Sunday, March 31, 2013

Call for a review of provincial tax cuts/increases.

Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy has now publicly acknowledged that increasing the HST remains a possibility for future budgets.  Due to the nature of consumer taxes, the HST falls more heavily on low and middle income people than on the wealthy.  A rough analysis of the HST proposal reaches the appalling conclusion that it would leave the majority of tax filers paying more taxes than they would have prior to the election of the PC government while leaving very large tax cuts for the wealthy largely intact.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Conversation Darin King Deleted

What follows is a facebook discussion under a post by Justice Minister Darin King that was later deleted.

More jobs; more opportunities; possible power agreement - another excellent day for Newfoundland and Labrador !
Government Secures Commitment from Vale for Underground Mine
Jodie Riggs It's not much of a consolation to the upwards of two thousand public and government employees, School Board and EAS employees who are not trades people, especially the single parents who are restricted to their rural communities. 
Cecilia Dodge I agree Jodie.
Darin King That number is totally inaccurate, Jodie. Minister Kennedy spoke to that yesterday in the Legislature. It's unfortunate that people are circulating the wrong information as we go through this process.
Jodie Riggs I'm including the EAS offices, the ABE instructors from CNA, as well as spin off layoffs such as childcare providers and economic
Jodie Riggs If you have the exact numbers Darin, I would love to know them.
Jodie Riggs PS Darin, note that I said UPWARDS, and didn't give an exact number.
Mary Mullins i could see closing out some eas offices. or cuting backbut not closing all of them, what is the people going to do.
Lenora Slaney It's a wonderful time to test the theory of duplicating services when all of these people are out of work. EAS is needed more then ever, it's not a time with all of these pending layoffs to close these offices especially when it is not a budget decisio...See More
Cecilia Dodge Well it look like the Tories are on a mission in regard to the 2013 Budget and that is to destroyed our province and to have Newfoundland and Labrador declared a THIRD WORLD PROVINCE NOT A HAVE PROVINCE........ WHICH WILL BE RIGHT UP STEVEN HARPER’S ALLEY
Freeman Legge Some bad when politicians start having hallucinations, because that what is happining to Kennedy, Kent, King and the rest of Dunderdale followers!
Joyce Lee Stacey well you`d never know NL was a have province with all these cut backs and job losses!! I think its time for steven Harper to go!
Jodie Riggs Darin, according to my research, the Job Cuts Breakdown includes the following:
485 core public service layoffs (just over 5% of the total workforce, where half of the positions were permanent) Gov. Boards & agencies will axe another 450 jobs (nearly 200 of those will come from health authorities) another 246 positions currently vacant will remain unfilled. In addition to staffing reductions another 190 were offered early retirement. Yet another 160 cuts are scheduled to come from the Teaching and School Administration…….CNA ABE instructors and the School Boards. Factor in the 226 EAS positions that are to eliminated due to the governments redirecting of funds, the total number thus far is approximately-
485+450+246+190+160+226 = 1757 CONFIRMED LAYOFFS PLUS ???? MORE ???? 
Anyone who knows ANYTHING about the SOCIAL and ECONOMIC RAMIFICATIONS of mass layoffs will know that where there are job losses, there are MORE job losses….. In this case, bumping into other positions, child care providers, building renters, cleaners and other small town business to name but a few…. There is NO WAY to determine actually numbers, but when I said UPWARDS of 2000 affected persons, it was based on FACTS! The bulk of this information came from information that you yourself forwarded to the Facebook and the remainder came from the media, most notably the CBC News. For you to say that “It’s unfortunate that people are circulating the wrong information as we go through this process”, infers that I am either lying or spreading rumors, shows how utterly disrespectful you are to those affected by this PROCESS as you call it, and to myself as a knowledgeable labour market information researcher and analyst through my work experience. It further points out how you utilize effective political tactics by ignoring the comments and concerns addressed and redirecting the stream of conversation back on to me to try and discredit myself as well as changing the subject. 
Now, to address the PROCESS, as you call it……This process will be detrimental to countless hardworking Newfoundlanders, the majority who are NOT trades people. These are mid level positions and include a large number of those who have families and earn far less than the trades workers or politicians. These include men and women who for the vast majority are NOT trained in the trades, who may not want to be trained in the trades, who may not be suitable to the trades, who are not able to participate in a mobile workforce or who CANNOT due to familial or other reasons, such as child care issues. 
Darin, this PROCESS will eliminate my job as an Employment Counsellor, where I help numerous clients proceed through the job loss cycle, determine and overcome barriers to employment, assess eligibility for interventions, guide career exploration suitability and decision making, research the labour market information and counsel clients who are seeking employment. This PROCESS affects my clients and me, and as a single parent and the main bread winner, I will now be competing with countless others for the limited job opportunities that are in our area, many of those affected by this so-called PROCESS. I am currently NOT eligible for retraining, and even if I did, my child’s father already leaves for employment at sea, and therefore I CANNOT avail of any of the opportunities outside of my area in the trades. This PROCESS as you so loosely coined it are people’s LIVELIHOODS. 
The focus of our provincial government is on the HAVES of the provinces, the under taxed business owners, wealthy oil and gas conglomerates, definitely not the reality, which is the Have-Nots; the elderly, those on fixed incomes, single parents, rural communities, our fragile animal kingdom and environment and hardworking Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Are taxes about to get even more regressive?

