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Slash ‘n’ spend


In 1989, when Clyde Wells and the provincial Liberals beat Tom Rideout's Progressive Conservatives, the promises came fast and furious. More health-care workers. More supports in the justice system. More social workers.

There were things that needed to be done, and the Wells administration was going to do them.
Months into that administration, the Liberals announced that the fiscal situation was far worse than they could have imagined. Not only would some of the planned improvements be put on hold, there would actually have to be cutbacks.
The Liberals ran the province until their defeat by Danny Williams and the Progressive Conservatives in 2003. The Williams administration announced that there would be big changes, that the public service would be streamlined, that there would be critical improvements to the way public services would be delivered.
Months after taking office, Williams announced that the province's fiscal situation was far worse than his government could have imagined during its opposition days, and that not everything that had been promised could be delivered — at least, not right away. In fact, there would have to be a pay freeze for public servants, and thousands of layoffs as well.
See a theme developing?
On Thursday, the provincial Liberals under Dwight Ball continued revealing their policies, the plan they expect to carry into the next election.
This announcement was a big one: the Liberals announced that, if elected, they would put the replacement of the Waterford Hospital very much on the front burner.
Design work would be done in 2016, and construction would start in 2017. They went even further, saying they would maintain full public operation of the facility, rather than bring in the private sector.
It is a project that, like the redevelopment of Her Majesty's Penitentiary, is long overdue. But, like all opposition plans, the politicians involved don't have to find the money to pay for it yet.
To be clear: this is a project that absolutely has to be done. Mental health has been the poor cousin of the health-care system in this province for far, far too long. The Liberals may well have the best of intentions in trying to replace a facility that dates back to 1855. It is no place for patients to receive treatment, let alone a place where you'd expect them to recover.
What we should be doing is watching the promises, and tabulating the potential costs.
Should the Liberals be elected in November, don't convince yourself just yet that the realities of growing provincial debt and low oil prices won't still be coming home to roost, just as they have been for the governing Progressive Conservatives in recent budgets.
The easiest thing in the world for a new government is to say, once again, "Gee, it's far worse in here than we expected" and ask for a bye.
Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. Fool us three times? By now, we shouldn't be surprised if they try.

There were things that needed to be done, and the Wells administration was going to do them.
Months into that administration, the Liberals announced that the fiscal situation was far worse than they could have imagined. Not only would some of the planned improvements be put on hold, there would actually have to be cutbacks.
The Liberals ran the province until their defeat by Danny Williams and the Progressive Conservatives in 2003. The Williams administration announced that there would be big changes, that the public service would be streamlined, that there would be critical improvements to the way public services would be delivered.
Months after taking office, Williams announced that the province's fiscal situation was far worse than his government could have imagined during its opposition days, and that not everything that had been promised could be delivered — at least, not right away. In fact, there would have to be a pay freeze for public servants, and thousands of layoffs as well.
See a theme developing?
On Thursday, the provincial Liberals under Dwight Ball continued revealing their policies, the plan they expect to carry into the next election.
This announcement was a big one: the Liberals announced that, if elected, they would put the replacement of the Waterford Hospital very much on the front burner.
Design work would be done in 2016, and construction would start in 2017. They went even further, saying they would maintain full public operation of the facility, rather than bring in the private sector.
It is a project that, like the redevelopment of Her Majesty's Penitentiary, is long overdue. But, like all opposition plans, the politicians involved don't have to find the money to pay for it yet.
To be clear: this is a project that absolutely has to be done. Mental health has been the poor cousin of the health-care system in this province for far, far too long. The Liberals may well have the best of intentions in trying to replace a facility that dates back to 1855. It is no place for patients to receive treatment, let alone a place where you'd expect them to recover.
What we should be doing is watching the promises, and tabulating the potential costs.
Should the Liberals be elected in November, don't convince yourself just yet that the realities of growing provincial debt and low oil prices won't still be coming home to roost, just as they have been for the governing Progressive Conservatives in recent budgets.
The easiest thing in the world for a new government is to say, once again, "Gee, it's far worse in here than we expected" and ask for a bye.
Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. Fool us three times? By now, we shouldn't be surprised if they try.

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