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NL Government: Speech from the Throne

April 4, 2019

The following are speaking notes delivered at the Opening of the Fourth Session of the Forty-Eighth General Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador by Her Honour The Honourable Judy M. Foote, PC, ONL, Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador:

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Speech from the Throne

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

I am very pleased to open the fourth session of the 48th General Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In opening the session, we respectfully acknowledge the province of Newfoundland and Labrador as the ancestral homelands of many diverse populations of Indigenous people who have contributed to 9,000 years of history including the Beothuk on the Island of Newfoundland. Today, this province is home to diverse populations of Indigenous and other people. We also acknowledge with respect the diverse histories and cultures of the Mi’kmaq, Innu, and Inuit.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are proud people, steadfast in their desire to sustain our province and enjoy the benefits of living in a place we love. While our province faces challenges at times, it is through determination, hard work, and perseverance that we succeed and prosper. It is with this strength and focus that we move forward. Our Government embraces the spirit of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in all that we do.

Our commitment to our people and our province is unwavering. With a strong focus on the future, Our Government will continue to solidify the social and economic foundation of our province and foster confidence and opportunity for all.

When Our Government was elected, it was clear that our province needed to build a stronger and smarter economy, that we needed to improve education and healthcare, that we needed to invest in our future, and that we needed to support safe and sustainable communities. Everyday, through The Way Forward, we see successes in these areas.

When Our Government was elected, we faced a fiscal situation that was unprecedented in our history. Our answer to these fiscal challenges continues to be balanced. We were left with an unfathomable annual deficit of over $2.7 billion for a population just over half a million people. Today, we have significantly reduced that number by $2 billion as we continue restoring fiscal balance.

Our Government has stabilized spending. While bringing government spending under control, we have worked closely with industry to attract investment that will advance projects in the mining and oil and gas sectors to continue driving economic activity.

Our Government is using every opportunity to make our province a great place to live, work, and raise a family. Through partnership and dialogue, we are strengthening the foundation of our province.

Our Government has a strong partnership with the Federal Government, and working together, we will position this province to achieve its potential. It is fitting that, on the seventieth anniversary of Confederation, celebrating our great union with the Government of Canada, My First Minister stood side by side with the Federal Government and announced a new approach that was built on partnership and dialogue to ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador is the principal beneficiary of the rich resources in our offshore.

The new revenue stream guaranteed by our agreement with the Government of Canada will deliver $2.5 billion to our province, with the majority of the revenues to come before 2030, when this province most needs it. With no restrictions on its use, this revenue will be used wisely. It will reduce our provincial net debt, reduce our interest payments, and help us stay the course for fiscal stability and return to surplus.

Our strengthened Atlantic Accord includes a dispute resolution mechanism that will ensure Newfoundland and Labrador’s rights are respected. This province will continue to receive 100 per cent of its offshore resource revenues, and benefit from their development just as if the resources were on land.

Looking beyond the $2.5 billion revenue stream and the immense benefits that it will bring to our province over the longer term, Our Government has also secured conditions that will ensure and support the future growth of offshore developments. The Way Forward for our province includes joint management of Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore development in areas such as land tenure, worker safety, regulatory efficiency, and regulator modernization. These combined measures will fuel a brighter future for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, for generations to come.

Empowering Women
Our Government recognizes and understands that issues affecting women are of great importance. As part of The Way Forward, Our Government committed to supporting and advancing the economic and social security of women and girls. Our Government is taking an “all of government” approach to issues impacting women and girls and we will ensure that our response to these issues best meets the needs of women and girls across the province.

Because of this focus Our Government has, for the first time in the history of our province, dedicated a ministerial portfolio with responsibility solely for the Status of Women. This is representative of the expanded commitment across Our Government to addressing matters affecting women and girls.

There have been many other achievements over the past year, from legislative changes to program initiatives, that were accomplished because of the solid commitment of Our Government to strengthening supports for women, ending violence and building both healthy relationships and healthy communities.

These achievements have been possible because of our commitment to collaborative working relationships between Our Government and stakeholders, including community partners, labour, the private sector and academia. Our Government will continue this commitment in the coming year.

