Friday, March 28, 2014

Public Sector Pay Freeze Proposed

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak wants the Liberal government to expand on its plans to freeze MPP wages.

He says all public sector workers should have their wages frozen as well.

The Tories says the MPP freeze will only save the province about $350-thousand a year when it's facing a nearly $11-billion deficit.

Hudak is also suggesting the pay of Cabinet members be slashed further for every year the government runs a deficit.

Public Workers Union Votes For Job Action

Public sector supervisory and other staff have given their union a mandate to stage job actions and other workplace disruptions to back contract demands.

Members of the Association of Management, Administrative and Professional Crown Employees of Ontario voted 94 per cent this past week in support.

It's the first time the Union has had such a vote.

President Gary Gannage says calls a government demand for benefit cuts a "declaration of war" on union members and their families.

Council Pay Revealed

More than $116-thousand was paid out in salaries and expenses for members of Fort Frances town council last year.

Mayor Roy Avis was the top wage earner at $32-thousand for serving on council as well on the Fort Frances Power Corporation and Police Services Board.

He also incurred $8,500 in expenses to attend a variety of meetings on behalf of the town outside the region.

Most other councillors earned around the $13-thousand mark with Rick Wiedenhoeft's pay coming in at $16-thousand as he too sits on the Police Services Board.

Road Maintenance Criticized

The opposition is throwing blame on the Liberal government for poor winter road maintenance this winter.

PC Critic Jeff Yurek attributes complaints about snow plowing practices to changes the Liberals made four years to how those contracts are awarded.

Transportation Minister Glen Murray says they're now delivering road maintenance at a lower cost value than when the Conservatives began contracting out services in 1998..

Road Work Planned

Some new passing lanes will be part of improvements planner for US Highway 53 south of International Falls.

Minnesota Department of Transportation's Walter Leu says most of the highway within Koochiching County and 11 miles into St. Louis County will get attention next year.

The work will include new turning and by-pass lanes.

Leu says total cost of the work is estimated to be about $25-million

Rainy River Resources Take-over Highlighted

The publication "Business in Vancouver" is listing New Gold's acquisition of Rainy River Resources as the fifth most-expensive mining acquisition in Canada in 2013.

New Gold acquired Rainy River Resources and its signature project near Barwick for $400-million in a cash and stock transaction, which closed in October.

First Quantum Minerals acquisition of Inmet Mining for $5.1 million is at the top of the magazine's annual review.

Outdoor Expo Gets Underway Today

An expo for area outdoor enthusiasts gets underway today in Internationals Falls.

The annual Outdoor Expo begins at 4 PM this afternoon at the Evangelical Covenant Church.

It continues from 9 AM to 4 PM tomorrow.

Organizer Tom Holt says it will include a number of speakers, demonstrations and displays.

Admission is free, but your encouraged to bring a non-perishable food items for the Salvation Army.

Canada Win Softwood Lumber Ruling

Canada likes it, but the U.S doesn't.

The London Court of International Arbitration is supporting Canada over export charges related to the Softwood Lumber Agreement.

Canada argued it shouldn't have applied the charges when a 2011 decision ruled subsidies to struggling companies in Ontario and Quebec violated the agreement because they came before the deal was been extended.

Canada's is now refunding companies their money.

The decision can not be appealed.

Boil Water Advisory Lifted

A boil water advisory at Rainy River Health Centre has been lifted.

The advisory was put in place last Thursday because of a water main break near the Rainy River hospital.

Riverside Health Care had taken precautions, including bringing in bottled water, during the advisory.

Food Insecurity Growing

A new report suggests food insecurity is becoming a serious problem in Canada's northern and remote First Nations communities.

The Council of Canadians Academies says the number of aboriginal households lacking access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food is growing at a rate more than double that of non-aboriginal households.

The Council says while there is no single solution, cooperation among various agencies and governments is key to reversing the trend.

New Program At Rainy River Community College

A new early childhood education program is being offered at Rainy River Community College in International Falls.

It's partnering with Virginia's Mesabi Range College on the degree program.

Graduates can also use the course to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education through Southwest State University.

Some of the courses are also transferable to a program at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.