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Friday, November 26, 2010

Weston Says Harbour Bridge Agreement Honours Commitment

Finance Minister Sees Bridge Deal Heralding New Era Of Cooperation

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs tells CHSJ News finalizing the deal to remove the bridge tolls is the forerunner of a new era of cooperation with the federal government.
He says we needed to clear the air on this issue because it's been an irritant in many ways at the federal - provincial level.
The minister says he's encouraged this is another move forward for us to make things happen in this province.
And Higgs says the money is in place for the provincial commitment to the deal despite an ongoing effort to cut one percent from the spending of all departments.

Tolls To Be Removed From Harbour Bridge By Spring


     (Saint John Harbour Bridge At Night)
(Photo Courtesy Of Provincial Government)

Prime Minister Harper announcing the Harbour Bridge will be toll free by the end of March. He says the tolls serve no purpose because they have not reduced the debt while impeding business.

The Prime Minister did not directly mention the previous Liberal Government which rejected essentially the same deal but did say you have a choice in government to either fight or work together to do something.

Harper also says his government is cancelling the debt on the bridge which exceeds 20 milion dollars and will split the 35 million dollar cost of upgrades now being done.

Jim Irving of J-D Irving welcomes removal of tolls which he says will save his company 150 thousand dollars a year.

Wellness, Culture and Tourism Minister Trevor Holder calls this the dawn of a new era claiming the people of Saint John have been treated unfairly for 40 years.

There Will Be Job Losses With Removal Of Tolls

(Bob McDevitt Who Chairs Harbour Bridge Authority)
               (Photo by Brian McLain)

Removal of the tolls on the Harbour Bridge is being described as a proud day for Saint John but there is a downside as well. Bob McDevitt of the Harbour Bridge Authority says 8 fulltime employees will find themselves out of work. One employee has been with them 30 years.

McDevitt goes on to say alot of issues still have to be worked out and the fate of the employees is one of them. There will also have to be engineering work done to remove the toll plaza.

McDevitt fully expects to see the Harbour Bridge Authority itself to be dissolved.

Hospital Home Lottery Nearly Sold Out

Time is quickly evaporating for you to be a part of the hospital home lottery.
There is less than a week left to get your tickets for a chance at winning the grand prize show home in Cedar Point Anchorage.
Tim Cameron of the Saint John Regional Hospital foundation tells CHSJ News they have better odds that many other lotteries.

Cameron says there is a 1 in 20 chance of winning some kind of prizes with over 24,000 prizes available.
The lottery is more than 90 per cent sold out with the deadline to buy tickets next Thursday, December 2nd at midnight.
To find the link to buy a ticket, click here

Harper Announcing Harbour Bridge Tolls Will Be Scrapped

Prime Minister Harper has made it official - tolls will be removed from the Harbour Bridge no later than March 31st of next year.

As reported - the federal government will forgive the bridge's 23 million dollar debt and will split the cost of the 35 million dollar upgrade currently underway with the provincial government.

The province will assume ownership of the bridge and scrap the tolls.  Harper made the announcement a short time ago during a news conference at the Marco Polo cruise terminal.

203 People Waiting For Nursing Home Beds

(file photo)

The strain on nursing homes will only get worse as a growing number of people in the province age. That word from the C-E-O at Loch Lomand Villa, Cindy Donovan. She told the Horizon Health Network nursing home residents are older and sicker than they were years ago.

She says it's definitely evident that the demographics are moving with a bigger elderly population and things are going to get worse.

She adds there are 203 people on the waiting list between Sussex and St. Stephen.

Donovan says the provincial government is looking now at the level of care nursing homes require.

PM Meets With Local Small Business Owners

(ACOA Minister Keith Ashfield, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, MP Rodney Weston and Encore Interactive Inc.'s John Swan)
A group of small business owners giving their input to the Prime Minister on how Ottawa can help them grow internationally.
The roundtable discussion held to find new ideas for the next round of the government's economic action plan.
John Swan of Encore Interactive says international travel is essential to their growth.

