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A long-awaited Newfoundland and Labrador government task force report, released Thursday, says the province is facing a financial crisis that puts it at risk of being unable to pay public sector salaries and keep hospitals running.
The Big Reset report says the province needs to rein in public sector spending, re-evaluate its contracts with unions and dismantle the provincial energy corporation, and proposes a six-year plan to improve the province’s fortunes.
Detailing the crisis, bullet points on the report website say that the province’s government expenditures have increased 80 per cent from 2004-05 to 2020-21, and that the province is spending 25 per cent more than its annual revenue.
The actual report is here.
Moya Greene, chairperson of the Premier’s Economic Recovery Team, presented the report from her home in the United Kingdom where the St. John’s-born businesswoman is known for privatizing Britain’s mail service.
Premier Andrew Furey commissioned Ms. Greene last September to lead an effort to figure out how Newfoundland and Labrador can sidestep a looming fiscal crisis. Ms. Greene worked with a team of volunteers.
“We have proposed a detailed, multiyear financial improvement plan. It is a balanced and measured approach, a combination of expenditure reduction, revenue increase and better use of our assets such that over the next five years, we will be out of this perilous situation,” said Ms. Greene, in a statement issued by the premiers’ office.
The report will be subject to a public-consultation process. Finance Minister Siobhan Coady has said the report will not affect the next provincial budget due May. 31.
There’s a news story here with further details of the report’s release.
LINE 5 Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office says a key petroleum pipeline for Central Canada that runs through the Great Lakes state is a “ticking time bomb” and that Calgary-based operator Enbridge Inc. would be breaking the law if it doesn’t shut it down next week as she has ordered. Bobby Leddy, press secretary to Ms. Whitmer, said the Governor’s position is that Enbridge must stop operating Line 5 by May 12.
FEDERAL DEFICITS The Liberal government’s 2021 budget underestimates the likely size of federal deficits by about $5.6-billion a year and puts Ottawa on a long-term path of higher debt, says Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux.
NEW ICEBREAKER The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery on Thursday and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard.
PERMANENT RESIDENCY The federal Immigration Minister says he is working to address concerns about a program launching this week that is aimed at creating a pathway to permanent residency for 90,000 people.
LABEAUME OUT High-profile Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume, who was in the national spotlight for his response to the 2017 shooting in a city mosque and a sword attack last Halloween that killed two, says he’s stepping down after 14 years on the job, and will not seek another mandate in the 2021 municipal election.
SOHI FOR MAYOR? Former federal Liberal cabinet minister Amarjeet Sohi is about to launch a bid to become Edmonton’s new mayor, succeeding Don Iveson. From The Hill Times.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Private meetings. Prime Minister meets virtually with the executive committee of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation. He also joins a virtual iftar for Ramadan.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet will hold a news conference on Parliament Hill on the case of former chief of defence staff Jonathan Vance.
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul hosts a Town Hall for Mental Health Week and also participates in the Ryerson Democracy Forum.
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on the “tragic” Line 5 dispute: “That [Michigan] Gov. Gretchen Whitmer would seek to shut down the pipeline even though she knows it would cripple energy supplies to Ontario and Quebec – and to Michigan, for that matter – and that President Joe Biden has been unwilling to intervene speaks to how badly relations between Canada and the United States have deteriorated.”
Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on what the differences between Canadian and U.S pandemic response suggest: “The contrast befits the stereotypical tale of the two countries: Americans are instinctively turbulent, Canadians reflexively more submissive. It’s been that way ever since the United Empire Loyalists – those dullards who refused to partake in the revolution against British rule – trudged north. But the differences have become more pronounced. Given the radicalization of the Republican Party and the enormous debilitating power its populist wing possesses, the American condition has markedly changed.”
Leah West (The Globe and Mail) on the necessary source of will to enable Canada’s military to solve its sexual misconduct crisis: “For months, many have been preoccupied with the politics of a military misconduct scandal in the highest ranks, sparked when a current military officer levelled serious allegations of sexual misconduct against Jonathan Vance, Canada’s longest-serving chief of defence staff. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan clearly hoped to pin the scandal on the Conservative government that appointed the former CDS to the role; however, questions in parliamentary committees and on the floor of the House of Commons about who knew what, and when, have continued to hound the PMO, culminating Tuesday with a motion by the Official Opposition for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fire his chief of staff, Katie Telford. But while this political theatre plays out, victims of sexual assault and misconduct in the military have continued to come forward with their stories, desperately trying to refocus the conversation on what truly matters: Despite years of clear evidence that sexual misconduct is rampant in our military’s culture, nothing has changed. I know because I am among them.”
Don Martin (CTV) on why being Jason Kenney is the worst job in politics today: “The point is that, in just the last few weeks, Premier Kenney has simultaneously infuriated the entire province, divided his own party and created the continent’s worst healthcare crisis. That’s quite the dubious accomplishment. And it will get worse when the three weeks of enhanced restrictions end at the precise moment Kenney projects the hospital system will buckle if case counts continue to soar. In other words, the lockdown will be extended. All this has, not surprisingly, cratered his party and personal popularity in the polls.”
John Michael McGrath (TVO) on the notion of paying people to get vaccinated: “We need both carrots and sticks, and Ottawa has one of the best carrots around: cold, hard cash. It’s a grubby but real fact of the universe that people respond to incentives, and money is a heck of an incentive. A recent article published with the National Bureau of Economic Research in the United States indicates that incentives don’t need to be very large, if they’re working in conjunction with other policies, such as digital outreach and the hiring of local “ambassadors.” New research from UCLA suggests that $100 is enough of a treat to move a large number of people from the vaccine-hesitant camp to the vaccine-gimme one.
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