Nfld. & Labrador

Slash 8 House of Assembly seats, says Dwight Ball

Liberal leader Dwight Ball says there should be eight fewer seats in the House of Assembly.
Dwight Ball, Leader of the Official Opposition, thinks the number of seats in the House of Assembly should be reduced from 48 seats to 40. (CBC)

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball says he loves the idea of reducing the number of seats in the House of Assembly.  

This comes after news that the office of Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Paul Davis is looking at reducing the number of seats in the legislature.

A decision is expected to be announced in the next few days. Before any changes could be made, the House of Assembly would have to amend the Electoral Boundaries Act which would include public hearings. 

In an interview with CBC News, Ball said that an independent committee should be brought in to determine the number of seats that should be cut.
The office of Premier Paul Davis is looking into the possibility of reducing the number of seats in the legislature. (CBC)

"I've been on record as saying that I believe we can do it with 40 seats or less," said Ball. 

There are currently 48 seats in the legislature. A prior boundaries commission oversaw a reduction in 1996 from 52 seats. 
 
Ball doesn't think it can happen before the next provincial election but said he would like to see the change implemented in 2016. 

"Right now, it is very late to put this process in place ... to get this done before the next provincial election would be very difficult if you were committed to doing it right," Ball said.   

Originally, the boundaries were to be reviewed in 2016 by the Independent Boundaries Commission, which reports to the House of Assembly.

In 2013, provincial opposition parties called for fewer seats, citing the possibility of reducing government spending.

According to staff at the House of Assembly, the average cost for an MHA is $230,000. That includes salary, travel and office expenses for the MHA and their staff.

The province's 48 MHAs represent 526,977 people. As of 2011, that meant on average 10,638 residents per legislative assembly member.

The only other province that has a lower average number of inhabitants per legislative assembly member is Prince Edward Island, with 5,404 people per member as of 2011.

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