, the contractor has had to make multiple attempts to provide a design that would accommodate the needs. An Access to Information response proves that the project is already 30 per cent over budget – even before the final design, traffic study, septic review and electrical upgrade have been completed – and it is three to four months behind schedule, meaning it will not like be ready to meet the need in September 2018 as required. The Liberal government is spending millions on a makeshift fix instead of spending responsibly to meet the needs effectively. And come 2021, when the Mobile school is out of space with nowhere left to expand, there is no contingency plan to handle the demand. This represents dismal planning on the part of the Premier, Education Minister and Cabinet.”

Hutchings said, “The Liberal government is uninformed. Despite the false statement the Premier made to the people of the province to try and distance himself from his own decision, the English School Board has never wavered in its recommendation that the new school for the region needs to be built now to address the mounting need for additional classroom capacity in this rapidly growing region.”

“When recently surveyed, the people of the region overwhelmingly recognized the need for a new school. The region is experiencing a very high pace of growth. That’s the reason the new school was approved, and the Cabinet’s makeshift ‘school extension’ approach will not be adequate to meet the education needs of the children of the region. The Board recognizes that, but the Premier and his Cabinet are not listening to the Board and do not care about the impact on children.”

“Will the Premier explain to the parents and children of the region why their education needs do not matter to him? Tell them the real story. Why did he cancel their new school?” Hutchings asked.

Hutchings said, “The previous government invested hundreds of millions of dollars in school infrastructure throughout the province over the course of a decade, based on needs, not politics. The new school was approved in 2015 based on need, but it appears Premier Ball is motivated by factors other than the needs of children, and has resorted to playing politics with education – even in the House today – instead of focusing on impacts their decisions will have on children.”
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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

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2017-MAY-16: PC Opposition Demands Ball Liberals Stop Hiding $1.9M Muskrat Falls EY Report, Oversight Committee Reports

May 16, 2017
For Immediate Release

PC Opposition Demands Ball Liberals Stop Hiding $1.9M Muskrat Falls EY Report, Oversight Committee Reports

Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources critic for the Official Opposition, is demanding that Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady release an updated EY report along with the reports the Muskrat Falls oversight committee has done during the Liberals’ 17-month term of office.

“For the 17 months since they were sworn into office in December 2015, the Ball Liberals have borne the responsibility for managing and overseeing the Muskrat Falls project. Yet in that entire 17 months, they have refused to release any of the reports on the work the Muskrat Falls oversight committee has done during their term of office, and they have released nothing from EY in more than a year, a report which has a pricetag of close to $2 million,” said Hutchings.

“The Muskrat Falls oversight committee was appointed by the previous administration in March 2014, and in the period up until the government changed in December 2015, our administration made those reports public on a regular basis,” said Hutchings.

In December 2015, the government commissioned EY to review certain aspects of the project. To date, they have released only an April 2016 “interim” report by EY – a report the government now admits cost approximately $1.9 million dollars.

“Since the Ball Liberals took office, they have drawn a veil of secrecy down over the Muskrat Falls project, hidden the reports that the oversight committee has done on their watch, and hidden the work EY has done – at great public expense – for the past year. EY was involved with the oversight committee prior to the new Liberal administration forming government, and the Liberal government has blocked the release of recommendations. Under their watch, the EY review has ballooned to close to $2 million. What is the value of this report if the Liberals have blocked the release of information? Why won’t the Liberals release the report?”

Hutchings said, “The Minister will not tell the public what EY has found during the past year. She says that information is with the oversight committee, whose reports she is also hiding. Why the secrecy? Don’t the Liberals believe taxpayers have a right to know what is happening on the Muskrat Falls project on the Liberals’ watch? The people of the province do indeed have a right to see the reports the Muskrat Falls oversight committee has done over the past 17 months, and updated information from EY as well, and the government has an obligation to make this information public and stop hiding it from the people.”

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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

 

Regular reports of the Muskrat Falls oversight committee on work completed prior to the change of government in 2015:

• July 2014 – https://www.gov.nl.ca/mfoversight/pdf/mfoversight.pdf
• September 2014 – https://www.gov.nl.ca/mfoversight/pdf/report_sept_2014.pdf
• December 2014 – https://www.gov.nl.ca/mfoversight/pdf/report_dec_2014.pdf
• March 2015 – https://www.gov.nl.ca/mfoversight/pdf/report_mar_2015.pdf
• August 2015 – https://www.gov.nl.ca/mfoversight/pdf/report_aug_2015.pdf
• December 2015 – https://www.gov.nl.ca/MFoversight/pdf/December-Report-2015.pdf

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2017-MAY-17: PC Opposition Resolution Calls for Action Immediately On Joint Fisheries Management

May 17, 2017
For Immediate Release

PC Opposition Resolution Calls for Action Immediately On Joint Fisheries Management

In the House of Assembly on Wednesday, the PC Opposition Caucus brought forward a Private Member’s Resolution urging “the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to take immediate action to establish joint fisheries management.”

The resolution – brought forward by Opposition Fisheries Critic Kevin Parsons, and supported with speeches from Ferryland MHA Keith Hutchings and Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune MHA Tracey Perry – received unanimous support from Members of the House of Assembly.

The Opposition is calling for a committee to be put in place immediately to take the lead on developing a detailed framework for joint fisheries management and report back within a year.

Parsons said, “The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board is an excellent model to use as we make our case to Ottawa for a new approach to fisheries management that gives Newfoundland and Labrador a seat at the table in our most important resource industry.”

Hutchings said, “We need to take the politics out of this critical issue – and the best way to do that is to establish a committee, led by Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University, with the participation of industry stakeholders, to develop a detailed framework on joint fisheries management for presentation to the Government of Canada and report back within a year.”

Perry said, “The time for letting others determine our future is past. This is Canada’s 150th anniversary. So Canada – here’s how to celebrate your birthday – by granting to Newfoundland and Labrador the say we require to turn the fishing industry we brought to this country into a truly sustainable 21st-century enterprise. We have proven, through the unprecedented successes of the aquaculture industry in my district, that our fishery offers our people a bright and sustainable future, if we are directly involved in managing the industry in the best interests of the people.”

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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

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2017-MAY-30: House of Assembly Closes Spring Session Early

May 30, 2017
For Immediate Release

House of Assembly Closes Spring Session Early

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, said, “The Ball Liberals are closing the House of Assembly for the summer after having a session that was light on legislation and after appearing to have run out of ideas.”

Davis said, “The Ball Liberals have had yet another tough sitting in the House, as they did in their two previous sittings, but this sitting was defined by even fewer answers and ‎even less accountability than prior sittings.”

“In Budget 17, the Liberals have kept many details hidden. In the House and in Estimates committee meetings, despite repeated attempts by the Opposition to get answers to basic questions about the impact on people and programs, the Liberals have provided few answers and limited detail.”

“The same is true for virtually every other matter we have raised. The Liberals have continued their blame-game approach, and provided few reasonable responses when asked fair, direct questions. We know little more now than when the spring session started about important issues that matter to people.”

“Meanwhile, the sitting was terribly damaging to the credibility of the Premier and his government, which has been embroiled in one scandal after another, from the shocking conflict of interest of the Clerk they hired as a patronage appointment to the waste of‎ millions on needless reports and consultants. They have wasted millions more by firing highly qualified public servants in the name of restraint, only to quietly backfill positions with Liberal campaign workers, relatives and friends,” said Davis.

“The ‎Ball administration, after just two years, has all the signs of a government well past its ‘best before’ date, not only running from accountability and embroiled in scandal, but lacking any plans for growing our economy, which on their watch is projected to get worse, year after year,” he said. “The Ball Liberals may want to run, but they can’t hide from the consequences of the destructive way they’re governing. People deserve better.”

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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

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2017-MAY-30: Voisey’s Bay Community Development Initiatives in Limbo Because of Liberal Indecision

May 30, 2017
For Immediate Release

Voisey’s Bay Community Development Initiatives in Limbo Because of Liberal Indecision

Steve Kent, Industry Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “$30 million for community development initiatives ‎the PC government negotiated with Vale as part of an enhanced Voisey’s Bay agreement is sitting unused because of Liberal government indecision.”

“Our government announced the start of the projects two years ago, but the Liberals appear to have delayed them soon after taking office, and have not restarted the work in the two years since,” said Kent.

“That means the $4.5 million new aquatics centre for Placentia is in limbo, to the detriment of the region, even though the town has had the detailed architectural plans ready for months and has had many meetings with the province to try to move this project forward,” said Kent. “Placentia residents are frustrated with the Ball government’s inaction, and incredibly, the Liberals are now blaming the town for the delay that he and his government are causing.”

“The Liberals’ inaction means the $11 million new wellness centre for Happy Valley-Goose Bay is in limbo, to the detriment of the region. The town and Labradorians are frustrated with the two-year lack of progress on this approved project, despite numerous meetings with the Ball government, which can’t seem to get around to doing anything.”

“What is the status of the $12 million supportive ‎housing initiatives and health support projects for vulnerable populations and the $2.5 million cardiovascular hybrid operating room for the Health Sciences Centre ?

“The Liberals appear to be preventing projects from moving forward despite the fact that the money was allocated by Vale two years ago. How can communities grow and thrive, and how can the lives of vulnerable people be improved, when ‎the Liberals are blocking the already-funded projects that would make a huge difference?” said Kent.

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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

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2017-JUN-01: Did the Liberals Saddle Taxpayers with the Burden of Paying Husky’s Carbon Tax on the West White Rose Extension?

June 1, 2017
For Immediate Release

Did the Liberals Saddle Taxpayers with the Burden of Paying Husky’s Carbon Tax on the West White Rose Extension?

Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, is asking, “Who will pay the carbon tax on Husky’s West White Rose Extension project?” In the House of Assembly on May 29, Hutchings asked Premier Ball, “The minister referenced before $3 billion in royalties, but through this process there were no discussions about a mandated carbon tax by the federal government for this industry and who’s going to pay it and how it affects the royalties for this province.”

Beginning in 2019, Ottawa will demand a carbon tax from new developers to offset the carbon footprint they create. But the Premier’s answer suggests the carbon tax may not have been factored into the decision to sanction the project. So do we conclude that the Ball Liberals made an agreement with Husky to saddle Newfoundland and Labrador’s taxpayers with the burden of paying Husky’s carbon tax on the West White Rose Extension project?

“Oil companies always require certainty on the costs associated and payed for during a projects life and are not receptive to a new tax once a new production field is up and operating. Any carbon tax regime would be on a general application tax across the board and would have no reason to exempt the project. There are 2 possibilities: the liberal government insulated Husky somehow in the future or the liberal government never even dealt with it, both being unacceptable. Like everyone else, they know the carbon tax is coming in 2019, and they would certainly have raised it at the negotiating table. What did the province agree to do with respect to their carbon tax obligations? Who will pay? And how much will it amount to? Tens of millions? Hundreds of millions? West White Rose is expected to produce 115 million barrels of oil, which suggests an enormous magnitude for the dollar figure we’re talking about in terms of carbon taxation. What precedent has this set for future producing fields?”

“The Premier and the Natural Resources Minister have an obligation to come clean with the people of the province about the terms of the agreement. When asked what work would be completed out of Province the Liberals refused to give details, so a real understanding of the benefits to the province could be weighed. Lay the facts on the table, including work done here and outside of province for the total project, and the estimated cost for a carbon tax on the life span of this project and who and how it will be paid.

“The secrecy from the government on this is appalling. This will be the first new offshore project to fall under the federal carbon tax regulations. It will set a precedent for future projects. How can the Liberal government deny people the information they require to judge the merits of the arrangement the Liberals have settled for and the huge implications for our vast offshore oil and gas reserves?” said 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

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2017-JUN-12: MHAs Dave Brazil and Steve Kent to Attend Expo Labrador

June 12, 2017
For Immediate Release

MHAs Dave Brazil and Steve Kent to Attend Expo Labrador

PC Official Opposition MHAs Dave Brazil and Steve Kent will attend Expo Labrador 2017 on Tuesday, June 13 through Thursday, June 15.

Managed by the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce, Expo Labrador is Labrador’s premier resource development event. Expo Labrador is being held June 12-15 at the E.J. Broomfield Memorial Arena and Lawrence O’Brien Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. This year’s theme is “Connect. Collaborate. Innovate.” Additional information on the conference can be found at http://www.chamberlabrador.com/conference/expo-labrador/ [external link]

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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

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2017-JUN-13: What Are the Liberals Doing for Plant Workers and Wharf Monitors Sidelined By Ice?

June 13, 2017
For Immediate Release

What Are the Liberals Doing for Plant Workers and Wharf Monitors Sidelined By Ice?

Kevin Parsons, Fisheries Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The Liberals have let people down by helping fish harvesters sidelined by ice while ignoring fish plant workers and wharf monitors who are sidelined for the very same reason‎.”

Last week, the federal government announced up to $5 million to assist ice-bound fish harvesters under the Ice Assistance Emergency Program.

“The fish processing sector falls under provincial jurisdiction, so it was the obligation of the province to work with Ottawa to ensure the assistance for people impacted by the severe ice conditions also included something for sidelined plant workers and wharf monitors,” he said.

“Is any assistance coming for plant workers and wharf monitors, who can’t work without fish to process? If the government can compensate the people who catch the fish because of severe ice conditions, why would it ignore plant workers and wharf monitors who are in the same situation? They have no income and need income bridging to tide them over until the harvesters can deliver fish for them to process.”

“The silence from the provincial Minister of Fisheries and Premier Dwight Ball on this issue is deafening. We’re witnessing some of the worst ice conditions we’ve seen in years, and the impact on rural fishing communities of being unable to catch, land and process fish is enormous. In past years, the Liberals promised they would pay attention to the needs of rural communities that rely on the fishery, but now that the obligation is on their shoulders, they are ignoring the very communities, plant workers and wharf monitors ‎that they promised to look out for,” he said. “Don’t they care?”

“I challenge the Premier and Minister Crocker to stop ignoring the crisis facing fishing communities ‎this fishing season. Come out from hiding, listen to people, and start providing answers and solutions to help those who feel abandoned by their government,” said Parsons.

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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

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2017-JUN-14: Six Weeks After Financial Briefing, Finance Minister Still Fails to Provide Answers to Budget Questions

June 14, 2017
For Immediate Release

Six Weeks After Financial Briefing, Finance Minister Still Fails to Provide Answers to Budget Questions

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, said, “Weeks after the Finance Minister had officials provide an April 28 briefing to the Opposition on the 2017 Budget, the Minister of Finance has still not provided answers to the questions the Opposition raised at the meeting and reiterated in a letter to the Minister on May 5.”

“The Finance Minister claimed her Budget was transparent and the Liberal government was open. But more than six weeks after we raised questions to get some clarity on the Liberal Budget, there has been no response from the Minister to the request for information. Either the Minister doesn’t know the answers or she’s hiding the details from the people,” said Davis.

“The Opposition’s questions were fundamental questions that need to be answered – questions like: What positions were cut? What was cut in the agencies? Where were the savings? Where were the inflationary spending increases? Where was the new spending? Where was federal funding leveraged? What ‘standards’ were the health authorities using when determining where to cut?”

“How could the Minister of Finance not know the answers to these questions after spending months poring over the details of the Budget? Why will she not provide details to Budget questions?” Davis asked.

The specific questions written in the Opposition’s May 5 letter included:

  • detailed breakdown of the $6.5 million identified as savings from extended government agencies (under reduction in salary and benefits handout);
  • copy of Regional Health Authorities “Standards” referenced by Finance staff (which were used for consistency in budget decision making);
  • breakdown of $38.3 million identified as new provincial spending initiatives (under details of all other changes not categorized on slide 5 handout);
  • breakdown of the $117.5 million noted as leveraging federal funds (under details of all other changes not categorized on slide 5 handout);
  • breakdown of what is included under $69.7 million noted as annualized increases (under details of all other changes not categorized on slide 5 handout);
  • breakdown of what is included in $59.7 million noted as inflationary growth in programs (under details of all other changes not categorized on slide 5 of handout);
  • details of $25.5 million identified as “other” under deficit impacts for extended government agencies.

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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

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2017-JUN-16: Minister Spending Money on the Wrong School Project: Why Is He Ignoring NLESD Board Recommendation for a New Middle School for the Southern Shore?

June 16, 2017
For Immediate Release

Minister Spending Money on the Wrong School Project: Why Is He Ignoring NLESD Board Recommendation for a New Middle School for the Southern Shore?

Keith Hutchings, PC MHA for Ferryland, is joining parents in calling out the Minister of Education for wasting public money on a misguided school extension project that the Newfoundland Labrador English School District never approved; but rather they clearly recommended that only a new middle school can meet the ‎region’s ballooning need.

Hutchings said, “‎The community is outraged by the lack of willingness of the Liberal Government to engage with the region to discuss accurate and relevant student projections that continue to support the recommendation in Budget 2015. The region is planning a public demonstration on Friday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. near the Mobile School site to highlight how wrong the Education Minister’s approach is.”

“The English School District Board has been unequivocal in their recommendation that a new middle school is desperately needed in the region to cope with a growing population and increasing demand in enrollment and residential growth in area. The NLESD Board Chair wrote March 22, 2017, ‘The Newfoundland and Labrador English School Board has subsequently restated its request for a new school through its long term capital request to the provincial government. As Chair, I wrote the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development on March 20, 2017 again restating our position that a new school should be approved. I have also had two specific conversations with the minister regarding this topic.’”

“This is in direct conflict with what the Minister and this Liberal Government has proposed to deal with a growing issue. The board’s recommendation in 2015 was to build a new Grade 5 to Grade 8 school. That has not changed to date. The only thing that has changed is Education Minister Dale Kirby stepped in to cancel it in favour of a projected extension that does not alleviate capacity concerns, has yet to be engineered and designed for current footprint at Mobile, and does not deal with issues beyond 2020/2021 – and amazingly is not endorsed by the current elected members of the school board,” said Hutchings. “I will add that the board has not voted on or approved a new extension but yet it proceeds, while the same board advocates for new school.”

“Extending the existing school at Mobile is a waste of public dollars that ought to be invested in the new school that the board recommended and for some reason the Minister canceled,” said Hutchings.

“The existing site information brings into question if it can even accommodate the extension project or will be stretched beyond the breaking point barely a couple of years after it is completed,” said Hutchings. “It makes no sense whatsoever.”

“In a recent meeting with the Concerned Parents’ Group, Transportation and Works officials, Project Manager, informed area parents that the engineering and design work has not yet been completed because issues have been identified with upgrading the sewer, water supply and electrical systems. We know concerns have arisen regarding the project’s adjacently to the Mobile cemetery and related health issues.‎ Officials have estimated that, because of arising issues, there may be a one-year delay in the project with a 30 to 50 per cent increase in the cost of the project, which by government’s own numbers will still leave capacity issues as early as 2020-21, just a year or two after the project is completed.‎

“It is an absolutely ridiculous waste of public funds that ought to be channeled toward the new school that the board and independent BAE Newplan consultant report has consistently recommended.

