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March 13, 2006
(Executive Council)

Major capital investments in the works for Labrador as part of upcoming budget

Major capital investments are in the works for Labrador, said Premier Danny Williams today as he confirmed over $47.3 million will be allocated in Budget 2006 to proceed with new infrastructure investments totaling over $175 million in the next four years. The commitments include a health centre for Labrador West and performance space for Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Premier Williams announced the multi-million dollar investment while in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and pledged that additional significant initiatives would be forthcoming on budget day. Joining the Premier for the announcement were Paul Shelley, Minister responsible for Labrador Affairs, and Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment; Tom Hedderson, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, and John Hickey, Parliamentary Secretary for Labrador Affairs and MHA for Lake Melville.

"Our government is once again demonstrating its strong commitment to Labradorians," said Premier Williams. "Since we formed the government just over two years ago, our actions have been creating a positive environment for growth and prosperity in Labrador. We have made significant strides in a short period of time, and this is just a hint of what is to come."

"Renewing our commitment to Labrador is not just about dollars and cents. It�s about making the right choices to offer Labradorians a better quality of life with improved access to essential services," added Premier Williams. "New health care facilities, modernized college campuses, new and improved highways and performance space will deliver real, positive change in people�s lives and allow us to create the right environment for continued growth and optimism."

Celebrating our Culture
Government is announcing a $1.9 million provincial contribution to proceed with performance space in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Government will continue to explore a partnership with the federal government to share in the total project cost estimated at $4 million.

"We are proud that the youth of eastern Labrador will have the performance space they need to shine," said Premier Williams. "In particular, we would like to acknowledge the Town Council of Happy Valley-Goose Bay�s efforts to help make this a reality. We are also confident of a positive outcome to funding applications the town has made to the federal government. On this basis we are preparing to proceed with building the auditorium."

Improving Access to Health Services
Leading a range of new capital investments for Labrador, government will proceed this year with plans for a new long-term care facility, health centre and satellite dialysis unit totaling over an estimated $43.4 million. With this investment, government furthers its Blueprint pledge to provide more equitable access to health services.

Government will proceed with the development of a new long-term care facility in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Budget 2006 will allocate $1.2 million for the next phase of planning and detailed design work for a new 50-bed long-term care home. The total cost of the project is estimated at $17.5 million, which includes construction planned for 2007-08, and occupancy in 2009-10.

Budget 2006 will see a commitment to a new health centre in Labrador West. The total cost of this facility is estimated at $25 million, of which $1.5 million will be allocated in the Budget for the initial planning stages of a new centre. This follows the recent recommendations of an assessment completed for the Labrador-Grenfell Regional Integrated Health Authority of health care needs in the region. Design work will be performed this year, with construction in the following three years.

Government recently announced that in Budget 2006 it will improve kidney dialysis services in the region. Government will invest $917,300 to support a new satellite dialysis unit in Happy Valley-Goose Bay for dialysis patients.

Investing in Road Infrastructure
Budget 2006 will also include a $41.7 million commitment for continuation of the Trans Labrador Highway. Government will invest $26.7 million to further construct Phase III of the Trans Labrador Highway - including 50 kilometres near Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Cartwright - and another $15 million, subject to 50-50 federal-provincial cost-sharing, to start application of a sealed surface on Phase I of the Trans Labrador Highway between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Wabush. The total estimated cost to complete Phase III and begin the sealed surface of Phase I is approximately $172 million.

When completed in 2009, the 1,184-kilometreTrans Labrador Highway will run from L�Anse au Clair in the east to Labrador City in the west.

Enhancing Post-Secondary Infrastructure
In 2005, the provincial government outlined its vision for post-secondary education in the White Paper on Public Post-Secondary Education. Budget 2006 will provide $1 million to help address inadequate facility arrangements of the College of the North Atlantic in Labrador West. A further $1 million will be allocated for an extension on College of the North Atlantic�s campus in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

"We must help our students prepare for an economy of the future that is increasingly focused on technology and skilled labour," said Minister Shelley. "We are committed to health care, education and the arts throughout the province, and are proud to support Labrador�s strong culture. The funding announced today will allow us to address identified infrastructure needs and to further strengthen Labrador."