Ending violence in all forms remains a critical focus. The second meeting of the full Justice Minister’s Committee on Violence against Women and Girls took place in February, with over 60 stakeholders from across sectors providing input regarding next steps in our collective work to end violence. In 2019, Our Government will continue to build on the work of the committee.

This Honourable House of Assembly adopted legislation in its last session to introduce paid family violence leave for workers and to expand the definition of family violence in the Family Violence Protection Act. Our Government will be building on these efforts by bringing forward new legislation, such as the Interpersonal Violence Disclosure Protocol – also known in the United Kingdom as Clare’s Law – aimed at increasing the safety of women in intimate relationships. The Interpersonal Violence Disclosure Protocol would allow police agencies, in some cases, to disclose information about a person’s criminal and other history to that person’s partner. This protocol would complement Our Government’s efforts to help make Newfoundland and Labrador a safer place for women and girls.

Our Government envisions a province free from all forms of violence. While we strive for that ideal, we also know that there are survivors who require support. In 2018, Our Government, together with community partners and the Government of Canada, launched a program to ensure that those who have experienced sexual violence are well informed about the legal system and understand their rights. This legal support program for survivors of sexual violence has served over 50 clients in its first six months of operation. The program helps break down barriers faced when encountering the justice system by providing up to four hours of free legal advice. We will be engaging in consultations across the province as we develop a new violence prevention strategy. This work will be guided and supported by a diverse committee of community stakeholders and senior staff from key government departments.

Advancing women in leadership is a key priority for Our Government. We need to see more women at decision making tables – in government, business, industry, and community. We will undertake initiatives to build, strengthen and advance the leadership of women in our province. We will also celebrate the successes of women who are flourishing in leadership roles. One such woman is Emily Bland, the “SEED-EO” of Project SucSeed, a local social enterprise that is helping communities take control of their food supply and providing education and work experience for at-risk youth. In 2018, Ms. Bland was recognized as one of the country’s Top 30 under 30 in Sustainability and won the Satchu Prize at The Next 36 Venture Day. Ms. Bland has a bright future and we wish her congratulations and continued success.

Working with Indigenous Communities
Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:
Our Government has made significant strides to build relationships with Indigenous people in our province and to move us toward reconciliation. Reconciliation is a journey and our commitment to that journey is clear and strong.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was created as a part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement to inform Canadians about Indian Residential Schools, and to guide a process of reconciliation. Of the 94 Calls to Action outlined by the Commission in 2015, approximately one-third are directed at provincial and territorial governments. Although reconciliation will occur over generations, with systemic changes necessary across all aspects of Canadian society, we all can and must take concrete steps to achieve reconciliation. We have engaged with provincial Indigenous Governments and Organizations about the recommendations involving Our Government, and are responding in ways that will build a better future while recognizing and addressing the challenges.

Reconciliation requires close partnership between Our Government and Indigenous Governments and Organizations. We have started on this path and will continue to partner with Indigenous people across the province to inform and monitor appropriate and relevant efforts to advance reconciliation now and into the future.

One way Our Government has moved to support Indigenous people is through our recognition that Indigenous people are currently underrepresented in the legal profession. To help improve this we have developed a partnership with the University of Saskatchewan to support Indigenous people in their pursuit of a legal education. To further build on this partnership Our Government has allocated two articling positions with the Department of Justice and Public Safety for those students upon graduation.

In the coming months, leaders of Indigenous Governments and Organizations will be invited to engage in the third annual Indigenous Leaders Roundtable with the Premier, to advance matters of mutual importance to Indigenous communities. At the first Indigenous Leaders Roundtable in 2017, a declaration was signed by Nunatsiavut Government, Innu Nation, NunatuKavut, Miawpukek First Nation, and Qalipu First Nation in support of the repatriation of the remains of Beothuk individuals held by National Museums Scotland. In January, National Museums Scotland approved the repatriation of the remains, and Our Government is working with the Government of Canada and Indigenous Governments and Organizations to return the Beothuk remains to our province, their home.

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