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BUDGET 2017: Liberals tackle 'culture of spending’

Finance Minister Cathy Bennett answers media questions prior to delivering Budget 2017 in the House of Assembly today.
Finance Minister Cathy Bennett answers media questions prior to delivering Budget 2017 in the House of Assembly today.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is looking to make legislative changes to implement a wage freeze for management and all non-union employees for the fiscal year.

The government said that the changes are in recognition of the province’s challenging fiscal situation, citing the importance of managing the $3.3 billion spent by government on benefits and salaries.

Finance Minister Cathy Bennett told members of the media today that no layoffs have been announced in the budget, but didn’t rule out the possibility of some layoffs in the future.

“We need to change the conversation about our province and about massive layoffs,” said Bennett.

Bennett also said that if there is a possibility to increase the efficiency of government programs, the government would communicate with their employees to improve services.

“Efficiencies can come in a variety of ways,” she said.

Concerning the unions, Bennett said that talks have begun.

“I have met with union leadership and, very frankly, said to them that we want to have a responsible conversation about the cost of salaries and benefits to the provincial government,” said Bennett.

Asked what she would tell a government employee, Bennett invited a dialogue with departments.

“An employee who is in the core public service, or any area of government, should understand that we’re working on the culture of spending,” said Bennett. “If they’ve got ideas or suggestions, I’d love to hear from them.” 

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