"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hey, what took so long?

The Telegram joins the party! From Friday’s editorial:

Someone’s got a bit of explaining to do. After the province’s minister of health, Ross Wiseman, slipped up on Wednesday and revealed the existence of inspection reports on hospitals in the St. John’s area, he had to know that the questions would come fast and furious.

Questions like: given this written commitment from the Williams campaign in the 2003 election campaign that “A Progressive Conservative government will ... release to the public every government-commissioned report within 30 days of receiving it, indicate the action government will take on a report’s recommendations within 60 days, and ensure prompt public access to all government reports in hard copy and on the Internet,” why is it these reports have spent three years or so hidden from view?
Indeed! But it’s not like it’s the first case of this strange notion of accountability under Williams Government.

The Hay Report: In March 2004, Williams Government hires the Hay Group, the same consulting firm it once ridiculed when in opposition, to study the operations of Western Health and Grenfell Regional Health Services. The Hay report is not released until February 2005.

Labrador Marine Configuration: On April 12, 2004, the then-Minister of Transportation and Ferrymandering, Tom Rideout, makes a Ministerial statement concerning the configuration of Labrador marine transportation services, based on the report of the Public Policy Research Centre,which is, from his statement, already in his hands.

The report is not released until May 15th.

The Straits Fixed Link Study: In May 2004, Hatch Mott MacDonald was awarded the contract for the pre-feasibility study into the Williams Government Memorial Tunnel under the Strait of Belle Isle, with an expected completion date of “late summer 2004”. The study actually lands on the Premier’s desk in October or November, in time for him to tell the opposition that it would be released before the legislature opened for the fall. The legislature opened on November 22nd. On December 15th, then-opposition leader Roger Grimes asks about it, getting a classic blustery Williams Government non-answer:
MR. GRIMES: I ask this question, Mr. Speaker: Before the House opened, government stated that the study on the fixed link to Labrador, which was commissioned almost a full year ago, would be available and ready for release on November 22, the day this Legislature opened. It was publicly announced. The date was given. They then delayed that date, stating that the group at the university needed to clean up a few final details. It is three weeks later. I ask the Premier: When will that be report be released?

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, with regard to the Leader of the Opposition’s support for our position on the Atlantic Accord, I guess he just sticks his head out the window and sees which way the wind is blowing; because if it happens to be blowing this way, he is going this way, and if the wind is blowing that way, he goes that way. He is all over the map on the Atlantic Accord.

When it was convenient for him, when the Liberal convention was on and he wanted to basically keep his position over there, he cuddled up to John Efford and took a position with John Efford. As soon as the weekend was over, he went the other way.

For somebody who supports me, I ask him: Why, in The Telegram, on November 7, 2004, did he say: What is it that our Premier is in a rant about, turning down $1.4 billion over eight years?

That person over there would have had us accept, our Province accept, $1.4 billion.

Those numbers are now at $2.8 billion and climbing every single day. You would have taken less, Sir. That is not support, in my mind.
The Telegram of January 13, 2005 reported that Premier Williams had said, earlier that week, that the fixed link study would be released within a month.

On February 18, Premier Williams told Gary Kean of the Western Star that the report would be released within a week to ten days.

The report, which didn’t give Danny the answer he was looking for, was finally released, nearly four months after being received by the provincial government, on February 28, 2005.

Trans-Labrador Highway Chip Seal Assessment: In Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Amy Jo Patey of the Labradorian reported on May 29, 2006, that at its most recent meeting, town council heard that it was “still waiting on a report from the provincial government on the various grades of chip seal being considered for the Trans Labrador Highway. [Councillor Dean] Clarke said the town was told the report would be made available to them by April 1 and was discouraged by the delay.”

On October 2 of that year, Paul Carlucci reports for the same paper that “Council is still waiting on a report from the province about which sort of chip seal is best for paving the Trans Labrador Highway. “At this point, we don’t know what the report says,” said Councilor Dean Clarke. “We were supposed to have it month’s ago. What’s the big secret?”

Grenfell College/University Study: In April 2005, Memorial University President Axel Meisen appoints Dr. George Ivany, Dr. James Greenlee and Dr. Jack Strawbridge to study the administration of Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook.

In August, in response to the “Ivany Report” and the local storm it sets off in Corner Brook, where he is reportedly a local Member of the House of Assembly, Premier Williams suggests “independence” for Grenfell.

In December 2005, the province announces a full-fledged “feasibility study to examine the various degrees of autonomy for Sir Wilfred Grenfell College”.

In June, 2006, the Western Star reports that “The province has received a rough draft of a feasibility study it has commissioned to examine the various degrees of autonomy for Sir Wilfred Grenfell College. However, according to a department spokesperson, Education Minister Joan Burke sent the report back to the two government-appointed commissioners last week for further clarification of some points contained in the document. It could be another month or so before the province has a final report to consider.”

On September 21, 2006, Cory Hurley of the same paper reports that “the report on the feasibility study into the autonomy of Memorial University’s Corner Brook campus has been submitted to government […] A spokesperson for the Department of Education verified the report, which was anticipated to be completed in July or August, was received this month.”

Hurley reports on November 27 — which is more than 30 days later than September 21 — that “The Department of Education remains tight-lipped about the future of Sir Wilfred Grenfell College.”

The Kelly-Davies report is finally released on April 27, 2007 — more than seven months after being received by the Williams Government that commissioned it,and only after trumpeting the report’s main recommendation in the budget speech the day before.

Future of Colonial Building: On September 7, 2007, Barb Sweet, on the Colonial Building beat, reports for the Telegram that “the advisory committee [examing the future of the vacant heritage building] submitted two draft reports completed by consultants and both are under review, but they aren’t considered “final” reports, since issues may require clarification during the review.”

On November 22, Sweet updates the story, reporting that “The Colonial Building provincial historic structures report, obtained by The Telegram under the province’s Access to Information Act, was completed the end of September.”

How odd, that she would have had to go through Access to Information to obtain that report.

How much odder that, it now being March 2008, that same provincial government-commissioned report still hasn’t been released.

St. John’s Hospital Assessments: On February 28 of this year: Rob Antle reports for the Telegram that:
A 2005 consultant’s report concluded that the Waterford Hospital site needed $35.6 million in “current requirements” to fix everything from leaky roofs to mouldy stairwells to crumbling masonry.


The Waterford report identifies a time frame of one to two years for potentially critical work. VFA concluded its work in September 2005, more than two years ago.

Eastern Health released the telephone-book-sized Waterford facility condition assessment report after Health Minister Ross Wiseman referenced its existence while speaking to news media Wednesday morning.


Asked by a reporter about problems at the Waterford, the minister referenced its “facility report.” He later backtracked, saying “there might be” such a report. But he declined comment on the Waterford situation, noting that he had not read it.
Over at the Ceeb, they reported on the same day that Wiseman generously
released parts of a 2005 consultant’s report that shows a litany of expensive problems at the city’s aging hospitals…


Health Minister Ross Wiseman revealed the existence of the review on Wednesday
Other examples gratefully accepted via comments or email.


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