NL Budget 2016 Revolt

[Updated events, actions, demos, initiatives, etc., see link list at bottom of post]

There is a revolt brewing in Newfoundland and Labrador in response to an austerity budget introduced by the provincial government.

The 2016 provincial budget, released on April 14th, has a sweeping set of tax increases, fee increases, cuts to services, and a raft of other costs — including a deficit reduction levy, what some are calling a head tax and which has incited significant anger. Public anger came to the surface immediately following the release of the budget. It was obvious to everyone well before budget day that the province was in a dire fiscal situation; however, a number of factors came together to contribute to an explosion of anger.

Some of these factors include the fact that the newly elected provincial Liberal government, and its leader Dwight Ball, campaigned only a few months ago on a platform of not raising taxes (specifically not raising the HST) and not cutting jobs, both of which are now happening. There are also concerns that the tax and fee increases are regressive, forcing working families to shoulder more than their fair share of the burden. In this atmosphere of betrayal and inequity, long-standing grievances about the Muskrat Falls project, a multi-billion dollar mega-hydro dam under construction in Labrador, have resurfaced and come to the fore. This is only a snapshot of the sources of anger and there are many other specific issues and grievances.

More generally, it also should be noted that after a decade of prosperity, a decade during which oil revenues and Atlantic Accord payments contributed to an unprecedented economic boom in the province, it is a psychological blow as well. The people of the province, which has historically been known as an economic basket-case, were told that “have not would be no more,” a reference to the province no longer being on the receiving end of federal equalization payments. Overall, the pumped up NL nationalism of the past decade makes the return to “have not” all the more difficult to accept.

Just before the budget was released, I wrote an op-ed focused on building broad-based solidarity as a strategy to resist austerity. I noted that the society was fragmented in sectors, socio-economic and otherwise, that had been pitted against one another, and that only by overcoming this fragmentation could effective resistance be mobilized. I noted, furthermore, that “the fragmentation of society and the absence of collective attitudes is something that can very quickly be overcome.”

I had not realized just how quickly that could happen, had not anticipated the swiftness with which a decentralized, grassroots mobilization against the budget and against the government would materialize. I am not positioning this as an heroic narrative of overcoming — the revolt is still in its nascent form — but it would be hard for even the most cynical observers to dismiss the range of possibilities that have opened up that did not seem possible even a week ago.

Two days after the budget was announced, there was a grassroots demonstration and march in downtown St. John’s. There were petitions circulating. There was angry caller after angry caller on local open-line radio. There were emotional and heartfelt letters to the editor from mothers, from people with disabilities, from students. There have been letter writing and phone in campaigns directed at MHAs, calling on them to vote against the budget in the House of Assembly (presumably the vote will be in the next two weeks). Mutual aid networks have sprung up. More demonstrations are planned. Students are rallying on campuses throughout the province. And on, and on… (see link list at end of post)

People are coming together in spontaneous and organic acts of resistance. Something has been awakened in this province, some source of energy and solidarity not used in a long time.

All it will take now is a spark, a catalyst, for this emergent revolt, this uprising, to come into being.

IMG_4919

 DEMONSTRATIONS AND RALLIES

St. John’s Rally, April 21st

Happy Valley-Goose Bay Rally, April 21st 

SJC General Assembly on resistance to Budget 2016, April 21st

NAPE (union) Lunch-hour Walkout, April 22nd

Gambo, Rally, April 23rd See FB event page

Bonavista: Monday, April 25 12:30 AES Office – Confederation Drive

Bell Island: Tuesday, April 26 12:30 AES Office – Bennett Street

Harbour Grace: Wednesday, April 27 12:30 Current Courthouse – 33 Harvey Street

Wabush: Friday, April 29 12:30 Courthouse – Whiteway Drive

St. John’s March, April 29th

Corner Brook March, April 29th

Burin: Tuesday, May 3 12:30 Burin Health Centre

Grand Falls – Windsor: Wednesday, May 4 12:30 Law Courts Building

***call for a province-wide week of occupations and daily protests, May 2-8th***

GROUPS, COMMUNITY, MUTUAL AID

NL Mutual Aid network 

Coordinated Approach NL

Social Justice Cooperative NL Facebook

NL By the People for the People

Anti-Austerity NL

The Independent NL, articles on NL Budget 2016

Liberals’ austerity budget will hit most vulnerable hardest (News)
http://bit.ly/1SjrHSr

Budget 2016 provides little hope for the future (Letter)
http://bit.ly/22BSY1R

Budget 2016 “an attack on families” (Letter)
http://bit.ly/1Yyau68

Government “definitely does have a choice” in NL Budget 2016: economist (News)
http://bit.ly/262GCo3

As the wave breaks: NL budget 2016 (Opinion)
http://bit.ly/1VcVoW5

Is there a democratic alternative to austerity? (Opinion)
http://bit.ly/1M86RD0

Deficit crisis a chance for change (Opinion)
http://bit.ly/1RM94jL

Not “Our” Crisis (Opinion)
http://bit.ly/1QHakrW

 

Demonstrators march in downtown St. John's, April 16th.
Demonstrators march in downtown St. John’s, April 16th. Photo: Sue Bailey.

