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Monday, November 7, 2011

Zoo Is Worried About Deficit And Funding From City

Cherry Brook Zoo is facing a deficit of 150 thousand dollars. The Director of Development at the zoo, Linda Collrin calls that a huge problem.
Collrin is worried about what might happen to funding from the city in next year's budget. 

The zoo has been drawing on its growth and enhancement fund but that is now down from 650 thousand dollars to 150 thousand. 

There is no guarantee the zoo will get funding from the city next year and Collrin tells CHSJ News she's worried about the budget crunch facing Common Council.

Strong Canadian Dollar Being Blamed For Moosehead Layoffs

27 administrative employees at Moosehead have been laid off as their jobs have been eliminated because of the strength of the Canadian dollar which has made brewing beer in Saint John more expensive. 

Company President Andrew Oland says this threatened the contractual relationship between Moosehead and a large unnamed international brewer.
Oland also says the Moosehead Country Store is being closed to allow for the brewery to expand. The merchandise will be available online and Moosehead is looking for a third party retailer.
He adds this has nothing to do with slow beer sales this past summer but warns if this contract with the international brewer is not renewed, then hourly workers will be laid off but Oland doesn't expect that would happen before October of 2012, if it comes to pass at all.  

Lockdown Update

Students, staff and teachers in lockdown at St. John the Baptist for about 45 minutes early this afternoon.
District 8 Education Council chair Rob Fowler tells CHSJ News it all started when a student thought he saw a woman being abducted outside the school, ran in and told administrators who immediately locked down the school.

He tells us he believes an off-duty or retired police officer was trying to get a woman away from someone who had a weapon and sent the child packing to keep them safe and the child misunderstood what was happening.

Fowler says it's District 8 policy if there is any kind of threat to the school, a lockdown it put into effect.

Brief Lockdown At City School Precautionary

Precautionary -- that's how a brief lockdown at Saint John the Baptist school is being described.
    The lockdown went into effect briefly after a brother and sister were spotted by another student arguing outside of the school.
    The student apparently reported it to school officials - police were called - and the lockdown put into effect as a precautionary move while they got to the bottom of the situation.
    Police tell us the lockdown has since been lifted and everything has returned to normal.

Moosehead Announcing 27 Layoffs

It's the unemployment line for 27 employees at Moosehead as the positions have been eliminated.

The Moosehead country store is also closing its doors.

The company announcing last week changes in a contract relationship between Moosehead and a large international brewer will result in either the loss or a significant reduction in the brewing and packaging of the company’s brands in Saint John.

Moosehead President Andrew Oland says the impacted management and administrative employees will be compensated fairly, offered career counselling and other support. 

Irving Oil President Acknowledges Industry Challenges

Irving Oil is navigating through some challenging times.   It's President Mike Ashar says the refinery industry is at the low end of the business cycle.
Asher tells CHSJ News says the key to getting through it is running the operations well, competing vigorously and investing in your people. 

He says you look for opportunities in these tough conditions but, the Irving employees will help them through the challenges. 
Asher gave the key note address at the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council Outlook 2012 conference this morning.

Doubling of Seniors' Prescription Drug Charges Will Hurt

A proposed doubling in prescription drug costs for seniors in the province from 250 to 500 dollars a year will provoke a backlash. So predicts Linda McCaustlin of the Common Front for Social Justice.

She tells CHSJ News with an estimated 48 thousand seniors in the province making do with under 16 thousand dollars a year, this might wind up costing the government more money with additional hospital visits.

McCaustlin takes 12 medications herself and says it would mean less food for her.
The Alward Government is seeking public input on the idea.

APEC's Outlook 2012 Kicks Off in Saint John

Irving Oil President Mike Ashar singing the praises of the company's 3500 employees in his keynote address to delegates at the Atlantic Province Economic Council conference in the City. Asher says the employees are key to their success including great customer service. He says the industry has never seen more competition.

Housing Sales Post Small Gain

Real estate sales are slowly bouncing back after a sluggish summer -- the latest figures from the Saint John Real Estate Board show a one percent increase in sales last month compared to October of last year.              
But -- overall sales for the year so far remain down compared to a year ago.    Meantime -- the average sale price for a home last month was around 162-thousand dollars.

Bad News Regarding City Pension Plan

A stark message being delivered to Common Council about the city's deficit laden pension plan. It has to be fundamentally reformed in order to be affordable and sustainable.

The councilors vote tonight on several recommendations they hope will be approved by the province. 

Council has been told without the changes, the tax rate would have to rise by over 12 cents or city services would have to be reduced by 7.3 million dollars.

Even if the changes are accepted, the tax rate could still rise by 2.7 cents because of the pension plan's financial woes.

No one is happy about any of this but Kevin Lacey, the Atlantic Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, tells CHSJ News there's no choice.......the money isn't there with the city pension plan's deficit is now estimated at 131 million dollars.

New city workers who come on board after January will have reduced pension benefits and, as we told you earlier, indexing will be suspended, even for the retirees.