Facing a major debt problem, Premier Darrell Dexter is looking for some advice.
Dexter announced yesterday the creation of an economic advisory panel, a move made in response to this week’s Deloitte financial report that showed the province’s expenditures steadily rising as revenues were expected to flat-line, and even drop.
While the panel will be tasked with finding the best way to keep the province from falling into crushing debt, there are limits to its mandate.
About 20,000 civil servant contracts are up for negotiation this fall and their bargaining will play a huge role in the next several years. More contracts are also up for negotiation in the spring.
However, the panel won’t deal with those contracts or make any suggestions on how much civil servants should be paid. Dexter said it will instead focus on broader public policy issues.
“This is why we did this report, this is why we’re putting this information out there, this is why we have the economic advisory panel — because we want to get the government off of what was an unsustainable path and onto a sustainable path that can take the province forward,” he said.
Dexter faced several questions from reporters about the panel being a way to back out of election promises, which he vigorously denied.
“It’s our responsibility,” he said. “We are the point of departure on these issues. But we also want to have the benefit of the best possible advice we can get.”