Ball talks dire finances at Rotary

Premier Dwight Ball speaks to the Rotary Club of St. John’s Thursday

James McLeod jmcleod@thetelegram.com
Published on January 14, 2016
Premier Dwight Ball speaks to the Rotary Club of St. John’s Thursday
James McLeod/The Telegram

Premier Dwight Ball wants people to know how serious the province’s fiscal situation is — he devoted basically his entire speech to it at the Rotary Club of St. John’s Thursday.

Ball has been delivering the message for the better part of a month now — first in a Christmas fiscal update, then in year-end media interviews, and then earlier this week when he announced that pre-budget consultations will last for the next 18 months.

The situation, he said Thursday, is unlike anything the province has faced before.

“We will rise to the challenge, because if we do nothing else, it will be the financiers, it will be the lenders, who determine the future of our province,” he said. “Simply put, our debt servicing will increase over $100 million per year. If we do that, that’s money that will go to financing institutions, and it’s less money that we have for the services Newfoundlanders and Labradorians want.”

The government’s deficit is nearly $2 billion, and the Liberals are looking for ideas on how to raise revenue and cut costs.

Ball once again said the government wants to hear from people through consultations, although so far he’s not getting the kind of feedback he wants.

On the government’s budget consultation site, the top suggestion for efficiency and innovation is for the government to stage a communist revolution.

Ball said he doesn’t plan on doing anything like that.

He also warned people it won’t be easy to cut the size of the civil service, because of the 50,000 people who work for the government, more than 36,000 work in health care and eduction, and most people don’t want those areas to be cut.

jmcleod@thetelegram.com Twitter: TelegramJames