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Feds will help province find Muskrat Falls solution, but Trudeau won't commit to specific number

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks in St. John’s during a campaign stop in the city Tuesday morning. Looking on are Nick Whalen (left), Liberal incumbent in St. John’s East, and Seamus O’Regan, Liberal incumbent in St. John’s South-Mount Pearl.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks in St. John’s during a campaign stop in the city Tuesday morning. Looking on are Nick Whalen (left), Liberal incumbent in St. John’s East, and Seamus O’Regan, Liberal incumbent in St. John’s South-Mount Pearl. - Glen Whiffen

Liberal Party Leader recommitted to meeting the 50 per cent threshold on wastewater management

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau wouldn’t commit to a specific number on rate mitigation for Newfoundland and Labrador, but says his party will work with the province on a solution.

Trudeau visited the province for the first time on the federal election campaign on Tuesday, making a policy announcement before facing questions from reporters. 

On rate mitigation, Trudeau wouldn’t commit to a specific figure on how much his party would commit to support the province. 

“We’ve had excellent conversations with Premier Ball on this. We’ll continue to work with him,” said Trudeau. 

“We were there to resolve the Atlantic Accord, we will be there on rate mitigation. I can tell you that we’re working hard on that and we’ll continue to work hard on that.”

Trudeau wouldn’t be specific on whether support for rate mitigation would come from a cash transfer from the federal to provincial government or through a rearrangement of financing for the $12.7-billion Muskrat Falls project. 

"I can tell you that we’re working hard on that and we’ll continue to work hard on that.” — Justin Trudeau on rate mitigation

In April, the provincial Liberals announced their rate mitigation plan ahead of the May provincial election campaign. Premier Dwight Ball’s plan calls for $725 million needed to keep electricity rates at 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour. About a quarter of that money — $200 million — will have to come from the federal government, listed under the heading “collaborate with government of Canada” in the plan. 

The Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities (PUB) is continuing its study of rate mitigation options for the province as the Muskrat Falls project nears completion. The complete range of options for rate mitigation won’t be fully known until the PUB completes its report, due on Dec. 31.

Help with wastewater

Meanwhile, a previous election promise from the federal Liberals got another commitment, four years after the initial promise. 

In 2015, Trudeau committed to a 50 per cent split of federal funding for upgrades to the Riverhead Wastewater Treatment Plant. Since then, costs for the upgrades have increased, leaving the provincial government and municipalities on the hook for the rest. The federal government had committed $112 million toward the upgrades, which accounted for 50 per cent of the project, but $112 million now amounts to 44 per cent of the cost of the upgrades.

Trudeau recommitted on Tuesday to meeting the 50 per cent threshold.

“There have been very positive conversations going on with local mayors. There have been some challenges on the municipal side. We continue to work in partnership with municipalities and the province to settle this issue,” said Trudeau. 

“We made the commitment to 50 per cent off the top and we are still committed to that amount of money.”

Twitter: @DavidMaherNL


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