November 19, 2002
(Industry, Trade and Rural Development)


The following statement was issued today by Kelvin Parsons, Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

I rise in this honourable house this afternoon to inform members that I, along with Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Gerry Reid, and Minister of Health and Community Services and Minister Responsible for the Strategic Social Plan, Gerald Smith, attended the first ever Northern Peninsula Employment and Economic Summit held last Friday and Saturday in Plum Point.

The summit brought together representatives from two regional economic development boards, the Cormack-Grenfell Strategic Social Plan committee, municipalities, District 2 and 3 School Boards, Grenfell Regional Health Services, Western Regional Health Care Board, the private sector, and other community stakeholders. It was a tremendous two days in which we had the opportunity to learn more from area residents about their concerns and their view of the economic challenges being faced by the Northern Peninsula.

I was impressed with the leadership, vision and commitment shown by all participants, and I was especially pleased with the positive focus and the ‘can-do’ attitude that prevailed the entire two days. The summit co-chairs, Colleen Kennedy and Cyril Taylor, and their committee are to be congratulated for their foresight in organizing this event.

The Northern Peninsula was one of the hardest hit regions of the province as a result of the closure of the groundfishery. Government is very much aware and sensitive to the circumstances of communities on the Northern Peninsula and has been working very hard to address those circumstances with the communities themselves, primarily through the two regional economic development boards in the area. The two REDBs have developed long term strategic economic development plans for their areas with the input of all key stakeholders on the Northern Peninsula - individual communities, rural development associations, local business organizations and many others. Government has invested over $40 million to date to support the implementation of these strategic economic development plans and the priorities contained in them as identified by the communities themselves.

A recurrent theme throughout the entire summit was that of the residents and communities coming together to solve their own problems. The solution to the employment and economic woes of that region have to come from within the people themselves, and they have to be presented with a unified voice in pursuit of a common vision of the future. Government is prepared to work with area residents to implement the solutions that they recommend.

The focus of the summit was positive, the tone was positive and the feeling in the room on both days was upbeat. Residents of the Northern Peninsula are a proud and determined people, and it is clear that they will not let the challenges that they face overcome them. I look forward to working with the people of the Northern Peninsula as we collectively move forward to address their concerns.

2002 11 19                   2:00 p.m.


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