Budget 2020 delivered today in the province’s House of Assembly includes commitments to affordable child care and business supports, to improved access to prescription drugs, support for families and communities as the province adapts to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
One of the more eye-catching items in the budget list of commitments is a $25-a-day child care plan, something which Premier Andrew Furey had touted during his campaign for the provincial Liberal leadership; it will be introduced at the beginning of 2021.
Other Budget 2020 items include:
To achieve the goal of welcoming 2,500 new permanent residents to the province by 2022, $2.1 million is being allocated to market the province and provide enhanced supports to assist in newcomer settlement;
A $30 million Small Business Assistance Program to help offset expenses and innovation required to respond to COVID-19. $25 million will be directed towards small businesses and $5 million towards community-based organizations;
Broadening the eligibility under the Tourism and Hospitality Support Program to include our professional artists and musicians impacted by COVID-19;
The budget also includes $1 million in additional funding for ArtsNL, bringing the annual provincial investment to more than $3.9 million;
And support for the craft brewing industry with further discounts to be introduced that will provide savings for the industry of over $1 million;
Close to $100 million is available for such things as personal protective equipment, testing, and mobilizing efforts to support immunization in the event that a vaccine is discovered and safe for use;
14 new drugs for the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program and expanded Insulin Pump Program;
Continuing to transform the education system through the Education Action Plan with an investment of $22 million, as well as a $20 million investment to enhance digital learning through aptop and Chromebook purchases for junior high and high school students;
Increased tax on vaping and tobacco products to prevent usage and avoid long-term health care costs;
Over $200,000 for the Seniors’ Social Inclusion Initiative.
Budget 2020 features $609 million in infrastructure funding:
More than $170 million for provincial highways and bridges, including $39.8 million for the Trans-Labrador Highway;
$23 million for upgrades to existing health care facilities, as well as $22 million to support the replacement of capital equipment;
$16.4 million toward the construction of the adult mental health and addictions facility in St. John’s;
$46 million for ongoing construction of new schools in Gander, Paradise, Bay Roberts and St. Alban’s;
$5.5 million to advance the new correctional facility in St. John’s and expand the Labrador Corrections Facility in Happy Valley-Goose Bay; and
$400,000 to complete an engineering study on the scope and replacement costs of the wharf in Lewisporte to help inform future infrastructure investments.