Wil­liams ral­lies the troops

Premier says gov­ern­ment will not re­visit Cen­tral Health’s sav­ings sug­ges­tions

The Southern Gazette - - CLASSIFIED - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON Transconti­nental Com­mu­nity News­pa­pers

Premier Danny Wil­liams touched down in Gan­der for the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in fiery fash­ion Oct. 24.

He sent a clear mes­sage on fur­ther­ing the dom­i­nant pro­vin­cial party’s hold on gov­ern­ment. He was also clear on Cen­tral Health’s op­er­a­tions – the sav­ings from Lewis­porte should ben­e­fit all, though they still might be looking for ways to cut cap­i­tal costs.

He in­di­cated “We went in there with the un­der­stand­ing that with lab and X-ray ser­vices in Flower’s Cove and Lewis­porte, we would save $100,000-$200,000 a year on an op­er­a­tional ba­sis. We are now find­ing that as a re­sult of cap­i­tal sav­ings in Flower’s Cove and Lewis­porte, we will save mil­lions of dol­lars in cap­i­tal constructi­on. It’s an ironic turn­around.”

When asked in a re­porter scrum whether the sav­ings would pre­vent the gov­ern­ment from re­vis­it­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions on cost-sav­ings made by Cen­tral Health for the gov­ern­ment ear­lier this year, the premier re­it­er­ated that a fur­ther re­view of X-ray

“If we can find ways to make sav­ings on a cap­i­tal side rather than an op­er­at­ing side, we’ll do that.”

– Premier Danny Wil­liams

ser­vices was off the ta­ble. He added that they would pre­fer to ex­plore fur­ther sav­ings on cap­i­tal costs.

“If we can find ways to make sav­ings on a cap­i­tal side rather than an op­er­at­ing side, we’ll do that.”

In a let­ter dated Feb. 23, 2009, John Kat­ten­busch, vice-pres­i­dent of fi­nance and cor­po­rate ser­vices for Cen­tral Health, of­fered 14 “po­ten­tial op­er­a­tional changes” for the health au­thor­ity.

Amongst those were to “place OBS ( ob­stet­rics) ser­vices in CNRHC (Cen­tral New­found­land Re­gional Health Cen­tre in Grand Falls-Wind­sor) and re­duce staff ac­cord­ingly” at James Pa­ton Re­gional Health Cen­tre in Gan­der.

The move, if it were im­ple­mented, would re­sult in peo­ple from Gan­der and the sur­round­ing area hav­ing to travel to Grand Falls-Wind­sor to re­ceive mater- nity ward ser­vices.

An­other change of­fered was the clo­sure of the Hare Bay Med­i­cal Cen­tre.


Oth­er­wise, the evening al­lowed Premier Wil­liams to bask in the glow of his ador­ing sup­port­ers, who had gath­ered in Gan­der to elect a new ex­ec­u­tive.

The premier had spent most of the day cam­paign­ing for the by­elec­tion in The Straits–White Bay North along­side sev­eral cab­i­net min­is­ters.

“I can feel the heat here tonight. I was frozen on the north­ern penin­sula.”

He started his speech dur­ing the ban­quet din­ner on a som­bre note, ad­dress­ing the poor health of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Diane Whalen, who was un­able to at­tend the con­ven­tion.

He ac­knowl­edged “She’s very sick, and she needs our pray­ers.”

He ex­pressed plea­sure at com­ing to Gan­der, where he said he’d been at­tend­ing PC events since his teens.

He joked “We go way back, me and Gan­der. I’ve been at­tend­ing con­ven­tions here since the ‘60s. You’ve prob­a­bly heard the story be­fore about me at 13 or 14, tak­ing my dad’s car and get­ting picked-up by the Moun­ties.”

He said the tim­ing of the con­ven­tion in Gan­der with the by­elec­tion was un­for­tu­nate, but nec­es­sary. He also took a mo­ment to ques­tion as­ser­tions that the de­ci­sion to re­verse cuts to the Flower’s Cove X-ray and lab ser­vices was a po­lit­i­cal one.

“If we had the cor­rect in­for­ma­tion at any time for Flower’s Cove and Lewis­porte, we would have turned it around.”

The premier mar­velled at the party’s strength in hold­ing 44 of the 48 seats in the house of as­sem­bly and said they were “do­ing some­thing bet­ter than the tired, Lib­eral ways.”

He sug­gested the ex­port of young peo­ple and wealth from nat­u­ral re­sources are two mat­ters the party has done well to re­verse since tak­ing power in New­found­land and Labrador, help­ing move to­wards have-prov­ince sta­tus.

To waves of ap­plause, he noted “All of you, each of you, are the true-blue he­roes who gave New­found­land and Labrador this brand new beginning.”

How­ever, he did cite some new chal­lenges for gov­ern­ment on the hori­zon, par­tic­u­larly with re­gards to Hy­dro Que­bec’s plans to pur­chase NB Power from the New Brunswick gov­ern­ment.

New­found­land and Labrador, which plans to de­velop the Lower Churchill hy­dro­elec­tric project, wants to even­tu­ally ex­port en­ergy to the United States, but has not been able to ar­range trans­mis­sion through Que­bec.

The other op­tion re­main­ing would in­volve en­ter­ing Maine through the Mar­itimes prov­inces, but Hy­dro Que­bec could con­ceiv­ably block New­found­land and Labrador there.

“You would think they (Hy­dro Que­bec) would al­low us to pur­sue Lower Churchill, but they block us at ev­ery turn.

“But we won’t al­low that to hap­pen and if there’s a bat­tle that’s go­ing to be fought by pri­or­ity, that bat­tle will be with Hy­dro Que­bec.”

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