 

22 Comments

  1. D. Maria Paul
    April 19, 2016
    Reply

    I keep asking – as I’m sure others are- where did all the oil revenue go? Why aren’t the previous administration being required to answer to the obvious waste that’s left this province in such a fiscal mess? Why are those responsible not being held accountable for their obvious incompetence and failure to comply with concerns for
    the future of the NL province and its people – a job they are elected to do? Why was there not a contingency set up, in time of fiscal plenty, in order to guarantee a secure future? This is a blatant misrepresentation of duty, on the part of the past governments, -if not illegal it should be – and needs to be addressed.

  2. Veremundus
    April 19, 2016
    Reply

    Where is MUNFA, the MUN Faculty Association, in all of this? Sleeping? It’s time to wake up. Let’s not have the administration speak for the faculty.

  3. Barbara
    April 20, 2016
    Reply

    I am as angry as anyone else over this budget. I do understand the short fall the government is facing. What I don’t understand is that I have not heard anyone putting forward a better way, as surely there must be one, or maybe it’s just that those putting forward a better way are having their voices drowned out by the din coming from the throngs of people who are outraged. Surely there are other ways for this government to raise the needed revenue besides putting it on the backs of people who are already working hard to make ends meet!

  4. Carol
    April 20, 2016
    Reply

    Not only do they obtain revenue from the oil and taxes, hundreds of millions are received from Atlantic Lottery for the Newfoundland share yearly, as well as revenue from VLT’s, and the recycle fee for drink containers which they refund very little so more easy earned revenue, fees for tires, fees when you purchase new electronics, fees for oil disposal when you have an oil change done on a vehicle. They are collecting the highest tax in Canada from the taxpayers and to top this now a fee to live here. There should be a surplus in the desposit fee for recycable containers, tires etc. What happens to these monies?

  5. joanna mclean
    April 20, 2016
    Reply

    Why do the people the have to pay for Danny ‘s mistake he step down because he new what he had done to NL and now we have a new gov. they don’t know were to start but come on boys,” you know we can’t get it back in one year it take’s time” . I know you walk into a hard spot but stop and think we put you guys there for better us not make us suffer .The old people had lots of faith in you guys and now they are thinking you are on the PC side because this is what had happened back in the old days . So long the rich is richer it ok so the poor stay poorer they thought that was the right thing to do they never put the people first it was only about upper class .

  6. Jim Cornish
    April 20, 2016
    Reply

    The liberal government should be forced to resign based on how they won the election by lying, they knew the financial situation when they ran , so it was a falsified election..In this budget they are trying to the deficit under control in 4 years rather than spread it out over a longer period of time. Alberta has done a much better job in this regard, thus not being as severe on the tax payers.I guess the idea for 4 years is for the next election. By having another election now, each party will run on a platform to have a better budget, then the people will have spoken instead of being lied to.

  7. Florence
    April 20, 2016
    Reply

    One year it’s said that Newfoundland is a HAVE province and several years later we’re in the red beyond repair. The middle class and seniors are being hit again to pay for the mess the previous government left us in. It’s time for the people of NL speak up and let the government know that they are trimming in the wrong areas. They need to cut back drastically on spending, thin out the Chiefs, and cut back at the top. The people have been gouged enough, we can’t do it any more. Whatever happened to Government by the people for the people.?

  8. Harold Janes
    April 20, 2016
    Reply

    Don’t stop with the budget. Demand a fixed link or free ferry service to The mainland. The cost getting to and from is also killing the province. The ferry is the TCH.

    • Todd Collins
      April 20, 2016
      Reply

      Agreed, so much for the Term of Confederation!!

