Brazil’s Throne Speech response
The following is the response by the MHA for Conception Bay East – Bell Island, David Brazil, to the Speech from the Throne at the Opening Session of the Forty-Sixth General Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador on Monday, March 21, 2011:
It is a privilege to rise in this House, representing the people of the District of Conception Bay East & Bell Island, to second the motion that a Select Committee be appointed to draft an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.
First, I want to thank His Honour the Lieutenant Governor for speaking so well to the plan that will guide our government’s actions over the coming year.
On December 2, the people of Conception Bay East & Bell Island elected me to represent them in the people’s House of Assembly. I want to thank my constituents for entrusting me with the responsibility of standing up for their concerns and rights. I promise to work hard on your behalf, to listen to you, and represent you well in this hon. House.
I have to tell you it is an exciting time to be part of this government, under the guidance of our Premier Dunderdale. The future is bright and promising for this Province, and our Premier recently stated: There is a lot to be excited about right now in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The government has developed a comprehensive plan to continue on the path of success and our Province has never been in a stronger position. The promise of success is no longer something in the near or distant future, it is a realization that we can now feel today. The confidence we have as a Province today is highly contagious and makes us a leading force in this country.
During my campaign, I experienced a great sense of optimism from the people in my district who were buoyed by the good news that has become a reality. I was particularly struck by the message from the young people in my district who said the options for them to study and work in Newfoundland and Labrador were full of promise and offered them so many possibilities.
It is truly amazing when we look back at the achievements of our government over the past eight years. The blueprint this government developed in 2003, when we entered government, has been realized in many areas, bringing prosperity across this Province. We no longer have to dream about the positive future for this Province, because the truth is that we are living it right now.
We have continuously heard great news stories in such areas as tourism. For example, this past year alone over 500,000 non-resident visitors came to Newfoundland and Labrador spending in excess of $400 million. We saw housing starts increase by 18 per cent and our population continuing to increase for the second consecutive year. This really is the Province to be in and these are sure signs that our work and investments are succeeding.
When the people of our Province first voted our government into power, there was a sense of hope that the momentum would begin to change, that Newfoundland and Labrador would rise to its potential and become the leader we always knew it could be. Well, due in part to good planning, a strong vision, hard work, and fiscally sound decisions we met and surpassed those expectations.
We can now proudly say that we, Newfoundland and Labrador, are a have Province. We can now proudly say we, Newfoundland and Labrador, are the leader in growth across this country. We can now proudly say that the economists and the banks all over this country point to our Province as the example to watch.
The fact is we always knew we could do it; we just needed the right government to take the reins and guide us in a responsible manner. Sometimes we had to fight for what was ours, defying doubters who said it could not be done; but when you set your sights high, there will be those who will try to bring you down. Thankfully, they did not succeed, and our Province is leading this country in economic growth, social program development, and infrastructure spending.
Under Premier Dunderdale, we can look to the future, to further plan and guide this Province on a course of responsible growth and development. The commitment of responsible governance, fiscal responsibility, and vigilance in ensuring we receive maximum benefits from the development of our resources, will thrive under the guidance of Premier Dunderdale and this government.
The Budget is a prime example of fiscally sound decisions that our government is guided by. We know that striking the right balance is fundamental to our success, by investing in infrastructure and developing social programs, while at the same time reducing public debt, we place this Province in the best of situations for current and future generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Our investment in infrastructure, education, health care, natural resource development, innovation, and economic growth have given this Province a new energy, setting the example for the rest of the country on how it can be done.
The total infrastructure investment for the past year alone was over $1 billion. That is a significant investment that serves multiple purposes, in that it creates jobs, stimulates the economy, and provides new and improved infrastructure that benefits the people of the Province.
In my District of Conception Bay East & Bell Island, the government has invested a total of $7 million in road infrastructure since it came to power. The positive impact it has made on local jobs and improved services for the people in my district has been considerable.
As a government, we know that our Province will fare best when the government’s social and economic policies are designed to function in ways that complement one another. That is why we have invested in schools and programs that prepare people to take full advantage of the new opportunities that are arising from our new-found wealth.
For the first time in many generations, we have young people choosing to stay in this Province because the possibilities are better here than anywhere else. Our government has made huge advances to our education system, giving our young people the tools and environments necessary for them to learn and grow.
Since 2004, we have built six new schools in the Province, while eight others are under construction or in the planning phase. In addition, there have been 1,400 infrastructure projects approved province-wide. With each infrastructure project, we are ensuring that our students will have the needed training so they can succeed now and well into the future.
For young people who wish to continue their post-secondary studies, this Province remains the top choice because of decisions made that positively affect our post-secondary education system. Freezing tuition at Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic and helping students reduce their debt have helped our young people achieve their goals and receive national recognition.
Our Premier has consistently stated that supporting students in their learning will allow them to adapt, think outside the box, rise to meet challenges, and exceed expectations. We are giving them the tools so that they can achieve anything they want to, and become the leaders of the future.
Employment opportunities are steadily improving in Newfoundland and Labrador. In fact, the overall rate of employment growth in this Province last year was more than double the national rate, while the annual labour force increased 2.2 per cent to 259,900 and our participation rate rose by almost 1 per cent to stand at 60.2 per cent – the highest annual participation rate on record for this Province.
These numbers point to the fact that the plans we have laid out and the actions we are taking are working. Newfoundland and Labrador has been cited in the past as “the economic bright spot for 2010″ and “as the economic model for the rest of this country”.
When we entered into government the fiscal picture was not quite as bright as it is today. We knew that there would be big challenges to face and some of the decisions we had to make would not be popular. Yet, the people of this Province were patient. They supported us and we delivered.
We established agreements in the oil and gas industry that were unheard of before, but today are the standards in this Province; agreements that benefit fully and fairly both industry and the Province. We have built a reputation on providing a fair return to investors while maximizing the benefits for the Province. This is a good way to conduct business and will continue into future negotiations.
Looking ahead, we are developing green energy projects such as Muskrat Falls, building a sustainable economy around renewable, clean energy. The employment benefits alone from this project will be felt not only in Newfoundland and Labrador, but throughout Eastern and Central Canada. Our government has laid the foundation on which sustainable growth can be built for years to come. Investing in roads and highways, wharves and bridges, ferries, schools and hospitals, our government allocated a record $1 billion for provincial infrastructure investments last year for a total infrastructure strategy valued at more than $5 billion over the next several years.
Our ferry replacement strategy is working to replace old ferries and improve transportation services throughout the Province. We have seen great improvements on wharf systems in Bell Island that helped commuters and transportation move more freely. These investments have been successful because they generate economic activity and create investment optimism throughout the entire Province.
This government has a clear vision for the future and sees this Province build on a foundation established in the past eight years. It is clear that we will continue on the course of sustainable growth and responsible development. The future is incredibly promising in Newfoundland and Labrador. I am proud to be part of this government and look forward to working with my colleagues and the Premier to continue with the success we have achieved as a government.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.