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Innovation, Trade and Rural Development
June 26, 2009

Provincial Government Delivering on Commitment to Central Region

The Provincial Government made a commitment to the central region that it would assist displaced workers and strengthen the local economy in response to AbitibiBowater�s decision to pull out of Newfoundland and Labrador. To date, it has delivered on that commitment with close to $100 million in new investments, which includes in excess of $35 million for financial benefits for displaced workers, and anticipates continued investments in the future.

"The Provincial Government has stepped up and provided important investments and supports to the central region and its people," said the Honourable Shawn Skinner, Chair of the Ministerial Task established to respond to the mill�s closure. "In addition to protecting the interests of those impacted, our government has taken significant strides to stimulate and diversify the region�s economy. Our investments have ranged from $35 million for infrastructure projects to establishing government offices in the region to upgrades to the College of the North Atlantic in Grand Falls-Windsor. I also anticipate further economic development initiatives being announced in short order."

In response to various requests to create a community-focused economic development trust fund for the Exploits Region, Minister Skinner said today that the Provincial Government will not introduce a regional-specific fund.

"Some people in the region have been calling for the creation of a community trust fund, but government will not and cannot approach economic development in the province in this fashion," said Minister Skinner. "While we continue to work with the Community Development Committee � a dedicated 15-person team consisting of local community, business, and union leaders � to revitalize the central region, we are equally committed to the economic and social development of all areas and regions of the province. Our policies must balance regional requirements."

The Provincial Government has a number of economic development programs available to all regions of the province. In the central region, the Provincial Government has taken unprecedented measures, including the repatriation of hydro and fibre assets and making close to $100 million in new investments in the region. 

"We have committed to using the repatriated assets to attract industrial development in the area as part of our approach to strengthen and diversify the region�s economy," said Minister Skinner. "We are providing financial benefits to displaced workers and certain entitlements under the Work Force Reduction Program and Supplementary Retirement Allowance. Available power from the repatriated resources puts us in a stronger position to attract industrial opportunities for the region. However, as with any investment, the collective impact on the province as a whole must be measured as these resources are provincially owned."

The December 2008 decision by the Williams Government to repatriate resources from AbitibiBowater for breaching a century-old agreement enabled the Provincial Government to provide severance to displaced workers and introduce various support mechanisms.

Power is being generated at the hydroelectric facilities and going into the provincial grid. It is offsetting power at Bay d�Espoir and other hydroelectric facilities at the moment, where water is being stored.

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Media contact:
Scott Barfoot
Director of Communications
Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development
709-729-4570, 690-6290


Highlights of Investments and Work Completed to Date to
Respond to the Closure of the AbitibiBowater Mill


In addition to the annual $175 million to $200 million that the Provincial Government invests in the central region for everything from health care to education to road maintenance, in 2009-10 spending has been increased to include:

  • In excess of $35 million for financial benefits for workers displaced by the closure. Benefits include severance for mill workers (unionized and non-unionized), silviculturists and loggers, and certain entitlements under the Work Force Reduction Program and Supplementary Retirement Allowance Program;
  • In excess of $35 million on infrastructure projects, including millions for the Trans-Canada Highway within the region and $5.4 million for municipal-year capital works;
  • More than $5 million for repairs and renovations of health care facilities plus $4.6 million to improve the Central Newfoundland Regional Health Centre;
  • $2.3 million for forest and agricultural resource road construction;
  • $1.6 million for maintenance and improvements of Newfoundland Labrador Housing units;
  • $3.4 million to support the construction of an aquaculture facility in St. Albans;
  • $500,000 for upgrades to the College of the North Atlantic in Grand Falls-Windsor;
  • $445,000 is allocated for repairs and renovations of school facilities; and,
  • $5 million from the Federal Government�s Community Development Trust has been allocated to the Central Region for investment in economic development initiatives.
  • Other

  • As part of the Provincial Government�s approximate $800 million infrastructure investment, a residential treatment centre for youth with addictions will be established in Grand Falls-Windsor;
  • The relocation of the administration office for the Home Heating Rebate program and the Parental Benefits Program to Central region; and,
  • Commitment to offset the loss of tax revenue due to the close of the AbitibiBowater mill in the communities of Grand Falls-Windsor, Bishop�s Falls, Botwood, Buchans and Terra Nova.
  • Human Resources

  • Through the Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment, considerable emphasis has been placed on the development and implementation of a strategy for workers as they transition to new career opportunities and stages in their lives. To complement the resources through career work centres, support staff has been mobilized to deliver one-on-one counseling and services.
  • Economic Development

  • A Community Development Committee has been established to develop and implement strategies to help advance short- and long-term sector and project opportunities in the central region. The 15-person committee encompasses a wide range of community and business interests; and
  • Additionally, steps have been taken to secure sustainable business development opportunities that will strengthen and diversify the region�s economy. In consultation with on-the-ground stakeholders, sectors considered for development include knowledge-based services, information and communications services, tourism, valued-added production, and support services enterprises to emerging sectors in the central region.
  • 2009 06 26                                                 2:10 p.m.

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