Nfld. & Labrador

Liberal party releases campaign platform with few new promises

It's much the same as the Budget 2019, with a few new promises.

Plan titled 'Onward,' much the same as 2019 budget, with some new initiatives

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball unveiled the party's election platform on Monday at the Sheraton Hotel in St. John's. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

The Liberal party rolled out its campaign platform in St. John's on Monday, detailing its pitch to govern the province in the coming years.

The platform, titled "Onward," reads similarly to the proposed 2019 provincial budget, which was announced a day before the election was called, and as such, has not yet been passed in the legislature.

The Liberal party says it is on track with its seven-year plan introduced in 2016 to move to fiscal balance, and is asking voters to let the work continue.

The platform includes previously announced items such as the new autism action plan, lifting the age cap for those enrolled in the insulin pump program and eliminating the tax on automobile insurance.

In 2015, Ball made a series of promises — such as no layoffs and no tax increases — that he couldn't keep, resulting in backlash from the public, which felt duped.

This time is different, Ball said, because he knows the financial situation of the province, unlike four years ago.

"It was unfortunate that those decisions had to be made, but we are seeing the benefit now, and we are giving back to the people of the province," Ball told media.

"We put in place a clear plan that will give this province a bright future."

Boosting cell service

One new promise is for a provincewide public safety radio system, which the party said could provide greater cell phone coverage.

The idea is to update the radio systems used by first responders to allow them to communicate with each other, instead of communicating solely with dispatch.

The infrastructure needed to update the radio system would include new towers which the party hopes it can leverage to increase spotty cell service across the province.

Digitizing, specializing

The party is also promising to continue with plans to digitize a lot of government services, giving citizens the opportunity to apply for documents online, such as marriage certificates and driver's licences.

In an effort to keep young people in the province with the chance of getting a lucrative career, the Liberals are promising to introduce "centres of excellence" on College of the North Atlantic campuses.

The Burin campus centre would focus on aquaculture, for instance, while the college in Grand Falls-Windsor would offer courses on mining. Aircraft maintenance would be featured in Gander and tourism would be offered in St. John's.

The Liberals' new policy book is titled 'Onward.' (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

The party is also promising to expand on its home-first approach to health care which was piloted in 2017.

Instead of prematurely putting seniors in long-term care homes, services would be given to people at home.

The party is now promising access to those services for Botwood and the Burin Peninsula.

Ball said his plan is one of "stability and sustainability."

Neither the Progressive Conservative nor New Democratic parties has released its campaign platform yet.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ariana Kelland

Investigative reporter

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's. She is working as a member of CBC's Atlantic Investigative Unit.

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