NAPE president Carol Furlong and NAPE secretary treasurer Bert Blundon address members of the media Wednesday. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
The province's largest public-sector union is demanding Premier Kathy Dunderdale rethink this year's budget cuts in response to new polling data that shows the vast majority of people in the province don't like the budget cuts.
The poll, conducted by Harris-Decima between April 26 and May 5, shows that 71 per cent of respondents oppose the government's budget.
Moreover, 84 per cent of respondents think the government didn't do proper consultation and study before it drew up the budget; 63 per cent also said they think the budget numbers are based on inaccurate forecasts.
On March 26, the Progressive Conservative government un-veiled a budget that had spending cuts across nearly every department. At least 935 public-service workers were laid off, and hundreds more jobs were eliminated through early retirement and other measures.
On Tuesday afternoon, the House of Assembly formally voted and passed the budget, but Furlong said Dunderdale needs to go back and take another look.
"The premier had publicly stated that if people came forward with compelling arguments, if we can provide solid reasons to take another look at some of the decisions they've made, she is prepared to do that," Furlong said. "What more compelling argument can there be than a scientific poll indicating that 80 per cent of the population are opposed to the budget?"
In the House of Assembly Wednesday, Premier Kathy Dunderdale didn't respond to questions on the poll, commissioned by NAPE. But Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy found a few silver linings in NAPE's numbers.
"I saw in this poll when you go to the section called the economy buried in the back is that 62 per cent of the people feel that their personal or family situation is excellent or good right now, and 83 per cent feel that their personal or family situation is better or about the same it was five years ago," Kennedy said. "I guess the point is it is how you read the poll. You can interpret how you see it."
Liberal Leader Dwight Ball didn't have such a charitable reading of the data.
"Eighty-four per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians agree with us - proper consultations were not done. Failure to consult has become a hallmark of this government," Ball said.
New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael also brought up the NAPE poll in the House.
"I ask the premier: Faced with the hard facts, will she now allow a proper review of the budget cuts?" Michael said.
Furlong said she believes that the budget was all about priorities, and Kennedy and Dunderdale picked wrong.
"They have money for arenas. They have money for parties. They have money for dinners. They have money for windows," she said. "And yet, when we're talking about programs that affect the people of this province, the revenue is not there."
The poll surveyed 503 randomly selected people across the province; it has a margin of error of 4.4% 19 times out of 20.
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