Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey says Monday's provincial budget will serve as a starting line for the years to come — but don't expect the race to be a sprint.
"If anyone at home is expecting that [the financial situation] will be fixed on Monday, I'd like to reset your expectations right now," Furey told reporters Friday when asked about what could be expected on budget day.
"The fiscal realities of the province, although they are deep and dire, have taken us a long time to get here. And we can't fix that with one budget."
Monday's budget will be Furey's first since securing a majority government earlier this year and the ground shaking recommendations for economic recovery from the report issued by the Premier's Economic Recovery Team (PERT).
Newfoundland and Labrador has a net debt of over $14 billion, with a gross debt of over $47 billion.
While Furey said his government has had time to digest the report issued by PERT chair Moya Greene, he said it's also important to take the COVID-19 pandemic into account. While using the term 'action-oriented' to describe the budget on multiple occasions, he acknowledged making the wrong moves could ultimately hurt impacted businesses.
"The cure can't be worse than the disease," Furey said.
"That's our job … to ensure that measure of action doesn't inflict undue harm, but is a measure that's appropriate and prudent to reset a responsible direction given the fiscal realities of the province."
These next few years will be tough, but they will not be done in vain. - Andrew Furey
When asked about what the people's mindset going into budget day should be, Furey said he understands there is concern for the future of the province.
"We're all anxious to see the budget, everyone at home is anxious to see the budget," he said. "These next few years will be tough, but they will not be done in vain. This will be to secure a stable future.… It's about securing our future."
But among promises that dramatic cuts forecasted by his political opponents in the last election won't be coming,and that power rates on the island won't double as a result of the Muskrat Falls project, the premier said the province's fiscal situation doesn't rest on the shoulders of one person.
"We have to own this. We have to own the responsibility of this," Furey said.
"We need to own equally the responsibility to fix it so that future generations won't be standing at a podium like this talking about how dire our fiscal situation is."
Ahead of the budget's release at 2 p.m. NT Monday, Furey wouldn't share details as to what the full budget may hold — but did share one guarantee with the media.
"The only thing certain about Tuesday, I think, is that I'll be facing criticism one way or the other."