Being the premier of a province, along with having an additional specific cabinet portfolio, makes for a busy life.
Premier Dwight Ball, who is also Newfoundland and Labrador’s minister responsible for intergovernmental and Indigenous affairs, knows that full well.
For good measure, toss in the fact he is the elected legislature member for Humber-Gros Morne — one of the largest geographical districts in the province — and there is little downtime for Ball.
As 2017 has now rolled into 2018 and Ball marks his sixth anniversary as Liberal leader, he says he welcomes the challenge of it all.
“I’m not driven by a clock,” he said. “I will work as long as it takes to get the job done. I enjoy this job. It’s a rewarding job because you get to have a positive impact on the people you represent.”
Here is Ball’s list of priorities for the district of Humber-Gros Morne for 2018:
Find a balance
Ball said, just as he must try to ensure every community is heard by the government, he must also find ways to ensure his own district is taken care of through his role as its MHA. He said that job gets done with the help of his constituency office team, which often must act as his liaison to the people when he cannot be in the district.
The past year saw lots of infrastructure projects announced throughout the province. One of the key ones was the start of the new regional hospital in Corner Brook, which Ball says will be a big benefit to his district, too. He said there will be more news and updates on the new hospital in the near future.
The premier said his district needs to keep making progress in maintaining its traditional industries such as fishing, forestry and agriculture, but also foster its growing tourism market. He noted the province opening up tracts of Crown land for agriculture, much of it in his district, is hoped to soon turn into real economic activity. Steps toward enhancing the tourism product will also be taken with developments such as construction of the new theatre in Cow Head in the northern extremity of the district.
Deer Lake airport
The recent downturn in the oil and gas sector has meant fewer people coming and going to places like Alberta for work, which had been a significant source of activity at Deer Lake Regional Airport. Ball said efforts are ongoing to create more opportunities within the region for which people will need to fly and keep the airport’s traffic numbers up in the meantime.
Social impacts for youth
Ball is looking forward to several developments that will benefit young people in his district and the province as a whole. Among those will be the lowering of the hunting age, which he says many youth in his district will take advantage of so they can experience the region’s strong hunting traditions. He is also looking forward to Deer Lake hosting the 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games from March 10-18, which will be a showcase of athletic skill in a variety of sports.