A special meeting was held at Days Inn Stephenville with Minister Tom Osbourne. We had a great turnout. Below are the minutes of the meeting.
Thursday, April 5th, 2018
Presenting Minister Tom Osbourne
Days Inn Stephenville
The meeting was called to order by First Vice President Mike Alexander at 12:00 pm
He welcomed everyone and thanked the Minister for coming.
Lunch was served.
Minister Osbourne began his presentation at 12:20 pm.
Minister Tom Osbourne: Key points of meeting.
Newfoundland and Labrador is on track to return to surplus in 2022-23 despite a challenging fiscal environment.
Government continues government’s balanced approach to supporting communities and families throughout the province while helping to create new business and employment opportunities.
Building for Our Future reflects the priorities of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and includes:
A minimum five per cent reduction in the tax on automobile insurance over four years, from 15 per cent to 10 per cent;
The advancement of recommendations outlined in the Premier’s Task Force on Improving Educational Outcomes;
Support for greater access to early learning and child care;
A $619.7 million investment in infrastructure, which is a part of a $2.5 billion five-year plan that will create 5,300 person-years of employment annually; and
Significant improvements to increasing access to mental health and addictions services, including the replacement of the Waterford Hospital.
For District Stephenville Port Au Port
- $13.6 Million for the continuation of CNA’s new Heavy Equipment Centre for Excellence
- $2.2 Million allocated for the district as part of the Provincial Roads Program
- Installation of a new highway camera on the TCH entering Route 460, as well as brush clearing along Route 460
- $25,000 increase in operational funding to the Newfoundland & Labrador Aboriginal Women’s network
- Stephenville will be one of two locations in the province to host a Provincial Roundtable on the Economic Status of Women
- $3,000 Search and Rescue Volunteer Tax Credit for eligible volunteers
- $8 Million for the ongoing development of the new West Coast Regional Hospital in Corner Brook
- $3.1 Million in new funding for K-12 Education for Reading Specialists, Learning Resource Teachers and Instructional Assistants
The floor was opened for questions.
- Said although he understands the potential revenues from the various projects that the Minister was talking about, he wanted to know how the province plans to deal with the claw-back or diminished equalization that is going to result from the increased revenues?
Minister responded saying that it was something that they are going to have to work on. He then gave a brief explanation of how equalization works and said that the province does not have a mechanism at present to deal with this. But it is something that we want to address.
- Mr. Roxon followed up by asking about the NL Government talking to the Federal Government on removing the non-renewable resource income from the equalization calculations.
Minister responded saying that happened in 2009, but it is something that we can look at. He went on say that we are very small province and unless the other provinces join forces, that is most likely not going to happen.
Minister explained how the Federal Government is working with the NL Government because of the relationship they had and how we are getting some additional funds for certain small infrastructure projects and programs. This was how the Federal Government is helping the province for the downside associated with increased revenue for non-renewable resources that decrease the equalization monies that the province gets.
- Mr. Roxon then stated that the NL Government should follow up on making plans to take out the non-renewables from the equalization as the increased revenue that he was forecasting from the various projects will not really benefit the province if they are going to be included in the equalization formula.
Upon the Ministers response to this, Mr. Roxon told him that he probably misunderstood what he said and went on the explain, that his real concern is about the province getting very little net benefit due to equalization issues not being addressed and it is something the Government of NL really needs to work on, if all these forecasted additional revenues were going to actually benefit the province instead of just going back to Ottawa.
Mayor Debbie Brake – Patten asked for co-operation from the government in helping diversify her town.
She asked is the government willing to help municipalities with infrastructure or development projects which will help them diversify to increase their populations and eventually lead to an increased tax base. He told her the area of expertise she’s asking about isn’t in his knowledge base and she should connect with Eddie Joyce, Minister of Municipal Affairs & Environment, Minister responsible for the Office of Climate Change Multi-Materials Stewardship Boards, and Registrar General.
Mayor Brake- Patten also asked about why the SWASP was cancelled as it was a great help to many families having students going to University. The Minister and MHA Hon Finn addressed the issue saying that in some regions there were too many applicants and some regions it was very underutilized as each region had allocations. So, Government decided to cancel the program and redirect funds to other programs.
Mayor Tom Rose welcomed the Minister, thanked him for coming and spoke to him about
- The status of the file on Wind Energy Project for Stephenville
- The deplorable state of our BSG Medical Clinic
- Completion of the remediation site of the demolished bldg. next to College Headquarters
Mike Alexander – First Vice President also thanked him for coming and spoke to him about where the Provincial Government was heading with regard to food regulation or possible taxation on sugary drinks, given about 70 percent of our health is determined by what we consume (or do not consume). This point was in respect to concern for the overall health of future adults with the intent to reduce the healthcare costs in the Province for future years beyond the life expectancy of Baby Boomers. There seems to be no real targeted approach to addressing that concern with anything more than encouragement and the provision of healthy eating information. His concern was that we talk about health care costs – but we don’t make the tough decisions to push forward the health of the population by addressing the type of foods people consume.
Meeting was adjourned at 1:45
Note: These minutes are made up of notes from the Minister’s Office and the people who questioned him directly.