“When asked what if any contingency plan was in place in relation to any delay, we were informed they would use portable classrooms on an already limited footprint, but officials could not even confirm if this was possible. The community has huge concerns related to space and the safety of students during construction and indeed with additional space for portables. This just cannot safely work,” said Hutchings.

“The Minister refuses to listen to the people of the region, even as projected numbers for the coming school year are exceeding numbers projected by the Department. Why not listen to the school council? Why not revisit a misguided plan which to date has not even been shown can fit on site? Why not accept the recommendation of the English School District? Surely the Ball administration have not introduced ‘politics’ into building educational infrastructure in our province? While the Ferryland District is represented by a Progressive Conservative, surely that would not be the reason? If not, what is the reason for cancelling the new school?” said Hutchings.

Hutchings and area residents are urging the Newfoundland and Labrador elected school board trustees to join them and speak out publicly to challenge the Minister on the spending of public money that in the long run does nothing to alleviate the school issues in the region. “I challenge each and every Board Member to speak to the issue and give their opinion.”

Hutchings said, “It’s time for the Premier to break his silence on the issue. He has been asked by the parent group to meet, but he has not responded. He needs to intervene to stop this misguided extension scheme and follow the board’s clear recommendation as well as the consultants recommendation in 2014. Our students deserve nothing less.”

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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

BACKGROUNDER

Letter from Newfoundland and Labrador English School District
to Concerned Parents of St. Bernard’s Elementary
and Mobile Central High School

OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR
Chair: Goronwy Price C.E.O./Director of Education: Darrin Pike, B. Sc., B.Ed., M.Ed.

March 22, 2017

Dear Ms. Stamp:

I am writing to follow up on our previous correspondence pertaining to your request to present to the Board of Trustees of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District.

I would like to provide you with some context as to the process undertaken by the Newfoundland and Labrador English School Board to achieve new infrastructure, namely a new school, for the Mobile Central High School system.

In 2013-2014 the Board requested of the provincial government modular classrooms for St. Bernard’s Elementary to address immediate needs due to enrolment pressures at the school. Ultimately three modulars were provided for the school. Options for long-term solutions to the enrolment and capacity issues were discussed with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD) at that time.

In 2014-2015 at the request of the District, EECD funded a consultant to examine options for a long-term solution. The consultant recommended a new school and the Board subsequently requested this new school in its 2014 annual capital infrastructure submission to the provincial government. The new school was approved in Budget 2015.

Work on the design and site selection began late in 2015. Budget 2016 announced an extension for Mobile Central High School.

The Newfoundland and Labrador English School Board has subsequently restated its request for a new school through its long-term capital request to the provincial government.

As chair, I wrote the minister of Education and Early Childhood Development on March 20, 2017 again restating our position that a new school be approved. I have also had two specific conversations with the minister regarding this topic.

Your request has been furthered discussed by the Executive Committee of the Board. If you believe you have new information that can be informative to the Board beyond the steps already taken regarding the acquisition of a new school, you may address the Board on March 31, 2017. Please provide Ms. Jackie Crane with information pertaining to the content of your presentation. Further information about specific times and location will be provided at a later date.

As per the practice of the Board, one individual must represent the group as presenter and the presenter must follow the time guidelines established for such presentations (typically 15 minutes).
Should you have any questions, you may also contact Ms. Crane at 758-2381 or jackiecrane@nlesd.ca.

Sincerely,
Goronwy Price
CHAIR

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2017-JUN-16: Davis Calls on Premier to Make Change and Reassign Responsibilities for Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs

June 16, 2017
For Immediate Release

Davis Calls on Premier to Make Change and Reassign Responsibilities for Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, is calling on Premier Dwight Ball to make important matters to Labradorians and members of our Aboriginal communities a priority by assigning the responsibility for Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs to one of his Labrador caucus members.

“It is clear that the Premier doesn’t understand the challenges facing Labradorians or Aboriginal people in our province, and does not have their confidence. The concerns and best interests of Labradorians and Aboriginal people are being lost in the ocean of other responsibilities he is overseeing as Premier. He clearly does not have the time to get up to speed on the issues that matter to those whose affairs he is supposed to be shouldering. They don’t have his ear, and he isn’t their voice,” said Davis.

“All four Labrador MHAs sit in the Premier’s Caucus, and it is baffling that he has not chosen one of them to take on the significant responsibilities of administering Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs and becoming a voice for Labradorians and Aboriginal people in our province at the Cabinet table,” said Davis.

“We have already seen a situation where progress on the Muskrat Falls project was threatened because of the Premier’s poor relations with Labradorians and the Aboriginal people of the region. Despite his assurances to the people with concerns, they don’t have confidence that he understands or really cares about their concerns. He is treating people with a lack of respect that’s not acceptable. They want to be heard in a meaningful and respectful way, ” said Davis.

“The dodging has gone on for far too long, and Labradorians have had enough. It’s time for the Premier to give Labradorians and Aboriginal people a Minister who has the time to listen to them, work with them, advocate on their behalf and make their concerns a top priority,” 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

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2017-JUN-22: Premier Fueling Uncertainty in Oil Industry, Providing No Answers on Carbon Tax

June 22, 2017
For Immediate Release

Premier Fueling Uncertainty in Oil Industry, Providing No Answers on Carbon Tax

Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “Premier Ball is fueling uncertainty in the oil industry by providing no details about how a mandated carbon tax will affect the province’s future royalties and what oil and gas industry developers can expect in this province.”

“When the Premier gave a major speech this week to Noia, the province’s oil industry community, he was unable to provide even the most basic information on the impact the carbon tax will have for the industry whose leaders he was speaking to,” said Hutchings.

“There is uncertainty enough in the global oil industry without the Premier adding to it. Nothing concerns oil industry decision-makers more than not having predictability in costs related to the economics of offshore projects they are operating or considering development.”

“That lack of predictability as related to the federal government’s mandated carbon tax is of the provincial Liberal government’s making. Ottawa is demanding some sort of carbon tax. The Ball Liberals introduced carbon tax legislation in 2016 allowing the province to impose measures of our own design on five industries in the province, after two years of monitoring emissions and Cabinet would then decide behind closed doors on taxation levels. This Bill contained amazingly no direction on offshore development and regulating a carbon tax for that industry, even though questions were asked in the House of Assembly at the time by the Official Opposition. We expect the province to lead on this issue, but after months of uncertainty, we still have no answers – only speculation,” said Hutchings.

“Investors flee from uncertainty. The oil industry likes predictability. When there are huge and costly unknowns, there’s a very big risk that they will back off, costing this province developments that we cannot afford to lose.”

“It’s time for the Premier to start providing answers. His speech to Noia would have been the perfect opportunity for him to do that, with everyone gathered and waiting to hear the details that they expected the Premier to provide. It’s an opportunity missed,” said Hutchings.

A recent announcement by Husky to proceed with the White Rose Extension still has no details on who will pay a carbon tax‎: Newfoundlanders and Labradorians; Husky and its partners; consumers. We should know this now and how it affects any agreement.”

“If the province is serious about imposing a ‘made-in-Newfoundland-and-Labrador’ solution, then it falls on the Liberal government’s shoulders to tell the industry precisely what solution they are planning to impose. It’s not the global markets or outside forces that are responsible for this particular uncertainty. It is the Liberals, federal and provincial, whose failure to get their act together is fueling this uncertainty. Stop stalling. Let people in on the details of the approach the province and Ottawa intend to impose,” said 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

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2017-JUN-22: Stan Marshall’s Interest in Fortis a Very Big Issue If Province Talking With Fortis on Gull Island Development

June 22, 2017
For Immediate Release

Stan Marshall’s Interest in Fortis a Very Big Issue If Province Talking With Fortis on Gull Island Development

Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall’s interest in Fortis is a very big issue, particularly if the province is prepared to talk with Fortis about partnering to develop Gull Island power.”

As reported by NTV on Wednesday: “Premier Dwight Ball floated the idea of developing Gull Island at the Fortis Energy Exchange on Wednesday…. But Ball says a hypothetical Gull Island development would have to be driven by partnerships with the private sector, and Fortis CEO Barry Perry sounded open to the idea.”

Hutchings said, “The province’s lead on Gull Island development would be Nalcor, whose CEO is Stan Marshall. We know that the terms of Mr. Marshall’s contract were changed from those of his predecessor to allow him to have shares in a company such as Fortis. If Nalcor is talking with Fortis about developing Gull Island power through a partnership, then the CEO of Nalcor, Stan Marshall, will be in a direct conflict of interest. In the role as CEO he could hardly remove himself from discussions on one of the most significant projects for Nalcor (as the Minister of Natural Resources has alluded to as the safeguard against conflict of interest).”

“Has Mr. Marshall already had discussions with the Premier about this possible development? Or, is the Premier speculating about Nalcor’s future without consulting with Nalcor’s CEO or the Board of Nalcor Energy? Both scenarios are troubling,” said Hutchings.

“It was Premier Dwight Ball who created this conflict of interest by allowing the terms under which Mr. Marshall was hired to change so that he could retain significant shares in a company with which Nalcor may have discussions. Nalcor’s Hydro branch and Fortis’ Newfoundland Power are already linked. Fortis has entities across North America with which Nalcor could potentially deal on the sale of power from Muskrat Falls and any future development of Gull Island. The Premier is now talking at a Fortis event about partnering to develop Gull Island. The Official Opposition has continued to ask the Premier and Natural Resource Minister to demonstrate how a CEO of Nalcor could hold a financial stake in Fortis and not be in a perceived or actual conflict under the province’s Conflict of Interest Act. I also requested that the Auditor General review the details of any holdings in accordance with the Act. This current reference by the Premier related to Gull Island and a private partnership with Fortis is raising even more legitimate concerns on the Nalcor CEO’s possible conflict of interest,” said 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

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2017-JUN-22: Twillingate Fish Plant Workers Left to Fend for Themselves: No Plan, Even As More Bad News is Expected

June 22, 2017
For Immediate Release

Twillingate Fish Plant Workers Left to Fend for Themselves: No Plan, Even As More Bad News is Expected

Kevin Parsons, Fisheries Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The fish plant workers of Twillingate have been left to fend for themselves, without any plan from the Ball government.” The plant owners announced this week that the plant will remain closed for the year because of quota cuts and ice conditions.

“Plant workers here and in other parts of the province are wondering how they will make ends meet as quota cuts and ice conditions are taking their toll,” said Parsons.

“The Liberal government saw the consequences of the quota cuts and the ice conditions coming a long way off. More bad news is expected. Where is their plan to deal with the impact on people? Why are the Premier, the Fisheries Minister and the region’s MHA not speaking out with some sort of strategy to help people deal with the impact of this crisis on their lives and their community? Where is the promised $100 million dollar Atlantic Canada Fisheries Fund agreement? Has the agreement been signed? Where are the details? ”

Parsons said, “Ottawa came through with an assistance plan for ice-bound fish harvesters, but Ottawa and the province forgot about impacted fish plant workers and wharf monitors, without answers or a promise to help. Where ice is the problem, people should receive some sort of bridging assistance to tide them over until they can get to work.”

“Quotas are imposed by Ottawa, without the province’s participation. We have been calling for years for Newfoundland and Labrador to be directly involved in the quota-setting decisions. We brought forward a resolution in the spring sitting of the House to urge Ottawa and the province to explore options for joint fisheries management. The Ball Liberals promised to move on this, but they have made zero headway with their federal Liberal cousins. They are letting Ottawa make the quota cuts while our people bear the impacts, and they’re washing their hands of their responsibility to look out for the people who are suffering because of it,” said Parsons.

“How will the Liberal government assist the displaced workers and their community? Why isn’t there a plan? Why have the workers been sent home to deal with this bad news on their own, without even the sympathy of the government that regulates their industry, let alone a plan to help them deal with what they’re facing? What are the Liberals doing about the fishery challenges in our province? The silence is unacceptable, and a plan is needed now,” said Parsons.

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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

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2017-JUN-28: Important Questions, Serious Allegations: Commission an Independent Audit of Muskrat Falls Project Now

June 28, 2017
For Immediate Release

Important Questions, Serious Allegations: Commission an Independent Audit of Muskrat Falls Project Now

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, is urging Premier Dwight Ball to commission a thorough, independent audit of the Muskrat Falls Project right now.

“In light of important questions, serious allegations and contradictory statements about the sanctioning, management and costs of the Muskrat Falls Project, it is clearly in the public interest that people be informed sooner rather than later about the facts by an authority that is truly independent, impartial, trustworthy, highly respected and fully empowered to examine all aspects of the project, from its conception to the present day,” said Davis.

“The previous administration released numerous independent reports by Manitoba Hydro International, Navigant, Ziff, Hatch and others about various aspects of the project, which was also reviewed by the Government of Canada when it provided a loan guarantee. When further questions were raised, Premier Tom Marshall and I, as Premier, commissioned and released oversight committee reports to dig into the numbers and focus a brighter spotlight on project management. We released those reports from early 2014 right up until the government changed in December 2015. When the Ball government took over, however, they clamped down on the release of oversight reports and have hidden their management of the project behind a veil of secrecy. No oversight reports were released in their first 18 months. Why not?”

“Stan Marshall stated in March 2016 that he had the cost overruns under control and was not expecting any more surprises. Last Friday, Mr. Marshall’s update added an additional billion dollars to the project without providing a clear breakdown of the additional costs. This billion-dollar cost increase has happened under the watch of the new CEO and the Liberals. Why such a large jump over the past year? Are the Liberals attempting to shy away and distract from discussing the billion-dollar cost increase that has happened under their watch? The recent news conferences by the Premier, the Natural Resources Minister and the new Nalcor CEO – awash in innuendo – have raised more questions than they have answered,” said Davis.

“The Premier’s refusal to immediately commission a thorough, independent audit of the project is indefensible and raises suspicion. Where is the Nalcor Board of Directors on this very important issue? They have a responsibility to ensure the best interests of the people of the province are protected. People want an independent authority to tell them, not only who knew what when, but where the new numbers are coming from – not only if there was lowballing of the numbers in the past, but if there is highballing of the numbers now. Our government demanded that kind of oversight, but the current Liberal government is running from scrutiny by hiding the oversight reports and finding excuses to delay or avoid a thorough, independent audit. If the Premier has nothing to hide, let him commission an auditor who is truly independent, authoritative and empowered to look at everything, including the current project management. And let that audit be released directly to the people through the Speaker of the House of Assembly, without filtering by the current administration,” said Davis.

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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

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2017-JUN-28: Opposition Writes Premier, Minister, Nalcor CEO Asking When They Learned Of and Received the SNC-Lavalin Report

June 28, 2017
For Immediate Release

Opposition Writes Premier, Minister, Nalcor CEO Asking When They Learned Of and Received the SNC-Lavalin Report

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, has today written individually to Premier Dwight Ball, Natural Resources Minister ‎Siobhan Coady and Nalcor Energy CEO Stan Marshall, asking when each of them learned of and received the April 2013 SNC-Lavalin risk assessment report on the Muskrat Falls Project.

The letters state:

On Friday, June 23, 2017, Premier Dwight Ball distributed a report entitled “SNC-LAVALIN RISK ASSESSMENT LOWER CHURCHILL PROJECT 505573”, which was dated April 2013 and clearly marked ‘Confidential for SNC-Lavalin internal use only’.

When did you first have knowledge of the existence of this report?

Who first informed you of the existence of this report?

When did you first receive this report?

Who first provided you with a copy of this report?

What was the date of the alleged meeting between SNC-Lavalin, Nalcor officials and the former CEO Ed Martin? Who was in attendance at the meeting?

When did the current Chair and Board of Directors of Nalcor became aware of the 2013 SNC-Lavalin risk assessment and were any actions taken on receipt of the report?

Davis said, “The statements coming from the Liberal government about this report are inconsistent. Statements made on Tuesday differed significantly from those made just four days earlier. Considering the seriousness of the things being said or insinuated, that inconsistency is unacceptable. People deserve clarity, and the Premier, the Minister and the CEO of Nalcor have an obligation to be clear. It is important that people have the facts, and their clear answers to these questions would be a good place to start.”

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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

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2017-JUN-29: Opposition Supports Tech Sector Partnership, Which Continues an Aspect of the Previous Government’s Innovation Strategy

June 29, 2017
For Immediate Release

Opposition Supports Tech Sector Partnership, Which Continues an Aspect of the Previous Government’s Innovation Strategy

Steve Kent, Innovation Critic for the Official Opposition‎, said, “We support the government’s tech sector partnership with Nati, NEIA, CME and ACADA since it continues an important aspect of the work of the previous government’s 2007 innovation strategy, which has been delivering results for Newfoundland and Labrador for the past decade.”

“We have long believed that it is essential to work in partnership with industry associations to help companies grow, expand into new markets, commercialize new products, rise to the next level, access skilled labour and benefit from a public sector that understands and is responsive to their needs – which is precisely why we took the lead in implementing our innovation strategy over the past decade,” said Kent.

“It is equally important to ensure there are accountability mechanisms in place all along the way ‎to measure progress and adjust programs so they work as effectively as possible to continue the phenomenal growth our technology sector has witnessed over the past number of years,” he said.

“Newfoundland and Labrador has been at the frontier of innovation for many years, thanks to industry pioneers and strategic partnerships with the province. Through our Research & Development Corporation, our ocean technology strategy, export development strategy, innovation strategy‎, immigration and population growth strategies, and other complementary initiatives launched over the past decade, we made partnering with our technology sector a priority, and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have benefitted immensely from the successes our tech firms have already achieved,” said Kent.

“It is important, not only that we build on that success, but that we do not limit our goals. The strength of our strategic approach is that ‎it was broadly rather than narrowly based, responding to the divergent needs of companies large and small, urban and rural, new and established, in sectors ranging from information and communications technology (ICT) to ocean technology, from health care to aquaculture, from aerospace to robotics, and beyond. Let’s not limit ourselves but commit to exploring all of these opportunities so we can continue to be a leader nationally and globally in innovation.”

“And let’s make sure we have clear accountability mechanisms in place so we can measure progress objectively and openly, and adjust programs to make them work for our industries as effectively as they need to,” added Kent.

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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

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2017-JUN-29: Minister Had One Year to Fix Respiratory Therapy Program and Protect Students

June 29, 2017
For Immediate Release

Minister Had One Year to Fix Respiratory Therapy Program and Protect Students

David Brazil, Advanced Education Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour had a full year to fix the College of the North Atlantic’s Respiratory Therapy program after the Council on Accreditation for Respiratory Therapy placed the program on probation in June 2016‎. But what did the Minister do in that time to upgrade the program, inform students of what was being done, and protect students from the predicament they find themselves in now?”

“When was the Minister made aware, and what actions did he take?” Brazil asked. “The Minister cannot distance himself from responsibility for this because he claimed to have College of the North Atlantic and all of its programs under close review for the entirety of this time as part of the ‘no-stone-unturned’ 2016 and 2017 Budget processes‎. It was his responsibility as Minister to do his due diligence to safeguard the integrity of the College’s programs that taxpayers are funding and to protect its students.”

