Labrador's take on the Greene report? Read 3 perspectives

·5 min read
Jodie Ashini, Amy Norman and Peter Woodward share their thoughts on two of the recommendations from the Greene report. (CBC - image credit)
Jodie Ashini, Amy Norman and Peter Woodward share their thoughts on two of the recommendations from the Greene report. (CBC - image credit)
Jodie Ashini, Amy Norman and Peter Woodward share their thoughts on two of the recommendations from the Greene report.
Jodie Ashini, Amy Norman and Peter Woodward share their thoughts on two of the recommendations from the Greene report.(CBC)

As the report from the premier's economic recovery team led by Moya Greene continues to generate plenty of discussion, CBC asked three Labradorians to weigh in on the report.

The Greene report — formally called The Big Reset — is a blueprint. The 338-page document outlines ways for the province to get back on financial track.

This Q&A focuses on two recommendations — a potential money maker and a possible cost saver.

First, hydroelectricity. The report recommends bundling the Upper Churchill contract, Muskrat Falls and Gull Island together and seeking federal government and private sector partners "to maximize the economic value and its renewable energy potential."

The money saver — amalgamating all four of the province's health authorities into one to save on administration costs.

The province spends $193 million dollars on health admin per year. That's about eight per cent of the total $2.5 billion health budget.

Who's weighing in?

Jodie Ashini works as a cultural guardian with the Innu Nation, Peter Woodward is the president and CEO of the Woodward Group of Companies, a Labrador-based business conglomerate, and Amy Norman is a member of the Labrador Land Protectors group and former NDP candidate.

Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.

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Q: Jodie Ashini, what do you think about bundling all of the resources on the Churchill River together and looking for money from Ottawa and the private sector?

Jodie Ashini: It makes me a little nervous. We all know that the past tends to repeat itself, so it makes me a little nervous that we're going to end up losing again to someone big like Hydro-Québec rather than actually saving and gaining.

Q: And what about the suggestion that Gull Island — which hasn't been developed yet — will be part of that?

JA: I just don't understand how they're going to afford to do Gull Island. They've just lost millions — multi-millions — in Muskrat. I just don't understand where the money's going to come from other than selling it. So it's just a scary process for us Labradorians. We don't benefit from Muskrat as it is, so I just don't know how it's going to work.

Q: Peter Woodward, what are your thoughts on delving deeper into hydro power development by teaming up with federal and private partners?

Peter Woodward: I have to be honest, I'm very excited. The prospect of highlighting Labrador as the resource that it's always been, and hydroelectricity as we move to net zero. I see all kinds of opportunities to reopen contracts and to renegotiate. And hopefully we won't make the mistakes of the past and we'll start using the energy that's in Labrador, that is truly green energy, and start doing things with it that are going to create benefits for people in the province.

Q: Amy Norman, what's your perspective on further development of hydro?

Amy Norman: I'm completely against it. I truly believe that mega hydro, as we know it, is not actually green. What you see is green washing. It's trying to portray these projects as cleaner than they are. The reality is, you know, it's really harmful to the environment. It wipes out massive areas for the reservoirs that destroy forests, which are carbon sinks. The reservoir itself releases a lot of methane. We need to be looking at actual clean, renewable energy like solar and wind. We know how windy this province is. I do not think hydro is the answer. I think it would be a phenomenal mistake to go down that path.

According to the Greene Report, administration costs eat up about 8 per cent of the $2.5 billion health budget.
According to the Greene Report, administration costs eat up about 8 per cent of the $2.5 billion health budget.(CBC)

Q: Jody Ashini, how do you think whittling down the health authorities into one will affect healthcare in Labrador?

JA: I don't know if they had enough people from northern Labrador to make a proper decision on this. Maybe if they amalgamated the three health authorities in Newfoundland and kept Labrador, it would be different. Because, in Labrador, we're isolated. We've had a lot of people that have been misdiagnosed. We don't have a specialist. We have to travel to the island for any health care. I don't think putting Labrador into the lump of Newfoundland is going to do any good for any Labradorian.

Q: Peter Woodward, do you think there's room to streamline to that extent?

PW: I don't question that amalgamation will bring some savings when it comes to streamlining and reducing administration expenses, but I don't think that's the heart of the matter when it comes to health. I think that we, as a province, have to look at a bigger shift than that. The model that we have was built back in the 60s and 70s. I think COVID's taught us a lot about doing things by distance. And I think we need to get better outcomes with the money that we're spending. I think large institutional hospitals that are away from communities are probably a thing of the past. We need to get closer to the client and deliver healthcare in a more modern way that focuses on the client, not on the facilities — that focuses on outputs, not inputs.

Q: The province is in a desperate financial situation and savings have to come from somewhere. Do you think that healthcare administration like that is the right target? And if not, what is?

AN: I'm not convinced that it's the right target. Health care, especially up here in Labrador, is really suffering. It's basically impossible to get any kind of basic appointment. It's impossible to have any continuity of care. It's a really dire situation. And I don't see how cutting health care by this scale is going to help anyone. I will give a plug to the People's Recovery. Their report gave a lot of really cool alternatives and different ways to think about these large scale questions, because I don't think austerity is the answer. I don't think cutting our health care services, when they're already so bare bones, is going to help people. It's not going to help Labradorians and people will suffer.

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