  9. Mick Carey
    April 20, 2016
    Reply

    I Have Posted Many Comments On Facebook with regards to this Shameful, Shameless ,Horrible Liberal Party ,Budget, They Have Put a rope around the Necks of All The people In This Province ,And Said It’s This way Or You Swing ,, Cathy Bennett ,Has Made some sweet Deals for herself With NB And Norcal oil Co. ,,And Nothing wrong with That But I would like to see Her Work For the Job She has With $8 .00 An Hour To Help A Little On The Situation and Also Mr Dwight No Balls ,,the same ,,,I was Disgusted When Cathy Bennett read Out The Budget Dwight Ball Just Held His Head in His Hands And Couldn’t Look at the Camera in Shame ,,This Budget will Hurt This Province Possibly Beyond Repair ,I For One Denounce This Liberal Government A No Confidence A Pack of Worthless Political Wolves In Sheep Clothing ,And I Hope a rally will be happening here In Central , Our Medical Health System Is Bad enough , Now this Budget will Put us In A Third World Class ,, Their Never was a Liberal Government That Did Any Good For This Province It has always Been Lies Just Like the Federal Pack In Ottawa ,Which also Lied about many issues ,That will Cost Great Impact On All Canadians ,In years to Come ,,How and Where did All The Have Money Province Go With out a Whisper ,But Sure has Blown Like the wind into Terrible bad Judgements On Deals That People Of This Province Were Never Told ,,,Money That has Blown Into Private sneaky Deals That Filled Someone Pockets and It sure wasn’t The People Of This Beautiful Province and It’s People that Received The Benefits ,, Honestly I Hope The whole Party is Thrown Out, So They will Not Receive the Huge Benefit Of A Exceptional Pension and Side Benefits ,,, If Not Now ,,,Much Harm will be done to The Labour Ind, The Health System Pressure On All The Elderly, That For The Grace Of God are somehow Living with Less Than the Refugees That are Now Coming Into To Country ,,,,These People Cathy Bennett and Dwight Ball Have to be Put to shame For The Non Caring ,Sneaky ,,Lying, Underhanded Self Gratification ,Hang E’m High Or Hang E’m Low But This Pack Of Wolves Have to Go ,,,,, God Bless Newfoundland We Stand On Guard For Thee ,,,So Much I want to say , another Time ,!!!!!!!

  10. Joshua Eason
    April 20, 2016
    Reply

    As the news of Ed Martin resigning because of family is just a cover up, Because the government want him gone, so he wants the easy way out. With that said were even more fucked we have no CEO to run the project, I think if the province can’t afford it, then it should be on hold to figure out how to keep this project going without affecting tax payers. I think as tax payers we need to know what revenue is coming in and where the money is being spent. The province needs to vote the Liberals out or they fix this crazy problem and not to put this on us. Come on Mr. Ball have some balls and do your job. Why should we pay for our government being so reckless and out of control? Now it’s time to step up and get our province back. If Alberta can have a 10.4 billion dollar deficit and not as much cuts as Newfoundland if they can do it, so can we. It’s a wack of shit for ball to say he has no other choice, but the thing is he do have a choice. There we go again lie after lie. So how can we have him as a leader? That’s not leadership.

  11. Florence Cumby
    April 20, 2016
    Reply

    When I marked my x for this Government I thought I was making a big mistake, It didn’t take long to prove me right. I am so outraged . Where did all the Money go.??? Do we have to ask. .We are having everything taken away from us while they sit on their big fat Wallets, Do you really think they care about the low income Families struggling as it is. .I don’t think so. They don’t have to worry about the Heat Bill, Electricity, or where is the Money going to come from for a few Groceries.. We will all soon be heating our Homes with a Oil Drum and to cook our Food. and why you’re at it you may as will take us back to the Horse and Cart. Thanks for nothing you worthless bunch… I just hope our MHA stands up for what is right.

  12. Bernadette
    April 20, 2016
    Reply

    Dwight….the Liberal party better enjoy the next four years. Don’t think for one second you will come out next election time and say but look what we done, because of the liberal party we are much better off, my answer “NO” the liberal party did not do that we the hard working people of NL done that. My daughter a second year MUN student said she is happy to have grown here and sad her kids won’t as she will NOT stay, sad as a mom to hear that but I was at a loss for words as to tell her why she should. You Dwight done this. So tired of hearing that it’s the last party that done this you knew what you were getting now OWN it. To ALL the liberal party I WONT forget………sham on you. Sorry I can’t make the upcoming rally in St. John’s got to go to work to bail my province out while the rich get richer off our backs

  13. Joe McCarthy
    April 20, 2016
    Reply

    I am a single senior and I had little but now I am financially strapped. You Dwight have put me in dire staits. . I may have to resort to personal bankruptcy….. hanging on the shreds right now . . Thought it was going to get better, but this is hell for me.