He says in their case investment means going to California, New York and doing good business with software companies that will take a Saint John company global.
Swan adds provincial and federal government support is essential to a small companies success and they are happy to provide input whenever they ask for it.

Slippery Streets In The City

City police responding to series of accidents around town due to slippery conditions.

Streets in greater Saint John and the highways are reported to be greasy so drivers are reminded to take their time, reduce their speed and adjust to the conditions.

The snow is supposed to change to rain early this afternoon.

Fiscal Update Reveals Higher Provincial Deficit

More bad financial news from the Alward government.
Finance Minister Blaine Higgs releasing an update today predicting the deficit will swell to more than 820 million dollars this year.

He says the debt could hit 9.6 billion.
Higgs says the deepening sea of red ink is not sustainable and the province is looking at all ways of getting things under control.

Hiring Freeze In Healthcare Imposed By New Provincial Government

(Horizon Health Vice-President Vicki Squires)
      (Photo Courtesy of Horizon Health)

The Horizon Health Network, which runs hospitals around the province, has been told by the Alward government to freeze hiring in healthcare. That revelation emerging from a meeting Horizon held in the city last night.

The hiring freeze does not apply to doctors. Horizon's Vice-President of Organisation Development, Vicki Squires tells CHSJ News each job opening will be evaluated with patient care in mind and so it may not impact nurses.

At the same time, the meeting also heard there are longer wait times for some medical procedures including mammography and ultrasounds because of staffing shortages.

Big Announcement Coming On Harbour Bridge

(Saint John Harbour Bridge)
          (File Photo)

It's good news for thousands of commuters using the Harbour Bridge. Our sources in Ottawa confirm Prime Minister Harper will announce a deal to remove the tolls from the bridge during a news conference this afternoon.

Harper will be joined by Saint John M-P Rodney Weston and Premier David Alward for the news conference being held at the Marco Polo cruise terminal.

The deal will see the 23-million dollar debt on the bridge eliminated with Ottawa paying for half of the 35-million dollar repair job underway - the province will assume ownership of the bridge and scrap the tolls.

Norton Bank Held Up By Armed Robber

The RCMP are looking for your help in nabbing an armed robber who, just before noonhour yesterday, held up the National Bank on Route 124 in Norton.

The suspect, armed with a handgun, is described as being from 5'10" to 6 feet tall. He was wearing, at the time, a black hat and mask, long black coat and black wind pants. He left the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash and then stole a black Lincoln Navigator from a person who happened to be in the bank at the time.

The Lincoln was found a short time later in a parking lot on Route 124 across from an Irving Station.

Anyone who was in a vehicle or saw the Lincoln coming or going from the public parking lot between 11:00 yesterday morning and 12:30 in the afternoon is being asked to get in touch with the RCMP at 433-7700 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Chance Harbour Fire May Have Been Set Deliberately

(Musquash Firefighters Battle Blaze In Chance Harbour)
     (Photo Courtesy Of Captain Andrew Sanojca)

The RCMP are investigating a suspicious fire in the Musquash area. A house under construction on Route 790 at Chance Harbour went up in flames last night. A nearby volunteer firefighter noticed the blaze shortly after 9:30 but the structure was fully engulfed in flames and a pile of debris was found burning behind the unfinished home.

Saint John "Y" Awards Peace Medal For 2010

A tireless worker for the City's poor and a giving student receiving awards from the Saint John Y.

Juanita Black will receive the 2010 Peace Medal Award for 35 years volunteering and fighting for those living in poverty.

Black tells CHSJ News she thinks the Alward government will continue the work began by the Liberals on this issue because more has to be done to help the poor.

Black and this year's Youth Peacemaker Award winner, St. Malachy's student Heather Atcheson, get their awards this morning at the Lily Lake Pavillion.