The government sat around its round table until the wee hours of the morning and came out of its lair with “breaking news” announcements for its fading public. Recently, it said that we were back to a familiar place in Newfoundland and Labrador life and politics — dire straits.
To combat the all-encompassing financial stress that everyone would have to share, the government’s first strategy was to cut and slash unnecessary programs and people from the payroll.
So far, we have been told that about 30 people will lose their jobs, and supposedly, there are more to come. A second strategy was to temporarily suspend all hiring by government departments. Well, they’re not paying out anymore, but are they really saving anything?
The most recent breaking news was that the salaries of all MHAs have been frozen until 2015. Now, they may be onto something here. It’s also amazing that there was unanimous support on this by all political parties. Really, there has to be some public concern here. Can our MHAs afford to live on a mere $110,000 - $140,000 a year until 2015?
Is this a genuine example of leadership or an attempt to look good to the public? But you ask, why did they just freeze their salaries, why didn't they unanimously support a reduction in their base salaries by $10,000 to $15,000 each?
Now, that would be leadership. The average individual salary in Newfoundland and Labrador is $42,300. Can
we expect such leadership from all/any/one political party? Especially now that this government put us in dire straits in the first place? The people of Newfoundland and Labrador didn’t do it. If we can live on $42,300 a year, then MHAs can learn to live on $90,000 a year.
It’s time that this government or a future Newfoundland and Labrador government seriously consider amalgamating the 48 political districts to 40 or less.
In the past 20 years or so, previous governments who were in the same dire straits significantly reduced the size of school boards to save money, and later significantly reduced the number of provincial health boards to save money.
In the past year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper cut ACOA funding to all regional economic boards in Newfoundland and Labrador to save money. The slash and cut did not bother Mr. Harper at all, nor our elected members of Parliament.
Obviously, it didn’t bother the premier and her cabinet either, with the loss of jobs at 22 Regional Economic Development (RED) boards which were created in the first place to support entrepreneurs and create jobs throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.
We certainly didn’t see this government jump to the head of the line to support and maintain these regional boards. What happened to the million-and-a-half-dollar contribution which this provincial government saved by not supporting opportunities for
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians through the workings of these boards? Talk about loss of jobs, creativity and opportunity.
Everything that was in Newfoundland and Labrador to amalgamate or reduce in size has been done in the name of savings.
Everything, that is, except reducing political districts.
If we can amalgamate school boards, health boards, annihilate RED boards and amalgamate communities in the name of saving, then we can surely reduce number of MHAs and the size of cabinet and reduce where necessary.
Now, premier and cabinet, that’s leading by example. Step right up! It’s time to lead and do the right thing.
P.J. Dwyer writes from Gander.