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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Youth Homelessness Forum to be Held in Saint John



The Human Development Council says youth homelessness is not just a big city issue. Community Development Coordinator Belinda Allen tells CHSJ news there are young people living on the streets in Saint John and there is no help for them because there is no youth shelter.

More than 130 participants from across the province will be gathering in Saint John Thursday to discuss the city's youth homelessness problem. The Human Development Council is putting on the forum at the Delta with plans to develop a strategy for Saint John.


Opposition Calls Ferry Cuts Rural Attack



The Conservative MLA for Hampton-Kings says the Graham government's decision to shut down the Hampstead, Belleisle and Gagetown ferries is an attack on rural New Brunswick. Bev Harrison tells CHSJ news the ferries service the tourist industry and allow people to access businesses in Belleisle and Gagetown.

Government announced in its provincial budget the Gagetown and Belleisle runs will end later this month while the Hampstead Ferry will not operate in May. Even though the service is free, Minister Denis Landry says motorists are clearly not taking advantage of it.

Deputy Mayor Calls for More Accountability



Deputy Mayor Stephen Chase wants a record of all motions made during open council meetings to be made public. He says it will make the city more accountable. The common clerks office already keeps a current list of referred and tabled motions so they aren't forgotten--but--those aren't available to the public. City Manager Terry Totton says producing a list of every motion for public scrutiny will create a layer of bureaucracy.

Debate on the issue was cut short last night as council ran out of time. A vote was called and the motion approved, but council has decided to revisit the Deputy Mayor's motion next Monday during the meetings continuation.

Comedy Festival Coming to the City

Lots of laughs are coming to the city this October for the Canadian Comedy Awards and Festival.
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is helping bring the laughs to Atlantic Canada for the first time with a $125 thousand dollar investment.
Comedian Tim Steeves helped make the announcement, and says the best part about the festival is how accessible everyone is.

Steeves says performers will not be jumping on planes after their show, so it will be easy for anyone to meet their favourite comedian.

The event will be spread out between October 1st to the 4th, with the award ceremony being held at the Imperial Theatre.
The nominations and headliners will be announced in June.

Fire Crews Battle North End Blaze



Fire crews on the scene of a small fire in the North End this afternoon. The call to 61 Durham Street came in around 12:PM. Flames were shooting out of the top storey window when crews arrived. Fire fighters quickly took control over the fire, with no major damage. It appears the accidental fire was caused by a cigarette.

Project Aiming At Reducing Treatment Wait Times

Health Minister Mike Murphy says the reduction of wait times in the province for patients requiring radiation therapy will improve the overall health system.

Murphy says the $5 million dollars being invested by the federal government will ensure patients in New Brunswick will have access to the treatment they need within an appropriate time frame.
He says cancer is currently the second highest cause of death in the country, and says a partnership between the provincial and federal government will allow new equipment to be purchased to help fight the disease.

Federal Health Minister Talks Wait Times

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says reducing wait times for radiation treatments is necessary because of the strain in puts on the patients, and loved ones.

The federal government is investing $1 billion dollars into the advancement of patient wait time guarantees, with $5 million coming to the province.
Aglukkaq says this is a pilot project, and her department will be looking over how well the initiatives worked in 2010.

Former Health Board Member Sounds Warning



Look for more changes in the way health care is delivered in this province -- that's the word from a member of the former Region 2 Health Authority Board.
Pat Darrah says even with record spending on health in yesterday's provincial budget -- he says we can't maintain the current system forever especially if we continue to abuse it.
And Darrah says Ottawa has to start backing its verbal commitments to maintaining health care in this country with actual cash.
The Graham government is spending a record 2.3-billion dollars on health in the coming fiscal year -- that's a 65-million dollar increase over the previous year.

Ferry Service Cut in Three Areas




(Transportation Minister Denis Landry - photo courtesy CNB)

The Transportation Minister says low usage and future replacement costs are central to the department's decision to discontinue three cable ferries. Government announced in its provincial budget the Gagetown and Belleisle runs will end later this month while the Hampstead Ferry will not operate in May. Even though the service is free, Minister Denis Landry says motorists are clearly not taking advantage of it.

Landry says another issue is the $12 million bill for the mandatory replacement of each vessel under the Canada Shipping Act regulations.

Cupe Union Says No to New deal



Still on the labor front, there is no new deal between the Province and the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions which have refused the Nursing Home Association's settlement offer. It included an average wage increase of 19 per cent over four years and included general economic increases and adjustments for pay equity.

A two-year wage freeze to take effect at the end of the four-year agreement similar to what the other two unions in the sector accepted was rejected by CUPE.

Two Unions Sign New Contracts



Two public sector unions have found labor peace with the Province. The New Brunswick Union and the New Brunswick Nurses Union have signed on the dotted line. The new deals apply to nurse managers, forest rangers, close to two hundred community college department heads and guidance counsellors.

Also 75 social workers and school psychologists.

Federation of Independent Business on Budget



The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says the personal and corporate income tax cuts will fuel small businesses, communities and the province. Director of Provincial Affairs Andreea Bourgeois tells CHSJ News, the region needs to boost our competitiveness and this Province is paving the way.

Bourgeois says the huge deficit, on the other hand, is very worrisome. She says entrepreneurs know deficit spending means more of taxpayers’ dollars will go towards interest charges and less towards future tax cuts or program spending.

More Reaction to Provincial Budget



The Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies says the provincial tax plan goes beyond what any other government in the region is doing. Charles Cirtwill tells CHSJ News, lowering taxes will encourage investment in the province.

Cirtwell says the province could have gone further with the budget by moving to a flat tax rate and says a faster and larger increase in the basic personal exemption would have done more for low income earners.

Board of Trade reacts to Budget



Some cautious applause coming from the local business community for the provincial budget. Pat Darrah of the Saint John Construction Association says the Graham government has struck the right chord with small business incentitives and a cut in the corporate income tax.

Imelda Gilman of the Board of Trade says her group is concerned about the billion dollar increase in the provincial debt -- and -- will be closely watching the government's plan to get back to balanced budgets within four years.