“Students have invested huge sums of money and years of their lives in a program that is now suspended. New students were accepted into the program after it was placed on probation in June 2016. The College and the province accepted their money. The Liberal government had a moral obligation to inform, involve and protect the students. Instead, the Ball government let them continue to invest their time and money in an education program that the government failed to properly secure.”

“How can these students – part-way through their program – complete their education and receive trustworthy credentials when the institution at which they have studied has lost its accreditation on this government’s watch?” said Brazil.

“Why did the Minister not ensure the College used the past year to upgrade the program to satisfy the rigorous demands of the Accreditation Council? Why did he not keep students in the information loop all along the way‎?”

“Will the province now ensure ‎that each and every affected student is afforded the opportunity to complete their program at an accredited institution elsewhere, and will the province cover the added costs they incur? This would not make up for their lost time or their association with a failed program, but it is the least the province can do, having failed these students miserably,” said Brazil.

“What about the impact on the industry and the clients who need respiratory therapists? Does the loss of the program and its expected graduates leave our province without the respiratory therapists we need, or affect the standing of any of its graduates? Does the public have any reason to be concerned?”

“The Minister has an obligation to explain how and why both he and the College mishandled this situation so badly over the past year, and hurt the very students they were obligated to look out for. That year of probation was a year of opportunity to avoid the very consequences that we are seeing today,” added Brazil.

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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

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2017-JUN-29: Potential to Restart Wabush Mines Welcomed, But Will There Be Anything for Current Pensioners?

June 29, 2017
For Immediate Release

Potential to Restart Wabush Mines Welcomed, But Will There Be Anything for Current Pensioners?

Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “We look forward to the potential restart of operation at the Wabush Mines operation following the asset sale approved this week, but is anything being done for current pensioners who were not protected when the former owner sought bankruptcy protection?”

On Wednesday, Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady applauded “another important milestone” as a Quebec court granted Tacora Resources Inc. approval under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to purchase the assets of Wabush Mines and assume the responsibility and associated financial risk for environmental rehabilitation. The Minister’s news release stated: “Assuring environmental accountability for the site remained the responsibility of the purchaser was a key aspect of the agreement for the provincial government as it safeguards taxpayers from being burdened with future environmental cleanup liabilities.”

“We understand that next steps include a feasibility study and work to raise capital. But no mention was made of any provision to assume any part of the liability for the pensions of the former workers of Wabush Mines who are now pensioners.‎ We know that certain creditors will benefit from the sale, and perhaps shareholders, but will any portion of the asset sale proceeds go to help current pensioners?” said Hutchings.

“We understand the provincial government may hold a bond of as much as $50 million for the site’s environmental liabilities. If the new owner has taken on certain environmental liabilities, what is the status of the bond? Has any of it been released? Was any consideration given to making provisions to cover the liabilities for current pensioners as part of the overall arrangements?” asked Hutchings.

“The company whose assets Tacora has purchased built considerable wealth through the efforts of their workers, many of whom retired and started collecting the company pensions to which they had contributed. When the company sought bankruptcy protection, their pensions were not protected. During the discussions on the sale of the assets, we know that the province intervened with respect to environmental liabilities. The province had standing in the Quebec court that made the decision on the asset sale. Did the province make any effort to have current pensioners included‎? Did the province inquire about this, or make any effort to have current pensioners covered? Will any party take on any part of the liability to finance these pensions? These pensioners are at a point in their lives when they cannot be expected to take on new careers to make ends meet. What will be done for them?” asked Hutchings.

In May 2016, the PC Opposition successfully proposed an amendment to a Liberal resolution regarding the federal Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. The Liberals wanted the law amended to better protect pensioners in future bankruptcy proceedings. The PC amendment was to “urge the Parliament to give these changes retroactive effect so the pensioners of Wabush Mines may benefit from this action”. Even with the amendment, however, apparently nothing has been done to address the concerns of the current pensioners of Wabush Mines.

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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

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2017-JUL-04: Minister Admits in Letter No Fisheries Fund Agreement Has Been Completed or Signed

July 4, 2017
For Immediate Release

Minister Admits in Letter No Fisheries Fund Agreement Has Been Completed or Signed

Keith Hutchings, Intergovernmental Affairs Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “I was astonished to see the province’s Minister of Fisheries admit to me in writing in late June that the Atlantic Fisheries Fund agreement that the Premier has been celebrating is not yet completed, let alone signed.”

Download the Minister’s letter (PDF)

Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Steve Crocker wrote to Hutchings on June 21 to say: “Thank you for your letter dated June 13, 2017, to Premier Ball requesting an update on the current status of the Atlantic Fisheries Fund. Your correspondence has been forwarded to my office for review and follow-up. At this time, the Federal Government is finalizing the details of key program elements, governance, and funding level allocations. We are eager to commence the initiative and have identified projects that demonstrate potential to receive support through the program. Once the agreement is completed and signed, you will be advised and the details will be made available for public knowledge. The Atlantic Fisheries Fund is paramount to the sustainability of the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery and I look forward to discussing the parameters in the near future.”

Hutchings said, “It is amazing that the Ball government is simply waiting for Ottawa to tell us what the province is going to receive.”

“By contrast, when our administration was negotiating the fisheries fund with Ottawa, we had over 300 pages outlining what we wanted negotiated, the time lines for funds to flow and the sorts of programs we intended to implement. The agreement we secured had five pillars – marketing opportunities; fishery science; research and development; infrastructure; and workplace adjustments. We saw the stock declines and quota cuts looming and were determined to be ready. Justin Trudeau recognized that we had a $400 million Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries fund agreement, and he promised us in writing that he would honour it.”

“Almost 20 months into their term, the Ball Liberals have not been able to get Mr. Trudeau to deliver on his written commitment to our province. The crisis has already started taking its toll on people, but the Liberals are still not ready to deliver.”

“Everything is still up in the air – the program elements, the governance, the funding level allocations – everything! The Ball government is simply letting Ottawa do whatever it chooses, in its own fine time. The Ball Liberals are showing no evidence of planning of their own, and no backbone to fight for the challenging industry. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians deserve better,” said 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

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2017-JUL-05: Long-Awaited Review of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Overdue

July 5, 2017
For Immediate Release

Long-Awaited Review of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Overdue

Tracey Perry, Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Critic for the Official Opposition, said many clients of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing’s programs wait in limbo for a report which is now overdue.

“Minister Gambin-Walsh promised the people of this province and, more importantly, the clients of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing that before the end of June 2017 she would release a report finalizing her review of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing. While the recommendations of this review have not been released, clients are worried if the programs and services they depend on will be cut,” said Perry.

Each year thousands of clients avail of one or more programs through Newfoundland and Labrador Housing. These include the Rent Supplement Program, Rental Housing Program, Residential Energy Efficiency Program, Provincial Home Repair Program, Home Modification Program, Home Energy Savings Program, and others.

“Newfoundland and Labrador Housing provides valuable services to many residents of our province. When we asked questions in the House of Assembly, the Minister indicated that each and every program has been reviewed and that changes and cuts could be coming. It is not fair for the Minister to leave the people who depend on these services worrying about their future. The Minister has the review, the recommendations, and should release them immediately,” said Perry.

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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

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2017-JUL-12: Majority Oppose Carbon Tax; Where’s the Plan?

July 12, 2017
For Immediate Release

Majority Oppose Carbon Tax; Where’s the Plan?

Barry Petten, Environment Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “With a new Angus Reid poll showing the majority of Canadians – and an even larger majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians – oppose the carbon tax, the government owes people answers about the course it’s on.”

The Angus Reid poll in June showed that national support for the carbon tax has dropped to just 44 per cent, while 62 per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians oppose it.

“When close to two-thirds of the population opposes a major government policy, the government has clearly done a poor job of ‎listening to people and informing people about its plans,” said Petten.

“The Ball Liberals – like the Trudeau Liberals – have left people with more questions than answers about what the pending carbon tax will mean for families, employers and our economy. Will it ‎mean more money coming out of people’s pockets? Will it mean employers laying people off or shutting down? Will it further harm our province’s fragile, overtaxed economy? We don’t know, because the Liberals won’t let people know what they are planning.”

“The House passed made-in-Newfoundland-and-Labrador legislation intended to protect local employers and jobs under any new carbon tax initiative, but we have no idea whether that will be enough to satisfy the Trudeau ‎imperative. When will the Liberals get around to informing people about their plans?”

“We just saw a new offshore agreement signed without being told how the carbon tax ‎factors into it. Will the carbon tax cost us revenues and jobs? Why is the government leaving people in the dark on a policy that could seriously impact our economy at a vulnerable time?”

Petten said, “The people of our province are already reeling from the impact of more than 300 tax and fee increases imposed by the Liberals, including gas and insurance taxes that are really hurting families. Yet another tax burden is the last thing our people need. ”

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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

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2017-JUL-12: How Many Government Appointments Delayed?

July 12, 2017
For Immediate Release

How Many Government Appointments Delayed?

Keith Hutchings, Official Opposition Critic for the Human Resource Secretariat and the Public Service Commission, is asking how many government appointments to agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs) have been delayed and how these delays are impacting the work of public bodies.

Hutchings said it has been brought to his attention that a significant number of appointments are overdue, some by considerable periods of time.

In fact, according to the government’s appointments website on some public bodies, the majority of members have had their terms of appointment expire. These include such “Tier 1” bodies as the Western Regional Integrated Health Authority, the Central Regional Integrated Health Authority Board of Trustees and the Eastern Regional Integrated Health Authority Board of Trustees. “Tier 2” bodies include the Fish Processing Licensing Board, the Child Death Review Committee, and the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Advisory Council. Granted, the conditions of some appointments indicate that a trustee whose term of office has expired may continue to be a trustee until reappointed or replaced. Some positions are not just expired but vacant, such as on the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. “But the current administration has had 20 months to get its appointments process in order,” said Hutchings.

Hutchings pointed to a “Way Forward” commitment stating “A target is set to reduce the number of ABCs in the province by 20 per cent by 2020,” and a March 2017 update stating “In 2017-18 Government will make progress towards this target.” <http://thewayforward.gov.nl.ca/report-card#action-1-3>

“Are some of these ABCs being eliminated, and is that the reason for the delays? And if so, are any of these bodies being hindered from fulfilling their statutory obligations in the meantime? Are any public services being compromised? This should be happening in the full light of public disclosure, but to date, the Liberal government has left people in the dark about its plans.”

Hutchings said, “The Ball government’s record on independent appointments has not reflected it’s description during the Bill 1 debate in HOA. The legislation allows an appointments commission to appoint but does not have the authority to report when the Cabinet completely ignores its recommendations, still allows ministerial appointments and based some of the Liberal appointments over past 20 months has done nothing to keep politics out of appointments. We’ve seen a flurry of government hiring of Liberal friends, Party workers and former candidates, making a joke out of the Premier’s pledge to take politics out of appointments. The process clearly does not seem to be working, and people are right to wonder if their best interests are really being served.”

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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

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2017-JUL-20: Liberals Bring Confusion to R&D Corporation with Sudden Changes

July 20, 2017
For Immediate Release

Liberals Bring Confusion to R&D Corporation with Sudden Changes

‎Steve Kent, Innovation Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The Ball Liberals are bringing the arm’s-length Research & Development Corporation under departmental control in a sudden midsummer policy lurch that is raising concerns for the province’s innovation economy and millions in leveraged industry investments.”

“Without being clear about the impact the change will have for the RDC’s current staff of professionals, the Liberals are creating a replacement entity and appointing a replacement board, led by one of their own internal officials who will be dividing his time as a Deputy Minister,” said Kent.

“The RDC was established deliberately as an arm’s-length body under a well-planned, comprehensive innovation strategy with legislation that was carefully considered in the House of Assembly. Contrast that with the Liberal announcement that has come abruptly midsummer with the House closed and the Premier away, months after the agenda-setting 2017 Throne Speech that didn’t even mention this. The Liberals can’t even say what this really means for the operations of the RDC, which will now be trying to fulfill a legislated mandate under a cloud of uncertainty and confusion.”

“The sudden apparent replacement of the world-renowned professionals‎ who sit on the RDC board of directors is a cause for concern, raising questions within the very industry whose investments the province has been working very hard (and for years very successfully) to attract,” said Kent.

“What does this mean for the clients of the programs that RDC has been using its expertise to deliver? How can the clients continue with R&D proposals and projects when the Corporation and possibly even the professionals they are dealing ‎with will soon be eliminated?”

“The RDC doesn’t just oversee provincial investments. It works professionally with partners at the federal level and in the corporate, financial and academic communities, where a cloud of uncertainty is the last thing proponents need when choosing where to invest and with whom to partner,” said Kent.

“Does the line department have the expertise internally to take over the role of the RDC and secure those leveraged investments?”

“An example of an area where the RDC’s independent expertise has proven successful is the oil and gas sector. The RDC has developed considerable expertise in this field over the past decade and driven applied research for the benefit of all players. That could be jeopardized if those professionals are lost and the line department lacks the expertise to do the job. Will the province’s ability to leverage that money be compromised if our expertise is lost and our reputation is affected?” said Kent.

“We already saw the Ball government’s innovation minister stand by silently while Nova Scotia’s Dalhousie took away our hard-won lead in ocean technology. Such losses are consequences of not having a strategic plan – of making sudden, ad-hoc decisions without being able to provide complete answers.”

“If there are consequences of destroying the independent body that was driving our innovation economy so successfully, the Ball Liberals will have undermined one of the remaining strong areas of our economy at a time when other areas of our economy are suffering badly from failed Liberal economic leadership,” said Kent.

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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

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2017-JUL-20: Unanswered Questions on Quebec Cooperation Agreement

July 20, 2017
For Immediate Release

Unanswered Questions on Quebec Cooperation Agreement

Keith Hutchings, Intergovernmental Affairs Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “Premier Ball’s plans to develop a cooperation agreement with Quebec raise significant questions. The fact that yesterday’s announcement was vague and made no reference to talks on hydro is concerning, especially when the Premier hailed a recent Canadian Free Trade Agreement promising a two-year discussion with Quebec about unrestricted flow over electricity through Quebec, which may not be binding in the end. What greater opportunity for economic growth in our province than to have unrestricted export of electricity through Quebec, who have always opposed our constitutional rights.”

“Any agreement to develop the Labrador Trough mineral resources in tandem with Quebec would undoubtedly include discussion on access to electricity to run any proposed mining site,” said Hutchings. “Now we hear talk about developing mineral resources under some sort of as-yet-undefined cooperation agreement with Quebec.”

“Is the Ball government – out of sheer desperation – preparing to bargain away our rights and benefits on future Labrador mining developments and hydropower just to get a possible good news story. We recently saw an agreement on the Husky Project in Argentia that saw the Ball Government allow Husky to walk away from an agreed building of a gated graving dock, which would have meant long-term maintenance ability for offshore oil rigs and other supportive work for the offshore as well as ongoing employment for our skilled work force.”

“Would Labrador power be used for Quebec mining operations under some sort of yet-to-be-released agreement? What added benefits does Quebec hope to reap from mining developments in and straddling Labrador? Who will call the shots at the bargaining table for Newfoundland and Labrador? Before any proposed agreement is reached, will the Quebec Government ensure unrestricted access for the export of electricity through Quebec transmission infrastructure? If not, we should not be signing any additional deals. Again, such an issue as the export of power Premier Ball says is not part of new talks; why not?” said Hutchings.

Hutchings said it is odd that the two governments – without Ottawa at the table – also talked about the fixed link proposal, which according to the 2005 prefeasibility study would cost $1.7 billion. “How would a fixed link be feasible without Ottawa at the table? Is this anything more than a means to distract the people of southern Labrador who are outraged over the state of their roads?”

Hutchings said, “What the Ball Liberals should be discussing with Quebec is our need to wheel electricity fairly under a new Canada Free Trade Agreement that guarantees us access to the energy grid of our neighbor and access to other Canadian markets along with the Eastern United States. But this vitally important topic, sadly, doesn’t seem to have made it to the table.”

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

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2017-JUL-20: Changes Needed to the Building Accessibility Act

July 20, 2017
For Immediate Release

Changes Needed to the Building Accessibility Act

Tracey Perry, Status of Persons with Disabilities Critic for the Official Opposition, is calling on Minister Trimper and Minister Gambin Walsh to give an update on changes to the Building Accessibility Act and the corresponding regulations.

“Several of my caucus colleagues and I have met with members of the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities – Newfoundland and Labrador (COD-NL). We commend them on their continued efforts to eliminate barriers and to create inclusion for all. The Coalition wrote the Minister of Service NL in November 2016 – eight months and still no answers. Despite the ongoing efforts of the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities, the current Liberal Government has not yet given them an update on recommendations which COD-NL along with the Buildings Accessibility Advisory Board have been asking for,” said Perry.

“The Building Accessibility Advisory Board have submitted eighteen recommendations to the government. These changes to the Building Accessibility Act and its regulations have also been endorsed by the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities – Newfoundland and Labrador. Despite this, the Liberal government has not given COD-NL an update on the recommendations,” added Perry.

MHA Perry has written Service NL Minister Perry Trimper and the Minister Responsible for Persons with Disabilities, Sherry Gambin-Walsh, in efforts to have this issue addressed.

“The Coalition of Persons with Disabilities has advised us that government has not responded to their letters and that the Building Accessibility Advisory Board has not met in over twenty months. It is time for these Ministers to step up and make accessible buildings a priority; accessibility buildings will help to increase access to many programs and services,” said Perry.

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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

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2017-AUG-01: PC Party Announces Leadership Selection Committee Co-Chairs and Rules

August 1, 2017

PC Party Announces Leadership Selection Committee Co-Chairs and Rules

The Provincial Executive of the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador has released the Rules that will govern the Party’s current leadership selection process and has announced the co-chairs of the committee that will oversee the process under those Rules and the Party’s Constitution.

Carbonear lawyer Jessica Babb and former Cabinet Minister Shawn Skinner will co-chair the Leadership Selection Committee. Brief bios follow in the Backgrounder.

The Rules build on the provisions of the Party’s Constitution, which delegates to the June 2017 Special General Meeting amended to give all registered Party members and supporters the right to vote directly to select the Party Leader.

To be eligible to become an accredited candidate for the Party leadership, a person must submit the required nomination forms to the leadership committee co-chairs by January 15, 2018, under the terms specified in the Rules.

Members of the general public who wish to participate in the selection of the leader must submit an application by January 28, 2018 [February 28, 2018] to be a member or supporter of the PC Party of NL under the terms specified in the Rules. Additional information on the member/supporter system will be released in the coming weeks.

The ballots will be opened, the Leader announced and installed on April 28, 2018.

The Rules cover a wide range of matters pertaining to the leadership selection process, and include stringent provisions for candidate spending limits, professional auditing and full disclosure.

Further details of the leadership selection process will be announced by the co-chairs in the months to come and will be posted on the Party website at .

