Fiscal crisis 'unprecedented,' Dwight Ball tells national audience
Premier Dwight Ball called Newfoundland and Labrador's financial situation "the perfect storm" in an interview on CBC's national political show, Power and Politics.
"This is unprecedented, the situation that we find ourselves in this province," Ball told host Rosemary Barton.
"I've spoken to many people that have been in the premier's chair and people that been in politics for many years in Newfoundland and Labrador and they've never seen anything like this situation," he said.
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Ball did the interview in Ottawa, where he said he was having meetings with Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.
Ball said he believes the federal government understands Newfoundland and Labrador's problems and is giving the province the attention it deserves.
"There's certainly no shortage of discussion that's happening with our federal colleagues," he said.
"They get it."
Looking at lenders
He told Barton that aside from raising taxes and rethinking services, the province will also have to ensure it's attractive to lenders.
"We've been fortunate enough based on oil royalties that we've been able to use over the last seven or eight years that we've not been in a lending situation," he said.
"So we now have to make sure that we're in a position that the lenders get an understanding of the assets that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can take advantage of down the road."
Federal infrastructure money needed
Ball told Barton that the $400 million the federal government is providing the province for infrastructure projects will be helpful when construction on Muskrat Falls, the Long Harbour nickel processing plant, and the Hebron project come to an end in 2017.
"It's important for us now to have the stimulus through our infrastructure programming so that when we get displaced workers from Alberta, we get displaced workers in NL, we have projects that are shovel-ready for them to get employment on," said Ball.
He also said the province wants to nurture traditional industries like the fishery, which Ball said is seeing a rebound.
The weak Canadian dollar also makes Newfoundland an attractive place for tourists and Ball said he wants to take advantage of that.
N.L. 'doing its part' for climate change
Ball also said his government is putting together a climate change strategy, which will be tabled at the ministers' meeting in Vancouver this March.
"We're putting those measures in place right now," he said.
"We'll be doing our part to make sure NL plays a very significant role in tackling the climate change initiatives that nationally we all want to see."
Ball said Newfoundland and Labrador's hydro developments will help address climate change on a national level.