March 13, 2002
(Works, Services and Transportation)

The following statement was issued today by Percy Barrett, Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

Update on security improvements

On November 19, 2001, in the wake of terrorist attacks in the United States, the premier informed honourable members of the House of Assembly of actions government had taken to improve security in this province. Since then, government has been working diligently to develop additional measures to further enhance the safety of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and in particular individuals working in or visiting government facilities. Today, I would like to provide an update of those activities.

While it was determined the security risk for Newfoundland and Labrador is low, we believe the protection of government employees, visitors to our buildings and the general public should be a high priority. Government is, therefore, introducing concrete measures to help achieve a security-sensitive environment within its facilities and among its employees. This will help ensure the rights and safety of employees, MHAs and visitors, as well as the smooth continuation of the day-to-day operations of government and the House of Assembly.

Mail handling procedures have been developed in the event suspicious packages are delivered to any provincial government facility. These procedures have been forwarded to all department heads.

Additionally, effective April 15, employees in the Confederation Complex will be required to wear ID cards while at work. Identification badges will help us distinguish visitors from employees, increasing the convenience and safety of both. Once ID cards have been implemented in the Confederation Complex, their use will be considered in other government buildings.

Visitor pass protocols are also being developed. In the near future, visitors to the Confederation Complex will be issued passes for the duration of their visit, after signing in at the security desk in one of the two main lobbies. Use of visitors’ passes in other government buildings will be evaluated once implementation in Confederation Complex has been completed.

An independent review of safety and security in the House of Assembly in particular, and the Confederation Complex generally, was conducted by Mr. Dennis M. Clark. Mr. Clark is the Sergeant-at-Arms and Executive Director for Building Management and Conservation for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Mr. Clark’s report identified a number of improvements that should be made in the building to protect employees and visitors, as well as government facilities. The Commission of Internal Economy, which represents all MHAs and oversees the operation and administration of the House of Assembly, accepted this report and endorsed its recommendations.

Many ceremonial and fundraising events are, and can continue to be, held in various areas of the Confederation Complex. These events require prior approval from and can be facilitated by the Department of Works, Services and Transportation.

In keeping with the review recommendations, effective immediately, demonstrations and protests will be held outside of government buildings. Citizens will be able to exercise their right to assemble and protest in the area around the Coat of Arms Lookout, which has been designed specifically for public gatherings.

The House of Assembly will still be open to and, indeed, welcome visitors. Security enhancements will enable us to provide a better, more safe and secure environment for members of the public visiting the gallery, employees and Members of the House of Assembly.

In the coming weeks, employees will receive more information regarding security enhancements. As public employees, we all share a responsibility to help achieve a safe and secure environment together, by following basic guidelines and cooperating with standard security procedures.

We now live in an environment of heightened security. Government places great importance on the protection of its employees and of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. We will take every reasonable and practical measure to enhance their safety. Thank you.

2002 03 13                          3:20 p.m.

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