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Media contact:
Graydon Pelley, President of the PC Party of NL
C: 709-636- 8326
E: gpelleypc@gmail.com

Backgrounder:

Brief Bios of the Co-Chairs

Jessica Babb, a lawyer, has been volunteering with the PC Party since joining as a youth member and has served on the Provincial Executive. Ms. Babb practices law in her hometown, Carbonear

Shawn Skinner, a Chartered Manager, is a former provincial Cabinet Minister who served in various portfolios. He also served as a St. John’s City Councillor from 1993 to 1997. Mr. Skinner is a lifelong volunteer who currently serves as the Chair of End Homelessness St. John’s.

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2017-AUG-03: Why Didn’t Premier Halt McInnes Cooper‎ Spending Long Before Now, If Government Had In-House Expertise?

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

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2017-AUG-03: Bond Rating Agencies and Business Community Need Clear Signal from New Finance Minister

August 3, 2017
For Immediate Release

Bond Rating Agencies and Business Community Need Clear Signal from New Finance Minister

Keith Hutchings, Finance Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “Public sector unions, financial markets, the business community and the people of the province need a clear signal from the new Finance Minister about the current fiscal policy of the province and any changes forthcoming.”

“Was the departure of the former Minister of Finance a result of a growing difference in fiscal policy between the Liberal Cabinet and caucus? We are left to speculate whether the former Minister’s fiscal policy continued to have the support of the Premier and Cabinet. Is there a new fiscal plan and or direction that rests with the new Finance Minister? Does any new fiscal direction fit with the heralded ‘Way Forward’ document?” said Hutchings.

“Just days ago, the credit-rating agencies released their latest assessments. The Premier at that time seemed pleased with the ‘stable assessment’ of our financial situation. The former Minister responded by saying that the agencies supported her determination to do more belt-tightening. Is the Ball government now ‎signaling a shift away from that? The financial markets will need to know, as their assessment status was in recognition of further reductions in expenditure,” he said.

“Unlike the other members of the Ball government caucus, Minister Osborne – as the Speaker since 2015 – neither voted on nor debated government policy, so the financial markets would not have information from the new Minister on the fiscal approach taken over the past two years. Not all members of the government caucus were enthusiastic about the government’s approach when they spoke, and we are left to speculate about how Minister Osborne has felt about it.”

“Did the Premier tell his new Finance Minister to continue his predecessor’s ‎agenda or take another course? Did the new Minister tell the Premier the course he intends to take? Surely before he was offered the job, it was discussed,” said Hutchings.

“The Ball government ‎has taken a direction that conflicts with the approaches and recommendations of the PC Party. We called for taking a long-range focus including expenditure reductions while still maintaining a positive environment for investment and business growth, while the Liberals’ plan from day one has been ad-hoc with no real commitment to any direction. High taxation, cancelled reductions and cancelled mini-budgets have created confusion and a lack of confidence in our economy. We called for a clear attrition plan that was already started to soften the reduction in the public service and a goal-oriented restructuring related to the delivery of public service, while the Liberals have kept people in a perpetual state of uncertainty about more cuts to come. We called for tax relief to stimulate growth, while the Liberals have raised more than 300 taxes and fees that have strangled the economy. We fueled growth in business investment and jobs, while the Liberals have made us the only shrinking economy in Canada.”

“Something needs to change – not the verbal commitment to living within our means, but the approach. We need a clear and early signal from the new Minister of whether things will change and, if so, how. It would be wise to make such a statement well in advance of a fall fiscal update, because there’s been too much uncertainty already,” said 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

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2017-AUG-07: Government Has Already Met With Suncor Officials Who Want Terra Nova Field Royalties Cut

August 7, 2017
For Immediate Release

Government Has Already Met With Suncor Officials Who Want Terra Nova Field Royalties Cut

‎Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “A recent report from Suncor states the Ball government has already met with registered lobbyists of Suncor Energy who are pushing to lower royalty payments to our province on an already developed and sanctioned oil field. The people of the province get to hear this first from one of the oil partners?”

“The company has told the press that they met in July with officials of the government, Nalcor Energy and the Offshore Petroleum Board,” he said.

“They are talking in terms of extending the life of the Terra Nova project, but their message is clearly that they want a royalty regime that is more favourable to the company and that usually means less favourable to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, whose oil resources they are extracting.”

“Fair royalty agreements negotiated and agreed upon at the start of a sanctioned project are to be ‎honoured throughout the project, extensions included. That’s what an agreement means,” he said. “You may remember the recent Hebron project when the Liberal Government ‎was asked if the royalty regime would be changed for the extension of this project and their response was that the royalty regime for the project was already set, so there would be no changes. Based on that assessment, why would we even consider reopening a regime under which Suncor wants to talk?”

“The Ball government has opened the door to lobbyists reaping benefits from their inaction and their lack of clear direction to the oil companies. They have failed for two years to announce a new generic royalty regime – a regime that our administration had already developed and announced prior to the 2015 election, but the Liberals never adopted. The Minister of Natural Resources even stated in the House of Assembly that it would be announced by March 31, 2017. The Liberals said they would move swiftly to enforce the royalty regime to bring certainty to the industry. Instead, by doing nothing, they have sent a clear message to the industry that they are open to bargaining, a message not in best interest of our people. The oil companies no doubt sense that weakness and uncertainty, and are now trying to out-maneuvre the government to garner a greater share of our resource wealth at public expense,” he said.

‎”The Ball Liberals were out-maneuvred on the Hebron project, and allowed Husky to not honour a prior commitment of well over $100 million to building gates for the dock in Argentia that would have allowed generations of work for further projects, rig maintenance and other work to support our skilled workforce; but the Ball Liberals just let it go. A hailed $60 million investment in innovation, on further review, gets to be clawed back for oil partners through inclusion in project capital costs, so the government negotiated a loan, not more benefits for Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said.

“We announced an Energy Plan in 2007. We have no idea, as we have asked, if the current government is following this, if they have an update not shared with the province, or if their energy policy is being made up minute to minute. Without an energy plan, the Ball Liberals are running our oil sector the same ad-hoc way they’re running our province: recklessly, ineffectively, with no plan. Not having a clear direction, a defined royalty regime or an updated energy plan, they are being taken advantage of‎, and that’s costing our province revenue, jobs and other benefits that we are entitled to under the Atlantic Accord,” he said.

“We need immediate comment from the Premier and the Minister of Natural Resources on this revelation related to Suncor; why we gave so much up on the Hebron project; where the new royalty regime is; and what energy policy they are following for the province. They need to have an updated read of the Atlantic Accord and its intent for our province and our people,” 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

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2017-AUG-07: Major Unanswered Questions: Opposition Says House Should Be Open Longer Than a Half-Hour

August 7, 2017
For Immediate Release

Major Unanswered Questions: Opposition Says House Should Be Open Longer Than a Half-Hour

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, said, “If the House of Assembly reconvenes on Tuesday, August 8 for the election of a new Speaker, it should remain open longer than the half-hour it will take to elect a new Speaker.”

“It will be costly for the House to reconvene for this half-hour session. In order to get better value for the public money this will cost, the government should allow the House to remain open for more than that half-hour so that pressing questions can be asked of the Premier and his Ministers,” said Davis.

“The pressing questions include whether the Premier remains committed to the fiscal agenda of the former Minister of Finance; whether the province remains on track to meet its fiscal targets this year given oil prices, the exchange rate and other factors, or needs to adjust course; whether the province will respect the court’s decision regarding an environmental assessment of the Grieg aquaculture project proposal; whether and when the Premier will commission a thorough start-to-present forensic audit of the Muskrat Falls project; when the oversight reports on the Muskrat Falls project will be released; when the fisheries investment fund agreement will be finalized so the money can flow; what the plans are to implement the recent recommendations on mental health and addictions, and educational outcomes; how this province is preparing for marijuana legalization while other provinces are expressing concerns and taking action; and so forth,” said Davis.

“There are provisions in the Standing Orders for the House to sit longer, if the government permits it to. The Opposition parties cannot extend the sitting, but the government can. And it ought to consider doing so, to allow the questions people are asking to be answered on the record in the House,” he said. “There is still leftover legislation to be debated, along with a private member’s resolution on tourism that the government caucus didn’t get to move. Even if it’s just for a single day with a single question period, it would be preferable to nothing.”

“Our Caucus intends to vote ‘no’ if the motion to adjourn is made once the Speaker is elected and the Deputy Speaker and the Deputy Chair of Committees are appointed. We believe sending members back home after such a brief session is not only a waste of money but a waste of an important opportunity to hold the government to account,” 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

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2017-AUG-09: Premier Blatantly Dismisses Concerns of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians

August 9, 2017
For Immediate Release

Premier Blatantly Dismisses Concerns of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, said, “On Tuesday, August 8th the Official Opposition requested an opportunity to hold government accountable for major issues that have occurred since the last sitting of the House of Assembly. It was the intention of the Liberal government to open the House of Assembly only for the purpose of electing a Speaker. Under pressure from the Official Opposition the Liberals allowed a question period but provided few answers.”

Some of the questions posed to the Liberal government included: whether a new Finance Minister will take a different approach to the provincial finances, when the public will receive an updated fiscal outlook, why the Liberals refuse to call an immediate independent audit of the Muskrat Falls project and the failing Liberal strategy used to address the deplorable road conditions in the province.

“While dodging questions and evading answers has become a hallmark of the Liberal administration, the lack of answers from yesterday’s question period can only be described as either a glaring lack of knowledge by the Liberal Ministers or a conscious effort to withhold information from the public,” said Davis.

Once proceedings in the House of Assembly concluded, the Premier arrogantly dismissed the very questions he refused to answer. The Official Opposition would remind the Premier and members of the Liberal caucus that these concerns come directly from the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. To disregard these important issues is equivalent to disregarding the concerns of the people he was elected to serve.

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2017-AUG-10: Cabinet Shuffle a Missed Opportunity for Labrador and Indigenous People

August 10, 2017
For Immediate Release

Cabinet Shuffle a Missed Opportunity for Labrador and Indigenous People

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, said, “Premier Ball missed a golden opportunity last week to reassign ‎his Labrador and Indigenous Affairs portfolio to a new Minister from Labrador who could focus on the portfolio full time.”

“Clearly, the Premier’s decision to squeeze Labrador and Indigenous Affairs ‎in between his many other responsibilities has not worked in the best interests of Labradorians and Indigenous people throughout our province. While having a Parliamentary Secretary for Indigenous Affairs is a step in the right direction, a strong voice at the cabinet table is what is required,” said Davis.

“The unrest and dissatisfaction of Labradorians and Indigenous communities is a sign that their voices are not being heard and their best interests are not being served. After the events of the past two years, the Premier has squandered this opportunity to give Labradorians and Indigenous people a voice at the Cabinet table of a Labrador Minister whose primary focus is their concerns.”

“Some Labradorians are getting more attention from Quebec than they’re getting from their own government. Labradorians and Indigenous people want things to change. They want to be heard. Their frustration over being sidelined for the past two years is obvious and growing, and that is ‎spilling over in ways that are bad for our province, bad for investment and bad for those communities,” he said.

“We’ve raised this on numerous occasions, and people were really hoping things would change with this recent Cabinet shuffle‎. The fact that he let this opportunity slide is proof that the Premier is too distracted to listen or to recognize what needs to be done. It simply wasn’t his priority, and that’s sad,” said Davis.

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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

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2017-AUG-15: Questions Remain Unanswered Concerning Government’s Relationship With Law Firm

August 15, 2017
For Immediate Release

Questions Remain Unanswered Concerning Government’s Relationship With Law Firm

Keith Hutchings, Finance Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “When you consider everything that has been said by Finance Minister Tom Osborne, the contradictions are glaring regarding his statements on the government’s relationship with McInnes Cooper, the outside law firm hired by the Liberals for guidance on collective bargaining.”

Hutchings said, “In the House of Assembly on August 8, the Minister said he decided to sever ties with the law firm, however before he communicated his decision, McInnes Cooper had withdrawn their services.”

“In recent days, media are reporting it was the Minister who decided to withdraw the services of the law firm. Which version of events is correct? Did the Minister drop the firm or did the firm drop the provincial government?”

“Why is the Minister continuing to meet with the law firm for advice on public sector negotiations when the Minister clearly communicated that the process was beginning from a fresh start? Are the ties really severed, or are they not? Will the law firm be billing the province for any of these new meetings? If the new Minister wants to know what was done by the firm, why doesn’t he simply ask the officials in the Department of Finance, or better still, the former Minister of Finance?”‎

“Premier Dwight Ball has also backtracked on the hiring of the law firm. Since early 2016, he has supported and defended the hiring of McInnes Cooper and the significant cost associated with it. It now appears that Premier Ball and the Liberal government support the termination of the relationship.”

“What has changed? The Liberals stated that the lack of resources was the reason for hiring the firm. Does the government now suddenly have the internal resources to guide negotiations?”

“This about-face is a familiar pattern for the Liberal administration. The Premier and his Cabinet ought to have the political courage to admit it was not a good use of taxpayers’ dollars while they were slashing funding to programs and services elsewhere,” said 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

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2017-AUG-15: Liberals Who Taxed Auto Insurance Now Study ‎Reasons for High Costs

August 15, 2017
For Immediate Release

Liberals Who Taxed Auto Insurance Now Study ‎Reasons for High Costs

Kevin Parsons Opposition Critic for Service NL, said, “Today, the Liberals have attempted to convince the public that they are working towards lowering automobile insurance rates for consumers. The Government’s announcement is surreal considering that recent tax hikes on insurance occurred because of decisions made by the Liberal government.”

“In their 2016 Budget, the Liberals introduced a retail sales tax on insurance premiums of 15 per cent, taking an estimated $111 million a year in additional revenue from the province’s consumers in addition to all the other tax increases their Budget imposed. ‎They also increased the tax on insurance companies, which translates to even higher costs for consumers.”

“The Opposition caucus was on record in May calling on the Liberal Government to move ahead now with a complete review of automobile insurance. The Liberals have the ability, right now to accept our proposals to freeze increases in insurance costs and to cut the Liberal tax on insurance, which is one of the factors that has driven up the cost of insurance for consumers.”
The PC Leader made the proposals during Question Period on May 16.

In 2007, the former administration was able to report that our province’s automobile insurance premiums had become the third lowest in the country and our rates had seen a significant decrease. Now we pay some of the highest insurance rates and this is compounded by the Liberal tax on insurance that came as a result of Budget 2016.

“We have been on record calling for this review and we look forward to hearing the input that the public, stakeholders‎, independent experts and the PUB will provide, and seeing an objective comparison with the approaches and costs in other jurisdictions which will hopefully lead to a reduction in insurance costs for consumers.”

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2017-AUG-16: NL Seniors Impacted by Canada Revenue Agency Processing Delay

August 16, 2017
For Immediate Release

NL Seniors Impacted by Canada Revenue Agency Processing Delay

Tracey Perry, Official Opposition Critic for Children, Seniors and Social Development, said, “Many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians – including many seniors – are not receiving their federal benefits payments because of processing delays at the Canada Revenue Agency. These delays are affecting the Newfoundland and Labrador Seniors’ Benefit, the Guaranteed Income Supplement, the GST Credit and the Child Tax Benefit.”

“The Official Opposition has made inquiries on behalf of our constituents and has been advised that delays are due, in part, to the relocation of certain CRA offices from Newfoundland and Labrador to Ontario. Also, when individuals submitted their income taxes using the return envelopes obtained at various Canada Post outlets, the envelopes were sent to the former St. John’s office instead of the new office in Ontario. If an individual’s income tax has not been processed, CRA cannot send them their benefits.”

“Some individuals – through no fault of their own – are left wondering why they have not received benefits and what has caused the delay. While benefit processing issues are not a new occurrence for the federal government, many of the individuals who avail of these benefits are on fixed incomes and very much depend on the extra assistance they receive from these programs.”

“To date, there has been no public statement or clarification from either the Canada Revenue Agency or the seven Liberal Members of Parliament who represent the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is not known how many people are impacted by these delays and for how long they will have to wait to receive their benefits.”

Perry advises individuals to contact CRA if they do not receive their benefits payments. The number is 1-800-387-1193. To report estimated income and restart GIS payments, call Service Canada at 1-800-277-9914. They can also check the status of their return online at http://Canada.ca by looking for the Canada Revenue Agency link and accessing “My Account”.

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2017-AUG-17: Suicide Reports Show Urgency of Implementing All-Party Recommendations

August 17, 2017
For Immediate Release

Suicide Reports Show Urgency of Implementing All-Party Recommendations

Steve Kent, Health Critic for the Official Opposition and founding chair of the All-Party Committee on Mental Health and Addictions, said, “The reports of multiple suicides in Grand Bank and Labrador communities are troubling and show the urgency of implementing the recommendations of the All-Party Committee on Mental Health and Addictions to improve rural services and access to care.”

“The Mayor of Grand Bank recently expressed alarm that six people in the town of 2,300 have taken their lives in the past 14 months. There were five suicides in Labrador West in eight months of 2016, and the Canadian Society of Circumpolar Health reported that Labrador suicide rates were 20 times higher for Inuit people and 14 times higher for Innu people compared to non-Indigenous rates in the province. This is heartbreaking, and begs our attention and intervention.”

“The All-Party Committee heard many stories about the issues people face and suggestions of what might be done. Working across party lines to make a real difference, we drew together a series of recommended actions we need to take. We need to keep referring to those recommendations when setting priorities so we actually start seeing changes in services and approaches. This can’t wait. We need action now.”

Kent said, “The committee provided detailed recommendations that will make a difference. We recommended immediate wait time reductions, community-based coalitions, regional interdisciplinary teams, a stepped-care approach that improves frontline access to care, services based in Labrador and reaching into coastal communities, land-based programming for Indigenous communities, school- and college-based frameworks, online information, access to specialized services, concerted action to eliminate the stigma of mental illness, and more. Government must act immediately, and with urgency. Too many lives have already been lost.”

These and other relevant recommendations are included in the Backgrounder below.

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

Backgrounder

Some Recommendations of the All-Party Committee Report on Mental Health and Addictions

(“Towards Recovery: A Vision for a Renewed
Mental Health and Addictions System”)

March 2017

Link: http://www.health.gov.nl.ca/health/all_party_committe_report.pdf

(emphasis added)

Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention

2. Develop and implement a comprehensive school health and wellness framework that includes evidence-based mental health promotion, prevention and integrated, early intervention programs in schools, which:
• Focus on social and emotional learning;
• Are embedded in curriculum at every grade;
• Help students identify, understand and deal effectively with stress and anxiety; and,
• Include content on diversity, social inclusion, social determinants of health and stigma reduction.

3. Create regional interdisciplinary teams, reporting to the regional health authorities, to provide timely mental health and addictions assessment and treatment for students in schools.

4. Recommend the Premier’s Task Force on Improving Educational Outcomes review the roles of guidance counsellors, educational psychologists, social workers and instructional resource teachers (IRTs) to determine the best way to meet the mental health and addictions needs of students in the school setting and the resources required to do so.

5. Encourage post-secondary institutions to provide evidence-based mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention programs for students during orientation and at various points throughout their programs.

6. Encourage community leaders to form coalitions to promote mental wellness, encourage people to seek help and prevent suicide.

