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Monday, November 22, 2010

Bell Aliant Cuts 100 Management Positions

Bell Aliant is trimming 100 management positions with employees being informed today.
Spokesperson Allyson Queen tells CHSJ News it's too soon to say how many of those jobs are in Saint John.

She says the management employees affected are in the six provinces where they operate and the changes are about proportional in each province.
Queen says because the workers just found out this morning, they won't be releasing specifics about cities and provinces yet.
The reasons given are to reduce duplication and to cut costs in order to stay competitive.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation Targets M-L-A's Pension Plan For Deficit Cutting

(Kevin Lacey of  the Canadian Taxpayers Federation)
              (Photo by Brian McLain)

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is adamant the new provincial government should not raise taxes at time when the economy remains fragile. The Federation's Kevin Lacey came to Saint John to hear what Provincial Finance Minister Blaine Higgs had to say about tackling the deficit.

Lacey maintains the new provincial government doesn't have to look that far to find taxpayer dollars being wasted. He says one area the new government should look at cutting would be the M-L-A's gold plated pension plan which costs New Brunswick taxpayers 7 and a half million dollars with some politicians walking away from the last provincial election with a yearly pension in the neighbourhood of 80 thousand dollars.

Lacey vows the Taxpayers Federation will be keeping a close eye on what's in the provincial budget and holding the government's feet to the fire.

Mayor Ivan Court On Provincial And City Finances

Finance Minister Promising Decisive Action On Provincial Deficit

(Provincial Finance Minister Blaine Higgs)
            (File Photo)

We have to do things differently in the province from now on......That message was delivered to the Saint John Board of Trade by the new Provincial Finance Minister Blaine Higgs.

He says the first step is to look for efficiencies within government but he wouldn't be specific beyond that. Higgs does concede reducing government waste, by itself, won't be enough to balance the books.

He told Saint John businesspeople the time has come to take a serious look at health care which consumes 40 per cent of the provincial budget  and growing with too many seniors occupying acute care hospital beds when they don't need to be there. He warns if nothing is done, seniors will occupy 100 per cent of our acute care hospital beds by 2021.

Higgs also points out education costs have increased by 20 per cent over the last ten years while student enrollment has fallen by 7 per cent. He's now looking for ideas from people around the province as the government starts pre-budget public consultations.

To see video: go to our and click news.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs Speaks To Board Of Trade

Lights Add Sparkle To Uptown Saint John

(White Lights On King Street)
(photo by Tamara Steele)

No doubt you noticed the white lights along King Street at the parade this weekend, while now we can tell you why.

It's the third year in a row Uptown Saint John is adding the white lights to bring some sparkle to the uptown.

The lights are low voltage LED lights put up by the City's Leisure Services Department and new this year are lights on the King’s Square bandstand.

Plan SJ Planning Community Input Session Next Month

(Plan SJ Storefront In Brunswick Square)
The City is half way through the two year consultation process of putting together the new municipal plan.
Plan SJ's Jacqueline Hamilton tells CHSJ News it's a key time for the public to get involved.

Hamilton adds it needs to be a made in Saint John plan that reflects community values.
She says they have had good success but, they need to continue to build on it.
The next session is coming up December 8th at UNB Saint John's Grand Hall on Charlotte Street beginning at 5pm.

Mayor Frustrated As Recommendations Are Made To Reform City Pension Plan

(Saint John Mayor Ivan Court)
           (File Photo)

City Manager Pat Woods is expected to bring recommendations to Common Council to change the municipal pension plan and make it financially self sufficient.

Mayor Ivan Court is frustrated because the returns have been good since the financial meltdown but made little, if any dent, in the deficit according to the last valuation.

Court says the city will challenge the actuarial assumption on mortality. He says the retirees have not been living as long as the actuaries predicted and their assumption has cost the city millions of dollars.

The Mayor does concede, without changes, the city's pension plan is unsustainable even though the returns of late have been very good.

Council members have been warned city assets could be seized if overdue payments are not made. The city missed a November 15th deadline to make a five million dollar payment because of not being in a financial situation to do so, according to the Mayor.

Friends Of Rockwood Park Not Happy With Recommendations

(Joan Pearce Of Friends Of Rockwood Park)
                 (File Photo)

Joan Pearce of the Friends of Rockwood Park is disappointed with the recommendations from city staff saying the public was not listened to and she dismisses this claim of the park being expanded. Pearce claims city staff is talking about the Howe's Lake dump site which is a toxic mess.

She's also concerned about allowing 5 storey apartment buildings along Sandy Point Road and what effect there will be of any runoff from development and increased traffic into the park. The Rockwood Park Advisory Board had recommended no apartment buildings be built.
Pearce also tells CHSJ News she believes the majority of Council members will go along with the recommendations.

Common Council To Get Recommendations On Development Next To Rockwood Park

(City Manager Pat Woods)
         (File Photo)

The long awaited recommendations on development near Rockwood Park from city staff will be presented to Common Council tonight. The various city departments have accepted most of the recommendations from planning consultant, A-D-I.

The proposed park boundary would follow Sandy Point Road with residential development at the corner of Samuel Davis Drive and Sandy Point Road as well as next to Cherry Brook Zoo at the existing trailhead and the 18th hole of the golf course could be relocated to allow for new housing. The city would allow what's called recreation based commercial development near the zoo.

City Manager Pat Woods is telling Councillors the residential development would consist of mixed housing similar to what you find in Millidgeville and also makes the point that the plan calls for the park to be expanded.

Mommy Blogs Growing In Popularity

(Mommy Bloggers Leigh Combrinks and Meg Wismer)
                        (File Photo)

Mommy blogs are extremely popular including one by two sisters from Toronto.

Meg Wismer and Leigh Combrinks are the authors of "Me and Meg".

Combrink tells CHSJ News the idea of sharing stories and moments they have with their kids was very appealing.

She adds there is a close-knit mommy blogger community and it's great way to share some of their experiences.

While Wismer and Combrink find the blogging community supportive, their blogs can be polarizing and they do experience criticism.

For more info: go to

Board Of Trade To Hear From Provincial Finance Minister As Deficit Rises

(Provincial Finance Minister Blaine Higgs)
              (File Photo)

The province's finance minister will be appearing before the Saint John Board of Trade just days after conceding the deficit is at least 50 million dollars more than last projected.

Blaine Higgs says a fiscal update to be released this Friday will show as of the end of September, the projected deficit for 2010-11 exceeds 800 (m) million dollars. He says all measures to improve the province's fiscal situation will be examined during public budget consultations but raising taxes should be the last possible option.

Premier David Alward has promised not to increase the H-S-T. Liberal finance critic Donald Arseneault says he wants to see the government's numbers to ensure they don't include funding for some of the Conservative Party's election promises.