'Buzzwords' and a bump in spending: N.L. budget greeted with mixed reviews

·5 min read
The government of Newfoundland and Labrador released its 2021-22 budget on Monday.  (CBC - image credit)
The government of Newfoundland and Labrador released its 2021-22 budget on Monday. (CBC - image credit)
The government of Newfoundland and Labrador released its 2021-22 budget on Monday.
The government of Newfoundland and Labrador released its 2021-22 budget on Monday. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador's highly anticipated 2021-22 budget — released as the province faces a looming financial crunch — is meeting with range of reactions from unions, boards and opposition parties.

While some are happy with what's being put forward to help dig the province out of debt, others are concerned cuts will put more pressure on already struggling industries.

Among the reactions to the 2021 N.L. budget:

Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, says she's concerned about the wording in the provincial budget.
Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, says she's concerned about the wording in the provincial budget. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

"We were expecting probably something to deal with the crisis, or something to deal with the root causes of what happened with the crisis. I'm confused more than anything. There was a lot of 'we'll review stuff,' a lot of political nonsense words I guess that sound good but probably means something else. I'm very nervous about what exactly that does mean, because it gives the government a lot of permission to change things, or review things or consult with people and make those decisions before they have to come back for the next budget."

— Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour

James Parmiter, board chair of Noia, the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association, says he's happy to see the budget is consistent with the oil and gas industry task force's recommendations.
James Parmiter, board chair of Noia, the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association, says he's happy to see the budget is consistent with the oil and gas industry task force's recommendations. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

"We're pleased to see that the budget is consistent with the oil and gas industry task force recommendations, and we look forward to working with the premier and the minister to continue the work they're doing on Terra Nova. We're particularly pleased to see the $20 million for seismic [research]. We understand that there's a tough budget and obviously we would always like to see more support for our industry. We see us as a bridge to the renewable economy and an investment in oil and gas usually translates into a fair return for the government,"

— James Parmiter, board chair of Noia, the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association

Yvette Coffey, president of the Registered Nurses' Union Newfoundland and Labrador, says she's concerned about a potential reduction of spending on health care.
Yvette Coffey, president of the Registered Nurses' Union Newfoundland and Labrador, says she's concerned about a potential reduction of spending on health care.(Ted Dillon/CBC)

"Today we heard a lot about review and consultation, proposals, amalgamations and reviewing a lot of stuff that was actually recommended in the Greene report. That's very concerning for us, because we do know that the Greene report did recommend a 25 per cent reduction in money into the health-care system. We're already operating on less money than we did 10 years ago if you take inflation into account, and we are also operating on overtime in the millions of dollars."

— Yvette Coffey, president of the Registered Nurses' Union Newfoundland and Labrador

Jerry Earle, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, says there needs to be clarity around 'buzzwords' in the budget.
Jerry Earle, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, says there needs to be clarity around 'buzzwords' in the budget.(Ted Dillon/CBC)

"I think people were expecting to see more clear pathways forward. That's not there. So it leaves us a lot of concern. It's more about what's not said than what is said. So that's the things that we will seek out now in the days and weeks ahead from the minister of finance, the premier himself and other government officials, because that's concerning. We need some clarity around a lot of these buzzwords that are used."

— Jerry Earle, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees

Richard Alexander, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers' Council, says the province has a 'spending problem' that wasn't addressed in the 2021 budget.
Richard Alexander, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers' Council, says the province has a 'spending problem' that wasn't addressed in the 2021 budget. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

"Very disappointed. We have a tremendous spending problem in Newfoundland and Labrador, and we were hoping to see a detailed, transparent, credible plan to to deal with our spending problem. What we have is numbers thrown out there, no appreciable change in spending levels. We're actually seeing an increase in spending … and I just I don't know how you address the spending problem by not addressing the spending problem. It feels very much like 2016 where we had numbers put out there that we were going to hit these targets. That plan said without detail that we were going to be in balance next year and here we are again with with more numbers thrown out, very little detail. It's very concerning."

— Richard Alexander, executive director of the Newfoundland And Labrador Employers' Council

NDP Leader Alison Coffin wants to know where next year's cuts to expenditures will come from.
NDP Leader Alison Coffin wants to know where next year's cuts to expenditures will come from. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

"There was one point that was particularly concerning. Next year we're seeing a decrease in expenditures of $1 billion, almost 10 per cent of our budget. Where are we cutting a billion dollars? Are we cutting it from the nurses? Are we cutting it from home care, are we cutting it from road clearing or are we cutting it from schools?"

— NDP Leader Alison Coffin

PC MHA Tony Wakeham says he's struck by the increase in spending in this year's budget.
PC MHA Tony Wakeham says he's struck by the increase in spending in this year's budget.(Ted Dillon/CBC)

"I think the first thing that jumps out is the increase in expenditure at a time when we talk about fiscal restraint. We actually are prepared to have the highest expenditure in the history of the province. So that's the first thing. But even more important is the second thing, the fact that next year we're going to reduce that by $900 million. So I'm going to be really interested in what that number is made up of, and how does it impact the people of Newfoundland and Labrador?"

— PC MHA Tony Wakeham

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