7. Eliminate the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness and addiction in health care settings, schools, workplaces and communities. This can be achieved through:
• Providing contact-based education programs that involve people with personal experience telling stories of recovery and are supported with rigorous evaluation and sustained funding; and,
• Encouraging increased uptake of Mental Health First Aid and expanding availability of this program throughout the province.

Access to Services

13. The Provincial Government must immediately ensure the reduction of wait lists and wait times in mental health for everyone by:
• Immediately directing the chief executive officer of each regional health authority to reduce the wait list and wait times for mental health and addictions services, including for psychiatrists (wait times not currently available for psychiatrists) within one year of the release of this report;
• Developing a wait time reduction action plan, which will include a plan to address no-show rates to better accommodate the challenges faced by some individuals in attending appointments;
• Adopting a standardized methodology for collecting and reporting wait times in all regional health authorities; and,
• Providing provincial oversight and regular public reporting on wait times and wait time reduction progress.

14. Through a stepped-care approach, develop and offer a range of mental health and addictions services integrated, wherever possible, within existing community and primary health care services throughout the province, including:
• Self-management programs for mental wellness, anxiety and depression;
• Counselling services;
• Strongest Families Program for children, youth and their families;
• Therapist-assisted, online, cognitive behavioural therapy for depression, anxiety and addictions;
• Peer support;
• Provincial Warm Line;
• 24/7 access to medical withdrawal management;
• Day treatment programs;
• Access to in-patient services for eating disorders;
• Single session walk-in clinics;
• Assertive community treatment (ACT) teams;
• Mobile crisis intervention teams;
• Dedicated mental health services for first responders, including ambulance personnel, firefighters, police officers and correctional staff; and,
• Support for families and caregivers of people living with mental illness and addiction.

20. Ensure primary health care providers have access to mental health and addictions consultation and specialized services for their patients.

21. Provide online information about the mental health and addictions services and how to navigate them.

Policy and Programming

34. Support Indigenous people to achieve their mental wellness goals by providing resources to assist with sustained land-based programming.

35. Ensure psychiatrists provide regular visits to Labrador coastal communities, as needed.

36. Establish four to six dedicated mental health beds in Labrador, which will include services that are inclusive and culturally appropriate for all Labradorians.

37. Prioritize the recruitment of two permanent full-time psychiatrists (while establishing a sustained commitment for regular locum coverage) to ensure psychiatric coverage for:
• New mental health beds in Labrador;
• Emergency departments in the Labrador Health Centre and Labrador West Health Centre; and,
• Out-patient clinics for Labrador West and Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

47. Develop specific provincial action plans for: …
• Suicide prevention, with the aim of reducing stigma and empowering communities to build resilience and inclusiveness.

Community Supports

49. Regional health authorities and community agencies must work more closely together to ensure smooth service delivery for individuals by:
• Strengthening existing partnerships (and creating ones where they do not formally exist) through regular communication, meetings and sharing education, strategic planning and other opportunities for engagement; and,
• Using change management principles to set the expectation that community agencies and regional health authorities share non-confidential information and consult each other on the evolving needs of individuals and how best to meet them.

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2017-AUG-18: New Minister Should Release the Complete Roadwork Ranking List

August 18, 2017
For Immediate Release

New Minister Should Release the Complete Roadwork Ranking List

Barry Petten, Transportation Critic for the Official Opposition, is calling on the new Transportation Minister to start off on the right footing by releasing the complete list of roadwork rankings, not just the partial list issued by his predecessor.

‎”The previous Liberal Minister told us that, from now on, roadwork priorities will be determined by the evidence, not politics, and all roadwork requests will be ranked in order of priority. But when we asked for the full list of rankings, we were offered only a partial list of the projects actually approved for the current year. Not only were future projects redacted from the multiyear list, but there was no list showing the rankings of the projects not approved.”

“The only way to tell if the government has approved the highest-ranked projects is to see the full list showing all the rankings for all the projects considered, not just the rankings of those that were approved. If the government wants to make good on their promises, open the entire list to the public and let the public know where their roads rank and if they are indeed considered a priority.

Petten said, “Similar to the change in course the Liberals claim the new Finance Minister is taking, the new Minister of TW also has a golden opportunity to do things differently. Release the entire list, and let the people of the province challenge the evidence and the priorities if they feel it’s warranted. It may be a politically risky thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do. Openness and transparency makes for better decision-making.”

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2017-AUG-18: Opposition Concerned by Report the Vale Underground Mine is On Hold

August 18, 2017
For Immediate Release

Opposition Concerned by Report the Vale Underground Mine is On Hold

Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “News that Vale has put on hold its Voisey’s Bay underground mine in Labrador raises huge concerns.”

“It now appears that the concerns we raised about the project in Question Period in December 2016 were warranted. At that time, we asked about the impact of the company’s request to have engineering in place prior to procurement‎, and whether this might delay the project. We believed at the time that this was a business process issue, not an issue warranting a delay. But Minister Siobhan Coady basically dismissed the concerns. Asked again during this year’s Estimates Committee meeting in May 2017, Minister Coady stated the project remained on schedule,” said Hutchings.

In the May Budget Estimates Committee meeting, Minister Coady said: “The primary objective is still to have the ore production from the underground mine by 2019-2020, so that continues. But within that time frame, because of some of the changes that they’re doing with regard to procurement and making sure they have all the engineering done, there are some schedule changes within that which we are considering.‎”

Hutchings said, “A recent report from the company suggests a change or reduction in commodity prices‎ is a key consideration for the stoppage and re-evaluation of the mine, yet nickel commodity prices have been relatively stable since 2015. So when Minister Coady spoke of the company changing its business process or delays, the commodity prices had been fairly constant. Were there concerns at that time that were not revealed, and if so, why not?‎”

“On our watch, we secured improvements to the original agreement, but it appears that the Liberals are being pressed into relaxing the terms that were agreed to. ‎If Vale intends to place the underground component on hold, how will this affect Labrador and Long Harbour operations? How will it affect employment, investment, engineering, procurement and benefits? What penalties might be triggered? What penalties might the Liberals be asked to forgive? What arguments will the company use to make its case? How will it affect the facility in Long Harbour and needing product to refine? Will it come from elsewhere in the world? Has this been confirmed?”

“The company committed to develop the underground resources of Voisey’s Bay based on a partnership with our province. That economic activity is very important to our province. The prospect of having that activity grind to a halt is troubling. Minister Coady should immediately update the people of our province on the status and provide answers not provided in December 2016 in the House of Assembly or in May 2017 in the Budget Estimates,” he said.

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

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2017-AUG-18: Ferryland District Road Maintenance Causing Concerns for Residents, Business and Tourists

August 18, 2017
For Immediate Release

Ferryland District Road Maintenance Causing Concerns for Residents, Business and Tourists

‎Ferryland MHA Keith Hutchings said, “The lack of road maintenance and new investment in road infrastructure in parts of Ferryland District is undermining the economic potential and in some cases the safety of residents of the region. Whether it is parts of the Robert E. Howlett Highway, or Route 10 – washouts on shoulders, potholes in Cappahayden Barrens and from Trepsassey to St. Vincent’s – it is mid-August and all travelers on these roads have never seen the government wait this late in the year for basic maintenance. The region continues to grow with new residents and economic opportunity, like World Heritage site Mistaken Point (which last year obtained UNESCO status), but yet tourism and business operators are frustrated by the lack of awareness by government of the effects of not meeting its obligations, especially on the southern Avalon.”

“While we all recognize the vast amount of highways in our province, the very minimum is to provide basic maintenance early in the spring to allow safe travel for all concerned. In Ferryland District, a reduction in summer staffing and an increase in jurisdiction for particular depots has made their jobs to meet the needs impossible; they can only do so much. A government that speaks of economic development and diversification of the economy must recognize the transportation system is key to sustainability and growth in regions. As an example, when visitors come to our UNESCO World Heritage Site – and they are indeed coming in greater numbers – ‎they are leaving with stories of the poor road conditions they encounter. We would never want the huge potential to attract tourists to the only provincially managed world heritage site in the province to be determined by the lack of maintenance to roads.”

“The Liberal government’s Five-Year Provincial Roads Plan lists some of the planned expenditures up to 2022 with criteria listed as ‘Safety, Reliability and Usage’. The problem is, only roads included in the plan are rated; if your road is not listed, you do not know the rating of the road or the ranking score. While ‘Route 10, Upgrade and repave from Cappahayden towards Chance Cove Park (multi-year)’ is listed for the years 2019-2020, no further details on work, distance, or investment are given. I have asked for the rankings of Routes such as the Witless Bay Line, various sections of Route 10 and the Robert E. Howlett highway, but they are not being released,” he said.

“Roadwork is needed for the benefit of people who live here, for those that want to invest and to support all industries. Ferryland District, like so many others, requires a transportation network that receives maintenance and upkeep and a commitment for the kind of long-term upgrades that have taken place in the last number of years.

“The government has never released the entire ranking of provincial roadwork. The public should know what proposals have been submitted and what projects the Liberal government sees as a priority.”

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

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2017-AUG-23: Tax Review Will Report Too Late to Avoid Serious Damage

August 23, 2017
For Immediate Release

Tax Review Will Report Too Late to Avoid Serious Damage

Keith Hutchings, Finance Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The Ball government’s tax review‎ will report too late to relieve the serious damage caused by three years of crushing Liberal taxes to the province’s people and economy.”

“The time for the Liberals to get advice on the impact of crushing taxes ‎was before they imposed them,” said Hutchings.

“By the time the review committee reports more than a year from now in November 2018 and by the time the Liberals act almost two years from now in Budget 2019, severe damage will already have been done to this province. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have been crushed by the Liberals’ lazy decision in Budget 2016 to raise more than 300 taxes and fees on nearly everything that could be taxed, including gas, insurance, income and sales.”

“‎The Liberals’ meagre effort to roll back a couple of those taxes leaves the major burden crushing down on our people and employers, smothering our struggling economy at the worst possible time,” said Hutchings.

“Let’s not forget that the decision to impose all those taxes and fees was a Cabinet decision‎ borne by the entire Liberal administration, not a choice of the former Finance Minister alone. It was a collective Liberal government decision to abandon their 2015 Red Book promise to review the tax system in order to reduce the costs for taxpayers and to make the system competitive and attractive. In fact, when we filibustered on the Liberals’ tax approach, every single Liberal government member stood to vote in favour of the tax grabs the Liberals imposed. Are they saying now they made the wrong choices?”

“Even though the new Finance Minister is all but admitting the Liberals failed by not commissioning a tax review before deciding which taxes to raise, he is telling us it will be another two years under that same crushing tax burden before people have a hope of seeing relief. Not surprisingly, that relief will come just ahead of the general election, but the severe damage will already have been done, because we see the evidence of it already,” said Hutchings.

“In fact, the Liberals are already committed to introducing a new carbon tax on top of all the others, which will again play havoc with our slowing economy and impact particular industries that need to drive our economy.”

“The Liberals have spent two years waffling without a decisive plan of action to reduce expenditures, bring innovative and more cost-effective service delivery, and create a capital investment plan which drives growth in our economy to stimulate new revenue‎ streams – a balanced and sensible approach to revenue shortfalls, rather than taking the lazy approach of overloading people and businesses with a tax burden that is detrimental to economic growth,” said Hutchings.

“We don’t need a crystal ball to know that the tax review‎ will tell the Liberals the approach is wrong and needs to be changed. What have the Liberals been doing for the past two years if they’re only now turning their attention to understanding tax policy and its effect on our people and our economy? It’s not acceptable that the people of our province will have to wait another two years for the Liberals to discover what everyone else already discovered about the failure of the Budget 2016 and 2017 Liberal approach,” said 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

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2017-AUG-24: Is the Liberal Government Hiding the Muskrat Falls Loan Guarantee Term Sheet?

August 24, 2017
For Immediate Release

Is the Liberal Government Hiding the Muskrat Falls Loan Guarantee Term Sheet?

Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, is asking the Minister of Natural Resources to release the Muskrat Falls loan guarantee term sheet immediately.

“In recent months, the CEO of Nalcor, the Premier and the Minister of Natural Resources have made comments which imply that the loan guarantee is signed. Yet they have not posted a term sheet online. It is time for the Liberal government to be transparent with the people of the province and post the details of the extended loan guarantee online – just like our administration did in 2012,” said Hutchings.

Hutchings has written to Minister Coady, asking her to release the signed term sheet for the extended loan guarantee.

“Despite the Premier announcing the additional $2.9 billion loan guarantee for the Muskrat Falls project on November 3, 2016, the Federal Minister of Natural Resources wrote Minister Coady seven days later – on November 10th, 2016 – to outline the Government of Canada’s position within the negotiations. Through an Access to Information request, we know that in this letter, the federal government asked for an ‘annual fee of at least 0.5% of the total additional debt that is guaranteed’ to be paid to the federal government. This could mean that our province or Nalcor would have to pay the federal government over $14.5 million a year just to guarantee the additional debt. Through this same Access to Information request, we also know that the federal government had three other principles which they were bringing into negotiations on the loan guarantee, but these were redacted.‎”

“The fact that the Liberals have not made the term sheet publicly available is concerning, given that we know that the federal government has asked the province to pay for the guarantee. What else has the federal government asked for in negotiations? What has the provincial government signed on to? The Liberal government has a pattern of giving away our natural resource benefits and not standing up for this province. I am concerned that this may have happened again,” said 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

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2017-AUG-29: Minister Must Provide Answers on Respiratory Therapy Program

August 29, 2017
For Immediate Release

Minister Must Provide Answers on Respiratory Therapy Program

David Brazil, Advanced Education Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The new Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour, Al Hawkins, needs to provide the answers that his predecessor failed to provide about the College of the North Atlantic Respiratory Therapy program, which lost its accreditation in 2017, a year after it was placed on probation in June 2016.”

“What will happen to students part-way through the program whose career paths were severely disrupted by the loss of accreditation? Have all been placed under the care of another post-secondary institution where they can complete their program? Will the coursework they have already completed be fully recognized? Will they suffer any consequences for having been associated with the cancelled program? Are they going to be compensated for any added expenses they might incur because of the disruption they have endured? Is the government looking out for their well-being?” said Brazil.

“What will happen to first-year students who did not find out until midsummer that they would need to change their career plans? Have all of them been offered other opportunities at the College, or special help gaining entrance into similar programs elsewhere? Have any been affected by missed application deadlines for other programs because of the late notice they received of this program’s cancellation?”

Brazil added, “What will happen to the program itself? Will the College give up on it, or work to ensure it can restore accreditation? Is the government taking a hands-on role to ensure that the College works with the Accreditation Council to resolve the issues they identified?‎”

“Why weren’t current students informed last year as soon as the program was placed on probation and told of its implications? Why weren’t the applicants who were just accepted into the program’s first year told that the program was on probation and what that could mean? What did the government and the College do during the past year of probation to avoid the loss of accreditation? These and other questions need answers. It’s time to hear the Minister answer them,” said Brazil.

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

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2017-SEP-01: Newly Announced Atlantic Fisheries Fund Shortchanges NL, Raises Questions

September 1, 2017
For Immediate Release

Newly Announced Atlantic Fisheries Fund Shortchanges NL, Raises Questions

Kevin Parsons, Fisheries Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The federal Liberals quietly issued a news release yesterday on an Atlantic Fisheries Fund which will be shared with our Maritime neighbours and spread over seven years, leaving too little to help the struggling industry with the investment it needs now. Many details remain unanswered and the Minister of Fisheries is nowhere to be seen or heard.”

“If the Ball government were so proud of the fund, the Premier and the Fisheries Minister would be announcing details and timelines instead of letting Ottawa slip out the news quietly in a press release,” said Parsons. “The Liberals are sheepish because they understand – just as everyone else does – that this is a far cry from what we were promised and should expect in a fisheries fund.”

Parsons said, “Ottawa’s press release raises more questions than it answers. Why will there be ‘weeks and months’ of engagement? How much longer will we have to wait to receive the investment funding our industry needs? How will the funding be broken down? What portion will be reserved for Newfoundland and Labrador, and how will that stack up to the $400 million we were promised? What will the investment timeline be, and how much funding will flow this year? Has Ottawa added up seven years’ worth of regular fisheries investments to bulk up the fund and make it appear to be more substantive than it actually is?”

“Prime Minister Trudeau, as the Liberal leader before the 2015 election, promised the $400 million Fisheries Fund exclusively to Newfoundland and Labrador in recognition of the fact that we are the only province that gave up minimum processing requirements (MPRs) ‎under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA. Those MPRs had value to our province and despite a public commitment from the Prime Minister acknowledging that, the Liberal government again did not stand up for our province’s best interest and settled for less. The Maritime Premiers lobbied for part of that funding, and Premier Ball wasn’t effective in making our province’s case.”

Parsons said, “The disappointing news on the Atlantic Fisheries Fund comes on the heels of the loss of the Atlantic Regional Ocean Frontier Institute headquarters to Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and the decentralization of Ottawa’s Small Craft Harbours program to New Brunswick rather than Newfoundland and Labrador even though no province has a longer coastline or more small craft harbours than we do.”

“The Ball government continues to demonstrate that they are ineffective. They’re prepared to settle for whatever crumbs that the federal Liberals offer,” said Parsons. “They say they’re working behind the scenes, but obviously not effectively enough to secure the benefits and jobs we need. And when others gain at our expense, they don’t speak out publicly, but they defend those losses and criticize us for demanding that they fight harder,” said Parsons.

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

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2017-SEP-07: Documents Show the Flu Shot Decision Was Made Without Cost Analysis, Consultation or Public Health Focus

September 7, 2017
For Immediate Release

Documents Show the Flu Shot Decision Was Made Without Cost Analysis, Consultation or Public Health Focus

Steve Kent, Health Critic for the Official Opposition, is calling on the ‎Ball government to apologize and reverse course in light of documentation just released by the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association showing the government made an abrupt policy change limiting physician-administered flu shots without consulting physicians, without a cost-benefit analysis and without taking into account the serious impact on public health.

‎”Access to Information documents show the Liberal government misrepresented the facts to justify their decision to reduce access to flu shots for patients who made appointments solely for this purpose. The facts show that they changed the policy, not to improve access to flu shots as they pretended, but to slash funding for this critical public health service in order to pay for another policy initiative,” said Kent.

“The Access to Information documents show they were not truthful about the rationale for the change. They did not consult with physicians beforehand and made rash assumptions in the absence of a cost-benefit analysis to back their assumptions up. They downplayed the impact on patient health of enacting a policy change that physicians say will lead to fewer people who need flu shots actually getting them. What are the impacts on local clinics and rural communities? The province’s physicians are very concerned that people at risk will fall through the cracks. Reduced immunization will leave many people vulnerable to severe illness, hospitalization or even death while costing our health system in significant ways that the government did not account for when they made this abrupt policy change.”

“It is shocking that, to do the right thing of extending the HPV vaccine to boys, the Liberals did the wrong thing to pay for it by cutting access to the flu vaccines for people who would otherwise have made appointments at their doctors’ offices. It is appalling that the Liberals misrepresented the facts on what they were doing, failed to consult with physicians, failed to collect the proper evidence and showed blatant disregard for the impact on public health,” said Kent.

