This letter was originally published April 21, 2016 on the author’s blog and has been lightly edited and republished with the author’s permission.
My dear minister:
It’s been more than a week now since the unthinkable happened and overnight I saw $9,000 of my hard-earned income fly out the window. I thought the shock would ease as time wore on and that eventually I would forget the whole thing, but that’s what you and your newly found Liberal friends were counting on, wasn’t it?
You probably wouldn’t remember my wife and I. You came to our door during the election campaign last November. We welcomed you. You were pleasant and upbeat. You talked about a brighter tomorrow. You talked about the positive change you would help to bring to our province. We were impressed.
A little background, if you have time to bear with me. My wife and I are seniors. We devoted 40 or more years contributing to the well-being of our province and our country. We built a pension plan that would see us through our senior years. We happily paid our taxes knowing that our contribution made it possible to have adequate healthcare for all, social assistance for the less fortunate, literacy programs for adults, and good schools for our children. In our wildest dreams we never envisioned that our government would betray us, put a gun to our heads, and demand that we forfeit our financial security.
You were a former NDP member of the House of Assembly. Yet as a member of this government you closed schools, shut down literacy and other support programs, cut assistance to children and families. You chopped critical medical assistance to the poor, the mentally ill, and the elderly. You closed seniors centres (even as your esteemed leader was investing in a private seniors’ complex).
You have imposed intolerable hardship on the poor and the working poor.
I find it ironic that on the day you and your government launched this disastrous budget, the NDP Government of Alberta, which arguably was in just as bad a position, took the opposite approach. They introduced additional supports for children and families to the tune of $147 million. They invested half a billion in job training, $250 million in small business development and $34 billion in infrastructure over five years.
You are now party to the destruction of the middle class in this province. You have imposed intolerable hardship on the poor and the working poor. You have created all the conditions which will force our young people and their families to leave this province. I can assure you they will leave because they have no choice. In fact they are already leaving.
I am not asking you and your colleagues to assign blame but I see you are already floating your trial balloons in that regard: the Muskrat Falls project, always a good smokescreen to cover all the other bad stuff; the previous government of course; all those people in the outports who don’t deserve services because ‘they choose to live there’; the Aboriginal people in Labrador who get too much anyway; people on welfare who don’t want to work. The scapegoats are many and they are there for the taking. The truth is that you and your newfound friends built this disastrous plan yourselves, and you will wear the consequences. Or should I say that I and thousands like me will wear the consequences.
If cabinet ministers and ordinary MHAs have a shred of honour left, they will do the right thing and force this incompetent premier (Newfoundland is not a pharmacy) and an even more incompetent finance minister (Newfoundland is not a McDonald’s franchise) back to the drawing board for a creative approach to rebuilding our province. I have a six-year-old grandchild who will gladly help out.
Eric Colbourne / St. John’s
If you would like to share your story about how the provincial government’s austerity budget will affect you and/or your family, send your letter to justin@localhost.
Read The Independent’s ongoing coverage of austerity and the 2016 budget:
- “Dear people of Newfoundland and Labrador…” (Letter)
- The Labrador Problem (Opinion)
- A budget for the rich, by the rich (Opinion)
- Open letter to Premier, Cabinet Ministers & all MHAs (Letter)
- Solidarity and paying my dues (Opinion)
- Austerity hurts women, so we must shape our response accordingly (Opinion)
- Residents take anti-austerity fight to streets of St. John’s (News)
- Liberals’ austerity budget will hit most vulnerable hardest (News)
- Budget 2016 provides little hope for the future (Letter)
- Budget 2016 “an attack on families” (Letter)
- Government “definitely does have a choice” in NL Budget 2016: economist (News)
- As the wave breaks: NL budget 2016 (Opinion)
- Is there a democratic alternative to austerity? (Opinion)
- Deficit crisis a chance for change (Opinion)
- Not “Our” Crisis (Opinion)