  14. Allan
    April 20, 2016
    Reply

    Many words can be said, But the short sweet and simple solution would be to have Ball and Bennett / party step down.. We will still have a problem, but solution will not happen overnight. Money as to come from someplace, But the people of Newfoundland is taxed to the maximum all ready. Eliminating any part of Health care is not the answer. we have an aging population. Muskrat Falls, is a big source of problems, shut it down , generate money over the next year or two etc., I do not think we will not get power to the rock in the next 10 years! The Federal Government should step in and help with the solution. God knows that we paid enough Federal tax to have them bail the government out!

  15. Terry Short
    April 21, 2016
    Reply

    It should come as no surprise tjat Newfoundlanders are rising up against the budget. This government campaigned on no new taxes and no job cuts and now are doing both. My guess is that the Confederation building will be seeing a large amount of visitors in the near future…rise up people of Newfoundland. Show the rest of the country how we treat lying politicians who tell you one thing and do the opposite…run em outta government. Run em outta town…those bastards have tacked on a 15 percent fee to my hotel stay in july…4 months after I booked it…I havent heard from the rental car company or westjet yet but I’m expecting to. Utter crap.

  16. Fred
    April 21, 2016
    Reply

    The government has lost the confidence of the people. They need to do the right and honorable thing and step down. Also, the people need to call on all MHAs to sit as independents and vote NO on the budget. Time is of the essence.
    Please sign and help spread this petition for the MHAs to do just that.
    https://www.change.org/p/liberal-mhas-the-people-of-nl-want-you-to-vote-against-budget-2016?recruiter=241633081&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_facebook_responsive&utm_term=des-lg-share_petition-custom_msg&fb_ref=Default

  17. Julia
    April 21, 2016
    Reply

    This budget will make newfoundland thing of the past.. young people will move out and start a new life in different provinces. I kniw I am going to be doing this . My husband started working away and it worked for us but with this budget we would be in the hole if we stay in nfld and if we move we will be better off . I can’t believe this is happening to nfld the government lied to get in and I don’t agree with that way to win ..

  18. tom collins
    April 21, 2016
    Reply

    well whats a guy to say.50 years young and working away from home for years to make ends meet,then these so called leaders sit in the house and scam the people year after year.the previous and current goverment shold be investegated for fraud.however we all know the goverment runs the police so that isnt going to happen.i think its time to take the law in our own hands and destroy the goverment through protest.get them out…..we all know pot is going to be legal in the near future why not do it home now that would boost the economy by millions .its time for a revelution.why arent the politicians stepping up and cutting there wages by 50 percent to help out .they only got to work a few years to get the pensions where as the middle class has to work forty.i plead with all my fellow newfoundlanders and labradorions to rally at every town hall in the province and get these sonsabitches out. i really cant understand where the billions from the oil went.our roads are the worst in the country .and i know this because ive travelled the country coast to coast the past ten years.our health care is a joke.the politicians are crooks and con artist and if they knock on my door again looking for a vote they may get a fright for trasspassing.kick them out cut there salarys and hang them in the streets for there injustices

  19. Paul Newell
    April 26, 2016
    Reply

    Shocking turn of events. Dwight Ball stated no Hst increases and no layoffs.. What kind of man makes promises like that and then states he was unaware of the state of the dficit. The deficit was close to 2 billion prior to election, he must have known. MR. Ball stated raising hst was a job killer. I guess he wants to kill jobs now. I am disgusted with the state of politics in this province. Tell them what they want to hear and then stik your boot in there necks.

  20. gary Sweeney
    April 26, 2016
    Reply

    How do we throw them out

  21. Paul Walsh
    May 3, 2016
    Reply

    I have read the situation going on in my home province. It is shameful what has happened to Newfoundland. We have leaders if you want to call them leaders bring us to the brink of despair. We have private companies like the home care industries milking the government for whatever they are worth while the owners of these companies go out and buy million dollar properties. These people sit down on their ass and wait for budgets to be delivered and then figure out ways to con the government out of the money they provide to help out society. We see people driving around in 100,000 dollar cars while others try to pay the rent. It is sad and I am glad I do not live there anymore. The few that take it all in in the province make me sick and I do not want to be around them. I know it is not fair that I can pull up roots and say good bye to the ass wholes who put us there but I do not have a choice. It is not the fact I cannot afford to live there I can but the few who rob (If you knew who was writing this you know who you are) the place makes me sick and I do not want to be there. Good Bye and good luck. May the force be with you

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