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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

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2017-SEP-07: Premier and Ministers Silent on Changes to Federal Liberals’ Business Tax Changes: Small Business Owners Fear It Will Hurt NL’s Small Businesses and Economy

September 7, 2017
For Immediate Release

Premier and Ministers Silent on Changes to Federal Liberals’ Business Tax Changes

Small Business Owners Fear It Will Hurt NL’s Small Businesses and Economy

Keith Hutchings, ‎Finance Critic for the Official Opposition, is asking, “Why are Premier Ball and his Finance and Business Ministers silent on a federal Liberal business tax change that will hurt Newfoundland and Labrador’s small business core, cost jobs and further undermine our fragile economy?”

“In the short time that the federal Liberals have provided for consultation on their proposed tax plan, there has been a huge outcry across the country from people who recognize the consequences of an apparent tax grab, yet the ‎Ball Liberals have said nothing about the impact in our province,” said Hutchings. “Has the Finance department assessed the possible impacts of these changes to business owners in this province – the retail sector, service sector, tourism, farming and or fishing industries as examples? Has the provincial government made any representation to Ottawa about the proposed federal tax changes and their impact here? Have they fully assessed the impacts? Why are they not talking about what it will mean for the many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians whose small businesses are creating jobs and economic opportunities in our communities, not only in urban centres, but in small communities throughout the province?

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. Without them, countless jobs would disappear and our economy would grind to a standstill. These entrepreneurs take huge personal risks to start these enterprises and should not be penalized for re-investing to strengthen their enterprises, for engaging their family members as so many do to keep their businesses running, or for structuring their businesses so they can afford to retire when the time comes. Reckless tax changes will not only hurt our entrepreneurs, but discourage people from starting businesses in the first place. And that will cost many local jobs and devastate our economy,” said Hutchings.

Hutchings said, “Newfoundland and Labrador’s business sector is overwhelmingly composed of small and medium size enterprises, and they are wondering why Premier Ball and the Liberal government are not out advocating for them and the local economies they sustain. With all the provincial tax grabs, business failures and bankruptcies we’ve seen in this province over the past two years, our economy cannot afford another Liberal job-killing tax grab.”

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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

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2017-SEP-11: Kent to Step Down as MHA; Davis Commends Long-Serving Colleague

September 11, 2017
For Immediate Release

Kent to Step Down as MHA; Davis Commends Long-Serving Colleague

Steve Kent, the Progressive Conservative MHA for Mount Pearl North since October 2007, will be stepping down as MHA to accept a senior management position with the City of Mount Pearl. Mr. Kent intends to resign as MHA on October 10.

Kent said, “I am so proud of and remain deeply supportive of the vital work we have been doing in the Official ‎Opposition to hold the government to account, and I also remain deeply committed to serving the citizens of Mount Pearl, many of whom I’ve represented in the House of Assembly for a decade, and before that on City Council for a decade. While this was certainly not an easy decision, it was a rare opportunity that my family and I felt was the best choice for us to make at this time in our lives, and I am excited about continuing to serve the people in this new capacity.”

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, said, “Steve has been, not only a strong team player and a tireless champion for Mount Pearl, Elizabeth Park and Brookfield Plains over the past decade, but an exceptionally valuable colleague working for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in our Opposition Caucus, in the House of Assembly, and in government.”

“I, along with our Caucus and PC Party, wish Steve and his family the very best as they move forward, and thank him for everything he has done to propel our Party forward toward the goal we all share of delivering stronger governance to Newfoundland and Labrador. Public service can be challenging, and although it’s tough to see Steve move on, we wish him and his family much success and happiness,” said Davis.

Graydon Pelley, President of the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, said, “Steve has been a hardworking, committed advocate for the PC Party, his District and for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We wish Steve and his family well and much success with his future endeavours.”

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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

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2017-SEP-11: PC’s Call for House to Open to Amend Unconstitutional Provisions on Special Balloting

September 12, 2017
For Immediate Release

‎PC’s Call for House to Open to Amend Unconstitutional Provisions on Special Balloting

‎Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition is calling for the House of Assembly to be reconvened immediately – ahead of any vacancy – to amend the special ballot provisions of the Elections Act that‎ the court just ruled unconstitutional.

Davis said, “Under the current legislation – specifically, the House of Assembly Act and the Elections Act, 1991 – certain things are triggered the moment a seat becomes vacant, and those things would ordinarily include the special ballot provisions that the court has now ruled‎ unconstitutional. It is imperative and urgent that we fix those provisions so any by-elections can proceed fairly and constitutionally, allowing for special ballot voting for those who need to avail of it, but with new provisions that respect the court decision.”

Section 54 of the House of Assembly Act requires a by-election to be called within 60 days of a vacancy, and section 58 of the Elections Act, 1991‎ requires a by-election to be held within 30 clear days after it is called.

A recent court decision ruled the special ballot provisions of sections 86 through 86.10 of the Elections Act, 1991 ‎to be unconstitutional and‎ therefore of no effect because they allow people to vote before all candidates declare.

Davis said, “I am calling for the House of Assembly to be reconvened immediately to amend the Elections Act, 1991 ‎to ensure we have special ballot provisions that reflect the court’s decision and are constitutionally valid.”

“We now know that a vacancy will occur on October 10, and there is always the possibility of a vacancy occurring even sooner, so our election legislation must be fixed before that happens to ensure the most fundamental democratic processes in our society will be lawful and precisely defined,” added Davis.

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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

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2017-SEP-12: Would Have Been the Perfect Time to Press Prime Minister and Federal Cabinet on Issues Important to NL

September 12, 2017
For Immediate Release

Would Have Been the Perfect Time to Press Prime Minister and Federal Cabinet on Issues Important to NL

Keith Hutchings, Finance and Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, says, “The presence of the Prime Minister and federal Cabinet Ministers in the province made this the perfect time to press for answers on issues and obligations outstanding for Newfoundland and Labrador.”

‎Hutchings said, “In a press conference Tuesday morning, the Premier never mentioned any discussion with the ‎Prime Minister on issues such as the $400 million Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries investment fund that Mr. Trudeau promised ahead of the 2015 election in recognition of the decision to relinquish minimum processing requirements to the European Union as part of CETA negotiations.”

“While we have pressed the Premier to engage in discussion with the Federal Government on a range of issues, he appears unwilling to do so. What a great opportunity to have those discussions here in our province. We need to be pressing for fair application of the equalization provisions of our constitution, which are giving billions to other provinces to help them cope with revenue shortfalls and balancing their budgets, but yet Newfoundland and Labrador is getting zero equalization because of unfair federal rules that can be changed any time in the Parliament of Canada.”

“With the current challenges facing our fishing industry, the issue of joint Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries management is never more important as we look to the future of the industry. Joint management was a commitment in the Liberal red book, but again there was no mention of it with the Prime Minister in our province,” said Hutchings.

“We also need to stand up for our offshore oil and gas industry and the right of the joint Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to oversee environmental approvals rather than the made-in-Ottawa approach the federal Liberals are proposing.”

“With our economy today, we need to be creating an environment for growth, and standing up for Newfoundland and Labrador’s small businesses. The recent federal Liberals’ corporate tax change scheme is causing grave concern to local business groups and entrepreneurs.”

“We need to stand up for our ocean technology sector which has grown significantly over the past decade, but all the province’s efforts lost significant ground when the Ocean Frontier Institute headquarters was recently announced by the Federal Government to be placed at Dalhousie in Nova Scotia. Again, there was no discussion with the Prime Minister and Ministers here in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

“If the Premier can’t find his voice to stand up for Newfoundland and Labrador, the people of the province will hold his feet to the fire and make the case with our own voice,” said 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

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2017-SEP-13: Another School Year Begins With No Action to Improve Educational Outcomes

September 13, 2017
For Immediate Release

Another School Year Begins With No Action to Improve Educational Outcomes

Dave Brazil, Education Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “It’s disappointing to see another school year begin with no action by the Ball Liberals to improve educational outcomes.”

“It’s now been years since the Liberals made their promise to improve educational outcomes, and it’s been weeks since they received the task force report telling them what to do. In fact, the task force was consulting openly, so it wasn’t a great mystery what their recommendations would be. Still, other than hire an extra Associate Deputy Minister, the Ball Liberals have done nothing to implement the report’s 82 recommendations in the 2017-18 academic year,” said Brazil.

“In fact, the Education Minister seems to believe there is no urgency, as he is on the record saying the sky is not going to fall if action is delayed. That’s ironic, given the fact that the task force entitled their report ‘The Time is Now’ to stress the urgent need to act. What are the Minister’s timelines for action if the start of yet another school year is too soon for him?”

“What’s confusing parents is that the Liberals said they had answers when they were in Opposition, but that was years ago. If they knew what they wanted and needed to do, what’s taking them so long to start doing it? The least they can do is to provide an indication of when they will begin to act and how they will schedule the implementation of the task force recommendations they sought,” said Brazil.

“We’re left to wonder whether the Liberal government even accepts all of those recommendations on such critical matters as inclusive education, or if they’re now studying the study. When asked last year about inclusive education, the Minister referred to the deficit as an excuse for delaying action. Either education is a Liberal priority or it is not‎. If they’re not prepared to act, they shouldn’t have promised to do so. It is for them to figure out how to prioritize their initiatives while living within the province’s fiscal means. That’s what governance is all about,” said Brazil.

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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

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2017-SEP-13: CBS Library Announcement Short on Details, Timelines, Budget

September 13, 2017
For Immediate Release

CBS Library Announcement Short on Details, Timelines, Budget

Opposition Leader Paul Davis ‎(MHA Topsail-Paradise) and Barry Petten (MHA Conception Bay South) said the Education Minister’s Wednesday morning announcement about the CBS library was embarrassingly short on details, timelines and budget information.

Davis said, “People walked away disappointed that the MInister didn’t show up with specific details to announce about the ‎library project that the community has been pushing for.”

“‎For quite some time, we have been advocating for a regional library in CBS, especially after the Education Minister criticized the previous plans for the CBS library project.”

“If the Minister had been ready today to release the details people have been seeking, then everyone would have been able to understand the objective of the news conference. But to hold an announcement involving municipal officials in the middle of a municipal election campaign when there is nothing to announce is embarrassing to everyone involved.”‎

Petten said, “People were left scratching their heads about the purpose of the news conference, when it included none of the details, timelines and budget information‎ that infrastructure announcements normally include.”

“Community residents want this library project to proceed and the benefits to flow. When the Minister is not prepared to provide the basic details, it makes people wonder ‎how ready he really is to move ahead on this project,” added Petten.

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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

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2017-SEP-14: PC Party of NL Begins Signing Up Members and Supporters

NEW! Download the PC Membership Sign-up Form in PDF so you can print a hard copy

NEW! Download the PC Membership Sign-up Form in Word so you can print a hard copy

Sign Up for PC Membership Online

 

September 14, 2017

PC Party of NL Begins Signing Up Members and Supporters

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Progressive Conservative Party has begun the process of signing up members and supporters under the constitutional reforms the Party approved at a Special General Meeting in June.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who wish to participate in the selection of the Party leader on April 28, 2018 must submit an application by January 28, 2018 (SIGN-UP EXTENSION TO JANUARY 30, 2018 AT 5:00 PM) [February 28, 2018] to become a member or supporter of the Party in time to be sent a mail-in ballot for the vote.

People may apply to become members or supporters of the Party by completing the application form that is available on the Party’s website at http://www.pcpartynl.ca/crm/membership

Each member and supporter will be sent a unique card containing the person’s provincial electoral district, the effective date of member or supporter status, and a unique barcode/ID number.

Under the Party’s constitution – which is available on the Party website – applicants can choose whether they want to be members (with certain constitutionally defined rights that include running for Party offices) or supporters. These rights can be found on the Party’s website (below): http://www.pcpartynl.ca

There is no fee to apply to become a Party member or supporter.

Party President Graydon Pelley said, “This is the next step in opening up our Party so that all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who support us can apply to participate in electing our leader directly and with an equal say. We have opted to use a one-member-one-vote preferential mail-in ballot for our leadership election next April, and we encourage people to participate. As members or supporters, people will be encouraged, not just to vote for our leader, but also to get involved in building our Party, shaping our future and preparing for the general election that is approaching.”

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Media contact:
Graydon Pelley, President of the PC Party of NL
C: 709-636- 8326
E: gpelleypc@gmail.com

 

Backgrounder

Rights and Responsibilities of Members and Supporters of the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland & Labrador

Excerpts from the Party Constitution as amended on June 10, 2017. The Constitution is available in full online at https://www.pcpartynl.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/PC-NLConstitution-Amended-2017.pdf

Rights

ARTICLE 5-6. RIGHTS OF MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS

a. Any Member or Supporter of the Party shall have the following rights:

i. The right to take full part in, and to vote, at any district meeting, or district nomination meeting in accordance with Article 13-2.

ii. The right to participate in the leadership selection process subject to the conditions set out in Article 11-3 and the Leadership Election Rules.

iii. The right to be given 7 days’ notice of any such district meeting, district nomination meeting, or provincial leadership convention, by public notification through the Party website or as directed by the Executive Committee.

b. Any Member of the Party shall have the following additional rights:

i. The right to hold office in the Party, including the position of Leader.

ii. The right to seek delegate status to vote at a provincial annual general meeting, or special general meeting.

iii. Only if eighteen (18) years of age or older, the right to stand for selection as a candidate for the Party for election to the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly.

c. If a Member or Supporter changes address which results in a change in district where s/he has a right to vote, that right shall apply to the new district and a new Membership/Supporter card will be issued upon request.

d. A Member or Supporter shall be entitled to cast one vote only on a question or matter for which the individual is qualified to vote.

e. There shall be no proxy voting in the Party, or in any Affiliated Associations or groups as defined in Article 6.1.

f. In the event a Member or Supporter requires accommodation or aid in casting his or her vote in a live voting process, (if the same occurs) then the Secretary on the Executive Committee shall be notified of the same, a note will be added to that Member or Supporter’s file in the Membership registry and the accommodation or aid will be made following the spirit and intent of Article 118 of the Elections Act, 1991 as amended and attached hereto as Schedule “B”.

g. In the event a Member or Supporter requires accommodation or aid in advanced preferential voting, (if the same occurs) then the Secretary on the Executive Committee along with the Area Vice President and District Association shall work together to ensure such accommodation or will be made following the spirit and intent of Article 118 of the Elections Act, 1991 as amended and attached hereto as Schedule “B” with necessary alternations or accommodations for advanced preferential voting.

Responsibilities

ARTICLE 5-7. RESPONSIBILITIES OF MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS

Members and Supporters have the following responsibilities:

a. To demonstrate public support for the Party’s electoral aims and objectives and to refrain from being an actively participating Member or Supporter of any other Provincial political party in Newfoundland and Labrador,

b. To respect the collective will of the Party as expressed by decisions and/or policies duly rendered under the framework of this Constitution and the By-laws or Rules established thereunder,

c. To participate in Party debate in a manner which is respectful of the democratic process and of the rights of other Members or Supporters to their own effective voice,

d. To provide the Party with accurate contact information to allow for effective communication with the Member or Supporter, and

e. To support the purposes, aims and objectives of the Party.

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2017-SEP-27: Atlantic Opposition Leaders Call on Provincial Liberals to Condemn Tax Attack

September 27, 2017
For Immediate Release

Atlantic Opposition Leaders Call on Provincial Liberals to Condemn Tax Attack

The leaders of Atlantic Canada’s Progressive Conservative parties today called on the four Liberal Premiers from the region to stand up for Atlantic Canadians and to condemn the Ottawa Liberals’ unfair tax changes that attack small business owners, entrepreneurs, farmers, doctors and families.

The four Opposition Leaders joined forces in Halifax to release a joint letter sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau. The four PC leaders challenged the four Liberal Premiers to follow their example.

The letter expresses the Opposition Leaders’ shared concerns that the tax grab will hurt the middle class and do serious damage to the economy and healthcare systems in all four provinces.

“This issue will have huge implications for our region,” says Jamie Baillie, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia. “Many Atlantic Canadians already find it tough to live in this part of the country or find a family doctor, and this tax grab will only make things worse. Stephen McNeil must stand up for Nova Scotians and stop these changes before the damage is done.”

“A Premier’s loyalty should be to the people of their province. Unfortunately, Brian Gallant has shown time and again that his loyalty is to the Liberal party and to the Liberal government in Ottawa,” states Blaine Higgs, Leader of New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative Opposition, “This tax grab is not about fairness, it is about a tax and spend philosophy that runs deep in the Liberal party. It will hurt our businesses and entrepreneurs at a time they can least afford it.

“Small business is the engine that powers our local economy on Prince Edward Island. These tax changes will have wide ranging negative impacts that will affect existing small businesses, new business startups, family farms and health professionals. Our Atlantic Premiers should be making a common stand to Ottawa against these changes instead of hiding in the shadows waiting for their cut of another tax hike,” says Jamie Fox, Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Prince Edward Island.

“We stand resolutely against the proposed federal Liberal policy to raise taxes even higher on the small-business employers whose success we need to drive our economy,” said Paul Davis, Leader of Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. “This attack on small business will be devastating; the new federal tax grab is not well thought out, difficult to understand and is being rushed through without proper consultation or analysis on what the impacts will be. Provincial and federal Liberals have a responsibility to advocate for those they represent, not roll over and accept from their Liberal counterparts that this is a good decision. The federal tax proposal should be scrapped.”

Canadians have until October 2, 2017, to communicate their concerns about the proposed tax changes to their provincial and federal representatives.

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Media Contacts:

Nova Scotia PC Leader Jamie Baillie:
Angie Zinck
902.225.1630
angie.zinck@novascotia.ca

New Brunswick PC Leader Blaine Higgs:
Bob Fowlie
506.453.4486
Bob.fowlie@gnb.ca

Prince Edward Island PC Leader Jamie Fox:
Jeff Himelman
902.314.2497
jahimelman@assembly.pe.ca

Newfoundland and Labrador PC Leader Paul Davis:
Heather MacLean
709.729.6105
HeatherMacLean@gov.nl.ca

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2017-OCT-03: Dangerous Road Conditions Being Ignored

October 3, 2017
For Immediate Release

Dangerous Road Conditions Being Ignored

Barry Petten, Official Opposition Critic for Transportation and Works, said, “In various parts of our province, the Ball government is ignoring deplorable road conditions, and local residents are expressing concern that it’s placing the lives of the motoring public in jeopardy.”

Petten said, “The Transportation Minister is failing to fulfill one of his core mandates to make our major roadways safe, and basic upgrades such as pothole repair, shouldering, and routine maintenance are being ignored. In May, the Liberals boasted of a summer maintenance program – however, throughout the summer, road conditions continued to be challenging in many areas of the province. Night time work which was expected over the summer months just started in late September. Why the delay?”

