Throne speech focuses on streamlining costs

The throne speech outlined the provincial government's plan to streamline and focus investments to deal with a looming $1.6-billion deficit at the end of 2013.
Lt.-Gov. Frank Fagan delivers the 2013 Newfoundland and Labrador throne speech 41:36

Newfoundland and Labrador's latest throne speech outlined the government's plan to streamline costs and focus investments to deal with a looming $1.6-billion deficit at the end of 2013.

In a speech from the throne read Monday by Lt.-Gov. Frank Fagan, the Progressive Conservative government said the province's public service costs are too high, and it has no way to pay for it without raising taxes or borrowing money.

"Newfoundland and Labrador's public sector's costs are greater than our economy can afford or sustain," Fagan said during the speech.

With the budget being unveiled on Tuesday, the speech left the impression that more cuts would be coming.

"We have to live within our means, and continue to set clear and responsible priorities," Fagan read. "It is about a balanced plan — a sustainable approach.

"To that end, my government embarked last year on a core mandate review to identify efficiencies and eliminate duplications and waste."

Fagan said the government needed to choose a direction for the province's future.

"With our economy now stronger than ever, and private sector employment at record levels, this is the prudent time to take on the challenge of focusing on critical priorities, streamlining our public sector accordingly, and zeroing in on the initiatives that place our province's economy on a solid, sustainable footing for decades to come."

"Let no one pretend the need for fiscal prudence has passed," Fagan said. "Truly, Newfoundland and Labrador is at a crossroads."

He said that the development of Muskrat Falls is vital to the province's future economy.

The speech said the government will focus on making "strategic investments."

Ball says money mismanaged

After the throne speech, Liberal Leader Dwight Ball said the Dunderdale government misspent most of their money.

Ball said there was a lot of spending that needed to be done, but most investments were misguided and lacked economic diversity.

"Government spending has been uncontrolled for ten years," he said. "There has been no thought for the future."

Ball said the government is overdependent on the oil industry to support the province's economy.

"They're completely dependent on a wide range of circumstances, which this government has no control [of]," Ball said.

According to Ball, Dunderdale has been sending mixed messages that have left the people of the province confused.

Government contradicts itself, Michael says

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said the claim in the throne speech that the Dunderdale government is the most open and accountable government in the province's history is untrue, citing Bill 29 as proof that government does not make information accessible to the public.

"They know Bill 29 was a backward step," Michael said.

During the speech from the throne, Fagan said the Tory government would be looking at creating legislation to put an end to bullying in schools across the province.

According to Michael, government should acknowledge the fact that it voted against anti-bullying legislation when it was presented in 2012.

She said the government's claim to create a sustainable economy contradicts its actions.

"This government uses the term sustainability. Well, they haven't shown me that they understand sustainability," Michael said.

Michael also said Dunderdale's goal of hiring a national consultant on homelessness is curious, considering the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation provided a recommendation in 2010.