Placentia hosts budget protest
The effects of the 2016 budget brought down by the Liberal government continues to reverberate around the province.
Protests of various cuts and tax hikes have been prevalent across the province and people are letting their local MHAs know that they’re not happy with how things are looking or where they’re going.
At the forefront of this season of discontent is the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public Employees (NAPE). Last week, they continued its provincewide protest tour with a stop in Placentia.
Attracting a crowd of more than 70 people, including municipal officials, public sector workers and other community members, they were there to stand up for the cuts to the town’s x-ray centre and school system.
Set to a soundtrack that included The Beatles, Twisted Sister and Shanneyganock, protesters wielded signs and chanted various slogans as a chorus of car horns responded to them.
“This budget that was brought in a few weeks back is having a negative effect on rural Newfoundland in particular,” NAPE leader Jerry Earle told the assembled masses. “It spans many demographics from healthcare to education to libraries to highways to our students to our seniors and the list is extensive.
“We make no apologies … for standing up for public services because they are an essential part of every community across this province.”
A common theme at NAPE protests in the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region has been pointing out the absence of local MHAs. It was done in Harbour Grace, although at the time MHA Pam Parsons was in a meeting concerning the courthouse, and it continued in Placentia.
Earle made note of the absence of Placentia-St. Mary’s MHA Sherry Gambin-Walsh and questioned why she wasn’t standing with her constituents.
“I just wish the Liberal MHAs and the cabinet could be as representative of the people as we have been across this province because their silence speaks volumes,” he said to a chorus of cheers. “They are not doing what you asked them to do, they are not doing what you elected them to do.”
Placentia Mayor Wayne Power Jr. bemoaned budget cuts that directly affect his town. Power mentioned the loss of a teacher at Laval High and the x-ray unit at the Placentia Health Centre dropping its after hours service.
“It’s unfortunate we have to gather in Placentia for a demonstration like this to voice our concerns with the budget,” said Power.
The mayor made mention of a conversation he had with Gambin-Walsh shortly after she was elected to represent the Placentia area. In that meeting, she told Power that his community was one of the more viable ones in rural Newfoundland.
It’s a statement that draws a confused look now.
“How can we go on and promote ourselves as a viable and positive community when we’re losing essential services?” said Power.
One thing is for certain though. NAPE is not letting this budget go without a fight.
“We will continue to fight on behalf of rural Newfoundland,” said Earle.