Big week for government announcements but Ball 'not campaigning'
Friday will make 6 announcements in 5 days
The Newfoundland and Labrador government is firing out positive press releases this week but Premier Dwight Ball says that has nothing to do with it being an election year.
In three days, government has made five notable announcements and another is scheduled for Friday.
"This is what I've been elected to do, to improve the future of Newfoundland and Labrador," Ball said Wednesday.
"But I can tell you, I'm not campaigning today. What I'm doing today is building on what I was elected to do in 2015."
On Monday, Justice Minister Andrew Parsons announced an all-party committee on democratic reform.
The seven-person group will review the provincial electoral system starting with campaign finance rules — like financial reporting by political parties and district associations.
"I think it's something that can be done quickly," he said Monday. "I think it's something that can be done before the next election."
Critics were skeptical of the announcement's timing. When the announcement was made, Opposition leader Ches Crosbie called it an "empty exercise," saying there wouldn't be enough time for the committee to accomplish anything.
On Tuesday, two more announcements.
First, that new ferry contracts on the south coast of the island have saved the province $2.8 million.
The five services used to cost the province $9.6 million to run. Now, government says, it's $6.8 million.
The second announcement: a new grant program for communities and community groups to develop and implement an inclusive and accessible transportation service.
Groups can apply for up to $100,000 if they can prove volunteer involvement and project sustainability.
On Wednesday, another two.
The provincial government announced a name change and a refined focus for the Office for the Status of Women, listing the prevention of gender-based violence, advancing women in leadership roles and stronger gender-based analysis in government as key focus areas.
Government also announced it would be reviewing the the Schools Act — 22-year-old legislation that governs how schools in Newfoundland and Labrador operate.
On Friday afternoon, the government intends to make its sixth announcement in a week.
The municpal affairs and environment minister will be releasing government's climate change action plan in Corner Brook.
The news release, like some of the others, links the announcement to promises made in The Way Forward — the Liberals' plan for the province's future that was first published in 2016.
A provincial election date for 2019 has yet to be announced. Ball has said he will reveal the date in early April.