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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Province Rolls Out New Pension Model

The Alward government announcing a new pension model for the province and already has three public sector unions and one in the private sector ready to make the switch.

The new model is intended to make pensions more sustainable and avoid large unfunded liabilities. Susan Rowland, who was a member of the task force that developed the model, says it would mean slightly higher premiums.

She says for employees the increase premiums will range from 1.2 and 2.8 per cent.    She calls them modest increases and a good tradeoff for the kind of security this model with deliver.

Premier David Alward says the new model will also be used for members of the legislature.

Highway 7 Reopened To All Traffic

RCMP are allowing traffic to move again on Highway 7.
It was closed for several hours today after a fatal collision near Petersville Hill.

Head On Crash Kills One On Highway 7

It appears alcohol is a factor in a deadly head-on crash over the lunch hour on Highway 7 near the Petersville Hill.
RCMP Sgt. Rick Bernard tells CHSJ News the call came about 12:20 involving a car and an NB Power Truck.

He says it appears from the evidence that the automobile would have swerved into the oncoming lane hitting the truck head-on.

Bernard tells us there appears to be a picture of a loved one on the keychain of the deceased driver who's keys were still in the ignition.

He expects the highway will be closed to traffic for at least two hours as there is a lot of debris on the highway.
A detour is in place on Highway 7 sending motorists off the roadway at Welsford and in the 
other direction from Geary.

Detour In Place On Highway 7

Highway 7 is closed to traffic after a collision near Petersville Hill.

Traffic is being rerouted at Geary and at Welsford.

Hampton Man Facing Fines For Failing To File

A Hampton businessman pleading guilty on Tuesday to three counts for not filing his company's tax returns.
Daniel Darren Langille also pleading guilty to two charges of failing to comply with a court order to file income tax returns stemming from a previous conviction.

The charges relate to his company--Langille’s Plumbing and Heating.

He faces a total of $7,000 in fines and has until December 18th to pay up or face jail time.

Collision Forces Highway Closure

Highway 7 is closed to traffic is both directions after a collision near Petersville hill.

Medical School Gets $500K Donation

Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick receiving $500 thousand dollars from Great West, London and Canada Life Insurance.

Rob Gillis of Great West Life tells CHSJ news they see this donation having a great impact here in the Maritimes and across the country.

He says this is the business they work in as health insurers.

Dr. John Steeves says the money will be used to recruit a specialist in Occupational Medicine.
He says when someone gets sick from a workplace injury, this type of specialist assists in their rapid return.
Dr. Steeves says it's significant because its the first endowed chair in Canada for occupational medicine.

Proposed City Pension Changes Running Out Of Time To Be Passed

Even though the new Common Council has passed proposed changes to the city's pension plan that had been agreed to by the previous Council, there's a big question mark over whether there's enough time to get them approved by the province during the current session of the Legislature.

City Solicitor John Nugent concedes the proposal to suspend indexing for current retirees is unprecedented and will require the Provincial Pension Benefits Act to be amended.

City Finance Commissioner Greg Yeomans warns another 4 million dollars may still have to be cut from this year's budget despite Common Council approving the draft changes last night.

Mayor Mel Norton says if the proposed changes are not approved by the province in the next week and a half, the city will have to start all over again in the fall.

Federal Finance Minister Says EI Fears Are Premature

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says seasonal workers here in the province have nothing to worry about when it comes to changes to the Employment Insurance program.

New rules will require workers to accept lower wages and possibly commute further if a job opportunity arises.

Flaherty says people are jumping the gun as to what effect the changes will have and there will be regional considerations as to how the program is applied.

He says the fears and criticisms are due in part to fear mongering by the Opposition.

One International Airport For Province Won't Take Off

Former Mayor and now Councillor at Large Shirley McAlary doesn't think the idea of having one international airport for the province in Moncton will fly. 

The idea is being floated by David Ganong of Ganong Brothers Chocolate in St. Stephen. 

McAlary worked at Air Canada for 26 years and came under criticism as Mayor by suggesting there should be an international airport in Sussex. She still stands by that many years later.
McAlary says times have since changed because of improvements made to the airports in Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton. 

Just The Slightest Of Changes With Gas Prices

Gas prices around town are virtually the same as they were just last night but at least you won't be paying anymore. 

Self Serve regular has dropped from $1.26.8 a litre to $1.26.7 and diesel has gone from $1.28.4 to $1.28.3 a litre. 

Heating oil is down to $1.12.4 a litre with propane at 97.8 cents a litre.

Common Council Blindsided On Proposed Pension Changes

Common Councillors were taken by surprise in finding out they had to approve the changes to the city's pension plan they thought had been approved by the previous Council at its last meeting prior to the municipal election and sent on to the provincial government for its approval. 

The councillors were told they had to pass those draft changes by this morning or risk having to cut another 4 million dollars from the city budget. 

Councillor Susan Fullerton doesn't like a gun being put to her head but said she would vote in favour while holding her nose. Two of the other new councillors, John McKenzie and Susan Reardon also said they were not comfortable with having to make a snap decision on such an important issue.

Those changes will require the Pension Benefits Act to be amended and there is doubt that can happen before the current sitting of the Legislature ends early next month.

Despite that, Council voted unanimously to approve the draft changes and send them along to Fredericton.  

City Wants More Control Of Its Pension Plan

Just two days after being sworn in, Common Council will ask the province to repeal the City of Saint John Pension Act. 

This would mean the city would not have to go through the time consuming process of asking M-L-A's to approve any changes to the pension plan because it would fall under a municipal bylaw.

Mayor Mel Norton says Premier David Alward is on board with this and it can be done during the current sitting of the Legislature.
City Manager Pat Woods says the city is now at the mercy of the Provincial Legislative agenda with many trap doors that can derail any changes approved by Common Council.