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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bitter Pension Pills For Common Council



Common council is being told the city cannot afford the pension plan as is -- the tough talk is coming from pension consultants Morneau Sobeco as councilors struggle with how to deal with a 150-million dollar shortfall in the plan.
Consultant Jeff Penner says there are a couple of "tough to swallow" proposals for employees including higher contributions - reduced benefits - and - even temporarily suspending indexing for pensioners.
Council has agreed in principle to move in the direction of sharing the shortfall on a 50-50 basis with employees and retirees -- but -- councilors are waiting for another meeting with the consultants next month before making any firm decisions.

Tory Leader Wants Health Minister to Back Off Wage Freeze Legislature



Tory leader David Alward says Health Minister Mike Murphy needs to scrap the legislature of wage freezes for doctors to save the future of health care in the province.
Alward tells CHSJ News, we are the only province experiencing this type of problem.

Alward says the opposition has been trying to convince Murphy to remove the legislation so doctors will find the province appealing.
He says there have been major gains made in recruiting and retaining doctors over the past 7 years, but talks of wage freezes are making the province look backwards.

CUPE Lobbying to Remove Education Minister



The provincial president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees continues to lobby to give Education Minister Kelly Lamrock a pink slip.
Sandy Harding tells CHSJ News, the union has set up a virtual postcard to send to the premier and the minister.
Harding says so far there have been over 85 thousand hard copy postcards sent to the provincial government, and the virtual numbers continue to rise.

Harding says she finds it strange the Premier refuses to answer questions related to education cuts in the legislature, and says since starting the postcard campaign back in May there has not been a single response from the government.
The virtual postcard can be found

Council Meeting In Special Session



Common council is meeting in special session at this hour -- council is hearing another update on the civic pension plan.
Consultants from Morneau Sobeco are briefing councilors on some of the next steps in trying to deal with the ongoing shortfall in the plan and keeping the impact to taxpayers at a minimum.
The meeting is open to the public and is scheduled to last two hours.

Swine Flu Watch on the Rise



The province is raising the surveillance level for the swine flu.
This comes after the World Health Organization increased its pandemic alert to Phase 6
Chief Medical Officer for the province, Dr. Eilish Cleary says it's not an indication of a change in the situation in the province, but with outbreaks around the world, all things need to be considered.
Cleary says the province needs to keep a heightened level of surveillance to be prepared for new cases during the summer, and adds it's more likely there will be more activity in the fall, which is consistent with usual flu behavior.

Superintendent Agrees about Need at K-Park



The superintendent of school district 6 says she hopes there will be money in next years budget for K-Park elementary.
Zoe Watson tells CHSJ News, capital construction work at the school is a top priority, but all the District Education Council can do is hope for next year.

Watson says the DEC will write another letter to Minister Lamrock to try and convince him of the need K-Park has for funding.

Death at Dorchester Penitentiary



RCMP are investigating the death of an inmate at the Dorchester Penitentiary.
43 year old Carey Kenn Jinson was hospitalized after an altercation back in April.
Jinson was returned to the prison, but required further hospitalization from injuries---and died yesterday.
Charges are anticipated to be laid on 33 year old Fraser Gordon Johnston---who was previously charged with aggravated assault.

Tory Leader Expects Changes to Graham Government




[Tory Leader David Alward---File Photo]

Tory Leader David Alward expects to see some changes in the Graham government after the legislature closes.
Alward tells CHSJ News,  Education Minister Kelly Lamrocks days are numbered.
Alward says he expects to see the Premier change Lamrock and Health Minister Mike Murphy because they have completely mishandled their portfolios.
Alward says Graham is distancing himself from Education and Health, but all of the final decisions on cuts fall on his lap.


Parent Group Calls for Action to Improve K-Park Elementary School



A parent group known as Parent Action Committee for Kennebecasis 09 are lobbying the Minister of Education to give funding to Kennebecasis Park Elementary School. Member John Oxley says when applying for money the Department of Education rejected the proposal on criteria not being meant, without clarifying how.

Oxley says K-Park elementary is hardly up to safety standards for schools, and gave an example of how a student with a broken leg could not attend school because of accessibility. He says he hopes Minister Kelly Lamrock will make good on his word and visit the school, but so far has not.

District 8 Awaits Student Education Council Member



District Education Councils will be growing by one this fall as student representative will become a member of the DEC as per a new provincial mandate. Superintendent for School District 8 Susan Tipper tells CHSJ News it will be an interesting development.

She says hearing the points of view of the student population will help them make more informed decisions. 

Coalition for Pay Equity Pleased with Province's Most Recent Effort



The provincial Coalition for Pay Equity is applauding the province's move to implement pay equity for five private-sector groups. The provincial government has committed financial support for 2010 to achieve pay equity for workers in child-care; home support; nursing home; and transition homes. Coalition Executive Director, Johanne Perron tells CHSJ news it's a step in the right direction but pay equity legislation is still needed.

The minister responsible for the status of women, Mary Schryer, made the announcement yesterday in the legislative assembly.  The Pay Equity Act will take effect April 1, 2010.

School District 6 Still Expecting Cuts



District 6 is showing a surplus for the budget this school year of over $80 thousand dollars. Superintendent Zoe Watson says that's not a lot of money when you consider the budget comes in at over $74 million dollars. Watson tells CHSJ News, next years budget is facing more cuts then this year.

Watson says next year bus routes will be changing in the middle and high school level. Students living under 2.4 kilometres from their school will not have buses available. Elementary students will still have access to buses as long as they live over 1.6 kilometres from their school. Watson also says all library services outside of the high school level will also be cut.

District 8 Teachers to Learn How to Deal with Threats



Teachers in School District 8 will be learning the Threat Risk Assessment Protocol this fall as part of a province wide initiative. The program trains teachers on identifying warning signs for violent behaviour in students and what to do if there is a legitimate threat.  Director of Education for District 8 Bev MacDonald tells CHSJ News school administrators have already been trained.

She says students will also receive information on the program in the form of handouts.

Brunswick Pipeline Exercise to get Underway Today



Expect to see plenty of excitement in one area of East Saint John later this morning. Brunswick Pipeline and the city's Emergency Measures Organization are holding a mock emergency exercise between ten and noon. There will be plenty of emergency vehicles in the area of the Grandview Industrial Park and Dedication Street as the company simulates what needs to be done if there was a break in the pipeline.

This is one of Brunswick Pipelines conditions of approval once they were with-in six months of getting the pipeline up and running. Gas is not yet flowing but was run through the pipeline back in February.  

Gas Prices Creeping Up for the Summer



As the temperatures increase this season, so does the price of gas. The Energy and Utilities Board has released its weekly price schedule and the price of regular self-serve gasoline has gone up to 99.7 cents a litre, plus a possible 2 cent delivery charge.

Diesel fuel has shot up about 4 cents from yesterday to land at 95.09 cents per litre and propane has remained about the same at 82.35 cents.