I’m writing to express my concern with the decision of both levels of government to cut funding to the regional economic development boards (REDBs), which will put the final nail in the coffin for REDBs throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.
Many communities in our province, especially in rural regions, depend on REDBs as a catalyst for community economic development. The 19 existing REDBs have played a very important role in communities since their inception in 1995. The loss of funding from both the federal and provincial governments puts the sustainability of the boards in jeopardy.
The sudden decision to stop the funding to REDBs by the Dunderdale government is an indication of its lack of commitment to community economic development. At an investment of $1.25 million a year, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
A terrible waste
I have serious concerns about who will now step in to fill the void that will be left if the REDBs are not able to continue their operations. The volunteers and staff serving on these boards have made a tremendous contribution to economic development in this province, and to see all their efforts go down the drain is shameful.
In my own district of Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair, these boards have been a force for development, and they have guided the region through difficult economic change by fostering new developments. They have led community economic development projects in agriculture, transportation, technology, recreation and tourism. They have used their expertise to support communities in building infrastructure, documenting history, promoting culture and helping businesses grow and capture new opportunities.
I have seen first-hand the real contributions they make to rural regions of our province, and every effort must be made to ensure their long-term viability. They have been the regional go-to for economic development, and their efforts should be rewarded, not eliminated.
Yvonne Jones, MHA
Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair