What was once the most important and respected government department in our province has been reduced to just a shadow of its former glory under the current PC Government.
Budget 2014 reveals that just $17 million was spent on the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture last year, despite allocating $32 million this government could not and did not spend that money. In fact, all that they did spend was a mere two-tenths of one percentage of the total spending by this government last year. It's not even a blip that registers in the fiscal pie.
The fishery is a billion-dollar industry in Newfoundland and Labrador that employs close 18,400 people and supports hundreds of communities. Yet the minister only saw fit to spend just 53 per cent of the allocated budget.
Budget 2014 is no better, as it underscores that few new ideas are coming out of this government for the fishery.
With a budget of just $29 million, the fishery falls far off the list of top priorities when you consider that more than double that number was given to Tourism, Culture and Recreation. In fact, the Justice Department budget is eight times bigger than Fisheries and Aquaculture and the budget for Natural Resources is 22 times bigger, at $646 million compared to just $29 million.
Even the small amount of money allocated in Budget 2014 is being given to old programs. Marketing, for example, should be 50 per cent of the fisheries budget. Instead, the current government spent only about a million last year!
Contrast this with Alaska’s 2013 marketing budget of $21.3 Million.
If we don't market, we don't play!
This budget could have been an opportunity to prioritize fisheries and aquaculture and lead it back to greatness.
MHA for Carbonear-Harbour Grace