The commitments in Budget 2006 illustrate that work is continuing towards helping Labradorians to capture the opportunities presented by the region�s strong resource base and skilled, innovative communities. Since taking office in fall 2003, the current administration has made steady progress in establishing solid economic and social infrastructure in Labrador.

MHA John Hickey says he is elated with these announcements and the commitments made by the Premier to the people of Labrador. "I have been a strong voice working with our cabinet ministers and Premier, who has been a key champion in understanding the infrastructure needs and unique issues of Labrador. It is most gratifying to be a part of the provincial government and to see success in addressing these long outstanding issues."

Media contact:
Elizabeth Matthews, Office of the Premier, (709) 729-3960, 690-5500,
Alex Marland, Labrador Affairs, (709) 729-4062, 690-6047
John Hickey, MHA Lake Melville, (709) 896-3099

Labrador Capital Investments

Performance Space, Happy Valley-Goose Bay
Since Goose High School closed in 2003, Happy Valley-Goose Bay has been without an auditorium or performance space. The Department of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs has been working with other provincial departments, the federal government, the area MHA (John Hickey), the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and the Eastern Labrador Arts Alliance Inc. to identify a cost-effective solution to provide an appropriate performance space in the community. This has included examining potential sources of funding for the facility�s construction and its location.

Studies are underway to determine the best facility option adjacent to Mealy Mountain Collegiate and how to maintain the facility post-construction. It is anticipated that the capital construction cost will be roughly $4 million with the funding requirement being shared between the federal and provincial governments. The provincial government will commit $1.9 million towards the cost and will seek partnerships with the federal government for cost-sharing.

Long-Term Care Home, Happy Valley-Goose Bay
The Harry L. Paddon Home in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is more than 30 years old. The facility does not have a suitable environment for persons with high care needs. Currently, dementia residents must relocate to St. John�s or Corner Brook to avail of a secure and safe environment. Funding is being allocated in Budget 2006 for detailed design work on a new 50-bed facility to be located adjacent to the existing hospital on the site of the Labrador Health Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. This new facility will provide enhanced amenities for residents and will have a suitable environment for persons requiring dementia care. This follows a $200,000 investment made in Budget 2005 to begin planning for a new long-term care facility.

Labrador West Health Centre
The Captain William Jackman Memorial Hospital was constructed in the early 1960s. There are currently 20 beds to serve approximately 11,000 persons in Labrador West. In mid-2005, the Labrador-Grenfell Regional Integrated Health Authority engaged a consultant to complete an assessment of health care needs in the region. Recommendations included a health centre providing primary acute care, limited surgical and obstetrical services. The report also recommended a 28-bed facility, including 14 acute care beds and 14 long-term care beds.

Dialysis Services, Happy Valley-Goose Bay
On March 1, 2006, the Minister of Health and Community Services confirmed government�s commitment to enhancing dialysis services in Newfoundland and Labrador. Government will work in consultation with the Provincial Kidney Program staff and will begin planning immediately to identify an appropriate location for the dialysis unit, and begin recruitment and training efforts. The unit is expected to be operational within 18-24 months. In addition to a new satellite dialysis unit in Labrador, units will also be funded for St. Anthony and Burin.

College of the North Atlantic
College of the North Atlantic (CNA) in Labrador West is renting a facility that does not meet students� needs and is not cost-effective. CNA is renting and maintaining the former Notre Dame Academy at a cost of $835,000 annually. Purchasing the facility is not a cost-effective option. Budget 2006 will see $1 million allocated towards planning for an alternate facility in Labrador West that will meet the college�s needs.

A further $1 million will be allocated for an extension on College of the North Atlantic�s campus in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. The campus in Happy Valley-Goose Bay has seen significant increase in students and programs in the past three years. Projections indicate this will be a future growth area for post-secondary education and the campus is too small to meet the needs of the college community.

This is consistent with the policy direction outlined in the White Paper on Public Post-Secondary Education to ensure the physical space is suited to the programming needs of the community and its employers. The White Paper was highlighted in the 2004 Speech from the Throne and was commissioned as part of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador�s continued commitment to provide affordable and accessible post-secondary education opportunities.

2006 03 13                           12:30 p.m.

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