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Budget 2006 - The Right Choices : Momentum for Growth and Prosperity
March 30, 2006
(Executive Council)

The Right Choices: Growing the Economy; Investing in Infrastructure
$2 Billion Planned for Infrastructure over Six Years

The Williams government will modernize the province�s infrastructure and continue to grow the economy through an unprecedented investment in excess of $2 billion on infrastructure over the next six years, Premier Danny Williams announced today. More than $300 million is planned this year, marking the first instalment of the planned six-year expenditure.

As noted in government�s Blueprint, ongoing infrastructure improvements stimulate job creation in the short-term and make the economy more competitive in the long-term. A focused and planned six-year approach to infrastructure will foster economic growth, generating more than 4,500 full-time equivalent jobs over the next six years and putting an additional $200 million in the pockets of hard-working Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

"Our government has made the right choices during challenging times and now it is paying dividends. We are finally reaping the benefits of our resource revenues and this has given us the flexibility to increase our investment in targeted areas where it is needed," said Premier Williams. "We know that in order to stay competitive in a global economy we must provide the necessary infrastructure to support the on-going growth in the province. Our multi-year financial investments will ensure proper and strategic maintenance and growth of key infrastructure."

The capital investments outlined in Budget 2006 will help roads get much-needed improvements; modernize health facilities and seniors� housing; build new schools and preserve existing buildings; as well as upgrade our municipal infrastructure including water, sewage, local roads and recreation facilities.

Better Roads Lead to Greater Economic Opportunity
An efficient transportation system is the base for economic development and building vibrant regions across the province. A total of approximately $171 million will be spent this year on the construction and rehabilitation of provincial roads, highways and marine services to improve safety and increase efficiency.

"For years the necessary funding to properly maintain and preserve our road infrastructure was deferred, creating an infrastructure deficit in the province," said Trevor Taylor, Minister of Transportation and Works. "With this investment our government will alleviate some of the demands for new and replacement infrastructure and support capital projects in the areas of the greatest need."

Transportation investment highlights include:

  • $60 million in the Provincial Roads Program to improve road infrastructure � doubling the program�s investment since 2004;
  • $70.2 million to upgrade the Trans-Canada Highway; continue construction of the Trans-Labrador Highway Phase III - including 50 kilometres near Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Cartwright and subject to 50-50 federal-provincial cost-sharing, start application of a sealed surface on Phase I of the Trans-Labrador Highway between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Wabush;
  • $12.4 million towards summer and winter road maintenance, including funding to replace heavy equipment, such as snow plows, and to implement a salt management plan;
  • $10 million towards the development of the Torbay Bypass Road, along with the Team Gushue Highway, which once complete will connect the Outer Ring Road to Pitts Memorial Drive. The total estimated cost of the projects is $50 million, to be cost-shared with the federal and municipal governments;
  • $2.2 million to complete the Chateau Pond depot on the Trans-Labrador Highway and renovate the highway depot in Lumsden and a garage in Eastport; and,
  • $16.6 million, representing an approximate 68 per cent increase over last year, will be spent to update the province�s ferry fleet. The funding will be used to re-fit vessels, improve ferry terminals and wharves, as well as design two new vessels.
  • Leading-Edge Health Facilities
    Constructing leading-edge health facilities stimulates social and economic benefits across the province. Modern health centres improve access to services and assist with the recruitment and retention of health professionals. Budget 2006 includes $51.9 million for new health care infrastructure, renovations and repairs to existing health care facilities.

    "Across our province, we are faced with increased demands for health care infrastructure and repairs to existing facilities," said Health and Community Services Minister Tom Osborne. "Budget 2006 reflects a significant investment in infrastructure that will help to address immediate health care needs and respond to future demands."

    Health investment highlights include:

  • $1.1 million to construct a new 15-bed residential provincial treatment centre in Corner Brook for persons recovering from addictions. This will enable the treatment centre to provide enhanced treatment program for persons with addictions, including non-medical detox services. The overall project is $3 million;
  • $2.9 million to proceed with renovations to the old wing of the James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander. Renovations will include upgrades to patient rooms and washrooms, as well as improvements to the mechanical, electrical and ventilation systems;
  • $900,000 to complete construction of a new cancer clinic in Grand Falls-Windsor. Construction is proceeding on schedule with expected occupancy in September 2006;
  • $1.5 million to initiate the planning for a new health centre in Labrador West. 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 completed this year, with construction to take place in the following three years;
  • $25.2 million to proceed with long-term care facilities in Clarenville, Corner Brook and Happy Valley-Goose Bay. This includes $8 million to proceed with a new 44-bed long-term-care facility in Clarenville and $16 million to proceed with a new 188-bed long-term care home in Corner Brook. A further $1.2 million will be invested this year for detailed design work on a new 50-bed long term care facility in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. The new facility is expected to be completed in 2009-10;
  • This year $5.5 million is allocated to proceed with a new primary health clinic and renovate the Blue Crest Nursing Home in Grand Bank. The new primary health clinic will provide clinic and office space for up to five physicians, basic outpatient clinics, basic lab and x-ray services, and holding beds for short stays;
  • $1.7 million is allocated for three new renal dialysis units in Burin, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and St. Anthony. The units are expected to be operational within 18-24 months;
  • $600,000 is earmarked to begin planning for a new 64-bed facility in Lewisporte. Upon completion of a health care needs assessment, it was recommended that a new community health centre be constructed to replace the existing nursing home and primary health clinics in the area;
  • $500,000 is provided to assess long-term care priorities in St. John�s; and,
  • $12 million for repairs to hospitals and nursing homes to address fire and life safety, occupational health and safety and building integrity issues.
  • Enhancing Education Institutions
    To ensure students have access to high quality learning opportunities in safe and secure environments, Budget 2006 allocates a total of $66 million to modernize the province�s educational facilities.

