March 30, 2004
(Executive Council)


Investing in Infrastructure Represents an Investment into the Future

A key component of government�s two-pronged approach to implementing its agenda for the province is targeted investment in areas that will stimulate economic growth. As a result, Budget 2004 outlines strategic investments in several types of infrastructure, including technology, education and transportation systems.

"Investment in infrastructure is one of the most effective ways a government can stimulate economic growth, create jobs and attract private sector investment," said Premier Danny Williams. "More importantly, investing in infrastructure represents a smart and responsible investment into the future. While government is committed to dealing with the fiscal challenges facing this province, we also recognize that, in order to attract new investment and compete more successfully, we require a solid foundation of reliable infrastructure."

The following are highlights of strategic infrastructure investments in Budget 2004:

School capital and maintenance (Education)
Government has allocated $22.1 million to be spent on school capital construction projects for the 2004-05 fiscal year. This allocation includes funding for the Francophone school-community centre, extensions and renovations at Northshore Elementary in Meadows, and improvements of facilities at St. Bernard�s School in Witless Bay, for a total of $13.9 million. As well, $8.2 million is dedicated to major maintenance projects.

Broadband (Education)
In Budget 2004, government re-confirmed its commitment of $5 million to expand Broadband throughout the province, giving more schools and communities access to high-speed Internet.

Broadband (Innovation, Trade and Rural Development)
Budget 2004 provides $1.2 million to assist community and regional groups to leverage federal funding for Broadband expansion in support of local economic development.

Provincial roads (Transportation and Works)
Government has demonstrated its commitment to improving the provincial road network by adding $7 million to the Provincial Roads Program, for a total of $30 million. This investment is a necessity as our provincial road network is vital for transportation and our economy. And, the additional $7 million will also benefit the construction and spin-off industries. The additional $7 million investment in the Provincial Roads Program will be funded by the increase in vehicle registration fees. The total provincial-federal capital investment in provincial road improvements for 2004-05 is approximately $70 million.

Trans Labrador Highway (Transportation and Works)
Government has committed $24 million to the Trans Labrador Highway. Most of this money will be used to begin construction on phase three of the highway, pending environmental approval. A portion of the money will also go towards completion of Pinsent�s Arm Road and the South Feeder Bridge to complete phase two of the Trans Labrador Highway.

Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program (Transportation and Works)
Through the federal-provincial cost-shared Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program, $15.1 million is also available for improvements to the Trans Canada Highway (TCH). Work is about to start to replace the Penstock Bridge near Norris Arm. As well, government will upgrade and pave 42 kilometres of the TCH between Chance Cove and Goobies and also plans to replace the bridge at South Branch River.

Road Weather Information Systems (Transportation and Works)
In an effort to enhance safety on the provincial highway network, the provincial and federal governments will cost-share the $430,000 purchase of Road Weather Information Systems technology. Once in place, this system should allow more effective monitoring when a section of road begins freezing, resulting in quick and accurate response times.

Infrastructure Strategy (Transportation and Works)
Government recognizes that a reliable infrastructure system is critical for the future of this province. As such, government has committed $100,000 towards the development of an infrastructure strategy to guide investment in a manner that promotes growth. As well, the development of a multi-year roads program is underway to ensure that resources are allocated based on a hierarchy of need.

Maintenance (Transportation and Works)
Government has committed $2.1 million for maintenance and improvements to ferry terminals in the province, and continues its investment of $4 million for alterations and improvements to public buildings. Through the federal Labrador Coast Airstrip Restoration Program, $1 million is also available for equipment replacement and strip restoration to airstrips in Labrador.

Debt Relief (Municipal and Provincial Affairs)
An additional $9 million has been allocated for the Municipal Debt Relief program. This program was first introduced to help municipalities regain financial stability. This program will help about 25 rural towns substantially relieve their capital debt burden.

Municipal Infrastructure (Municipal and Provincial Affairs)
Municipal infrastructure improvements will continue with total expenditure to be maintained at $80 million in 2004-05 under programs including Multi-Year Capital Works, Municipal Capital Works and the Canada-Newfoundland Infrastructure programs. These programs cost-share various projects with municipal and federal governments, including water and sewer upgrades, improvements to municipal buildings, recreational facilities, firefighting equipment and roads. Infrastructure promotes job creation which, in turn, will strengthen our economy.

Media contact:
          Elizabeth Matthews, Office of the Premier (709) 729-3960
          Christine King, Transportation and Works (709) 729-1758
          Vanessa Colman-Sadd, Municipal and Provincial Affairs (709) 729-1983
          Lynn Salter, Education (709) 729-0048

2004 03 30                                         3:00 p.m.

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