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Monday, February 6, 2012

Liberals Slam Department Of Health Over Medicare Card Delays

The Opposition Liberals are going after the Department of Health over new delays with the delivery of updated Medicare cards.

Eight thousand New Brunswickers are currently waiting for their new cards.  The province dealing with this issue last March when it updated its record system.

Opposition Health Critic Bill Fraser tells CHSJ News while people will not be denied service and will be reimbursed, some cannot pay upfront while others are hesitant to seek medical help without a card.  He says there are people putting off appointments until they get a new card.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health says the new delay is due to the Christmas holidays and the department needed January to catch up on the work

Associate Deputy Minister Lyne St-Pierre-Ellis tells CHSJ News the department has caught up to the backlog and new cards should be in mailboxes within the next two weeks.

As far as the province paying back citizens who had to pay upfront, she says there has been no delays in sending out refunds.

Cuts To Commmunity Group Funding Will Hurt According to Mayor

Mayor Ivan Court says the thousands of dollars worth of cuts to community groups in the city budget will put a big strain on some of the organizations.

Court says while on paper it's only a few thousand dollars here and there being taken out, it can bring real hardship for some organizations as some groups are losing all of its city funding.

Some groups losing all city funding include Key Industries, Symphony New Brunswick, and the St. Joseph Hospital Foundation.
Over 300-thousand dollars was axed in the new city budget as the city grapples with the pension deficit.

Toque Tuesday Kicks off Tomorrow

Want to help put a cap on youth homelessness? Then you should think about heading to the malls tomorrow for a Toque Tuesday.

Volunteers are selling cozy red hats in Market Square, McAllister Place, and Brunswick Square tomorrow in support of the Saint John Youth House. The housing facility for homeless youth will open next year.

Coordinator Colin MacDonald tells CHSJ News the community has really gotten behind the fundraiser this year, and that 350 hats have already been sold. The goal is to sell the remaining 450 hats by the end of the day tomorrow.

Hats are selling for $10, with 80 percent of the proceeds going toward the Saint John Youth House. The other 20%  goes to Raising the Roof, a national homelessness charity.

Home Invasion Connected To Rockwood Park Beating

Police are confirming that a home invasion on the city's west side is connected to a beating in Rockwood Park.

At around 11 o'clock Saturday night,  4 masked men forced their way into a home on City Line and robbed a 55 year old man.

Shortly after, a beaten man was found in Rockwood Park.  Police say the victim of the beating was also the victim of the robbery.

He was taken to hospital and later released.

The case has been turned over to the Major Crime Unit.

Meantime,  A 15 year old boy is looking at a charge of assault with a weapon after a 14 old girl's hair was set on fire at Simonds High. 

Police say there was just minor damage to the hair and she did not suffer any burns.

Grow-Op Busted in Lakeville, NB

A marijuana grow-op running out of a home in Lakeville, NB, was busted by police Sunday.

Police seized a number of pot plants at various stages of growth, as well as equipment used to grow the plants.

A 41-year-old man was arrested and later released. He'll appear in court at a later date to face drugs charges.

The bust was part of the Marijuana Grow Initiative, a national strategy by the RCMP to fight grow-ops and organized crime.

Beating At Rockwood Park

Not many details being released at the moment but police are confirming a beating at Rockwood Park.

Early reports indicate a man was found beaten in the park Saturday night and was taken to hospital.

The Major Crime Unit has taken over the case.

New Brunswick Southwest MP Says Irving Oil Refinery Should Be Refining Oil From Alberta

The MP for New Brunswick Southwest says the Irving Oil Refinery in Saint John should be refining oil from Alberta, especially in the wake of the delay of the Keystone XL Pipeline project.

John Williamson tells CHSJ News there is currently a pipeline from Alberta to Sarnia.  He says he would like to see an extension of that pipeline from Quebec to Saint John and is currently having discussions with government reps and trade unions about it.

He says not only would it would bring jobs to the region but keep New Brunswickers from going out west to find work.

How Budget Cut At Police Department Will Play Out Won't Be Known For Sometime

It's going to take a lot of work for the police department to figure out how it will make do with a million dollars less this year. 

Chris Waldshutz, who chairs the Police Commission, tells CHSJ news decisions will not be made willy-nilly.

As for the fear there will be fewer officers on the streets of the city when all the number crunching is done, Waldshutz tells CHSJ News it's his personal opinion that prospect is improbable but there won't be any cuts made until there has been careful analysis because you don't want to do anything that will harm intelligence led policing which has been responsible for substantial drops in the crime rate. 

He adds the budget cut at the police department could have been as high as 2 million dollars.

The Police Commission will be meeting tomorrow night and while the budget cut will likely be discussed, there won't be any firm plan in place dealing with it.

People In St. Stephen Asked To Conserve Water

They're having problems with water in St. Stephen and the town is asking everyone to conserve their water consumption this morning because there is a limited supply due to a breakdown that happened last night.
Some people may have little or no water pressure.
The St. Stephen Water Department says the parts needed to fix the problem will be trucked in from Saint John.

Alward Government Accused Of Backing Away From Poverty Reduction

As the Provincial Government grapples with a rising deficit and debt, will it back away from the poverty reduction plan that was put together with such fanfare in Saint John a few years ago?

Former Social Development Minister Kelly Lamrock, who's considering a run at the Provincial Liberal Party leadership, tells CHSJ News it began with the delay in raising the minimum wage followed by increasing the co-payment seniors have to come up with for their prescription drugs. 

He accuses Premier David Alward of not standing up for the less affluent in the province because he listens to the most powerful voices.
Anti-poverty activist Pam Coates resigned from the Board overseeing the implementation of the poverty reduction plan saying not much of anything has been done.

Mayor Answers Criticism

Criticism is being heaped on Common Council over the city budget but Mayor Ivan Court points out the issues that have been dealt with during this term have been the toughest to face the city in the last 30 to 40 years including clean water and the city's pension plan. 

There will be cutbacks coming in the police department at the same time the new police headquarters is under construction at Peel Plaza which has many Saint Johnners wondering if we can afford to spend over 20 million dollars. 

Mayor Court tells CHSJ News alot of the talk about the new police station has been exaggerated and mixed up with the new provincial justice building nearby which is far more expensive at 50 million.

Court predicts alot of people in the city will be surprised by Peel Plaza when it's finished.