PC promises would cost $135M a year

Barb Sweet & James McLeod
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Premier Kathy Dunderale and Health Minister Jerome Kennedy are seen in Grand Falls-Windsor Thursday during the launch of the PC Blue Book. — Photo by James Mcleod/The Telegram

The provincial Progressive Conservatives are promising not only a continued freeze on post-secondary education tuition, but the elimination of provincial student loans in favour of needs-based grants.

The party is also pitching a new court to deal with people accused of less serious offences committed because of alcohol or drug addiction.

Those promises are part of a new 80-page Blue Book of policies the party said Thursday will cost $135 million a year. However, the promises are not itemized and the PCs have provided no specific costs for the various initiatives.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale said she will provide more detail about individual promises as the campaign goes on.

The PCs are counting on economic growth to reduce the province’s debt and interest costs, and to lower taxes and prop up health care.

They say they’ve reduced the province’s net debt by a third since taking the reins in 2003 — from $12 billion to $8.2 billion.

“This is our time now, more than ever before,” Dunderdale said in the document’s introduction.

The spending would be paid for by non-renewable resources — basically equity stakes and offshore oil royalties.

Dunderdale unveiled the “New Energy” platform in Grand Falls-Windsor Thursday morning, insisting fiscal responsibility is its underlying theme.

The book promises to set a ceiling on new spending each year and if fiscal priorities “need to change,” she pledged to consult the public.

The Blue Book outlines a plan for jobs, health care, stronger partnerships and continued resource development, Dunderdale said.

“We reserve the right to slow down implementation of all of these initiatives if the fiscal situation of the province is not sound enough to carry them forward,” she told reporters, adding it depends on the ebb and flow of oil and other commodities.

“We forecast $50-million surplus this year, and we ended up closer to $1-billion surplus, so the forecasting that we originally had in our budget for next year has changed. We’re still in the planning stages with a number of these initiatives.

“We feel very confident that we can do this, and do it responsibly. We’re not interested in increasing our debt, even for Blue Book initiatives.”

The premier was joined by Health Minister Jerome Kennedy and Finance Minister Tom Marshall, who heralded an eventual end to the payroll tax, which businesses have long lobbied for.

The PCs have promised to eliminate that tax over six years, cutting it by $10 million a year over the next four years.

“It’s a tax on jobs. None of our neighbouring provinces in Atlantic Canada have that tax,” Marshall said.

The mix of new and previously announced policies run the gamut from fisheries to fitness.

Dunderdale insisted some of the spending will actually save money, such as reducing health-care wait times.

Liberal leader Kevin Aylward quipped to party supporters during a stop in Daniel’s Harbour that half of the Conservative platform had already been announced by the Liberals.

The promises include:

    • Emergency response: undertake a comprehensive review of emergency response services throughout the province, including ambulance services, ambulance operators, emergency responders, paramedics, other services and personnel.

   • Broadband: work with the private sector and the federal government to provide province-wide, high-speed Internet access within four years.

    • Business: make revisions to reform procurement and capital works tendering projects to make them more amenable to local suppliers bidding on contracts.

   • Oil and gas: establish a policy to obtain a 10 per cent equity position in all future oil and gas projects requiring development plan approval, where it fits the party’s strategic long-term objectives.

   • Lifestyle: introduce a provincial fitness tax credit.

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

bsweet@thetelegram.com

Blue Book web/link

http://newenergynl.ca/news-piece/20110922-1/

Organizations: Progressive Conservatives, New Energy

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada

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Recent comments

  • Cyril Rogers
    September 24, 2011 - 00:20

    Where do we see any real commitment to reel in our exploding expenditures and plan for a future with less or no oil revenue? This group has run out of fresh ideas and need to be moved aside. While the opposition is not overly strong, the arrogance of the PC's is going to increase if they retain power and any pretence of balanced and stable fiscal arrangements will be gone. Our debt will increase dramatically if they are re-elected, notwithstanding their foolish deal with Emera on Muskrat Falls. We have no choice but to vote against their wasteful extravagant ways if we want to get any control of our province's finances!

  • Economically Exiled
    September 23, 2011 - 12:19

    Promises Promises...all we get are promises...action would be nice. Blah Blah Blah elect me so I can get a pension working half the year or less for 8 years. Election rhetoric...truth is The NDP hope to ride the federal wave, but Lorraine Micheals is no Jack Layton ( RIP ) and The Liberals... well they have little to offer but criticism of the PC's...that'll work. So Dunderdale and company are the 'Devil ya know' and the Williams wave they ride.

  • Concerned citizen
    September 23, 2011 - 12:10

    Does the money being spent include a makeover for Kathy THUNDERdale and her PUPPETS ?????

  • holy smokes
    September 23, 2011 - 11:51

    They say they’ve reduced the province’s net debt by a third since taking the reins in 2003 — from $12 billion to $8.2 billion....Right then...IF there was 'anyone' else there they could do the same and maybe better....After all, it's NOT PC policy, but that dirty black stuff that's pumped up tout of the ground, called oil....Without it, they would just be another money grabbing political party...Stunderdale knows that better than anyone else.....yet for some daft reason tries to make people they are the one entity doing it 'right'.....fools!

  • JIM
    September 23, 2011 - 11:40

    What about public service pensioner's will they finally get their pensions indexed?No mention of that in the blue-book.I say don't hold your breath.

    • tinyson
      September 24, 2011 - 07:03

      Jim, get over it. All seniors need help and that is the direction the P.C's are taking. Most people feel as I do, so the few votes you disgruntled pensioners have won't affect election results at all.

  • Dianne
    September 23, 2011 - 11:19

    Question for Mr Tom Marshall, you said your from Humber East...and for Humber East....So whats are you going to do for the sixteen people who are in your district ...that going to lose there jods on the 27 of sept of this year...like the rest of the pc candidates...it will work it way out.

  • Robert Power
    September 23, 2011 - 09:39

    Counting on economic growth is as wise as counting on it not to rain in St. John's in June. It could happen, but it's really not likely. With the price of oil falling like a stone, the PC's are going to have enough problems keeping their existing bloated budget afloat, let alone deliver on the new initiatives. This government will sink our province.

  • Bill
    September 23, 2011 - 09:29

    The Blue Book says, "Our Poverty Reduction Strategy has three elements: (1) prevention of poverty, which means keeping people from slipping into poverty in the first place; (2) alleviation of poverty, which means doing a better job of meeting the needs of people who rely on social support networks; and (3) liberation from poverty, which means removing the barriers so people can escape poverty and find freedom through newfound personal self-reliance." Ms. Dunderdale should explain how the ignoring of the 24,000 Public Sector Pensioners fits into the Poverty Reduction Strategy. Seems she has struck out on all 3 elements.

    • tinyson
      September 24, 2011 - 07:07

      Sorry Bill but there's 500000 people who don't care about public pensioners. We care about all seniors equally. You are no more deserving of pension increases than people that only receive old age pension and/or cpp.

  • Darrell
    September 23, 2011 - 08:53

    I really like what I see in the Blue Book. While not perfect, it does include some very important things for our Province. The broadband support is important and I'm interested in learning more regarding the fitness tax break. I think this blue book will also be supported by Peter Putyourgasaway in Ottawa too.

  • h
    September 23, 2011 - 08:53

    who gives a chit