Labrador MP looks back at the year gone by and ahead to 2019

Northern Pen - - Local Mayors Look Back At 2018 - BY DANETTE DOO­LEY SPE­CIAL TO THE LABRADORIAN LABRADOR

Just as Labrador MP Yvonne Jones is quick to high­light gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives that have ben­e­fit­ted peo­ple in the Big Land over the past year, Jones also speaks frankly about spe­cific chal­lenges faced in 2018.

Jones is also par­lia­men­tary sec­re­tary to In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal and North­ern Af­fairs and In­ter­nal Trade Min­is­ter, Do­minic LeBlanc.

Eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties in Labrador are con­tin­u­ing to grow, Jones said, not­ing four projects in the min­ing in­dus­try that will cre­ate hun­dreds of long-term, sus­tain­able jobs across Labrador.

In terms of in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments, she said, “We are con­tin­u­ing to com­plete the Trans-Labrador High­way, ex­pand upon air­ports across Labrador, and we’re spend­ing $25M in bring­ing fi­bre op­tic and im­proved in­ter­net ac­cess to com­mu­ni­ties all over Labrador.”

When asked about the air­port in Nain, Jones said her gov­ern­ment is work­ing with the Nu­natsi­avut Gov­ern­ment and its con­sul­tants to look at two phases for that project. The first phase will be up­grades and im­prove­ments to the cur­rent air­port while phase 2 in­cludes – even­tu­ally — re­plac­ing the air­port with a new air­port.

“In ad­di­tion to that we’ve in­vested over $50M to the Wabush Air­port,” Jones said.

There have also been numer­ous cul­tural and tourism-re­lated in­vest­ments through­out Labrador, Jones said, in­clud­ing the new cul­tural cen­tre in Nain as well as smaller projects in Hope­dale, Port Hope Simp­son, Bat­tle Har­bour and Red Bay.

Ef­forts have also been placed on in­fra­struc­ture to mod­ern­ize the fish­ery across Labrador, Jones said.

“Cur­rently, in Labrador to­day, you have the new­est crab pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity in the prov­ince in Mary’s Har­bour. And (the Labrador Shrimp Com­pany) is also cur­rently build­ing (in Mary’s Har­bour) what will be the new, most mod­ern cod pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity in the prov­ince,” Jones said.

On the so­cial side, Jones said, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has in­vested heav­ily in hous­ing over the past two years.

Part­ner­ships were made with the Nu­natsi­avut Gov­ern­ment that have seen the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in­vest $15M over three years and an­other $15M over the next five-10 years.

The in­vest­ments will help bridge the gap for hous­ing in re­mote and north­ern com­mu­ni­ties, Jones said.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has also ne­go­ti­ated a new hous­ing strat­egy with the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, Jones noted.

She said her gov­ern­ment has also made sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ments with the Innu Na­tions and Band Coun­cils of the First Na­tions of both She­shat­shiu and Nat­u­ashish.

“I’m very proud to say that, in the last year, we have opened the first youth care fa­cil­ity,” Jones said. “We’re also work­ing to open a new Women’s Shel­ter in She­shat­shiu.”

A new model for chil­dren in care will also make sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments to both com­mu­ni­ties in the fu­ture, she said.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has also se­cured a long-term lease for space at 5-Wing Goose Bay and has dou­bled spend­ing at the base.

“Our in­vest­ment has grown from $15M in 2013 to over $30M in the cur­rent year. And we con­tinue to in­vest in our mil­i­tary as­sets on the ground as a re­sult of an agree­ment that Canada has signed with both NO­RAD and NATO,” Jones said.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has also in­cor­po­rated more ac­tiv­i­ties for Cana­dian Rangers and has in­vested in a re­mote train­ing fa­cil­ity about 100 kms out­side Goose Bay, Jones said.

Jones said the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, in part­ner­ship with the De­part­ment of Na­tional De­fense and the Town of Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay, has se­cured a qual­ity wa­ter sup­ply for the town.

“We’ve also in­vested over $20M in in­fra­struc­ture for wa­ter and waste­water across Labrador over the last two-three years,” she said.

A new Labrador Well­ness Cen­tre is also in the works for Happy Val­ley-Goose Bay, Jones said.

All three lev­els of gov­ern­ment have in­vested in the cen­tre. Other high­lights

Among the high­lights of Jones’s year is the new trans­fer agree­ment be­tween the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments – a com­po­nent of which in­cludes more in­vest­ment in men­tal health ser­vices.

“Through the co­op­er­a­tion of the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment and work­ing with (Premier Dwight Ball), and MHAs from Labrador, we were fi­nally able to make a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in men­tal health ser­vices across Labrador,” she said.

The in­vest­ment in­cludes open­ing a walk-in men­tal health clinic in sev­eral re­gions of Labrador and al­low­ing for more in­hos­pi­tal beds for men­tal health pa­tients, Jones said.

The in­creased fo­cus on men­tal health ser­vices also puts two psy­chi­a­trists on the ground – a first for Labrador, she said.

“This is one of the proud­est pieces of work that I feel I have been able to do this year in part­ner­ship with the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.”

This past year the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has also gone to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble on a Land Claims and Ben­e­fits Agree­ment with Nu­natukavut (Com­mu­nity Coun­cil). A Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing (MOU) has been drafted, the MP said, and ne­go­ti­a­tions will con­tinue in 2019. Chal­lenges faced in 2018 When touch­ing upon some of the chal­lenges she’s faced this past year, Jones talks about try­ing to carve out re­source al­lo­ca­tions for In­dige­nous fish­ers and In­dige­nous groups in Labrador and those that are ad­ja­cent to the re­source.

“It’s a long process and an on­go­ing chal­lenge and I feel con­fi­dent that we’ll have pos­i­tive re­sults at the end of the day, but I’m cer­tainly not sat­is­fied yet,” she said.

Jones did note, how­ever, that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has in­vested over $17M in ports and har­bours in Labrador over the past year.

“In over the last two years we’ve in­vested $24M in ports and har­bours,” she said.

An­other chal­lenge has been in deal­ing with in­creased costs with liv­ing in the north, she said.

“Whether it’s peo­ple who are try­ing to feed their fam­i­lies on fixed in­come or whether it’s in­vest­ing more in in­fra­struc­ture in North­ern re­mote com­mu­ni­ties, the price tag is al­ways much higher.”

Jones said re­cent changes to the food se­cu­rity com­po­nent of the Nu­tri­tion North pro­gram will also help peo­ple in her rid­ing as well as other North­ern rid­ings across the coun­try.

Jones thanked the peo­ple of Labrador for their sup­port.

“And all the towns and com­pa­nies and busi­nesses that work hard ev­ery day to try and se­cure new pro­grams and new fund­ing for their com­mu­ni­ties,” she said. “With­out their work, my work would not be as ef­fec­tive.”

FILE PHOTO

Labrador MP Yvonne Jones said this was a re­ward­ing and chal­leng­ing year for the re­gion.

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