© Star photo by Gary Kean
Members of the provincial cabinet speak to the media following meetings in Corner Brook Friday morning. Pictured are, from left, (front) Advanced Education and Skills Minister Kevin O’Brien, Premier Tom Marshall, Municipal and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Steve Kent, Environment and Conservation Minister Joan Shea; (back )Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley and Child, Youth and Family Services Minister Paul Davis.
Although the topic likely dominated much of their discussions in Corner Brook for the last three days, Premier Tom Marshall was not about to divulge any of government’s spending plans when he met with the media Friday.
Marshall, the Tory legislature member for Humber East, played host to the provincial cabinet for the meetings this past week.
A press release issued later Friday morning stated the cabinet held “successful” meetings that covered a wide range of topics, including the upcoming legislative session.
Earlier in the morning, Marshall and a selection of cabinet ministers met with local media, but said their discussions would remain confidential for now. The premier did say the budget will obviously be the major focus of the upcoming sitting of the House of Assembly.
“The big part of this session is the budget and interim supply, which will take up most of the time and doesn’t leave a lot of time for legislation,” said Marshall.
“We have lots of legislation we want to bring forward but we are going to have to make decisions on which we’re going to bring forward and which we’re going to have to defer to the fall, given the shorter time frame.”
Last year’s budget was a harsh one, with plenty of job cuts and reductions in services and programs throughout the various government portfolios. Marshall said people will have to tune in on budget day later this spring to find out what the fiscal plan for the coming year will be.
The Progressive Conservative party promised during the 2011 election campaign that it would establish a ceiling for new spending ahead of the budget and make decisions on spending accordingly. However, the current administration has never publicly announced such a ceiling.
Marshall, a former finance minister, said government has always been conscious of its spending as it relates to its revenues in any given year and that has not changed.
“There are some years where, for public policy reasons, we may feel it is appropriate to spend more to help the economy be stimulated and grow,” said Marshall. “In other years, we will spend less and use that money to pay down the debt we took out to stimulate the economy.
“It depends on the economic and fiscal circumstances of the time.”