The Premier has indicated that a new funding arrangement for municipalities will not be included in this years budget. She says the province needs more time.
Municipalities NL President Churence Rogers says a commitment from government for consultation and input would satisfy the organization. I can not imagine how a new long-term strategic plan for municipalities, which might include new taxation powers or shared revenues, could be developed with out consultation.
The organization is holding an emergency meeting this morning which will be followed by a news conference at 12:30 at the Capital Hotel in St. John's.
St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe held a news conference at city hall last Thursday in response to the news that a new municipal operating grant structure is at least another year away. He reiterated why the city, and municipalities across the province, need a new fiscal arrangement with the province. He said the way the provincial government taxes towns and cities is unfair, unacceptable and needs to be addressed, starting in the upcoming provincial budget.
The Premier's pre-budget comments have shaken up public sector unions. NAPE President Carol Furlong says governments intention of reducing public services by laying off public employees is creating high levels of anxiety. She says Newfoundland and Labrador is enjoying one of the best economies in the country and this is not the time to be cutting pubic services to the people of the province.
Furlong noted, “The irony of government announcing layoffs of service providers while announcing the hiring of a defeated Tory candidate as a contractual employee will not be lost on public employees and the citizens of the province. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador deserve better.”
The collective agreements covering all four provincial public sector unions expire this spring.
In the spring of 2004, public sector workers in Newfoundland struck for 27 days, returning to work only after the government brought in back-to-work legislation.
It should be interesting to watch the government in-consistent spin this week.