Environment and Conservation
April 26, 2007
Protecting Our People and Our Environment
The Williams Government is strengthening public protection by investing in extra resources which protect people�s health, enhance safety, and address environmental and emergency needs.
Budget 2007 has dedicated more than $13 million for initiatives which will see increased staff resources for government services which are offered to the public, municipalities and businesses; improved resources for the justice system; enhanced environmental measures; and resources to improve upon emergency response.
"Our government places a very high priority on protecting the people and environment of our province," said the Honourable Dianne Whalen, Minister of Government Services. "Through these initiatives, we are working to ensure that public safety and health, in a wide variety of its aspects, are taken seriously. This includes giving people confidence that they live in a healthy, safe environment."
Enhancements to Public Health and Safety Delivery
Budget 2007 has identified $887,400 for the Department of Government Services for additional human and operational resources to enhance service delivery to the public. These include technical positions for environmental health, environmental protection, boilers and pressure vessels, elevating devices and amusement rides and electrical programs. Other positions will improve program delivery in the Motor Registration Division and Commercial and Consumer Affairs Branch, as well as provincial program support.
"The Department of Government Services is one of the primary points of contact that people and businesses have with the Provincial Government to conduct their everyday activities," said Minister Whalen. "Our employees aim to provide top quality public protection and customer service. These additions will enhance our ability to serve the public more effectively."
The Department of Government Services is also entering into the second year of a bursary program for students in environmental health, increasing its total budget to $185,500.
In addition, the Williams Government is increasing funding to the Animal Health Division of the Department of Natural Resources by $223,100 to support its increased role in the surveillance of emerging diseases that may be a threat to human and animal health, and in the area of food safety compliance.
Protecting Our Environment
Budget 2007 will see the Department of Natural Resources spend $3.288 million this year to begin a $10.1-million, three-year work plan for the former Baie Verte and Rambler mine sites. The work will begin to address the public safety and environmental contamination issues at the site.
The Provincial Government has a critical role to play in ensuring that new projects registering for an environmental assessment meet the required legislative deadlines set by the Provincial Government. A number of large-scale, resource-related projects, such as the Lower Churchill Project and NL Refining Corporation, have registered for environmental assessment. More are expected this year. The Provincial Government also has an integral role in ensuring appropriate environmental standards are adhered to in any new development or industrial operation. To that end, $127,000 will be directed to further strengthen the environmental assessment process and ensure that significant mega-projects are in compliance with environmental standards.
"Addressing environmental issues is more effective and less costly if done early in the environmental process," said the Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Environment and Conservation. "Our government is taking the necessary steps to ensure new developments meet all environmental standards and, through its legislated deadlines, that the Provincial Government provides proponents and their technical teams with feedback and instructions in a timely manner."
The Provincial Government will invest more than $400,000 to support new cost-shared agreements with the Federal Government and industry, along with a number of leading-edge technology initiatives to address drinking water issues. Among these initiatives, the Provincial Government has committed $80,000 annually over the next four years to:
In addition, through the Department of Education, the Provincial Government will invest $1.3 million annually to dramatically reduce emissions from the utilities annex of Memorial University, the Health Sciences Centre and the Janeway Hospital. This will be done by converting the annex to the use of 100 per cent light oil, rather than Bunker C oil. The change will result in an 87 per cent reduction in total particulate matter, a 54 per cent reduction of nitrogen oxides and a 71 per cent reduction in sulphur dioxide. This investment will improve air quality and ensure compliance with the Air Pollution Control Regulations under the Department of Environment and Conservation.
Increasing Our Policing Presence
Public protection includes enhancements to the legal system to ensure public confidence. In Budget 2007, the Williams Government has responded to the recommendations of the Lamer report by investing more than $2 million in this fiscal year. That investment is part of a three-year, $4.9 million phased-in approach to implement all 45 of Judge Antonio Lamer�s recommendations.
"Our government continues to improve our policing, legal aid and courts services through these investments," said the Honourable Tom Osborne, Minister of Justice. "We recognize the Lamer recommendations as a priority for the department and will be diligent about implementing them."
In addition to increasing resources to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, as part of the response to the Lamer Report, further investments in Budget 2007 to strengthen policing services include $3.4 million to the RCMP. This includes:
Budget 2007 also invests $270,400 for the addition of five more conservation officers for the Inland Fisheries Enforcement Program which was transferred to the Department of Justice from the Department of Natural Resources in 2006.
Enhancing Emergency Services
Protecting people during emergency situations is another priority of the Williams Government. Budget 2007 has provided $1.2 million to establish a new agency, to be known as Fire and Emergency Services� Newfoundland and Labrador (FES-NL). The agency will be mandated to develop and maintain a fire and emergency management system to mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from major emergencies and disasters that may occur in the province. FES-NL will incorporate the current functions of the Office of the Fire Commissioner and re-establish emergency management as a stand-alone division. The agency will report to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
"Preparedness and planning are essential to ensure that we can respond in an effective and co-ordinated manner in the event of an emergency or disaster situation," stated the Honourable Jack Byrne, Minister of Municipal Affairs. "We have a responsibility to be better prepared; and the establishment of an agency dedicated to fire and emergency management represents an important investment in public safety. A comprehensive approach to emergency preparedness and response will ensure a directed focus to enhance efforts for the protection and safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians."
As well, the Department of Education will invest $400,000 annually toward the operation and expansion of the Marine Institute�s Safety and Emergency Response Training Centre (SERTC). The Centre is located at the Stephenville Airport with more than 1,000 students each year receiving training in firefighting and emergency response, industry safety and other areas of emergency preparedness.
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2007 04 26 2:15 p.m.