June 23, 2017 12:44 pm
Updated: June 23, 2017 6:59 pm

Newfoundland needs to prepare for coming demographic time bomb, says auditor general

FILE: Newfoundland and Labrador Auditor General Terry Paddon speaks at a news conference on Thursday June 11, 2015.

Sue Baily/The Canadian Press

Newfoundland and Labrador is not prepared for the coming demographic time bomb that will see about a third of residents reach age 65 or older within 20 years, the province’s auditor general says.

In a report Friday, Terry Paddon said the province has not assessed future needs around aging, or planned for costs.

“Government does not have a long-term financial plan that includes the impact of changing demographics,” Paddon said in the report.

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“No department we audited had completed an analysis of their future costs related to changing demographics nor had there been any impact of changing demographics included in their expense forecasts.”

Health care already accounts for 40 per cent of government spending, and he said those costs could rise by about $900 million by 2036, when nearly a third of residents will be over age 65. Only 19 per cent of the population had reached that age as of last July 1.

It’s not just aging – he said people are increasingly moving within the province, changing education, health and municipal needs.

“The population is shifting from coastal communities to areas closer to the TransCanada Highway and the Avalon,” he said.

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Paddon’s report also delved into roadwork, finding provincial members’ priorities played a role in the selection of road projects at the Department of Transportation and Works.

“The department was not performing roadwork based on an objective evaluation process; MHA priorities factored into decision-making,” he said.

“We found issues with all stages of roadwork management, including planning, performance and monitoring.”

Finance Minister Cathy Bennett welcomed the report in a statement Friday, saying the government had identified many of the issues and was making improvements.

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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