The Minister’s mandate letter is clear, stating: “I expect you to conduct an engineering assessment of the quality of road conditions and reflect priorities in a multi-year infrastructure plan to address repairs. Ensure that the plan includes early tendering to allow companies to take full advantage of the short construction season, and make public a priority list of road maintenance.” “Why is the Minister ignoring this mandate?” asked Petten.

“The motoring public should not have to bear the consequences of dysfunction at the government level in evaluating and correcting dangerous road conditions. If the public works officials are stretched beyond their capacity and lack the equipment and personnel, the Minister has an obligation to hire staff and get the work done as quickly as possible. Road work needs to be completed before winter comes – to ensure the roads get the attention they need,” said Petten.

One such location of concern is a stretch of the Irish Loop between Trepassey and Peter’s River. Keith Hutchings, the PC MHA for Ferryland District, said, “The stretch of the Irish Loop from Trepassey to the St. Shott’s Junction ‎is severely potholed and extremely poor for driving. The Stony River Bridge (or Mutton Bay Bridge) at the entrance to Trepassey is seriously eroded, and some of the railing has plunged into the river. It was inspected in February 2015 and scheduled for rehabilitation. Why did the repairs not take place? Why is the bridge not included in the department’s five-year program when it was scheduled to be repaired within a year in 2015? The Irish Loop is one of the province’s major tourist destinations, promoted heavily in the government’s official literature, but significant stretches of this major thoroughfare are not fit to drive over. For more than six months since the spring melt, severe potholes, bridge erosion and rutting along many kilometres of this major route have been ignored, and people are afraid it’s only a matter of time before they lead to a tragedy that’s entirely avoidable.”

Petten said, “While the Transportation Department has released a prioritized list of roads earmarked for work this year, it has refused to show the rankings of roads that were not earmarked for work this year. It is also slow in getting to some of the work earmarked for completion in the current year. It’s imperative for the provincial Transportation and Works Minister to ensure dangerous stretches of road are repaired without any further delay before something tragic happens.”

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

Backgrounder:

Bridge Inspection Report (Mutton Bay Bridge)

Photos:

Route 10 Trepassey


Stony River Bridge




Trepassey to St Vincent’s Route 10, St Shott’s Road


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2017-OCT-04: Why Isn’t Ball Clearly Saying “Stop” the Federal Business Tax Measures?

October 4, 2017
For Immediate Release

Why Isn’t Ball Clearly Saying “Stop” the Federal Business Tax Measures?

Keith Hutchings, Finance Critic for the Official Opposition, is asking, “Why isn’t Premier Dwight Ball clearly demanding that Ottawa stop the small business tax changes that will hurt Newfoundland and Labrador instead of simply urging Ottawa to spend more time explaining them?”

“When the Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers were in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Premier said the federal government needs to do a better job of ‘explaining’ the proposed tax changes, and he gave an example of someone who misunderstood their impact,” said Hutchings.

“Small business owners in this province recognize the negative impact that the proposed changes will have and don’t need the Premier telling them they’re not informed. What they want is not better explanations. They want these job-killing tax measures taken off the table. Why isn’t the Premier advocating on their behalf instead of advocating on behalf of the federal Liberals?”

During Ottawa’s consultation phase which ended on October 2, the St. John’s Board of Trade was adamant in their submission to the federal Finance Minister that the proposed changes will have “significant negative impacts” on us, leading to higher taxes, higher costs for small and medium businesses, higher costs for family-run businesses, and particular impacts on women. They called for the proposals to be stopped and reconsidered.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is urging the federal government “to take these unfair proposals off the table‎.” They have stated: “These changes won’t just affect the wealthy as the government has implied…. they directly target small business owners who make daily sacrifices to keep their businesses alive, support their families and create jobs in their communities.”‎

The Conception Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, like others, has posted a message on their website stating: “We urge all Atlantic Canadian business owners to contact their local MP and voice their opposition to this ill-conceived, hastily proposed, and economically regressive piece of legislation that will negatively impact the ability to do business in Atlantic Canada for years to come.”

Hutchings said, “The advice of advocacy groups representing the province’s small businesses makes a great deal of sense. Options such as lengthier consultations, a royal commission on taxation and a standing committee focused on small and medium enterprises would be far more sensible than barging ahead with changes that will do a great deal of harm to our economy, at a time when Newfoundland and Labrador is especially vulnerable.”

“Perhaps Premier Ball is having difficulty arguing convincingly for not raising taxes after his own government raised more than 300 taxes and fees in 2016 and left most of them there in 2017,” said Hutchings. “While other Premiers are being very vocal and clear in calling for a halt to these changes, our own Premier seems to be posturing rather than calling for the outright halt that small businesses and their representative organizations are recommending. Premier Ball and the Liberals are not on the same page as our own business community, which is unfortunate, because they need a strong voice to speak up for the concerns of local businesses and employers, not another voice telling them that Ottawa knows best.”

“The silence of our provincial Minister of Finance is also troubling. Surely the provincial Finance Department has a raft of statistics to show the impact of Ottawa’s tax changes on the local economy. This would be the time to release that information to help make the case for local businesses. The Minister’s silence is doing our province no favours.”

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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

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2017-OCT-04: With CETA Now in Place, What Did NL Get for Giving Up MPRs?

October 4, 2017
For Immediate Release

With CETA Now in Place, What Did NL Get for Giving Up MPRs?

With the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) now in place, Keith Hutchings, Intergovernmental Affairs Critic for the Official Opposition, is asking what Newfoundland and Labrador got for giving up minimum processing requirements (MPRs) in the fishery as part of CETA.

“Our negotiated return for the move would certainly not be the Atlantic Fisheries Fund as that fund goes to all Atlantic provinces (and falls far short of $400 million for Newfoundland and Labrador), not just our own. Surely, the current Liberal government was not negotiating a fund for the Atlantic provinces as part of bilateral CETA talks? Let’s remember the only Atlantic province that had MPRs to relinquish during negotiations of the trade deal was Newfoundland and Labrador – and why would you negotiate a fund for all provinces for something only one province gives up? That is a program of general application, not a program to recognize what Newfoundland and Labrador alone negotiated for the benefits of a $400 million fishery innovation fund, much needed today,” said Hutchings.

“So that leaves the question: What did Premier Ball get for giving up MPRs?”

“After negotiating the fishery fund with the support of industry players, and following the Harper government’s backtracking on an agreement, our government’s position was clear, as communicated to many of the EU embassies in Ottawa: no fund, no relinquishment of MPRs in CETA. We advised the federal government that, without the full $400 million fund, we would not relinquish MPRs; that was our leverage in negotiations. We were prepared to give them up for the EU only on the condition that Newfoundland and Labrador would receive a fisheries investment fund valued at $400 million. Otherwise, we were prepared to pull them off the table. That was our line in the sand,” said Hutchings.

“Enter the Ball Liberals and all went silent. They repeatedly said they were negotiating leading up to the signing of the agreement by Prime Minister Trudeau ‎and with Dwight Ball as Premier. We never understood the need for a negotiation: the elements were set.”

“The irony is that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau wrote our government prior to the 2015 election to say that he agreed with the agreement we made. But after the government changed in 2015, Premier Ball did not hold Prime Minister Trudeau to that agreement. He let MPRs go for absolutely nothing.”

Hutchings said, “Ottawa insisted that we give up MPRs for EU countries under CETA and our government saw an opportunity to build a fishery looking forward using technology, research capacity, innovation and infrastructure made possible by the negotiated fund which would make us competitive with competing interests including the EU. The only Atlantic province with MPRs was Newfoundland and Labrador. So we were right to demand something exceptional in return – not simply our fair share of a fisheries funding for the entire Atlantic region, which really has nothing to do with CETA negotiations. We have even heard rumours of other Atlantic Liberal Premiers lobbying against the fund our government negotiated. I guess they were successful.”

“CETA was signed by Justin Trudeau against what our government said was unacceptable for Newfoundland and Labrador, while Premier Ball and his government were silent and relinquished MPRs in this province for free. It’s too late now for him to start negotiating because CETA is now in effect and the MPRs have already been given away,” said 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

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2017-OCT-06: Monday Marks 150th Anniversary of Act of Heroism By Captain William Jackman of Renews

October 6, 2017
For Immediate Release

Monday Marks 150th Anniversary of Act of Heroism By Captain William Jackman of Renews

Keith Hutchings, PC MHA for Ferryland District, said, “The Captain William Jackman Heritage Society is raising funds to construct and maintain a monument to honour a local hero who, 150 years ago on October 9, 1867, swam into icy Labrador seas to rescue 27 shipwrecked mariners.”

Glenn Jackman, President of the Captain William Jackman Heritage Society said, “Every Newfoundlander and Labradorian, every Canadian, every individual who hears or reads about Captain William Jackman’s legendary heroic feat feels a sense of renewed hope in the inherent goodness of humanity. This man represents the ideals of caring people everywhere. Our monument of Captain William Jackman will serve to remind us and future generations of these ideals.”

Captain Jackman’s heroism was honoured by the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation in October 2010 under the Provincial Historic Commemorations Program with the following statement: “In 1867, at Spotted Islands, Labrador, Captain William Jackman swam from the shore for a distance of approximately 500 ft and back again to rescue one by one, the 27 people aboard the fishing schooner Sea Clipper which had struck a reef during an October storm. The first 11 were rescued without additional aid; for the remainder Jackman had use of a rope and was assisted by other men onshore. In recognition of his near superhuman effort, he was awarded a silver medal by the Royal Humane Society of Great Britain.”

Captain Jackman was born to a fishing family in Renews on May 20, 1837. He was a 30-year-old sealing steamer captain in October 1867 when a fierce Labrador gale prompted him to anchor his vessel at Labrador’s Spotted Island (near Black Tickle). It was there that he saw the fishing schooner Sea Clipper had run aground on a reef in heavy seas. He swam to and from the vessel 11 times to carry 11 people on his back to safety, and then made another 16 swims with the aid of a rope. He died only a decade later at the age of 39.

Hutchings said, “This is the kind of heroism that great films celebrate, yet most people do not know the story of William Jackman. All Newfoundlanders and Labradorians – indeed all Canadians – ought to hear his story and be inspired by what he did. A monument in his hometown of Renews will serve as a tribute to his heroism. It will also serve as a reminder to people of the great courage required to work in our province’s fishing industry.”

Hutchings is encouraging people to donate by visiting the Heritage Society’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/cwjmonument/

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

Glenn Jackman, President
Captain William Jackman Heritage Society
(709) 364-2248, gjackman67@gmail.com

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2017-OCT-10: Progressive Conservative Party Calls for Nominations in the District of Mount Pearl North

For Immediate Release
October 10, 2017

Progressive Conservative Party Calls for Nominations in the District of Mount Pearl North

The Provincial Executive of the Progressive Conservative Party announced today that nominations of candidates for the upcoming by-election for the District of Mount Pearl North opened today, Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. (noon) and will close on Friday, October 13, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. (noon).

The district’s seat becomes vacant today, October 10, 2017, when Steve Kent steps down as the MHA. A date for the by-election has not been set, but under the laws as they currently exist, a by-election must be called within 60 days of a vacancy occurring and held within 30 clear days of being called.

Nomination documents may be obtained from and submitted to the Party Secretary:

Desmond Whalen
Tel: 709.427.9548
Email: desmondw@mun.ca

Candidates must deposit a $300.00 nonrefundable fee made payable to: The Progressive Conservative Association of Newfoundland & Labrador Inc.

A list of candidates and information concerning a nomination meeting (if required) will be announced following the close of nominations.

Download nomination form as a PDF

Download nomination form in Word

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Media Contact:
Graydon Pelley
President, PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador
Telephone: 709.636.8326
Email: gpelleypc@gmail.com

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2017-OCT-13: Two Seek PC Nomination in the District of Mount Pearl North

For Immediate Release
October 13, 2017

Two Seek PC Nomination in the District of Mount Pearl North

At the close of nominations, the Provincial Executive of the Progressive Conservative Party announced today that two nominees are seeking to become the PC candidate in the upcoming by-election in the District of Mount Pearl North: Jim Lester and Chuck Nurse.

Information concerning a Nomination Meeting to select the PC candidate will be announced in the coming days.

PC nominations opened on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. (noon) and closed on Friday, October 13, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. (noon).

A date for the by-election has not yet been set.

Under Article 12 of the PC Constitution, in order to be eligible to vote in the Nominating Meeting, a person must be “ordinarily resident in the Electoral District at the date of the Nominating Meeting.”

Under Article 5 of the PC Constitution, in order to be eligible to vote in the Nominating Meeting, a person must become a Party Member or Supporter as defined in the PC Constitution.

A person may apply to become a Member or Supporter of the Party by signing up on the Party website or submitting a paper application which can be located at www.pcpartynl.ca Deadline for paper applications will be identified in the coming days.

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Media Contact:
Graydon Pelley, President, PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador
Telephone: 709.636.8326 Email: gpelleypc@gmail.com

 

NEW! Download the PC Membership Sign-up Form in PDF so you can print a hard copy

NEW! Download the PC Membership Sign-up Form in Word so you can print a hard copy

Sign Up for PC Membership Online

PC Constitution

 

 

 

 

SUBSEQUENT NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
October 18, 2017

Nomination Meeting in the District of Mount Pearl North

The Provincial Executive of the Progressive Conservative Party announced today that the Nomination Meeting to select the PC candidate for Mount Pearl North is scheduled for Wednesday, October 25.

The nomination meeting will be held at the Mount Pearl Soccer Club, located at 44 Arena Road, with voting open at 4pm closing at 8pm.

Two nominees are seeking to become the PC candidate in the upcoming by-election in the District of Mount Pearl North: Jim Lester and Chuck Nurse.

A date for the by-election has not yet been set.

UPDATE: As announced on October 23, the by-election will take place on Tuesday, November 21, 2017. [LINK]

Under Article 12 of the PC Constitution, in order to be eligible to vote in the Nominating Meeting, a person must be “ordinarily resident in the Electoral District at the date of the Nominating Meeting.”

Under Article 5 of the PC Constitution, in order to be eligible to vote in the Nominating Meeting, a person must become a Party Member or Supporter as defined in the PC Constitution.

A person may apply to become a Member or Supporter of the Party by signing up on the Party website or submitting a paper application which can be found at www.pcpartynl.ca

A photo ID or 2 pieces of mail with the voter’s name and address must be presented in order to be eligible to vote.

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Media Contact:
Graydon Pelley, President, PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador
Telephone: 709.636.8326 Email: gpelleypc@gmail.com

 

NEW! Download the PC Membership Sign-up Form in PDF so you can print a hard copy

NEW! Download the PC Membership Sign-up Form in Word so you can print a hard copy

Sign Up for PC Membership Online

PC Constitution

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2017-OCT-16: New ‘Special Ballot’ Bill is Fundamentally Flawed

October 16, 2017
For Immediate Release

New ‘Special Ballot’ Bill is Fundamentally Flawed

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, said, “The Bill the Liberals brought to the House of Assembly to fix the ‘special ballot’ legislation that was just ruled unconstitutional is itself fundamentally flawed.”

“Once a Bill reaches the floor of the House of Assembly, the amending rules make it difficult, if not impossible, to correct flaws in multiple parts of a Bill. The Opposition caucuses were briefed on the draft Bill on October 12 and raised concerns. The government agreed the Bill was flawed and corrected some provisions in the October 13 draft, but there are other concerns which need to be addressed. Remember: this is about fixing elections legislation that was deemed unconstitutional, so it is imperative that we get this Bill right. Therefore, the PC Caucus has written to the government and NDP House leaders to request an urgent meeting to discuss issues with the Bill and find ways to improve it before it’s introduced in the House,” said Davis. “That can be done effectively and quickly if we all agree to work together.”

Davis said the Opposition has three principal concerns:

  • First, the Bill would require parties to have all their candidates in place within just 5 days of any election call. “That’s too little time for non-governing parties and independent candidates to get candidates in place, particularly in a general election in 40 districts. It undermines democracy by favoring the governing party – something the court condemned.”
  • Second, the Bill would eliminate the maximum duration of election campaigns, allowing campaigns to last for an indefinite period. “That would do away with the certainty of fixed election schedules that we have had for more than a decade. Even with a fixed election date, the government – under this Bill – could dissolve the House as early as it wishes, leaving others with just 5 days to nominate all of their candidates. This, too, would favor the governing party – something the court condemned.”
  • Third, the Bill would still allow the use of special ballots that do not contain the names and affiliations of candidates, and would not require the Chief Electoral Officer to include a full list of candidates in the special ballot kits that voters receive. “Voters could still be left uninformed about their choices – something the court condemned.”

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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

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2017-OCT-18: Nomination Meeting in the District of Mount Pearl North

For Immediate Release
October 18, 2017

Nomination Meeting in the District of Mount Pearl North

The Provincial Executive of the Progressive Conservative Party announced today that the Nomination Meeting to select the PC candidate for Mount Pearl North is scheduled for Wednesday, October 25.

The nomination meeting will be held at the Mount Pearl Soccer Club, located at 44 Arena Road, with voting open at 4pm closing at 8pm.

Two nominees are seeking to become the PC candidate in the upcoming by-election in the District of Mount Pearl North: Jim Lester and Chuck Nurse.

A date for the by-election has not yet been set.

UPDATE: As announced on October 23, the by-election will take place on Tuesday, November 21, 2017. [LINK]

Under Article 12 of the PC Constitution, in order to be eligible to vote in the Nominating Meeting, a person must be “ordinarily resident in the Electoral District at the date of the Nominating Meeting.”

Under Article 5 of the PC Constitution, in order to be eligible to vote in the Nominating Meeting, a person must become a Party Member or Supporter as defined in the PC Constitution.

A person may apply to become a Member or Supporter of the Party by signing up on the Party website or submitting a paper application which can be found at www.pcpartynl.ca

A photo ID or 2 pieces of mail with the voter’s name and address must be presented in order to be eligible to vote.

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Media Contact:
Graydon Pelley, President, PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador
Telephone: 709.636.8326 Email: gpelleypc@gmail.com

 

NEW! Download the PC Membership Sign-up Form in PDF so you can print a hard copy

NEW! Download the PC Membership Sign-up Form in Word so you can print a hard copy

Sign Up for PC Membership Online

PC Constitution

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2017-OCT-19: Opposition Wins Major Improvements to ‘Special Ballot’ Election Bill

October 19, 2017
For Immediate Release

Opposition Wins Major Improvements to ‘Special Ballot’ Election Bill

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, said, “Our efforts this week in the House of Assembly were effective in persuading the Liberal government to bring forward several changes to their ‘special ballot’ election legislation, proving the point we were making that their original Bill was fundamentally flawed and required changes.”

“We were able to convince the government of the wisdom of making three changes:

  • that special ballot voters must be provided with a final list of nominated candidates in their districts so they are fully informed before they vote;
  • that nominations should not close in just five days, because that amount of time is too short for parties to complete nomination processes and people who want to run to get their affairs in order to make that happen;
  • that there should be a cap on the length of election campaigns, because it limits a ruling party’s ability to call an election campaign so early that it could catch other parties and unaffiliated candidates off guard,” said Davis.

