Forthcoming N.L. economic report expected to dominate debate for months
'Will it spark controversy and comment and discussion? That's a positive thing'
A long-awaited, high-powered report on Newfoundland and Labrador's shaky finances will be released in St. John's Thursday afternoon, although the fate of its recommendations may take months to determine.
Moya Greene, who chaired a volunteer committee called the premier's economic recovery team, will deliver recommendations in a public address scheduled to start at 12 p.m. NT.
Greene's report will likely mark a signature moment for Premier Andrew Furey, who narrowly formed a majority government in March.
"Will it spark controversy and comment and discussion? That's a positive thing … to address the concerns we've had in this province," said Finance Minister and Deputy Premier Siobhan Coady, who said no one in cabinet has seen the report Greene will unveil Thursday.
Furey appointed Greene — who grew up in St. John's before her career took her to the highest executive roles in Canada Post and the United Kingdom's Royal Mail — to oversee the team last September.
Its mandate was ambitious: nothing less than looking at how a financially struggling province delivers its services, spends its money and could earn revenue in emerging industries.
Furey's government has described Greene as being "globally recognized for her change-management skills," while critics have leapt on her history of privatizing public services.
Greene's reputation even prompted a progressive group of academics and activists called the People's Recovery to issue a report of its own, before the report was even completed.
Greene worked with a committee of volunteers from a variety of backgrounds, including Indigenous leader Mi'sel Joe, Verafin co-founder Brendan Brothers, businesswoman Zita Cobb and retired public servant David Vardy. The committee lost a prominent member in January, when labour leader Mary Shortall said the committee posed a conflict of interest for her advocacy work with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour.
Coady said Wednesday the government will launch a series of ways the public can weigh in on the report's recommendations, from virtual town halls to an online portal to a toll-free number.
Asked if Greene's report will mark a transformational moment for Newfoundland and Labrador, Coady said, "I personally think it will be."
Tory MHA Tony Wakeham said the government's consultation process has to be about more than collecting feedback, especially after "the very secretive process" of how the Greene report was written.
"There has to be considerable dialogue and the people have to be listened to," he said.
The recommendations in Greene's report will not affect the next provincial budget, which Coady said will be delivered May 31.
Instead, the consultation process is likely to extend into the coming months.