Confederation Building, St. John's, NewfoundlandCUPE Newfoundland and Labrador is pleased to see increased spending in health care, public housing, and the cost of living; however, it is pivotal that this money be invested in strengthening and expanding our already existing public services and not on lining the pockets of private companies.

“This new budget saw increased spending in the health care system that is desperately needed; however, there is more to health care than doctors and nurses. Our system cannot function without the thousands of people working behind the scenes and alongside our doctors and nurses, and the government needs to invest in them too,” said CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador President Sherry Hillier.

The Furey government’s budget focuses entirely on hiring nurses and physicians, dedicating millions of dollars to recruitment and training of nurses. However, health care professionals, such as personal care attendants, are once again left behind despite the ever-expanding list of duties undertaken in an effort to fill gaps left by understaffing.

“The solution to the housing crisis impacting our province isn’t giving money to private businesses to build more rental properties that will just end up priced at ‘market value.’ Just this month in B.C., we saw the results of this type of plan with tiny, 330 square foot apartments going for over $1,600. That’s not affordable to anyone and we can’t let that happen here too,” said Hillier. “We need expanded public housing built and maintained by the public sector. Our tax dollars shouldn’t be going to line the pockets of private investors looking to make a profit off our housing crisis.”

The Federal Apartment Construction Loan Program, much like the Rental Housing Development Loan Program announced by the Furey government in this budget, aimed to encourage private developers to build more affordable housing. Though it did result in more units being built, their pricing was determined by the current rental market, making them largely unaffordable to those who need homes.

The Furey government’s announcement to integrate Newfoundland and Labrador Housing into core government does not ease these concerns. While Housing Minister Hutton says there will be no job losses or reductions as a result of the integration, we have little information at this point to reassure CUPE NL members whose jobs are impacted by this decision.

“Housing relief is greatly needed in Newfoundland and Labrador, but bringing the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation under government control is not the solution we were hoping for as they have a history of contracting out the work of our members. We want to see the expansion of public housing that is publicly funded and maintained, not private corporations offering housing that is subsidized by public money. We will work with the NL government to ensure that the money promised in this year’s budget is used to bolster public services, not cut them.”