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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Market Studies Institute Calls Budget Way to Self Sufficiency



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.

Meanwhile, Cirtwill 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 Gives Budget A Cautious Thumbs Up



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(Pat Darrah of Saint John Construction Association and Imelda Gilman of Board of Trade discuss provincial budget - photo by Gary MacDonald)

The local business community is giving good marks to the provincial budget -- Board of Trade president Imelda Gilman says the budget is tackling items which are in tune with the Board's own priorities in the areas of infrastructure and tax cuts.
But Gilman says the Board will be watching closely to see if the government can meet its commitment to return to balanced budgets within four years especially with the projected increase in the net debt.
Pat Darrah of the Saint John Construction Association says the Graham Liberals have done a good job of balancing what he calls "strategic spending" in health care and education.

Independent Businesses Optimistic About Budget



The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says the personal and corporate income tax cuts will shift the provincial economy back into gear by putting millions of dollars into small business owners’ hands. Director of Provincial Affairs, Andreea Bourgeois tells CHSJ news when taxes are lowered small business owners invest the savings in their business.

Bourgeois says their biggest concern is that half of the deficit is to put money back into the public pension fund. She says the regular tax payer is funding pensions for a few lucky in the province.

St Stephen Area Couple Fit For Trial



A provincial court judge has determined a Moores Mills couple is fit to stand trial in the death of their baby.
27 year old Rodney Miller is facing first degree murder charges, and 19 year old Sarah Russel has been charged with manslaughter and accessory after the fact.
RCMP determined the baby was killed and then the body was hidden.
The couple had been sent for a 30 day psychiatric evaluation but have been determined to be fit for trial.
The couple has elected a trial by judge alone.
Miller will return to court April 14th to set a preliminary hearing date, and Russel is due back in court April 20th.

Graham Government Cutting Taxes - Programs - Civil Service



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(Finance Minister Victor Boudreau purchases new tie for his budget speech - photo by CNB)

(By Kevin Bissett - the Canadian Press)

The Graham government is axing jobs and programs, and plunging the province deeper into debt with a budget it claims will guide the province through the economic storm    The $7.8-billion package released today adds close to a billion dollars to the province's net debt, reaching $8.3 billion by 2010.   
Finance Minister Victor Boudreau confirms 700 jobs will be cut from the civil service in the year ahead, and says additional jobs will be eliminated as more programs are reduced.   
Personal and corporate income taxes will be cut by $144 million in 2009-10 and the number of tax brackets will be reduced from four to two by 2012.   
Boudreau says the province will return to balanced budgets by 2012, but he's not counting an expected $300-million pension payment, which would leave the 2012-13 budget in the red.    The government is spending $2.3 billion on health care, but is reintroducing ambulance fees that were eliminated by the previous Conservative government.

Highlights of the New Brunswick budget:   


- 2009-10 budget projects a $741-million deficit in a $7.8 billion spending program.
-  Net Debt to reach $8.3 billion by 2010, an increase of $969 million. Share of debt for every person in province is about $11,050.
-  A total of 700 jobs to be cut from the civil service in 2009-10 and wages frozen for two years.
-  $144 million in tax cuts. By 2012, personal income taxes will move from the current four-rate, four-bracket system to two rates and two brackets.
-  General corporate income tax rate will be reduced from 13 per cent in 2008 to eight per cent in 2012.

New Party Supports Trade Barrier Agreement



A new provincial political party is supporting an agreement between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to  to eliminate a trade barrier.  Premiers Shawn Graham and Rodney MacDonald recently reached an agreement to eliminate the dual weighing of trucks when passing over the provincial border. The Atlantica Party supports the idea of a regional free trade zone encompassing all four Atlantic provinces. 

The party, founded by a group of concerned citizens, is based in the Atlantic region with its leader Jonathan Dean in Nova Scotia.

St. Patrick's Day Re-Dedication




(Council Meets for Regular Meeting Last Night - Photo by Diane Henry)

Saint John has re-dedicate the park at the end of Prince William Street as St. Patrick Square. Common council approved the symbolic motion last night to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and the Irish immigrants who landed in Saint John in the 18th century. The original motion was passed in 1967.

Councilor Bill Farren sported his infamous green bow tie at last nights meeting as he does every year for St. Patty's Day. A couple of other city councilors and staff also wore bits of green for the occasion.

Woman Dies in Snowmobile Crash



One woman is dead after a late night ride on a snowmobile. RCMP were called to Inkerman this morning at one to find the woman from the Val-Comeau area died after hitting a tree.

No name is being released and RCMP continue to look into the matter.

Air Quality License Approved



The province is issuing a new air quality approval for Connors Bros. Clover Leaf Seafoods to operate its fish processing and fishmeal plant in Blacks Harbour. The new approval takes effect on the 15th of next month and is good for five years. The renewal follows public consultation that included a 120-day public review between Oct. 7 of last year and Feb. 13 of this year.

Questions and comments raised by the public have been addressed and do not require further formal consideration.

Donation Made to Local School



Champlain Heights School is sporting three new Smart Boards today compliments of Irving Oil. This latest gift is to celebrate the one year anniversary of the partnership between Irving Oil and the school. To date, the school has recevied ten smart boards which cost $40,000 dollars.

