Nfld. & Labrador·WATCH

Here & Now: Don't expect any big budget changes, Dwight Ball says

In a special broadcast of Here & Now, Premier Dwight Ball and Finance Minister Cathy Bennett said no significant changes will come to this year's provincial budget.
CBC TV News, Weather and Sports from St. John's 1:01:11

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball says the provincial budget he presented will be the one to face a vote in the House of Assembly.

Speaking on a special edition of Here & Now on Monday night, Ball said no significant changes will be made to the Liberal government's deeply-unpopular first budget, which was tabled in April.

It contained significant tax hikes, smaller cuts and a total deficit of more than $1.8 billion.

"That really is the budget envelope that we have to work with," said Ball.

Levy will land

Bennett and Ball took questions from the audience and from viewers online — in this live forum chat, on Facebook and on Twitter. 

Dozens of the questions focused on the Deficit Reduction Levy, which has been a focal point for budget protestors around the province.

It was also a hot topic at the protest outside of CBC studios in St. John's just before the show.

Bennett said her government is working to remove that measure — but it won`t be this year.

"We want to work as fast as we can, as hard as we can, to remove that tax," she said.

"When things change, and as we get more information...[then we can evolve.]"

The levy will raise about $63-million for the province this year, just a fraction of the total financial shortfall.

But Bennett said the situation is so dire for government that they had little choice.

"The alternative to the levy would be to do some type of [additional] cuts, and that wasn't something at this particular point that we thought made sense."

Protesters outside CBC studios in St. John's 2:08

Committed to listening

Throughout the special edition of Here & Now, Bennett and Ball said they were committed to listening to residents of the province.

That's despite the fact they committed to no major changes to the financial plan.

"We have listened to people in Newfoundland and Labrador, and we're going to continue to do that," Ball said.

"When you create a budget, then you start to work towards what next year's budget is," added Bennett, suggesting that any changes to the Liberal plan would take place next year.

She said it wasn't simple to switch gears.

"We're the biggest spender in the province, I would suggest, and the machinery of that takes a while to move forward. We are listening...and make the changes that people want as we go forward."

Your questions, their answers

In addition to broadcasting the program, the budget Q&A was live in this space and through our YouTube channel. 

Hosts Carolyn Stokes and Peter Cowan took questions from online viewers and from the live studio audience.

Check out what people had to say in our CBC live forum below, and watch the full special in the video player above!

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