Ball says to cut deficit, cut a few MHAs

James McLeod
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Premier Kathy Dunderdale speaks with reporters about the upcoming provincial budget

How many MHAs is too many? Liberal Leader Dwight Ball says 48 is definitely too many, and as the province looks at ways to cut budget costs, maybe reducing the number of elected officials is a good way to go.

“I think there needs to be changes,” Ball said. “I don’t think we need 48 members anymore.”

Ball made the suggestion as a way to curb the projected $1.6-billion deficit in the 2013 provincial government budget, and another deficit of the same amount in 2014.

“The objective would be to get to smaller government,” Ball said. “It goes a long way because as we make decisions today about deficits, we’ve got to factor in what our responsibilities are going to be within seven, eight, 10 years.”

Ball didn’t redraw the whole map, but made a point of saying that if you’re eliminating seats, you have to consider a lot of factors.

Ball said making sure that the population is roughly equal in each electoral district is important, but there are more important things to consider.

“You would actually do the redistribution not simply on population. You’d have to consider density. You’d have to consider the transportation network. You’d have to consider technology,” he said. “Of course, we’ve got to keep in the back of our mind that one person, one vote is important, but we need to be able to include some of the other things.”


Larger debate

Premier Kathy Dunderdale said that’s not something she’s thinking about right now.

“It’s not a proposal we’re considering,” she said. “Seats have been reduced before. It’s not something I’m opposed to, but that requires a larger debate than just people around the cabinet table. I mean, people around the province have something to say about that.”

Dunderdale said the focus right now is on government spending that can be reduced over the next two years during the worst of the deficits.

“We have to examine everything, program by program. We have to go under every heading and every department,” she said. “That’s what we’ve been at for months and months.”


Proportional representation

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said she’s fine with the idea of reducing the number of MHAs, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with the budget.

Any changes likely wouldn’t take place until the next Electoral Boundaries Commission review in 2016, and the changes wouldn’t come into force until after that.

“I’m not talking about which ones, I’m saying that I’m open to the possibility of the number of districts being decreased, and entering into a process of what that might look like,” she said.

But Michael said she would also like to look at proportional representation as an option for electing MHAs.

“I would like to see a real study of proportional representation,” she said. “I do think the time has come in Canada for us to be looking at proportional representation and what’s working in other places.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Electoral Boundaries Commission

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • roy
    March 03, 2013 - 19:38

    The govt could cut the number MHA's, they could cut their support staff, if there were less MHA's then there could be a staff cut. Another idea is to cut opposition members salaries and staff, opposition MHA's could be paid 1/2 salary because they are not responsible for running the province. They also get a pension so they could cut there. Added responsibilites like ministers increase in pay could be in the $5000.00 range and their support staff could be reduced. There are a number of ways but all parties must bite the bullet. The opposition has only one idea that is cut number of MHA's, doesn't hurt their pockets does it.

  • Neil Kelly
    March 03, 2013 - 18:11

    This is a Great Idea!!! With expected cuts coming to the Justice Dept. as well, it would certainly be Government putting their Money where Their mouth is!!! It's one thing to Freeze MHA salaries for the next couple of years buts Lets cut some MHA positions and save some Real Money!!! Government should also look at appointed positions as well! Later!!

  • Graham
    March 03, 2013 - 18:10

    There she is with that LOST...CONFUSED..BEWILDERED look. OurPremier for now at least.....Come on 2015.

  • Mark
    March 03, 2013 - 17:52

    Proportional representation is working really well in places like Italy and Greece.

  • Jay
    March 03, 2013 - 12:47

    The number of seats in the House should be reduced to 36. Right now, most MHAs have approximately 6,000 voters in their districts. With a reduction to 36, they would have approximately 8,000 voters. This is certainly a manageable number. It would save money and reduce certain people's dependence upon government. It's too bad that the premier can't see the logic in this move.

  • darrell
    March 03, 2013 - 12:21

    Seriously folks, 3 different MHA's overseeing Mt. Pearl? Sullivan and Hunter separating Grand Falls and Windsor while Forsey is a few clicks away overseeing Bishop's Falls.......4 for Labrador (33,000 people), 3 in Corner Brook area, 7 in St. John's? Absolutely atrocious misuse of money and abuse of power.

  • fed up taxpayer
    March 03, 2013 - 11:40

    a crook is a crook, no matter what colour they wear. we are getting swindled by these politicians. just look at the old age home, OOPS! i mean the senate for example. the oldtimers and old betties collecting expences which they are not entitled to. if we were caught stealing from our employer we would be fired. and the time as come that we should have the right to fire these corrupt crooket politicians who steal from us.

  • GO Figure
    March 03, 2013 - 11:15

    There's a worker, who reports to a junior supervisor, who reports to a senior supervisor, who reports to an assistant manager, who reports to a manager, who reports to an assistant director, who reports to a director, who reports to an assistant deputy minister, who reports to a minister, who reports to the big lady herself. See the problem here? Oh yeah, don't forget, for every on of those "reports to", they don't have the skills needed to answer their own phone calls, or emails, so there's a clerk, secretary and personal assistant. It's totally top heavy with management/support and for some reason she thinks they make the government run?? Really Ms. Dunderdale? How long ago was it since you worked on a union level? Can you really forget how valuable you were as an employee and the contributions that you made then? I'm not usually irritated but it totally goes against what I believe a premier should be when I see that they totally forget their entry level employment roots and forget that it's not Jerome that makes things work, but it's the front line staff who provides the information that SHOULD BE LISTENED TOO. Ms. Dunderdale, get a reality check on the people who really provide a valuable service as opposed to those who just look good behind a desk and can smile and lie at the same time.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    March 03, 2013 - 11:06

    Reducing the number of MHAs as a way of addressing the province's deficit would be as effective as changing the air pressure in your tires to address your automobile's maintenance problems........... If anything, it would weaken the role and the independence of the House of Assembly while strengthening the position and the power of those who have put us in this mess --- the premier and cabinet...... It is this small and essentially autonomous group that has put us in this mess, and it is decisions, such as the $10-$15 billion of the people's money for 30-40 cent Muskrat Falls power (that can only be sold for 3-6 cents per KWh) that needs, on an urgent basis, to be reviewed --- The unneeded Muskrat Falls project should then be put on hold until the province's fiscal situation has improved, until it is confirmed that the power is needed, that it is cost-effective, a reasonable risk, and that the PEOPLE can afford it.

  • Sam
    March 03, 2013 - 10:20

    Let's put it this way, currently we have 48 mha's for 513,555 people. That's 10,699 people per MHA on average. Some have more, some have less. This has seriously got to be looked at. I say cut her down to 24 and save countless millions. An MHA can handle a little over 21,000 people I'd say. Especially for what they get paid.

  • Kent
    March 03, 2013 - 10:16

    48??????? Are these people out of their minds? 20 sounds more reasonable, and even that could probably be trimmed to 15.