Nfld. & Labrador

Furey confident Ottawa will help pull N.L. out of 'economic storm'

Premier-designate Andrew Furey's chips are down on receiving help from Ottawa to pull Newfoundland and Labrador out of its financial spiral.

Next premier says he will do things differently out of the gate

Premier-designate Andrew Furey says he's confident Newfoundland and Labrador and the federal government can find a solution to help the province through a fiscal crisis. (CBC)

Premier-designate Andrew Furey's chips are down on receiving help from Ottawa to pull Newfoundland and Labrador out of its financial spiral. 

Furey, during an appearance on CBC's Power & Politics on Tuesday, would not say what the consequences could be if N.L. does not enter an arrangement with the federal government. 

"[But] I don't think that's going to happen. I think that we can work together to find a sustainable solution for Newfoundland and Labrador. I feel quite confident in that," Furey said. 

"You can't lose sight of the framework and the backdrop that Newfoundland and Labrador finds itself in right now, and I think we're very lucky to be part of a G7 country of Canada, and I think that we need to make sure that we're using that relationship to get the ship into a safe harbour so that we can make the repairs that we need to make in order to keep her afloat."

Furey will inherit a projected $2.1-billion deficit when he is sworn in Aug. 19 as premier. The net debt is now pegged at $16.7 billion. 

He said there are ways for Newfoundland and Labrador to climb out of the red, but when asked what they were, he wouldn't get into specifics. He said solutions in the short term will help the province prepare for long-term sustainability. 

"Before COVID there was an $800-million fiscal gap on an $8-billion budget. That's a large number and there's no way to cut or spend your way out of that scenario," he said. 

"So we need to be creative in doing both of those moving forward. In the short term, in the background of a global economic crisis, we need to work with Canada. We need to work with our federal partners on some of the deals that we've done in the past to unlock potential for us to get Newfoundland and Labrador out of the economic storm that it's in."

Furey says he will seek the first available opportunity to take a seat in the House of Assembly. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

Furey does have connections in Ottawa. His father, George Furey, is Speaker of the Senate. Furey said he has already spoken with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan, but those conversations were friendly and not yet business-based. 

Changes possible for cabinet

Furey said he thinks earnest conversations with the federal government will be begin next week. 

But he still won't be able to sit in the legislature until he becomes an elected MHA. Furey said he plans to seek the first seat available. That may come from Premier Dwight Ball, who last week told CBC News he would consider making way for Furey to run in what would be a byelection in the district of Humber-Gros Morne. 

"Right now we're still making decisions and we'll see what opportunities present themselves," Furey said. 

When asked if he would be bringing a new cabinet with him to the premier's office on Aug. 19, Furey said the structure of government is still under evaluation.

"I will tell you that I plan to make a different approach starting out of the gate," he said. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador 

With files from Power & Politics

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