To address the challenges our Province is facing and to prioritize and co-ordinate government policies so that they will increase the level of wealth in the economy, the Government is committed to implementing a strategic economic plan for Newfoundland and Labrador. This plan articulates a new vision for the future, outlines the guiding principles for economic development, and provides a policy framework to support our strategic industries.
A Vision for the Future
The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is at a turning point in its economic history. To improve our prospects for the future, fundamental changes in attitudes, industrial structure and government policy are required, changes which must be part of a new vision for the Province's economy.
Our economic vision for Newfoundland and Labrador is that of an enterprising, educated, distinctive and prosperous people working together to create a competitive economy based on innovation, creativity, productivity and quality.
A primary role of government in such a society will be to create a positive economic and social climate so that the private sector can respond to opportunities in the global marketplace. To improve our competitiveness, the ideals of productivity, quality, profitability and a passion for excellence must be adopted by government, business, labour and other groups.
Guiding Principles for Economic Development
To achieve our vision, the strategic economic plan is founded on a set of guiding principles for economic development in Newfoundland and Labrador:
- The Province must focus on strategic industries. With increasing competition in world markets and limits to growth in primary- resource industries, the Province must target high-value-added activities in which we have, or can develop, a competitive advantage.
- Our education and training system must adapt to the changing labour market demands for a highly skilled, innovative and adaptable workforce. In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, it is critical that governments, business and labour work together to improve the level and quality of education, training and re-training.
- Newfoundland and Labrador must be competitive both at home and in world markets. To improve our prospects for economic growth and development, and to maintain and expand local and export markets, the province must diversify its economic base by producing goods and services that are internationally competitive in price, quality and service.
- The private sector must be the engine of growth. While it is the role of government to create an economic and social environment that promotes competitiveness, it is the enterprising spirit of the private sector that will stimulate lasting economic growth.
- Industry must be innovative and technologically progressive to enhance productivity and competitiveness. A competitive advantage can be created by integrating advanced technologies in the workplace with the innovation, skills and creativity of our people.
- To achieve economic prosperity, there must be a consensus about the need for change and a commitment from governments, business, labour, academia and others to work together in building a competitive economy.
- Government policies and actions must have a developmental focus where the client comes first. The structure of government must be streamlined, efficient and responsive to public needs and to changes in the economy.
- The principle of sustainable economic development must be maintained. Our natural resources and environment must be managed to ensure that development can be sustained over the long term.
A Focus on Strategic Opportunities
Opportunities for growth in the resource, manufacturing and services sectors, combined with a supportive government policy framework, can produce the level of economic activity required to reduce economic disparities between this Province and the rest of Canada. To realize our development potential in spite of limited financial resources, we must concentrate our economic development efforts on business opportunities in areas where we have, or can develop, a competitive advantage.
If we build on our strengths, a logical economic focus is our marine environment - our 10,000 kilometres of coastline and all the resources of nearly 1,000,000 square kilometres of continental shelf. By heritage and by aptitude, our people are knowledgeable, hard-working, and enterprising in marine-related industries. In fish harvesting and processing, in marine communications, in cold ocean research and technology, in offshore oil and gas, in marine-related education and training and in marine-related tourism, we have unique advantages that enhance the competitiveness of our economy.
Another major strength is the Province's environment, culture and quality of life. Such factors are becoming more important in determining where entrepreneurs decide to locate, and these attributes need to be promoted to attract new investment, especially in tourism development.
The initiative, inherent skills, resourcefulness and determination of our people, who have survived and progressed here for five centuries, are also important strengths which need to be developed for the benefit of the Province. These attributes can provide the basis for maximizing our competitive advantages as we adapt to the changing global economy and pursue new opportunities for growth. Action is therefore required to implement human resource development initiatives which build on these personal qualities in order to ensure that we are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to develop all opportunities which can contribute to economic growth.
To capitalize on these strengths, Government must assume a leadership role in creating an economic and social environment in which the private sector can stimulate real economic growth. To create the right economic climate, Government must ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador industry is equipped with a well-trained, highly motivated and productive workforce which is technologically progressive. Specific initiatives in the areas of education, technology transfer, competitiveness, trade and marketing, and business development are keys to future economic expansion.
Economic Zones and Regions
In addition to implementing the general support policies for economic development identified above, it will also be the role of Government to ensure that each region of the Province is able to participate in and respond to the opportunities which arise. To help ensure this, the Province's five major administrative regions will be sub-divided into 17 economic planning zones (see following map).
This division will provide for better coordination and integration of economic planning and development activities, including the provision of the infrastructure and services that are needed. More specifically, the creation of these economic zones will facilitate or allow:
- the development of economic plans by the people in each zone;
- communities within each economic zone to undertake joint initiatives which will benefit the whole zone;
- Government to strengthen the major centres in each zone to ensure that they have the necessary infrastructure and services to attract new investment and build a strong economic base;
- the economic zones to work more efficiently and effectively with the five regional offices of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador (ENL) to ensure that each zone's economic plan is considered in the policy and program directions being pursued by ENL and other government agencies;
- the Province to promote more effectively the economic opportunities and strengths of each zone and region; and
- more regionalization of Government administration.
In addition to these advantages, the concept of economic zones will allow the unique characteristics of each region of Newfoundland and Labrador to be identified and better understood by both residents and non-residents. This is especially true for the Labrador region of our Province. While the vision, guiding principles, and general actions outlined in this document apply also to the Labrador region, it is recognized that the uniqueness of Labrador's geography, demography and ethnic diversity means that the region requires specific attention. Throughout this strategic economic plan there are actions which apply specifically to Labrador.
The Province is committed to a co-ordinated effort to develop fully the strengths of the Labrador region in order to improve employment and income prospects through the pursuit of sustainable economic activities based on viable and realistic opportunities. To accelerate this process, the Province will direct the Labrador regional office of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador to facilitate the integration of economic plans for the five economic zones into a regional economic plan for Labrador.
Underlying these economic plans will be the Province's strong commitment to complete the Trans-Labrador Highway through a cooperative effort with the Federal Government, as well as completing appropriate secondary roads and winter trails; to continue to support and facilitate the expansion of Labrador's resource industries, including hydro developments, and of the low-level military-training activities which are so vital to Happy Valley-Goose Bay; to work with aboriginal peoples in Labrador to ensure their input into Government policy decisions that particularly affect them; to support aboriginal peoples in formulating their own economic development strategies; and to continue to work with aboriginal peoples and the Federal Government to accelerate the settlement of land claims and the establishment of agreed levels of self-government.
A Cooperative Approach
The people of Newfoundland and Labrador have indicated that they believe all orders of government have a responsibility to contribute to economic development and that partnership among the federal, provincial and municipal governments is essential to future economic growth. It is counterproductive for one order of government to address economic problems in isolation from the others. There has to be a full, cooperative effort involving all orders of government, as well as the private sector and others with particular interests.
The public recognizes that governments do not have unlimited financial resources and that closer harmonization of programs and policies is thus required to avoid duplication and overlap.
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador views this strategic economic plan as a foundation on which all orders of government can actively cooperate to build an economy which is productive and competitive and to restore the confidence which is so necessary to allow Newfoundland and Labrador to contribute positively to the economy of our nation.