Irving Oil is making a committment to buy a new smart board for each class-room by 2011.

Work Almost Done at LNG Site



It won't be much longer now before the Canaport LNG Terminal is ready to go on-line. Construction is over 95% complete and by the end of the summer, mechanical completion should be finished. There are still 1100 workers on site and spokes-person Carolyn Van Der Veen tells CHSJ News, their head office recently made the move out to the terminal site as well.

Van der Veen says they are very pleased with the progess of construction.

Power Out for Many on West-Side



West-Side homes and businesses were with-out electricity for a few hours earlier today. The juice had to be cut as fire crews tried to smother the flames at the fires along Manawagonish Road. Saint John Energy President Eric Marr tells CHSJ News, they were called in to cut the flow of power at around three this morning.

Marr says he hasn't received any reports of damage to any utility poles but they are doing an inspection today.


Update on West Side Fires



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(Fire ravaged building on Manawagonish Road - photo submitted by Mark McGraw)

Still no word on what sparked a fire on the West-Side today that rolled through three homes. Crews were called to 693 Manawagonish Road just after midnight to find flames shooting 30-40 feet out of the basement apartment. Flames quickly spread to 685 and 687 Manawagonish Road and Fire Chief Rob Simonds tells CHSJ News, they are still assessing the damage.

Fire investigators are also trying to figure out what sparked a fire that ripped through 45 Elliot Row last night that left 15 people with no place to go. 

Health Minister Moving On Private Clinics



Health Minister Mike Murphy says he will be introducing legislation later this spring clearing the way for private health care clinics.
Murphy tells CHSJ News it's nothing more than having another option to provide services in a timely manner.
But -- Murphy says it's not something to you just plunge into with almost 20-thousand people working in health care in the province and 2.5-billion dollars of infrastructure in place.
A recent Corporate Research poll shows 57-percent of New Brunswickers are in favor of privately delivered - publicly funded health care services.

Rash of Fires Leaves Many Homeless



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(Elliot Row Blaze Leaves 15 Homeless - photo submitted by Mark McGraw)

It will be days before investigators piece together what started fires that ripped through four buildings in Greater Saint John. The first call came in just after eight o'clock at 45 Elliot Row where fire-fighters found flames and smoke rolling from the 12-unit building. All 15 people inside got out safely but the building suffered heavy damage. Fire Crews were then called 693 Manawagonish Road just after midnight to find flames shooting from a basement apartment.

Fire quickly spread to two adjoining homes at 685 and 687 Manawagonish Road. All of the families inside escaped with no injuries but their homes have been gutted by the flames. The Church of Good Shepard has opened it's doors to give the families shelter from the cold. No word on how the fire started.

Council Gets the Details of the Finn Report



The author of a report on amalgamating several communities into a few municipalities says it would be in the province's best interest to take action now. Jean Guy Finn says he understands the costs associated with the change, but adds his recommendations can be phased in over five years.

For Saint John, Finn is proposing adding portions of Westfield, Lepreau and Simonds as well as the entire local service district of Musquash. He says such changes will save money by reducing duplication of service and governance. The province has shelved the report.

Harbour Cleanup Contract Awarded



Saint John's harbour is one step closer to being cleaned up.  Common Council has awarded the construction contract for the Eastern Wastewater Treatment Facility to Pomerieau Inc. of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The 51.8 million dollar project will begin late April.

The sludge treatment plant is one of two major components of Harbour Clean up. Design work for the Wastewater Collection System continues with the completion of construction expected by 2012.

Pothole Patrols On Duty



The city's commissioner of municipal operations will head back before common council the second week of April to talk pot holes. Paul Groody says he will present a strategy for dealing with the growing number of craters in city streets.

Groody says he's hopeful the asphalt plants will be open next month rather than May as they were last year. His department will have an extra 600 thousand dollars for street repairs this year thanks to council's approved budget for the year.

Liberals Ready for Latest Sitting of the Legislature



There is plenty to keep the fire blazing between the Liberals and Conservatives as the spring session of the Legislature gets started tomorrow. Saint John West MLA Abel Leblanc tells CHSJ News, the economy is expected to dominate most of the discussion.

Leblanc says with word of a huge provincial deficit, tough questions have to be asked in caucus to find out what the Liberal Party is trying to do.

Conservatives will Keep a Close Watch on Liberals



No lack of topics and questions will come from the desk of Rothesay Conservative MLA Margaret Ann Blaney when the Legislature re-opens tomorrow. With property tax assessments for many through the roof, Blaney tells CHSJ News, those on fixed incomes cannot continue to take these kind of hits.

Early indications about next weeks Provincial Budget say hundreds of jobs will be lost and the deficit for the 2009-2010 fiscal year could be as high as 800 million dollars.

Charges Laid In Home Invasion



Five men are waiting to go before a judge following a robbery at a Garden Street home last weekend. A couple in their 70's answered knocks on their apartment door Saturday night to find themselves confronted by four men who forced their way into the home, threatened the couple with a weapon as helped themselves to cash, prescription drugs and other items.

Police arrested four men shortly after the robbery and later took a 32 year old man who has yet to make an appearance before a judge.