Kennedy back in finance in advance of tough budget

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale shuffled the provincial cabinet Wednesday, switching the roles of Ministers Jerome Kennedy and Tom Marshall.

Tom Marshall takes on natural resources portfolio

N.L. Premier Kathy Dunderdale give details of the latest cabinet shuffle 13:20

It was a minor shuffle involving some major cabinet portfolios.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale has switched two of her top ministers, with Jerome Kennedy heading back to the finance portfolio in advance of what's expected to be a cost-slashing budget.

In a cabinet shuffle Wednesday, Dunderdale moved Kennedy from the natural resources portfolio into finance.

Tom Marshall, who had been finance minister, is now natural resources minister.

Said Dunderdale, "I'm going to test the old adage that a change is as good as a rest."

It remains to be seen if Kennedy, who has earned a reputation for a more aggressive style than many of his cabinet colleagues, will get much of a rest, taking over the finance department as the governing Tories prepare for the spring budget.

Kennedy was finance minister between 2008 and 2009, and during that period reached four-year contracts with public-sector unions.

Dunderdale has already warned of budget cuts, and the civil service is the prime target.

The government is also heading into negotiations with unions representing much of the public service.

Kennedy said that he looks forward to working with the unions, but added, "they have to understand that we're in an economy where there are not going to be any huge raises."

"Our expenditures have outpaced our revenues, and they will do so for a couple of years, so we have to cut our expenditures," said Kennedy. "We have to look at how we can save money in the short term."

The swap between Kennedy and Marshall was the only move in the cabinet shuffle.

The shuffle comes just three months after Dunderdale made a major shuffle in cabinet duties. In October's shuffle, Dunderdale changed responsibilities for nine of her 15 ministers, but added no new MHAs to the cabinet.