We’re gearing up for the Provincial Budget to come down on Tuesday, and after the bloodbath that was the Federal counterpart a month ago, many are left begging for mercy after hearing of all the cuts coming down the pipe.
Most of us still aren’t even sure how drastically the federal cash flow meltdown is going to affect us yet, since the people affected are still trying to crunch the numbers and find some way to make cuts but not slash any cushy jobs if they don’t absolutely have to.
We know that cuts are coming to ACOA, which likely means bad news for the business sector, cuts to CBC which means bad news for the arts sector, and cuts to pretty much everything else, which means bad news for just about everyone.
It sounds rough, but what’s done is done, now, and with Harper’s majority Government things will likely move through pretty quickly on the national front.
Now what about here closer to home? How will Kathy Dunderdale fair in her first budget as an elected Premier? Will Tom Marshall be the old faithful Robin Hood that he’s been in the past, and announce major infrastructure projects, tax benefits for seniors, and debt reduction strategies for students?
Probably not – for a couple reasons.
Government has to operate now without the Atlantic Accord money that’s been trickling down from Ottawa for the last several years. That’s roughly $500 million bucks or so. In the past it’s gone a long way for the provincial coffers and it’s impossible not to miss that kind of dough. Next, Provincial oil revenues are going to be cut almost in half next year, because of some maintenance going on with the oil platforms.
So taking both of that into account, it’s clear that something has to go. It’s not a matter of if there will be cuts – it’s a matter of where there will be cuts.
Well, for one, we know that infrastructure is going to take a huge hit, based on the Premier’s words a few weeks ago. In this region, that has many asking the question if Government still plans to pursue the new hospital for Springdale that it announced the feasibility study cash for last time around. Then the major road work that’s needed and the Community Centre for Baie Verte are also on the table.
Then there are the provincial government programs designed to help seniors, business, students, people on low income, and on and on and on. What are the chances that all of those can come out of this alive? Slim to none, really.
And of course, we can’t forget the big one. The elephant in the room, that everyone is talking about and no one understands: Muskrat falls.
With Danny’s legacy hanging in the balance, and a Government desperate to make it happen, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this budget, above everything else, needs to be as close to balanced as possible. The province isn’t going to be willing to take on much, if any, more debt, to add to what we have now, and what we’ll have then.
I can see it now – the cartoons, the editorials, the watercooler talks all across the province. All the things that has made life so comfortable over the last few years – there they go. Going, going, gone – straight over the rocky falls.
Could I be wrong? Oh without a doubt. About the where, that is. About the if? Not a chance.
You just wait.