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Cheers: to good ideas. The provincial government and the City of St. John’s have launched a two-year, $2.1 million pilot project to give Metrobus and GoBus passes to 10,000 income support recipients. It’s a step in the right direction for a whole bunch of reasons. While income support recipients could get bus passes for medical appointments in some instances in the past, appointments had to be verified; the new system gets rid of that hassle. But more: the move helps people with limited disposable income and few other options, and it helps increase passenger numbers on public transit — what’s not to like?
Jeers: to not getting along. The provincial government set up a committee to review the province’s minimum wage, but things didn’t go as smoothly as might be expected. In fact, as a backgrounder on the wage changes put it, “Members of the committee did not reach a consensus on recommendations to the minister.” That’s pretty obvious. When the report gets to the part where conclusions are outlined, the “we” of the committee is replaced by the “I” of the chairperson — “In conclusion, as Independent Chair, I believe that the Minimum Wage…” “I recommend that government should not interfere with the relationship between employee and employer…” “In my observations, government should consider…” Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when that report was being hashed out. Or, apparently, not being hashed out. (Oh, and not to be too picky here, but maybe hire a copyeditor? There are more than 80 spelling, grammar and punctuation errors in the committee’s report. To be fair, though, the version the government released does say it is “Draft Report 5.”)
Jeers: to still trailing in the hydroelectric footrace. Muskrat Falls is still chugging along towards completion. Meanwhile, west of us, Hydro-Québec released its annual report, along with this information: “One of the main projects under way involves the construction and connection of the Romaine hydroelectric complex (1,550 MW) in the Côte-Nord region. Three of the four reservoir generating stations in this complex, with 1,305 MW of total installed capacity, are already in operation. On the last jobsite, Romaine 4 (245 MW), construction advanced in 2019 on the dam, powerhouse and switchyard, with a view to impoundment of the reservoir in 2020 and commissioning of the generating station in 2021.” Unlike other hydroelectric projects you may have heard of in our region, the four-stage development is on time — and apparently on budget, too. That’s particularly interesting because two of the La Romaine plants were being built in the same period when “surprise” increases in Muskrat Falls construction costs occurred — supposedly triggered by Canada-wide labour shortages. To add insult to injury, Hydro-Québec describes this year’s financial results — with a net income of $2.9 billion and $4.2 billion in contributions to the Quebec government — as one of its best ever.