Resettlement fund given huge boost in budget
Newfoundland and Labrador will dramatically increase spending to encourage residents of some isolated communities to move to larger towns.
Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy said government will offer as much as $270,000 for each household to relocate, nearly triple the current limit of $100,000.
The government, though, expects to spend nothing on the new program in the coming fiscal year, as the new program is rolled out and explained to residents of prospective communities.
Municipal Affairs Minister Kevin O’Brien said there are no active applications for such assistance, and that any request would take a while to handle.
"That process takes at least a year, a year and a half to complete," O’Brien told reporters. Kennedy said the government will step in to "help communities that may be unsustainable," but only if the residents themselves make the first move.
"For $100,000, for someone to move from an isolated community, it wasn’t enough to buy a home when they would relocate," Kennedy told reporters Tuesday.
"So the figure has been upped to allow them, if they wish to avail of it, [so] if they want to move from some of these isolated communities, we are willing to assist."
The issue of resettlement has been politically charged in Newfoundland and Labrador for generations, particularly since a government-led program that peaked in the 1950s and 1960s.
Yet the governing Tories have said they have been feeling the strain of providing standards of government services to rural communities, even though the province’s population has been becoming increasingly urban.
Under the new policy, there will not need to be a unanimous decision in a community to relocate. Instead, at least 90 per cent of residents will have to vote in favour of the decision.
Kennedy said the $270,000 ceiling – enough for many families to buy a home in a city or large town – is "a more realistic amount to facilitate a move."