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Friday, January 8, 2010

Jim Irving Takes Part in Delta Roundtable

(Prime Minister Harper Speaking at Last Night's Round Table at the Delta Brunswick Hotel)

Plenty of topics were up for discussion at a roundtable meeting with Prime Minister Harper at the Delta last night. Several business people were on hand to take part including David Ganong, Andrew Oland and Jim Irving. Irving tells CHSJ News, the economy was a big focus of the chat but found time to talk about a few personal matters like a request to build some more ships at the Halifax shipyard and help for the forest industry especially in the Northern half of the Province.

Irving adds the proposed sale of NB Power to Hydro Quebec never came up.

Weston at the Delta For Chat with PM

(MP Weston to the left, Prime Minister Harper
Center and Southwest MP Greg Thompson Right)

Saying it had a Provincial flavour to it, Saint John MP Rodney Weston is coming away from last night's meeting with the Prime Minister pleased. Weston tells CHSJ News, he frustration with the Province concerning the Harbour Bridge is their reluctance to accept any responsibility when it comes to the bridge.

Weston adds Prime Minister Harper is aware of the situation but gave no commitments for help at this time but says it will stay on the radar.

Arrests after thefts and damage in East and West Saint John

Six people are facing charges after a City Police investigation into a series of break and enters, car thefts and damage at businesses in East and West Saint John.

Four men and one woman in their 20's along with a younger man have been arrested and will be in court at a later date.

The damage occurred at businesses on Rothesay Avenue and Fairville Boulevard.

Premier Responds To Talk Of Funding Harbour Bridge Repairs

(file photo)

The province is continuing discussions over taking responsibility of the Harbour Bridge from the federal government.
Premier Shawn Graham says an offer is on the table.

Graham says his government has put an initial offer on the table and has not heard back.
Graham says the discussion about who is responsible for the bridge began when Saint John M-P Rodney Weston made a campaign promise to take the tolls off.
He says the province is willing to work with the feds.

Harper Visits the Border Town

(Premier Graham, US Ambassodor to Canada David Jacobsen and Prime Minister Harper)

(photo by Lisa Gullison)

The Prime Minister is in chocolate town to inaugurate the new border crossing.
The new St. Stephen Port of Entry is located on the new international bridge connecting to Calais.
Stephen Harper says this helps to ease traffic between the border towns.
Harper says Canada and the US are the best of friends saying no two nations on earth care less about the line that divides them and more about buidling goodwill across it.
Harper says since the crossing opened in November residential traffic has eased, and commerical traffic has increased by 20%.

New Deal for Saint John Emergency Rooms

(Health Minister Mary Schryer Signing Document)
              (Photo by Jim Hennessy)

With the stroke of a pen, Health Minister Mary Schryer has signed a deal to support the recruitement and retention of emergency department doctors for the Regional and St. Josephs Hospitals. Also involved in the deal are the Horizon Health Network and Dalhousie University. Health Minister Schryer says this deal guarantees coverage in both emergency departments 24/7.

The deal worth $7.9 million dollars, includes the $190 dollar per hour rate for emergency room doctor coverage. It also provides funding for clinical care, medical education and administrative tasks being carried out by emergency room doctors.

Regional's Chief of Staff Loves New Plan

The Chief of Staff at the Regional Hospital thinks this new fund is fabulous. Dr. Brian Wheelock says it is already paying dividends. Dr. Wheelock adds they are already reducing the dependency they have had on local physicians to cover shifts in the Emergency Department.

Currently, the Regional Emergency Room has 17 doctors but in a perfect world would like to have 22 or 23.

Water Rate in City Increases

The water rate in the city is increasing by 4.1 per cent. Brent McGovern with Saint John Water says the flat rate is going from $830 dollars to $864 dollars which would come out to an additional $2.80 a month.
McGovern says no matter which way the utility looked at the numbers, the operating cost increased. He goes on to say if the utility were to try to hold the rate, service would be negatively affected.
The total operating budget for Saint John Water is $33.7 million dollars.

City Budget

The city's tax rate is looking like it's going to remain stable in the 2010 operating budget. There is no increase, or decrease in the preliminary draft of the budget with the rate staying at  almost $1.79.
Acting City Manager Pat Woods says keeping the rate stable was the number one priority when drafting the budget. $756 thousand dollars is being pegged for the Municipal Plan and there is $580 thousand set aside for road maintenance. Woods says when putting together the proposed budget, city staff used Common Council's priority list as a guide.
The Mayor and Councillors will review the proposed budget over the weekend and another meeting is scheduled for Monday at 5:30 for further discussions.