Federal budget not so bad, relieved Charlene Johnson says

Finance Minister Charlene Johnson says the federal budget brought down on Tuesday evening does not contain anything particularly bad for Newfoundland and Labrador.
Finance Minister Charlene Johnson says the new federal budget will mean a net gain of almost $2 million. (CBC)

Finance Minister Charlene Johnson says the federal budget brought down on Tuesday evening does not contain anything particularly bad for Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Johnson said she would have been concerned if Ottawa had cut any of the money transferred to the province, but it did not.

Johnson told CBC News Wednesday morning that she wants to find out exactly what Ottawa has in mind for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

"They also mentioned that they would be refocusing on ACOA," she said. "Certainly we want to follow up on that." 

Unifor VP Lana Payne: 'It's like austerity has become the new normal.' (CBC)
Johnson welcomed the federal government's move to extend broadband internet access in rural areas, particularly as the Newfoundland and Labrador government is hoping to provide the service to 95 per cent of the province. 

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty jokingly called his budget "boring," which he says will set up a return to surpluses next year. 

Jack Harris, the NDP MP for St. John's East, said the budget was not innocuous at all. 

"This is a do-nothing budget when the needs are great for people across the country," Harris said in an interview. 

"There's more than 300,000 people unemployed today than before the recession, and there is no significant new investments here to create jobs." 

Lana Payne, a vice-president with Unifor, said the budget masks cuts to numerous public services. 

"I don't know if all of these additional spending cuts that we're going to see [are] boring," she said. 

"It's like austerity has become the new normal," said Payne.  

Johnson said the federal budget has a "slight positive impact" for the Newfoundland and Labrador treasury, with an estimate pegged at $1.9 million. 

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