Thursday’s speech from the throne was the first delivered by Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote, and contained insights into what’s left of the first mandate of Premier Dwight Ball’s government.
Front and centre in the speech was the Atlantic Accord, as the Liberals seek to stress the Hibernia dividend agreement ahead of the coming election. The $2.5-billion agreement will see the money flow in over 38 years, the majority coming in the next 11 years.
“It will reduce our provincial net debt, reduce our interest payments and help us stay the course for fiscal stability and return to surplus,” Foote said as she read the speech in the House of Assembly.
NDP House Leader Lorraine Michael says the government is overblowing the benefits of the agreement in the speech.
“What’s missing in this document is a real economic plan. They say that everything will be better for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, overnight, because the premier says so, because of the Atlantic Accord?” Michael stated in a news release.
Key takeaways from throne speech:
- A legal program providing support for sexual assault survivors saw 50 clients in its first six months.
- A fixed link between the island portion of the province and Labrador is still being examined by the government, but remains years, if not decades, off.
- A $30-million “repayable support” went to Greig NL’s aquaculture project in Placentia Bay in 2018.
- "Over the last two years, we have announced over $18 billion in investments in mining and oil and gas.” There was no reference to climate change in document.
- In 2018, 1,500 newcomers to the province became permanent residents. The government’s goal is 1,700 by 2022.
- The construction of a new hospital in Corner Brook is expected to start this year, with a long-term care facility expected to be completed by 2020.
- The government is exploring a way for “those in marginalized groups with outstanding fines to settle their debt by performing community service.”