March 13, 2003
(Executive Council)


Minister comments on downgrading of Gander Weather Office

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Tom Lush reacted today to the announcement by federal Environment minister David Anderson that the Gander Weather Office will be downgraded in favour of a regional centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Minister Lush stated: "I am extremely disappointed at today�s decision. I have been involved in this file for some time and recently wrote Minister Anderson expressing my concerns. My department also worked with the provincial environment minister and the area MHA Sandra Kelly."

The 14 meteorological centres across Canada are being consolidated into five "centres of excellence" with Winnipeg allowed to keep its forecasting abilities shared with Edmonton. Minister Lush said: "We have repeatedly requested that the Gander Centre become the regional centre for Atlantic Canada given the high level of expertise and infrastructure already in place. Instead the operation is being downgraded with only 10 positions remaining."

Minister Lush notes that provincial officials have continually impressed upon their federal counterparts the severity of weather conditions in Newfoundland and Labrador which necessitates full-service weather reporting facilities. "The fishing industry, the offshore oil industry, the aviation industry, and especially the air sea rescue squadron in Gander will be negatively impacted by this decision because of their need for frequent, and up to the minute, weather information."

The minister noted that this decision further decreases the federal government�s presence in this province. "At present there are 17 regional centres in Nova Scotia, 11 in New Brunswick, and none in Newfoundland and Labrador. We have repeatedly asked the federal environment minister to establish the Gander Centre as the regional centre for eastern Canada providing them with the opportunity to correct this inequity. Obviously they have not taken advantage of that opportunity."

Media contact: Tom Hann, Communications, (709) 729-1341.

2003 03 13                                       4:50 p.m. 

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