Lorraine Michael Question Period (12.02.2013)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

In its fiscal update released today, government says spending is down by $270.1 million due to delayed infrastructure and program spending.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: What projects are not being done, and what services are people being denied?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, expenses will be down $207.6 million. There are no specific programs that we know of that are not going to be completed. We have asked the people who spend the money and get the programs out, we have said, is there anything you are not going to be doing this year? They have told us they are going to be doing everything. That is what is in the Budget.

We know based on past experience that sometimes they do not get it out. It is an estimate. It is no specific program. No program has been cut. No one has been told not to spend the money. We would be delighted if they would get it out. We want them to get it out, but we know based on past experience that sometimes it does not all get out. So there is no specific one, it is just an estimate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL:Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Premier then: Is the delay in projects due to the government cutting 2,000 public sector jobs and we do not have enough people to do the work in a timely way?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: No, Mr. Speaker.

While I am up, I think I did not answer the question from the hon. Leader of the Opposition. He asked me a question on 2012-2013. The answer to his question is that revenue is down $182 million, program expenses are down $191 million, and debt servicing expenses for 2012-2013 are down $50.9 million. I believe if he does the addition and subtraction he will get his answer.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I note the way in which the minister ignored the question that was put to him.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL:Mr. Speaker, government’s boasting of sound fiscal management and responsible decisions is cold comfort to the nearly 2,000 people summarily fired last spring to deal with a deficit government had been warned about for years.

I ask the Premier: How much did government save on the backs of those fired workers?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this government is very proud of its record of investment in the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is a different world today in Newfoundland and Labrador than it was in 2003. That is because of incredible investments in hospitals, in schools, in roads, in our public service too, I might say.

We have just negotiated great agreements with our unions, Mr. Speaker. There is no government before or will ever be any prouder of its public service than this government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In the government’s so-called Sustainability Plan, in year two they called for reviews of post-secondary education, regional health authorities, and unfunded pension liabilities.

I ask the Premier: Can she tell us what cuts are they expected to make in post-secondary education and health?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, I understand Memorial University is undergoing a review. They are trying to find efficiencies. We expect government departments and we expect entities to be as efficient as they can be and to spend the taxpayers’ money wisely. In the case of Memorial University, any efficiencies they find they can keep them and put them into other areas and programs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Will her government commit in this House to protecting the Defined Benefit Pension program of government employees?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, I think one thing that all of us recognize, including members of our own party, is that our pension plans are not sustainable. The math is changing, and people are finding that throughout the world.

What we want to do is work with our unions. I met with them last year. Mr. Kennedy met with them this year. We had experts meet with them again. We want to work with them in a co-operative and collaborative way because they have a lot of expertise they can bring to the table with respect to this. We have to fix these things because they are not sustainable as they are right now, and working together I am confident that we can do it.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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