February 20, 2004
(Executive Council)

Premier announces departmental restructuring

Premier Danny Williams today announced a restructuring of government departments. These changes ensure that the major directions contained in the Blueprint, the government's election platform, will be reflected in the structure of government. These changes do not increase the size of the Cabinet but rather retain a focus on a lean administration, while also emphasizing a new integrated approach to governance.

"The restructuring we have announced today reflects our commitment to implement a governance structure which is efficient and fiscally responsible, while ensuring best practices in the delivery of vital programs and services for the people of the province," said Premier Williams. "As soon as we entered office, we began the process of determining the best structure of government and this has been done in a strategic, rational and well-planned manner. It was our intent to have a seamless transition with minimal interruption to the services we provide the public and minimal interference with the day-to-day activities of our employees."

"A key part of the government's economic strategy is the responsible development of the 
province's natural resources. To provide a coherent and aggressive approach, a new Department of Natural Resources is being created by merging the old departments of Mines and Energy and Forest Resources and Agrifoods," said the Premier. The new department's mandate will be to maximize the socio-economic opportunities which arise from the development of our natural resources, consistent with sound stewardship of the resource base.

"The renamed Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development (ITRD) is mandated to promote diversification and growth in Newfoundland and Labrador's economy, encouraging the application of knowledge and advanced technology to develop new businesses, and creating sustainable industries for the province," said the Premier. "The department will continue to promote trade, support business development, encourage regional development and cultivate jobs and businesses in rural communities. It will also aggressively pursue information technology opportunities, by promoting the sector and aligning government's own IT requirements with strategic growth opportunities."

A new Department of Business will be established in the coming months and will be headed by the Premier. The process of developing the new department is still evolving as the Premier continues to consult and meet with key stakeholders and business groups. This consultation will contribute to the framework of the department which will complement functions of the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. 

"I am pleased to report that government is establishing a new Rural Secretariat which builds on the framework of the Strategic Social Plan (SSP)," said the Premier. "The Rural Secretariat will promote sustainable economic and social development; carry out research and analysis of economic and social issues affecting rural Newfoundland and Labrador; ensure that rural concerns are considered throughout the provincial government and promoted at the federal level; and promote awareness of provincial and federal programs and services regarding rural communities." 

Since government was sworn-in on November 6, 2003, the government has examined the existing Strategic Social Plan and reached the conclusion that the SSP's vision of healthy vibrant communities built on local strengths and capacities is complementary to the vision of the Rural Secretariat. The network of SSP regions, each with a steering committee comprised of energetic and representative stakeholders, and supported by a government secretariat, can be used as the basis for developing the Rural Secretariat. The minister responsible for the Rural Secretariat will be Kathy Dunderdale, Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development.

Premier Williams said the government recognizes that economic goals will be facilitated by effective social policies. For example, programs which focus on the transition of youth into the labour market and employment programs which support the transition of people from income assistance to the workplace, are critical. Effective labour relations throughout the economy are also essential. To achieve these important goals, the Department of Human Resources and Employment will be strengthened by the integration of government's youth and employment programs, as well as the creation of a new Labour Relations Agency which will report to the minister. The new department will be called the Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment.

Over the last decade the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation has been transformed from an organization serving industrial, economic and social mandates to an organization focused solely on social housing. In recognition of this change, the corporation will now be accountable to the House of Assembly through the Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment. This shift will allow more effective integration of the social housing mandate with other programs of the department.

In the Blueprint it was recognized that responsible and sustainable development of the natural environment is the necessary foundation for long-term economic growth. A new Department of Environment and Conservation will be created to support this vision. "While economic development is a priority to the government, it must be achieved using a balanced approach which promotes sustainability," said the Premier. "Therefore, in addition to environmental protection and assessment, the new department will manage water resources, land, wildlife, inland fisheries, parks and natural areas." 

Education is both a social and economic priority. To promote an integrated approach to education across all age groups, the post-secondary education branch will be added to the Department of Education, creating a single administrative unit. The new Department of Education will promote access and opportunity.

To deliver on government's commitment to transparency and accountability in procurement, the Government Purchasing Agency will now be a separate, arms-length agency, reporting directly to the Minister of Government Services. Previously the agency operated as a division of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. The restructured Department of Government Services will also carry out Occupational Health and Safety services and will be responsible for the Office of the Queen's Printer.

The Department of Works, Services and Transportation will be renamed as the Department of Transportation and Works to reflect the movement of selected "services" to a different department.

Other departments are not affected by the restructuring. The Premier also confirmed there will be no relocation of divisions or branches from one region of the province to another as a result of the restructuring. 

Media contact: Elizabeth Matthews, Office of the Premier, (709)729-3960 or (709) 690-5500.


Premier Danny Williams confirmed today the assignment of ministers and parliamentary secretaries based on the restructuring of government.

Portfolio  Minister
Intergovernmental Affairs, and Business  Danny Williams
Innovation, Trade and Rural Development 
(also responsible for the Rural Secretariat)
Kathy Dunderdale
Human Resources, Labour and Employment 
(also responsible for Newfoundland and Labrador Housing 
and Responsible for the Status of Women) 
Joan Burke
Environment and Conservation Tom Osborne
Natural Resources (also House Leader) Ed Byrne
Education  John Ottenheimer
Government Services Dianne Whalen
Municipal and Provincial Affairs Jack Byrne
Transportation and Works, Aboriginal Affairs    Tom Rideout
Tourism, Culture and Recreation   Paul Shelley
Fisheries and Aquaculture, Labrador Affairs Trevor Taylor
Health and Community Services Elizabeth Marshall
Finance, President of Treasury Board Loyola Sullivan
Justice Tom Marshall


  • Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier - Terry French 

  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and Minister Responsible for Labrador Affairs - John Hickey

  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education - Tom Hedderson

  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Community Services - Ross Wiseman

  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment - Dave Denine


  • Rebecca Roome is appointed the new deputy minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment. She replaces Vivian Randell who tendered her resignation earlier this winter for March 31, 2004. Ms. Roome's appointment is effective immediately. Ms. Randell will continue as a special advisor to the Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment until she retires at the end of March.

  • Joe O'Neill assumes the role of Chief Executive Officer of the new Labour Relations Agency, reporting to the Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment.

  • Bruce Saunders assumes the role of deputy minister (acting) of Natural Resources.

  • Bruce Hollett is appointed as deputy minister of Education.

  • Terry Paddon is confirmed as deputy minister of Finance.

2004 02 20                                        1:05 p.m.

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