Percy Barrett, MHA for the District of Bellevue, says
government must explain why it issued a news release on January 31st
concerning winter road maintenance that denies facts released in a Freedom
of Information response issued January 14th of this year.
"The Minister of Transportation and Works issued a
news release and called local open-line programs to reiterate that his
department did not lay off any winter maintenance staff," said Barrett.
"According to our Freedom of Information request received last month, the
Minister terminated seven of these positions and paid termination costs
"If the Minister did not terminate these individuals
or positions, he should explain to the public why his department paid out in
excess of $750,000 in termination costs over the past year. In their own
document released on January 14th, government lists 13 highway
maintenance positions that were terminated, yet the Minister denies that
services have been downgraded."
Barrett says residents of the province have a right to
be upset with the quality of work being done by the Department of
Transportation and Works this year. He says that budget cuts and
mismanagement by the Minister have cost taxpayers a lot of money and has
reduced services. "First the Minister became involved in the Labrador Ferry
Service and unnecessarily spent almost a million dollars, and now he has
terminated employees who are essential to providing quality services to the
public, despite concerns raised by NAPE and the Opposition.
"It is time this Minister informed the public about
what is really happening in his department with respect to highway
maintenance. I have raised concerns on several occasions and the Minister
refuses to take them seriously. His own statements have been proven wrong by
officials in Treasury Board and it is time that government showed some
accountability and provided real answers to these serious concerns."
Barrett says the existing employees in the department
work hard with the limited resources that are available to provide essential
services to the public. He says the problem that exists is not with highway
workers, but with the management style and budget decisions of the Minister.