    "We are making significant investments in infrastructure in both our K-12 and post-secondary systems this year which is in keeping with government�s recognition of education as a means for the growth and prosperity of our province," said Joan Burke, Minister of Education. "Our learning environments are a cornerstone of the education system that must be considered as we determine how best to serve our students and I look forward to announcing specific infrastructure projects in the weeks ahead."

    Education investment highlights include:

  • $13.4 million this year to continue re-development projects at the K-12 level including $5 million for Mobile, $7 million towards Herdman in Corner Brook and $1.4 million to Leary�s Brook in St. John�s;
  • $17.1 million is committed for maintenance of the province�s schools and $6.5 million will support the school boards� long-term facilities plans initiated last year;
  • At the post-secondary level, $20.4 million will be provided to Memorial University to address its infrastructure and maintenance requirements with the specific projects to be determined in consultation with government; and,
  • $8.6 million is allocated for College of the North Atlantic. This includes investments of $4.5 million for Prince Philip Drive Campus in St. John�s, $1 million to begin an extension to the Happy Valley-Goose Bay campus and $1 million to commence the development of a new site in Labrador West.
  • Modernizing Municipal Infrastructure, Strengthening Communities
    Municipalities provide the foundation for vibrant regional economies. To further regional sustainability and support the revitalization of rural economies, Budget 2006 includes new commitments of $33.2 million, to avail of four separate cost-shared funding programs to make improvements in municipal infrastructure in the province.

    Municipal investment highlights include:

  • $22.5 million under the Municipal Capital Works Program to cost-share with municipalities the development of priority infrastructure. A further $9 million will be spent under the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund, with a focus on "green" projects that improve the quality of the environment and contribute to cleaner air, soil and water; and,
  • $1 million this year under the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund II. This is the first instalment in a multi-year arrangement that will address large-scale infrastructure projects valued at over $10 million each. A further $700,000 will be invested under the Canada- Newfoundland and Labrador Infrastructure Program.
  • This also marks the second year of the Multi-Year Capital Works Program announced in 2005, in which the provincial government committed $85 million in funding over three years. $14.2 million is allocated this year for the development of major infrastructure projects � cost-shared on a 50/50 basis with municipalities � in 14 of the province's larger municipalities.

    "Municipal infrastructure continues to play an essential role in sustaining our communities and regions," said Municipal Affairs Minister Jack Byrne. "This level of funding and cooperation is critical as we continue to work together to renew and expand our infrastructure in areas such as water and sewer, roads, recreation facilities and waste management. When combined with federal-municipal contributions and the annualized multi-year capital works funding, this will result in a total investment of more than $100 million in municipal infrastructure in 06-07."

    Budget 2006 also invests $2.15 million to begin construction of a new court facility in Corner Brook which will greatly enhance the ability of both the Supreme and Provincial courts to better serve the public and ensure the security of all individuals who attend court and work in the system.

    Preserving our Infrastructure Investments
    On-going investments are required to maintain and preserve existing infrastructure. Government is committed to protecting our highway infrastructure and improving highway safety through enhanced enforcement of the law to ensure commercial trucks meet National Safety Code standards. To that end, Budget 2006 provides $283,500 to re-instate the commercial weigh scales in Port aux Basques and Foxtrap.

    The Port aux Basques service will be co-ordinated with the ferry schedule to capture commercial traffic coming from and going to Nova Scotia. The weigh scales at Foxtrap will open on a part-time, random basis in conjunction with the region's portable scales unit in order to improve enforcement. Both initiatives will help government protect its investments in roads and enhance highway safety through improved monitoring of commercial carriers and collection of data on convictions.

    Along with investments to maintain public buildings, Budget 2006 commits an additional $9.5 million to address the appropriate use of public space and vacant buildings. This is consistent with recommendations made by the Auditor General in his recent report.

    Media contact:

    David Salter, Transportation and Works, (709) 729-3015, 691-3577
    Tansy Mundon, Health and Community Services, (709) 729-1377, 685-1741
    Jacquelyn Howard, Education, (709) 729-0048, 689-2624
    John Tompkins, Municipal Affairs, (709) 729-1983, 699-2498

    2006 03 30                                      2:20 p.m.

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