Nfld. & Labrador

People in N.L. 'a little delusional' about state of economy: Don Mills

A pollster is warning the economy in Newfoundland and Labrador isn't doing as well as people seem to think — and there are solutions to the province's problems, but they may not be popular.
A pollster is warning the economy in Newfoundland and Labrador isn't doing as well as people seem to think and there are solutions to the province's problems, but they may not be popular. 2:46

A pollster is warning the economy in Newfoundland and Labrador isn't doing as well as people seem to think — and there are solutions to the province's problems, but they may not be popular.

Don Mills, CEO of Corporate Research Associates, said the province placed last in economic growth over the last seven years.

Mills was in St. John's Wednesday to talk to the business community and he had a message that may be difficult to swallow for some people.

"People are a little delusional in this province in terms of how well the economy is going," he said.

According to Mills, part of the problem may have been former premier Danny Williams.

"The downside of Danny Williams, and I have a lot of respect for him, is that he doubled the provincial budget within that timeframe too," said Mills.

"He left the province with a structural budget problem that is going to be difficult to fix."

Mills added there are too many government workers and with the biggest civil service in Canada, and it may be time to look at private companies to deliver some services at lower cost.

Unpopular solutions

According to Mills, when it comes to health care, people in this province need to be prepared to drive a little further.

"The affordability of having a hospital and a school in every community is now at risk, especially with the escalating cost of health care. You need to be a lot more efficient in your delivery."

However, he added there's a reluctance from government to tackle these issues because they are generally unpopular solutions.

"You have the right to live anywhere you want in Atlantic Canada and expect the same level of government services and the same economic opportunity, or you will be subsidized in that choice. Is that right or wrong? The fact of the matter is, that really has us trapped," he said.

Mills added the provincial Liberals haven't shown any more willingness to take on these issues than the current Tory government.

With files from Peter Cowan

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