“We were still concerned about the short time for nominations. The government gave some ground to increase the nomination period from the five days they initially proposed to eight days. We believe that period should be at least 10 days, and we moved a sub-amendment to push for that, but the Liberals voted against allowing 10 days for nominations to be completed,” said Davis. “Nevertheless, eight days is better than five, since it provides more time for people who want to run for elected office to get their affairs in order and step forward to run, and that’s healthier for democracy.”

“The Bill was not acceptable when it was brought to the House. We were right in pointing out the deficiencies and seeking improvements, particularly in light of Justice Gillian Butler’s ruling that voters’ rights must be respected. We are pleased that the caucuses were able to meet together outside regular House proceedings to get this Bill improved. This is exactly what we were calling for to begin with.”

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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

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2017-OCT-25: Jim Lester to be PC Candidate in Mount Pearl North

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Congratulations to Jim Lester, who was elected at the Nomination Meeting on October 25 to be the PC Candidate in Mount Pearl North in the November 21 by-election.

Congratulations to Chuck Nurse for stepping forward and running an excellent campaign.

Thank you to all the volunteers for helping out, and to all who came out to participate.

From Jim Lester:
Thank you so much to everyone for your support! I won’t let you down! Thank you and congratulations to @nurse_chuck on a great campaign.

From Chuck Nurse:
Thank you to everyone who came out to vote today. Congratulations to Jim Lester on a successful campaign. @PCPartyNL #MountPearlNorth

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2017-NOV-21: Jim Lester, PC MHA-Elect for Mount Pearl North

“Thank you everyone for putting your confidence in me, I won’t let you down. Congratulations to Jim Burton Liberal for Mount Pearl North, Nicole Kieley NDP for Mount Pearl North and Hudson Stratton for a clean, respectful campaign. I look forward to representing Mount Pearl North and your interests to the very best of my ability. Tonight we celebrate, and tomorrow we get to work.”Jim Lester, November 21, 2017

 

Biography of Jim Lester from Facebook

Jim Lester and his wife Michelle grew up and went to school in Mount Pearl. They had three children, Samantha, John, and Caleb who also go to school in Mount Pearl.

The family owns and operates Lester’s Farm Inc. Their farm is entirely of their own creation and consists of Lester’s Farm Chalet – Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier agritourism destination, an innovative Aquaponics Food Production System that consists of the most advanced design worldwide. They also operate an environmental services division that collects and composts commercial organic waste to be used in beneficial food production.

Every year, Jim and his family provide thousands of pounds of vegetables to local charities and social causes. The farm employs up to 70 people annually, many of which are students who are working their first job. Jim and Michelle are passionate agriculturalists who want to impart the importance of food production, environmental consciousness, and resource management to everyone they meet.

With Jim’s backgound, he will be the perfect advocate for small and medium sized business. Jim’s work ethic and tireless commitment to getting the job done will be an incredible asset to the House of Assembly and the people of the province.

Links:

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2017-NOV-24: Prescription Monitoring Act Goes Too Far

November 24, 2017
For Immediate Release

Prescription Monitoring Act Goes Too Far

Dave Brazil, Health Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “It is troubling that Health Minister John Haggie has ignored the concerns of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, the Canadian Medical Association and the province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner that the government’s Prescription Monitoring Act goes too far. Addressing the opioid crisis is imperative, but this legislation strikes the wrong balance.”

The Canadian Medical Association has stated: “The powers described regarding inspection and addressing inappropriate practice are given to the Ministry, not to the regulators. This seems to be a heavy handed approach to monitoring and will potentially drive practitioners from prescribing opioids altogether. Such a move will ultimately lead to an increase in overdose deaths.”

The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association has stated: “the NLMA is concerned about the inadequate consultation and many unanswered questions surrounding the new legislation. Some provisions outlined in the legislation could have the unintended effect of driving physicians away from the prescribing of opioids and related medication. This could have serious consequences for patients who legitimately need these medications.”

The Information and Privacy Commissioner has stated: “The OIPC view is that this could permit wide scale access to personal health information without sufficient objective (i.e. significant societal harms). This exacerbates the OIPC’s concerns about future expansion of the Prescription Monitoring Program to other drugs and consequent intrusions upon the privacy of personal health information. Additionally, the search powers appear excessive and inconsistent with goals of education, support and assistance.”

Brazil said, “The Liberal government rushed this legislation without proper consultation and without learning from the experiences of other provinces that have different legislation in place. We brought forward amendments to address some of the deficiencies, and are concerned that the government accepted only one of them.”

“We must ensure that patients have access to the medication they need so they aren’t driven to the street. Their private medical files should be safeguarded. Powerful legislation like this needs to be carefully written, in full light of the advice of experts and the best practices of other jurisdictions, to ensure that it does what it needs to do while protecting patients, their physicians and their pharmacists,” said Brazil.

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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

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2017-DEC-04: Will NL Companies Have First Priority to Supply Marijuana Products to this Province?

December 4, 2017
For Immediate Release

Will NL Companies Have First Priority to Supply Marijuana Products to this Province?

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, is asking, “Will Newfoundland and Labrador companies have first priority to supply marijuana products to this province?” In Question Period on Monday, the Premier and Justice Minister would not make such a commitment.

Davis asked a series of questions the government has not yet answered regarding the cannabis strategy that it claims it will be ready to implement by mid-2018:

  • Will the provincial government have control of who supplies marijuana products to this province?
  • Has the government made any decision on the supply of marijuana to this province?
  • Is the government entertaining any proposal from any out-of-province supplier about supplying marijuana products to this province when local enterprises are looking for these opportunities?
  • Is the government entertaining any proposal that would make a particular supplier a ‘sole-source’ monopoly supplier?
  • Is the government entertaining any proposal that would involve providing incentives to a particular supplier?
  • Is the government prepared to provide incentives to any Newfoundland and Labrador-based supplier to enable them to get their enterprises ready?

Davis said, “The supply of these products represents an opportunity for local businesses to generate jobs and economic activity in our communities. Local enterprises, workers and communities should be given top priority in supplying the local demand.”

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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

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2017-DEC-07: No Confidence the Minister Knows the Status Of Workplace NL Appeals

December 7, 2017
For Immediate Release

No Confidence the Minister Knows the Status Of Workplace NL Appeals

Kevin Parsons, Workplace NL Critic for the Official Opposition, today during question period in the House of Assembly, asked the Minister Responsible for Workplace NL a number of questions concerning backlogged appeals and how long it will take to work these appeals through the system.

Parsons asked: “Is the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Review Division meeting its requirement to deliver its decision within 60 days?” The Minister could not say.

Parsons asked: “How many clients are currently backlogged at the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Review Division?” The Minister said about 150.

Parsons said: “Very interesting, Mr. Speaker. Minister, how long have they been waiting? Do you have a time frame that some of these 150 have been waiting?” The Minister could not give any details.

Parsons said: “Again, Mr. Speaker, I remind the minister that we get calls from clients all the time. They’re waiting to hear from the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Review Division and they want to know when because they’ve been put off and put off. You told us today that there are 150 clients out there waiting that are in this backlog, which is huge. I’d just ask: Can they expect it to be done within the next six months? Can they expect it to be done in the next seven months? What’s the time frame?”

The Minister would only say the process is moving along.

Parsons said, “The Minister should be on top of this process and do more to ensure the people whose appeals are being heard get decisions more quickly.”

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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

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2017-DEC-08: Liberals Dodge Accountability in Fall Sitting of the House

December 8, 2017
For Immediate Release

Liberals Dodge Accountability in Fall Sitting of the House

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, said, “The Ball Liberals spent the fall sitting of the House dodging accountability and erecting walls to protect themselves from scrutiny.”

· The Liberals exempted health and education from mandatory reporting of serious incidents to the Child and Youth Advocate.

· The Liberals changed the law to allow the House of Assembly Management Commission to meet and make decisions without any opposition members present.

· The Liberals ignored warnings from the Medical Association and the Privacy Commissioner that their prescription monitoring legislation compromises patient confidentiality, leaves patients at risk of losing access to medication they need, and gives the Minister unjustified new powers.

· The Liberals voted against a call by the province’s physicians for an independent inquiry into the health system.

· The Liberals attempted to change the elections legislation to shorten nomination deadlines to disadvantage opposition parties in their ability to get candidates in place.

· The Liberals provided long-range fiscal projections that the Auditor General could not substantiate.

· The Liberals implied a fisheries fund had been signed when it had not been finalized.

· The Liberals allowed the Natural Resources Minister to advise on the terms of reference of the Muskrat Falls inquiry that could be investigating her own actions.

· The Liberals hid oversight reports on the Muskrat Falls project throughout their watch.

· The Liberals hid information about embedded Muskrat Falls contractors.

· The Liberals refused to disclose talks with Quebec about energy.

· The Liberals hid answers about how Nalcor will source an electricity rate mitigation fund.

· The Liberals hid the proclamation of the generic offshore royalty regime.

· The Industry minister hid the pending closure of the Research & Development Corporation from the Budget Estimates Committee and the House.

· The Liberals hid the costs of moving the Crown lands division.

· The Liberals hid the ranking of road projects evaluated by the Transportation department.

· The Liberals flip-flopped on an environmental assessment of the Grieg aquaculture project without explaining why.

· The Liberals refused to say whether they were entertaining a proposal to sole-source marijuana products from outside the province, and withheld plans to prepare for cannabis legalization.

· The Liberals reneged on a promise to impose efficiency measures on agencies, boards and commissions.

· The Liberals refused to inform students that their College of the North Atlantic program was on probation.

· The Liberals refused to consult with a women’s group calling for an inquiry into violence against women and girls.

· The Liberals rushed legislation to the House without adequate time for scrutiny.

· The Liberals waited eight months before giving the opposition its legislation on significant court changes until a couple of hours before the debate commenced.

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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

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2017-DEC-08: Mandatory Reporting to Child and Youth Advocate Falls Short

December 8, 2017
For Immediate Release

Mandatory Reporting to Child and Youth Advocate Falls Short

Tracey Perry, Children, Seniors and Social Development critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The government’s amendments to the Child and Youth Advocate Act fall short of what is needed to ensure mandatory reporting provisions are adequate.”

“Our Caucus proposed changes to make the mandatory reporting provisions stronger,” said Perry. “One of our improvements was accepted after it became apparent that the government’s legislation did not include psychological injuries.”

However, the government still left two glaring oversights.

“The government’s legislation covers children and youth receiving government services, but does not apply to the health care and education systems. The government’s legislation also neglects to cover serious ‘incidents’ that may not lead to injuries, even though the Liberals repeatedly promised that such incidents would be covered.”

“After the past Advocate reviewed several cases involving children and youth, she recommended that there should be mandatory reporting to the Child and Youth Advocate of deaths and serious incidents involving children and youth. Our government was in the process of following through when the government changed. The Liberals also promised to include serious incidents – in a 2014 resolution, in their 2015 red book, in their Throne Speech and in the Minister’s mandate letter. But when it came time to deliver on that promise, they chose not to,” said Perry.

“We support mandatory reporting and we are pleased that we were able to toughen the Act to include psychological injuries that would otherwise have been left out; but we are disappointed that the government didn’t go as far as they promised or as far as the 2015 Child and Youth Advocate was requesting. The more information the Advocate is given, the better she is able to protect children and youth in our province who may be vulnerable,” said Perry.

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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

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2017-DEC-15: PC Official Opposition Pays Tribute to John Hickey

December 15, 2017
For Immediate Release

PC Official Opposition Pays Tribute to John Hickey

The PC Caucus is sending condolences to the family and friends of Happy Valley-Goose Bay mayor John Hickey, who passed away Thursday evening following a tragic hunting accident.

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition said, “John Hickey was a passionate Labradorian, representing Labrador for many years in the House of Assembly and around the provincial Cabinet table in the ministries of Transportation and Works and Labrador Affairs. He was a champion of the Northern Strategic Plan for Labrador, which made major investments throughout Labrador to advance economic development and improve people’s lives. Through his service at the local and provincial level, he advanced the well-being of Labradorians in very significant ways and made a lasting contribution to our province.”

“John was one of a kind, with a voice that was always strong and unwavering, and a great love for his family and the Big Land – that is something that will be long remembered. We are saddened at his sudden passing and send our deepest condolences to his family and friends‎,” said Davis.

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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

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2017-DEC-19: Secrecy Raises Concerns About Liberals’ Health Cutting Agenda

December 19, 2017
For Immediate Release

Secrecy Raises Concerns About Liberals’ Health Cutting Agenda

David Brazil, Health Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The Ball government’s secrecy over its health cutting agenda is the reason people are so upset by the Deputy Minister of Health’s recent remarks and the Health Minister’s even-more-worrisome statements about cuts to come.”

Brazil said, “Everyone knows our Health system needs improvements, and our administration was openly engaged with our health care professionals in making that happen, through our collaborative Premier’s Forum on Primary Health Care and our Budget 2015 initiatives on long-term care and more. Since then, our province’s physicians, through the NL Medical Association, have‎ brought together health care professionals from across the spectrum to call for a public review into health reform, to bring the discussion out into the open. The Opposition brought their message to the House of Assembly, but the Health Minister would have none of it. The Liberals rejected the call for an open health review, saying the time for talking has passed. We disagree. The reason people are so worried is that the Liberals have left them out of the conversation.”

“Behind closed doors, the Liberals are making plans to cut health care across this province. That is undeniable. We know from the Deputy Minister’s statement that this is the thinking of the officials the Liberals have brought in to advise them and execute their hidden agenda. We also know from the Health Minister’s own statements that he is concerned about what he describes as the high number of nurses and doctors in this province. The deputy minister mentioned having too many facilities. The Premier is on record affirming the notion that nurses ought to be working harder. This kind of talk really worries people.”

Brazil said, “Health care quality and accessibility is a matter of concern to every person in this province. The discussion about improving the system needs to be open, transparent, collaborative and inclusive. Health care providers – including nurses and physicians – are making it clear that they are deeply concerned about the government’s secretive approach. The Minister seems to believe he has all the answers.”

During debate in the House of Assembly on November 8, 2017 on a resolution‎ calling for an open review of the health care system, the Health Minister stated: “We don’t believe another review is necessary because the time, really, for studies is over and the time for action is now.” He added: “We have a vision, we have a plan and we have action already. We do not need to paralyze this process by going back and reanalyzing stuff that’s been done before. The problem has been, since Romanow, no one has had the intestinal fortitude or the application to actually do what was necessary, even though it stared them in the face. That changed in December of 2015.

‎Brazil said, “What worries people is that the Minister refuses to be open about what he is about to do. He is promising unprecedented action that he says no one else has had the ‘intestinal fortitude’ to do. That is even more worrisome than anything the deputy minister said, because – as the Minister made clear – he and Cabinet are the ones with the power to act. Yet, he refuses to be open and transparent by saying where they plan to cut, and he refuses to work with the health care professionals like nurses and doctors who are worried about the impacts of these cuts on their patients.”

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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

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2017-DEC-21: What Do New Power Line‎s Mean For Holyrood and Winter Power?

December 21, 2017
For Immediate Release

What Do New Power Line‎s Mean For Holyrood and Winter Power?

Keith Hutchings, Natural Resources Critic for the Official Opposition, is asking what the new interconnected transmission line from Labrador into Soldiers Pond will mean for reliance on the Holyrood Generating Station and access to power during the winter months when demand often rises.

‎“The newly completed Labrador- Island link provides opportunity to reduce the dependence on the Holyrood thermal generating station which relies on expensive Bunker C Oil. Nalcor has stated in the past that they plan to recapture power from the Upper Churchill generating station to Soldiers Pond as soon as possible,” said Hutchings.

“Will the completion of the new Labrador-Island transmission line allow access to additional power during times of high demand this winter? Does this have implications for reliance on the Holyrood‎ Generating Station? What will it mean for Holyrood’s operations in the future?” asked Hutchings.

The 1,100 kilometre line will carry power from the generating station near Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Soldiers Pond, where it will be distributed to homes and businesses along existing power lines.

Hutchings asked, “Will the Minister confirm that the interconnected transmission line will be owned, operated and maintained by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, as part of Nalcor’s operations? What is the status of any discussions that may have been held on selling transmission capacity‎ to access additional power?”

“The Minister of Natural Resources should provide some clarity on power demands and reliability from Holyrood, and if the Liberal government is committed to the new transmission infrastructure to be owned and maintained by the province,” said 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

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2017-DEC-29: Clarification of Membership Sign-Up Deadline

SIGN UP

LINK HERE to sign up as a Member or Supporter

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Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador
News Release

For Immediate Release
December 29th, 2017

Clarification of Membership Sign-Up Deadline

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Progressive Conservative Party began the process of signing up members and supporters under the constitutional reforms the Party approved at a Special General Meeting in June.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who wish to participate in the selection of the Party leader on April 28, 2018 must submit an application by January 28th, 2018 (SIGN-UP EXTENSION TO JANUARY 30, 2018 AT 5:00 PM) to become a member or supporter of the Party in time for the membership coordinator to verify each application by February 28th, 2018, and to be sent a mail-in ballot for the vote.

It was previously stated in a press release on September 13th, 2017, that “Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who wish to participate in the selection of the Party leader on April 28th, 2018 must submit an application by February 28, 2018 to become a member or supporter of the Party in time to be sent a mail-in ballot for the vote.”

The press release erroneously stated February 28 as opposed to January 28. (SIGN-UP EXTENSION TO JANUARY 30, 2018 AT 5:00 PM)

Attached to the press release was the Leadership Rules which made it clear that to finalize the voter list by February 28, 2018 then applications had to be received by the membership coordinator by 5pm on January 28, 2018. (SIGN-UP EXTENSION TO JANUARY 30, 2018 AT 5:00 PM) The Party has always operated on the deadline being January 28, 2018 (SIGN-UP EXTENSION TO JANUARY 30, 2018 AT 5:00 PM) as per the Leadership Rules released and was not aware, until recently, candidates or potential candidates believed it to be anything else. The Party did not change any dates.

Here is the relevant Leadership Rule.

Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador
Leadership Selection Rules
MEMBERSHIP REGISTRY
VOTING

149. “To participate in the Leadership Selection Process all new Membership applications, new Supporter applications and Membership or Supporter renewals or revivals must be “IN EFFECT” by 5:00 pm on February 28, 2018. To render such Membership/Supporter status “IN EFFECT” the Membership Coordinator will require time to process the new Membership applications, new Supporter applications and Membership or Supporter renewals or revivals; HENCE for greater certainty new Membership applications, new Supporter applications and Membership or Supporter renewals or revivals must be received by the Membership Coordinator by 5:00pm on January 28, 2018.” (SIGN-UP EXTENSION TO JANUARY 30, 2018 AT 5:00 PM)

As President of the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador I humbly apologize for this error and look forward to the Leadership Race on April 28th, 2018. We are anticipating a great year as we select a new leader and prepare for the General Election in 2019.

Media contact:
Graydon Pelley, President of the PC Party of NL
C: 709-636- 8326
E: gpelleypc@gmail.com

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