Nfld. & Labrador

Election-ready budget expected

Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to post another surplus budget Tuesday, less than six months before the provincial election.

Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to post another surplus budget Tuesday, with Opposition politicians suspicious of what the governing Tories will reveal in advance of October's general election.

"I think we're going to see an election budget, there's no doubt about it," said Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones, who suspects the budget will be used to prop up weak backbench seats in the 43-member Progressive Conservative caucus.

"This government in my opinion has a lot of backbenchers right now that have some insecurity issues in their own districts."

Finance Minister Tom Marshall told CBC News last week that the government is preparing for a surplus — not a surprise, given that Brent crude oil is trading at almost 50 per cent above the figure on which the government had based its last budget.

Marshall also conceded that there is more pressure to increase spending in an election year.

The new budget will also reveal more about Premier Kathy Dunderdale, who took over the reins of government in December. The Speech from the Throne last month emphasized social services, including helping parents balance their home and work lives.

Jones said some districts have yet to feel prosperity from the offshore oil industry.

"Although we have talked about being a have province, there are many communities, many people in the province who are not have," she said.

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said she wants government to move on several priorities in the social sector.

"If we don't start putting in place something, like a home-care and long-term care plan now, and a childcare plan now, then we are never going to be up there with the rest of Canada. That's my concern," Michael said.