23 March 2020

Experience Counts - COVID Economic Balls-Up Edition #nlpoli


On Friday Premier Dwight Ball took a question from reporters about the Liberal leadership that is still underway.

In a moment of egotistical boasting, Ball said it “takes experience to get through this crisis that we're dealing with. Someone said to me this morning it takes experience to do that job, and not often do you see a card on the back of a fire truck saying 'Novice Driver’”.

On Friday,  the provincial government issued an order under the Public Health Protection and Promotion Act that directed individuals entering Newfoundland and Labrador from out of the province – either originating or returning – to enter a mandatory period of isolation for 14 days regardless of whether they were exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or not.

Problem:  The Friday order, as written, effectively shut down the provincial economy and cut the province off from supplies of food and fuel.
All individuals arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador from outside the province must self-isolate for 14 days, including those individuals arriving from other provinces and territories in Canada.
The original order applied to *everyone*:
  •  crews on Marine Atlantic ferries,
  • tanker crews, including the folks coming to Come by Chance and the refinery, 
  • OCEANEX crews and other shipping companies that bring food, fuel, and essential supplies into the province,
  • people who work on one side of the border in Labrador and live on the other,
  • people involved in supplying electricity to the province, 
  • crews working on and supplying the offshore platforms,
  • medical personnel arriving to help treat patients or back-fill positions, 
  • airline crews and passengers of all kinds,
  • helicopter crews servicing the offshore rigs, which are outside the three-mile limit that is the province's jurisdiction, and
  • truck drivers who bring everything and anything into the province and who take manufactured goods out again.
No one in the provincial government, least of all the people who wrote up the order or the ones who approved it, realized what they were doing.

And so, after some uncertainty in the world outside government and a bunch of frantic calls and emails, the provincial government issued a second order the next day exempting all those people needed to keep the province running and keep people fed.

Someone check for a Novice Premier sign on the back of Dwight's car.

-srbp-