By Rosalyn Roy
Senior Staff Reporter
– with files from René J. Roy
PORT AUX BASQUES – Shortly after the budget dropped on Thursday, April 9, Liberal MHA Scott Reid (St. George’s – Humber) shared his thoughts.
“Well I think it’s a good budget. It strikes a balance between the need of the people that are out there and working within the fiscal constraints that the province has,” said Reid. “Only a few years ago we spent more on debt servicing than we spent on education in this province.”
When it comes to the high cost of living, Reid noted the reductions in sales tax on housing insurance and vehicle registration for one year as offering some relief. But what about the price of food, gas, heat and other necessities?
“I think there’s some things that have been to offset the huge costs that people are incurring,” said Reid. “There’s some relief for people who are most in need in terms of senior citizens and people who are on low incomes, on social assistance.”
Reid said it is on the provincial government to keep monitoring the situation and see how it evolves in the next few months as the conflict in the Ukraine after the invasion by Russian forces drags on, continuing to wreak havoc on global market oil prices.
The MHA was also pleased to see the new Corner Brook hospital and healthcare get a bump in funding. Improved cancer treatment options in the region are particularly important, as West coast patients must currently routinely travel to St. John’s for radiation and diagnostic procedures.
“There’s a shortage of healthcare professionals in the area and that needs to be addressed,” admitted Reid. “There’s funding there for additional seats in Memorial (University of NL) towards doctors and nurses as well, so I’m hopeful that will be part of the solution to that and will have an impact in our area.”
Closer to home, Reid was also pleased by the $1 million earmarked to convert the former College of the North Atlantic campus into a public building and courthouse for the Bay St. George area.
“That is long overdue for replacement,” said Reid of the current courthouse in Stephenville. “The building is not accessible and we’ve had Human Rights complaints about the building and people not being able to get in.”
The extra $10 million the province has earmarked for road repair and maintenance is also welcome news.
“I’m hoping we can avail of some of that funding this coming year. It’s always a very big issue in my district and things that I’ve been trying to solve for a number of years. So one of the things leading up to the budget, as an MHA, I was lobbying for additional money in the roads budget for this year.”
Some resurfacing was done in his district last summer.
“I’m confident that there will be a significant amount of road work in the Codroy Valley this year,” said Reid. “There are also issues with the Trans Canada Highway from South Branch down to Port aux Basques as well. So I’m hopeful, but we won’t know until the announcement is made on that. Hopefully we’ll see some repairs in that area as well, and the bridge there (MacDougalls). There’s been a lot of problems there so I’m hoping we can see some repairs to that this construction season as well.”
Overall Reid thinks the budget offers a balanced approach.
“I think it will have a positive impact on a lot of people in this province.”