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BUDGET 2019: What’s to like and what’s not to like

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. - Barb Sweet

Polling industry and society representatives on what worked and what didn't in Liberals election budget

Sofia Descalzi

Canadian Federation of Students

LIKES: “So, we are seeing the continuation of the tuition freeze for some student and that is something we have fought very hard to maintain.”

DISLIKES: “We are disappointed to see there are continued cuts to the operating grants of both Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic. Millennials are going to be one of the biggest voting demographics in the upcoming provincial election and we need to see investment in post-secondary education, which is why students are holding a leadership forum on May 8 to call on all political parties to make real commitments on investing in post-secondary education, which we know is the future of our province.”


Debbie Forward

President, Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland and Labrador

LIKES: “It’s an election budget, so government seemed to take the approach we are going to put little bits of money in a lot of places. In saying that, I was really pleased to see some of the investments they are making, in particular around health — more money for additional primary health care teams which will certainly support individuals in communities for access to services, keeping people out of hospitals, a home first program, the funding for the insulin pumps beyond the child years into adult years are all really good investments.”

DISLIKES: “I know one of the concerns our members will have is the regional health authorities’ budgets have remained flat and we know that people are struggling. And our members are struggling right now in the system. At the Health Sciences (Centre), for example, they’re in over capacity and just about double over capacity every single day in the last couple of weeks. There is nowhere to put people, and staff are really struggling to try to keep up with the needs of patients. And how are we going to do that within the same confined, restricted budget? And while savings and efficiencies are great for a government to say, ‘We found lots of efficiencies and we are really offering better health care,’ from my members working in the system, they will struggle to understand those   comments by government because they feel that their dollars are really stretched, and their resources are really stretched.”


Dr. Tracey Bridger

President, Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association

LIKES: “One of the first things that stood out to me is that young people on the insulin pump who are doing well won’t have to give up the pump when they are 25 if they are on the insulin pump program. I am happy to see there is funding for the Gathering Place, the autism action plan and healthy living funding.”

DISLIKES: “It would have been nice to see more on school nutrition improvement — I didn’t see that anywhere. For us, what wasn’t really evident was a broad-picture strategic plan for health care in Newfoundland and Labrador. So, we do have some recommendations for that. And we will be releasing those early in the campaign.”


Paige MacPherson

Atlantic director, Canadian Taxpayers Association

LIKES: “The positive is that there were no major tax increases or fee hikes. It’s a little bit rich to say there’s no tax increases when Newfoundlanders and Labradorians were just faced with this carbon tax, which essentially took away the temporary gas tax relief the government promised they would see. They aren’t seeing that because of the carbon tax.”

DISLIKES: “Our main concern is the debt. The province has put a Band-Aid solution on the debt problem, but going into the next two years after this one, they are looking at deficits. And when you are staring down the barrel of bankruptcy, you can’t keep sprinkling spending across the province. They need to have a serious plan for deficit reduction, and we just didn’t see that today.”


Janis Byrne

Chair, St. John’s Board of Trade

LIKES: “There’s so many positives in this province, with our natural resources and geographic location, but you need to make sure it’s a friendly place, an economical place to do business. Unless you get debt under control, it’s going to continue to be a challenge.”

DISLIKES: “Our debt continues to grow. That is the biggest problem. There’s no long-term strategy here about how to tackle this debt.”


Jerry Earle

President, Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees

LIKES: “There’s no direct impact on public services, that we can see at this point.”

DISLIKES: “I can’t put my finger on anything I really don’t like. Like any group, we all have our hands out looking for money. … We have some concerns around homecare, which we’re at the bargaining table with right now. I didn’t see anything there that really recognized the contribution of homecare workers directly, but the minister said he’s willing to talk.”


Tony Keats

President, Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador

LIKES: “We asked to look at the waste management strategy for Newfoundland and Labrador. Our members have been asking for that for a long time. That’s in the works.”

DISLIKES: “I’ve been hearing a lot of people saying it’s an election budget, but when it comes to our municipalities, we look at the final parts inside the budget and what affects us. There’s not a lot I can pick from that’s negative in the budget.”


Mary Shortall

President, Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour

LIKES: “It’s an election budget. What’s not to like? There’s some money that’s put back into people’s hands that was lost through regressive tax and wage freezes. Some of that money is going back, that’s really good.”

DISLIKES: “It’s not a budget that’s going to make you jump up and down for joy, either. There’s skepticism about whether or not it’ll even be passed.”

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