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Dear Editor, It is with some interest I have read that the Newfoundland government is surprised it has to pay 25 per cent import duty to Customs Canada on each of its new ferries built in Romania.  They should not be surprised, it is a long standing requirement.

He has rushed this process, making a 30-year commitment very late in the mandate of a tired PC government. They are so focused on pushing this through, they didn't stop to explore all the options available to provide the best, most efficient care for seniors in our province, including how to help them stay in their homes longer (this is preferred by seniors, and the most efficient option for care).

Deputy Premier Steve Kent recently said they are not sure of the exact cost to privatize long-term care but, regardless, they are confident there will be savings. Clearly the question here is, if they are so confident in those savings, why not publicly share the evidence? Hiding this evidence and expecting people to simply trust their judgment demonstrates their poor management and arrogance.

Liberals will not privatize long-term care, or any health care, for that matter.

Recently we committed to take action on one of the most important issues facing our province today - mental health. We committed that with the support of the people of the province, as a new Liberal government we will build a replacement for the Waterford Hospital, a facility that dates back to 1855.

Building a modern facility to provide better care, treatment and support to those struggling with mental health in our province is not a nice-to-have, it's a must-have. And it's long overdue.

We are committed to doing this in a responsible, open and transparent way. This means looking at all available options, engaging the public in that process, determining the best vehicle through which we build the facility, and scheduling that work to take advantage of low interest rates and the available local skilled workforce coming off large projects in 2017.

Our plan is to build the replacement for the Waterford Hospital in the most effective way possible. We will use the option that allows us to do that, whether it's through traditionally financed construction or through a negotiated arrangement with Newfoundland and Labrador companies.

The most effective approach will be determined through a value for money analysis - an infrastructure planning tool used worldwide. And in the end, the traditionally-financed construction option may very well bring the best value and would therefore be the approach we take.

But before we proceed, we believe it's prudent to consider all options. This includes alternatives such as performance-based infrastructure - an option that allows for public ownership, costs that are known up front, and ensures taxpayers are not financially on the hook for any overruns, delays or performance issues over the building's life.

Whichever construction tool is selected, the delivery of the healthcare services in the new mental health facility will be publicly delivered.

For Liberals, this is about due diligence, sharing information with the public, moving forward with a project that is absolutely necessary, and getting it right.

Dwight Ball

Leader of the Official Opposition


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