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BUDGET 2019: Funding for ArtsNL, 50+ Clubs, Ocean tech

. - Barb Sweet

Ten line items in the provincial budget that may be of interest

Budget 2019 features plenty of previously announced and continuing spending.

There are some additional items tucked in the pages that may be of interest.

Here are ten items that may be of interest:

  1. $1 million increase to ArtsNL – There’s been a call to reach $5 million a year in funding for the Arts sector through ArtsNL by 2021. This year’s change brings the annual funding to just over $2.9 million.
  2. $250,000 for an ocean technology competition – “Diversify the economy” is the buzz phrase of the day, as it was when the government released a $1 million report on diversification on Monday, as received from McKinsey and Co. One of the areas being pushed for expansion and new jobs is ocean technology. There’s money (it was on budget ‘highlights’ sheets several times) for a Digital Ocean Centre of Excellence and Holyrood marine base expansion, but the contest is one, relatively small item meant to prod increased interest and competition in the sector.
  3. $2 million to support the Grieg aquaculture project – The Liberal government has previously talked about its planned support for the aquaculture project in Placentia Bay. This funding is described as repayable financial assistance.
  4. $8.9 million for the Waterford Hospital replacement – The new build is expected to start this year despite being hotly contested as of late. Its proposed location, at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s, would place it on a recognized flood plain.
  5. $2.8 million towards a new Francophone school – The funding is designated for continued planning only. Meanwhile, construction is slated to start on schools in Gander, Paradise, St. Alban’s and Coley’s Point. Another $14.5 million will go towards repairs and maintenance.
  6. $1 million for Labrador Corrections Facility – Funds for planning a new penitentiary in St. John’s was previously announced ($600,000), with less attention paid by the public to the construction planned this year for an extension to the facility in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
  7. $370,000 for midwifery services – There are plans to start offering the services to expectant families in the Gander area, the Health minister’s area, this spring.
  8. $9.3 million for Labrador Wellness Centre – Construction is expected to begin in 2019. That’s in addition to the start of the Placentia Regional Wellness Centre, with $3.2 million booked for that project this year.
  9. $270,000 more for provincial 50 Plus clubs – Groups around the province have been calling for more support, as club membership grows. Apart from the announced funding, the province is planning a new “seniors social inclusion initiative.”
  10.  $2 million for electric vehicle stations – There are many items in the provincial budget tied to greenhouse gas reductions, climate change programs and energy efficiency at home, but the support for enhancing the electric vehicle charging station network links to newly announced efforts for rate mitigation and maximizing local use of electricity. There is also $3.4 million for a Fuel Switching and Energy Efficiency in Public Buildings Program, again promoting electricity use. 

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1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

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