Trudeau in N.L. for announcements about child care, Muskrat Falls hydro project

Trudeau in Newfoundland

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Newfoundland and Labrador today to make announcements about child care and about the province's troubled Muskrat Falls hydroelectricity project, which threatens to compound provincial financial woes.

Trudeau will announce in St. John's that Newfoundland and Labrador is becoming the fourth province to strike a deal with Ottawa for a $10-a-day child-care program, The Canadian Press has learned.

A provincial government news release says he will also join Furey for an announcement about managing electricity rates in the province that are expected to spike because of the over-budget Muskrat Falls project.

Furey has said that when the project comes online in November, the province will need another $600 million a year to pay bills that will come due.

Without help, he says, that cost could be borne by the province's ratepayers, who would see their electricity bills nearly double.

Trudeau's Liberals hold six of the province's seven seats, and his visit comes amid speculation of a federal election call in the coming weeks.

Ottawa previously backed Muskrat Falls with billions of dollars in loan guarantees, and in December, Trudeau announced he had appointed Serge Dupont, former deputy clerk of the Privy Council, to oversee negotiations with the province about financially restructuring the project.

Sanctioned in 2012 at a cost of $7.4 billion, costs for the Labrador hydroelectric project have since ballooned to $13.1 billion.

Furey has likened Muskrat Falls to an "anchor around the collective souls" of the province. Its looming impact on provincial finances is set against an already grim financial situation: the province projected an $826-million deficit in its latest budget, coupled with $17.2 billion in net debt.

Furey has said repeatedly that solving the Muskrat Falls problem is his top financial priority.

The Innu Nation said in a statement Tuesday it has been left in the dark about any rate mitigation announcement, despite being assured it would be kept in the loop and despite the impact on its people of past energy agreements, such as the 1969 Churchill Falls deal with Quebec.

"This time, unlike 1969, our voices will be heard and our rights will be respected," the statement said. "Our land is not a commodity to be sold to solve (Newfoundland and Labrador's) economic crisis."

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