June 29, 2005
(Executive Council)

Atlantic Accord legislation given royal assent;
$2.6 billion to start flowing to Newfoundland and Labrador

Today marks the end of one journey and the start of another as Newfoundland and Labrador begins on the path to self-reliance says Premier Danny Williams. Today, Bill C-43 has received royal assent, officially passing the federal budget into law and enabling the province to receive the $2 billion up-front Atlantic Accord payment. With interest this will mean at least $2.6 billion flowing to Newfoundland and Labrador.

“This is indeed a momentous and proud day for Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Premier Williams. “It was in June 2004 that I received a commitment from Prime Minister Paul Martin that our province would be the principal beneficiary of our offshore resources and now, just more than one year later, we are seeing the fruition of that commitment. It has been a long road, however, our government was determined to achieve a more equitable and fair revenue sharing arrangement, and with the support of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we were successful. The Atlantic Accord not only has financial benefits for our province, but there is also a renewed sense of pride and self-confidence among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and real hope for a brighter more prosperous future.”

Loyola Sullivan, Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board, also expressed his satisfaction at finally seeing Bill C-43 pass into official law. “We have worked tirelessly on the Atlantic Accord and on becoming principal beneficiaries for over a year now, and to know the province will now receive the money is extremely rewarding,” said the minister. “There are still financial challenges ahead, including a large provincial deficit, but this up-front payment gives us another important means to help diversify the economy and get our province on sound fiscal footing.”

A new arrangement on the sharing of offshore resources was reached between the provincial and federal governments on January of this year, after months of intense discussions. After receiving third reading in the House of Commons on June 16, Bill C-43 was passed by the Senate on June 28 and received royal assent, the last step in making a bill into law, today. The bill had to become law in order for the federal Department of Finance to transfer the up-front Atlantic Accord payment to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The provincial government expects the money to be transferred in the coming days. Premier Williams said that options are still being reviewed about how to best allocate the money. “This money is an up-front payment to cover the next eight years, and we have an obligation to ensure that all possible options are explored and that this money is utilized for the maximum benefit of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. We are consulting with experts from the financial field and once decisions are made we will publicly explain how this money will be invested so that many generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians benefit,” he said. “We recognize that this money will enable our province to establish a stronger financial footing, however, we must also balance our important social responsibilities.”

Media contact:
Elizabeth Matthews, Office of the Premier, (709) 729-3960, 690-5550,
Diane Keough, Communications, Finance, (709) 729-6830 or (709) 685-4401

2005 06 29                                                 4:45 p.m.

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