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Budget Speech


Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege today to present the first budget of this government under the leadership of Premier Danny Williams.

Prior to and during the election, we outlined a number of commitments to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. I would like to focus today on three major commitments:

  • First, to balance the budget on a cash basis in four years and restore sound fiscal management;
  • Second, to expand the economy and create jobs;

  • And third, to ensure that our health and education systems meet the needs of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and are sustainable into the future.

We will deliver on those commitments. It will not all happen in this budget year or the next. But we will get there.

When we came into office less than five months ago, our government fully expected to find a serious fiscal situation for 2004-05. But the more fundamental, and unexpected, problem was the magnitude of the deficits projected for the coming years, which would cause the debt to grow to a level that would compromise the fiscal integrity of the province.

It became clear very quickly that the deficit could not be eliminated by revenue growth alone as stated in the 2003 budget speech and that a period of restraint would have to be endured to turn the deficit momentum around. Mr. Speaker, no responsible government can ignore the stark arithmetic.

It was equally clear that we would have to refocus government to deliver enduring public services at lower costs. To be sustainable, government will have to become affordable.

The people of Newfoundland and Labrador understand that we have reached this critical point in our history as a province of Canada and that government must act now to put its fiscal house in order.

They also know that government cannot do this on its own. It will take a cooperative effort by government, the entire public service, communities, business and citizens generally to deal effectively with our financial challenges, to preserve the fiscal room to deliver high-quality community and social services, and to maintain a competitive environment for economic growth and job creation.

Mr. Speaker, this budget I am presenting today lays out our plan to get the job done. The plan is reasonable, responsible, and realistic and demonstrates this government’s commitment to serve the needs of the people by providing good government.

Newfoundland and Labrador - Main Economic Indicators


Employment and Unemployment Rate - 1997-2004f



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