September 14, 2006
Final Harris Report confirms federal presence trends in province
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister John Ottenheimer welcomed today�s release of the Harris Centre�s Final Report on federal presence in the province and emphasized that the conclusions provide independent confirmation of government�s concern about the level of federal presence in the province.
Minister Ottenheimer highlighted the report�s conclusion that Newfoundland and Labrador experienced a disproportionate decline in the number of federal jobs over the 1981-2005 period. "The tremendous decline in the federal public service in this province during the 1990s in particular, and the associated office downgrades and closures, had a significant impact on the Newfoundland and Labrador economy," noted Minister Ottenheimer. "We are also concerned that the report�s assertion that a significant portion of federal jobs in this province are of a service delivery nature, combined with the low number of federal executive positions, represents a disconnect between Newfoundland and Labrador and the development of federal policy."
The minister said government has taken every opportunity to raise this issue with the federal government and will continue to do so in the months ahead. "Premier Williams raised our government�s concern with the level of federal presence in the province with party leaders during the past federal election with a specific focus on the reinstatement of the Gander Weather office and the need for a Canadian Forces operational requirement at CFB Goose Bay," stated Minister Ottenheimer. "I too have raised the issue of federal presence with the federal ministers of Intergovernmental Affairs and National Defence and our provincial representative in the federal cabinet, the Honourable Loyola Hearn. In recent months, I have made representation to Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay to propose a new regional passport office in Newfoundland and Labrador to assist with the demand for passports associated with the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative."
In light of the report�s conclusions, the federal government and the province should collectively examine opportunities to enhance federal presence in Newfoundland and Labrador maintained Minister Ottenheimer. "We understand the Harris findings are based on events preceding the current federal government and we acknowledge the positive steps taken in the past few months to increase federal presence, including the reinstatement of the Gander Weather office and the commitments to establish a Rapid Reaction Army Battalion in Goose Bay and increase the number of military personnel in St. John�s," concluded Minister Ottenheimer. "The province looks forward to seeing these commitments implemented in full and is ready and willing to work with the federal government to facilitate these actions in any way that it can."
This report is the second produced by the Harris Centre on the issue of federal presence. Phase one of the report was released on November 22, 2005. Copies of both reports can be found online at //www.mun.ca/harriscentre/reports.php
Media contact: Bill Hickey, Communications, (709) 729-6985, 691-6390
2006 09 14 10:50 a.m.
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