A recently published memo written by economist Wade Locke (who was hired by the provincial government to advise them on their "sustainability plan") has recommended a 2% increase in the HST to help raise revenues.  This would boost revenue by about $200 million, and would be a significant contribution to digging us out of the fiscal hole we are in due to the excesses of the Williams government (read more about our current budget challenges here).

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Oil and Inequality -- presentations and discussion on March 27th @ 7:30 pm at the Rocket Room

Oil: Boom, Bust and Bull, presented by Sean Cadigan


Promoting Inequality: Recent provincial policies, presented by Robert Sweeny

Rocket Room, 272 Water Street
Wednesday March 27, 7:30 pm

In the midst of the greatest boom in Newfoundland history, these illustrated presentations address some basic questions: What has the experience of the boom been for the people of the province in the past decade or so? What has the boom meant for working people and their organizations? How are we doing on reducing social inequality? How has provincial government policy affected the distribution of income? Are the rich really getting richer and the poor poorer? What effect have cuts to income tax made on after-tax revenues?  If incomes are raising, how is it that inequality continues to grow?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Right-Sizing" the Public Sector

This post was written by Tom Baird and appeared as a column in The Independent.

Sometime after Muskrat Falls was sanctioned and before a new public sector labour contract is to be negotiated, our provincial government revealed that we are facing an enormous $4 billion deficit over the next three years. On Tuesday the government will release a budget that is expected to include deep spending cuts. Thus begins a new era of austerity in Newfoundland and Labrador. How did this happen?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fracking Awareness Group Media Release

Port au Port/Bay St. George Fracking Awareness Group

Media Release
March 19, 2013

Re: Port au Port /Bay St. George Fracking Awareness Group is asking Government to take a Precautionary Approach  in the Regulation of Fracking for Oil and Gas.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Screening of Occupy Love in St. John's on April 11-12 @ the Lantern!

Everyone is invited to international launch of award-winning documentary film maker Velcrow Ripper's film, Occupy Love. The film will launch at The Lantern at 35 Barnes Road, April 11th and 12th at 7PM.

Check out the Facebook page:

There will be 110 tickets available for $10 each and they will go on sale at Fred's Records on Duckworth starting March 15th. There are also a small number of tickets available for free for those who can't afford tickets and would like to come out to the event. If this is you please email

Thanks, and see you there!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How to know about oil: Imre Szeman to give public lecture in St. John's

Imre Szeman is in St. John's on March 20th to give a talk titled "How to Know About Oil". Szeman's work discusses oil not only in terms of economics, but with regard to social, cultural, and political concerns. NL has, in recent decades, become something of a petroculture, yet questions about the ethics of oil have never been more pressing. Below is more information on the event (note that this is happening at MUN, just after INM Talking Circle).

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Letter from MP Gerry Byrne Regarding Proposals for Hydraulic Fracturing on the West Coast of Newfoundland

Dear Dr. Simpson:

Thank you for your email regarding the process of hydrocarbon extraction
through the process of hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’. While most oil
exploration and commercial production activity in Canada occurs exclusively
under provincial management and regulation, the federal government does
regulate offshore activity and that which takes place in the Canadian North.
Toxic chemicals, however, are under federal jurisdiction and the process of
fracking is understood to involve the introduction of various chemicals
including various acids and abrasives into the targeted rock formations and
is, therefore, very much under federal oversight.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Regular Talking Circles on the West Coast of Newfoundland to Address the Systemic Causes of Social and Environmental Injustice in the Province – First Talking Circle (March 17th)

The first in a series of Talking Circles (to rotate between St. Georges and Corner Brook) will be held on Sunday, March 17th starting at 2 pm in the Cultural Centre, St Georges. These circles will be aimed at addressing the systemic causes of social and environmental injustice in the Newfoundland and Labrador.
A talking circle is used as a way to organize group discussions in an egalitarian manner. Group members typically sit in a circle and discuss issues with simple rules: the talking stick, or other object, is passed around the circle, and the person holding the talking stick may speak though the "holder" may allow interjection. It can be a place where people come together for personal healing in search for new directions or to make amends. People participating are there to deal with whatever the subject is and talking stick encourages effective speaking and listening/acknowledging.