Anna Thistle, Liberal Opposition Critic for
Finance and MHA for the District of Grand Falls-Buchans says
the public accounts surplus announced yesterday is positive
for the province, and she is encouraging government to make it
work for the people by tackling the social deficit which
Finance minister Loyola Sullivan indicated
this week that government has a surplus of nearly $200 million
on the books for the fiscal year ending March 2006.
AOur province finds itself in a
position of having an improved fiscal outlook mainly due to
oil generating revenues, and this windfall now needs to be
directed at those who have been calling up on government for
AI encourage government to ensure
that this extra cash is spent on those who need it the most.@
Thistle says she would certainly like to
see the energy rebate program enhanced and also expanded to
include electricity, as other provinces, including New
Brunswick, are considering introducing.
AThis is something the minister was
advocating while in opposition several years ago and he should
now follow through on this commitment. The high cost of home
heating is creating a great deal of stress on families and
many are having to cut back on their food budget to pay a
hefty energy bill each month.
AFamilies in Newfoundland and
Labrador are facing insecure times as they struggle to cope
with the increased demands of their ever-diminishing income.
This is reflected in the increased usage of food banks, even
by those who are referred to as the working poor. People are
also having a hard time keeping up with the high cost of
drugs, particularly MS patients whose expensive medication is
not covered by government. Families in rural Newfoundland and
Labrador are also challenged, as they face temporary
separation and relocation to other provinces just to meet
their financial responsibilities. Government=s
failure to create economic opportunity has created a wave of
out-migration that is throwing many communities into a crisis.
This has lead to thousands lining up at job fairs for other
The Liberal MHA also points to the need for
a larger cash infusion into the health and educational sectors
to address the shortage of health care professionals, as well
as air quality problem in mould infested schools.
ASeniors, too, could use some of
this extra cash in the form of a HST break on funerals and
students carrying debt also need assistance in terms of
interest elimination to help stem out-migration.
AThe social deficit is growing in
our communities and has to be tackled. At a time when we are
told the gap between the richest families and the poorest
ones has widened in the past 5 years, government needs to
seize this opportunity to be socially responsible and
responsive. It has to deliver concrete initiatives that will
address the pressing social deficit that is negatively
impacting many families in our province. Investing in people
also makes good economic sense and ultimately, will pave the
way to a more prosperous province.@