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LETTER: What we achieved with the Atlantic Accord Review

Premier Dwight Ball and federal cabinet minister Seamus O’Regan shake hands after signing the renegotiated 2019 Atlantic Accord review Monday at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland in St. John’s.
Premier Dwight Ball and federal cabinet minister Seamus O’Regan shake hands after signing the renegotiated 2019 Atlantic Accord review Monday at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland in St. John’s. - Juanita Mercer

On April 1, 2019, I signed a landmark Atlantic Accord Agreement with federal minister Seamus O’Regan — an agreement that created a new and guaranteed $2.5-billion revenue stream for our province with no restrictions on its use. Our agreement also committed the federal government to strengthening joint management of our offshore resources. This is vital to ensuring our voice is heard in creating regulations that protect the environment, but avoid long development timelines. In addition, our agreement committed the federal government to help protect Newfoundlanders and Labradorians from changes in the cost of living caused by Muskrat Falls.

Since announcing this agreement, some misinformation has been circulated, and so I am writing to you today to correct that misinformation.

For example, there have been statements that the $2.5 billion is spread evenly over 38 years – averaging $66 million a year to the province.

That’s just wrong.

We negotiated an agreement that is “front-end loaded,” with approximately $1.9 billion, or 60 per cent, being received by 2030. That is an average of almost $173 million per year coming to our province, and I reiterate, there are no restrictions on how we use these funds. That upfront money comes when we need it most, and will help take us through an important period where you will see two important developments. One: our province will return to surplus. Two: we will see job growth and economic development in oil and gas, mining, aquaculture, farming, forestry, and technology; and we will see the people working in these growing industries benefit. One: our province will return to surplus. Two: we will see job growth and economic development in oil and gas, mining, aquaculture, farming, forestry, and technology; and we will see the people working in these growing industries benefit.

There have also been statements that we accepted the new $2.5-billion revenue stream for our province in exchange for stepping aside and letting the federal government impose regulation on our offshore. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have gone to Ottawa with minister Siobhan Coady to argue against Federal regulations that make our province several times slower than other countries in getting exploration and development done. With this new Atlantic Accord agreement, we have a deepened commitment to joint management that ensures we can put the right regulations in place - regulations that protect our ocean environment, but also allow for the timely advancement new developments that we need to create jobs and economic development.

Finally, there have been statements that our Atlantic Accord agreement cannot be reviewed or reopened ever again.

Also wrong.

We have enhanced the Atlantic Accord by adding a dispute settlement clause that exercised at any time; ensuring we always remain the principal beneficiaries of our offshore resources.

I know there is no one single agreement that would solve all our province’s challenges at once. But this agreement represents another significant part of our plan – yet another step on The Way Forward that we have successfully taken for the good of all residents. I look forward to speaking to that plan in the weeks ahead, because real leaders owe it to the people of the province to provide a clear direction for the future.

Dwight Ball

Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador

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