zoom A 20-year old man died having fallen from the cruise ship Carnival Ecstasy while docked in the port of Miami, Florida on Monday morning, September 29.The ill-fated passenger fell from the ship’s 20-feet mast after he entered the restricted area with a group of about six other passengers, and climbed the mast to, reportedly, watch the sun rise.The young man, a student of Clemson University, fell from the mast, once the cruise ship’s radar system resumed operation.According to Carnival, the ship’s medical team rushed to the ship’s decking below to render medical assistance to the passenger, who was subsequently taken to the hospital where he passed away.Carnival Ecstasy was on her way back from a Caribbean voyage when the accident occurred. Print Close 此页面无法正确加载 Google 地图。您是否拥有此网站？确定 World Maritime News Staff, October 2, 2014; Image: Carnival Cruise Lines My location
zoom Import cargo volume at the United States’ major retail container ports is expected to rise 16.9 percent this month over the same time last year as West Coast ports begin to dig out from a backlog of cargo that built up during contract negotiations with dockworkers, shows Global Port Tracker report released on Monday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.“The contract talks are over, but the tentative agreement still has to be ratified and it’s going to take months to get back to normal on the West Coast,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said.“Retailers’ immediate priority is to make sure spring merchandise reaches store shelves in time. Going forward, we want labor, management and Washington to work together to see that we never again have a situation like what we went through these past several months.”Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.24 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in January, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 13.4 percent from December following the end of the holiday season and down 9.5 percent from January 2014.February was estimated at 1.27 million TEU, up 2.3 percent from 2014. March is forecast at 1.52 million TEU as spring merchandise arrives, up 16.9 percent from last year. The March number is high both because of the backlog of ships at anchor waiting to be unloaded and because the annual Lunar New Year shutdown of Chinese factories was later this year, delaying some February cargo into March. April is forecast at 1.51 million TEU, up 5.2 percent; May at 1.57 million TEU, up 6.1 percent; June also at 1.57 million TEU, up 6 percent, and July at 1.6 million TEU, up 6.7 percent.The first half of 2015 is forecast at 8.7 million TEU, an increase of 4.5 percent over the same period last year.Congestion at West Coast ports has prompted many importers to shift their cargo elsewhere, prompting speculation on how long the shift might last. West Coast ports handled 55 percent of cargo this January, down from 64 percent during the same month in 2014, while East Coast ports handled 45 percent, up from 36 percent.“Importers and exporters are reviewing their supply chain plans for the future, and not necessarily in favor of the West Coast,” Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. “Looking on the practical side, a number of factors favor a return to the West Coast.”Hackett said sending ships from Asia to the East Coast is more expensive than the West Coast, takes longer, and results in higher expenses to move the cargo to Midwest distribution centers by rail. In addition, importers have significant investments in West Coast distribution centers that would not easily be abandoned.
zoom A Chinese non-profit organisation has filed a landmark lawsuit at Qingdao Maritime Court against US oil major ConocoPhillips and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) Ltd for the 2011 oil spill in Bohai Bai.The lawsuit filed by the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation requires the defendants to take responsibility for the series of oil spills that began at Penglai 19-3 oilfield on June 4, 2011, and ultimately affected over 6,200 square kilometers of water.This lawsuit is the first public interest litigation filed by a non-profit organization in relation to marine pollution.The oil field is 51% owned by CNOOC, and 49% owned by ConocoPhillips.The incidents resulted in approximately 723 barrels (115 cubic meters) of oil and 2,620 barrels (416 cubic meters) of mineral oil-based drilling mud seeping into Bohai Bay.In 2012, the companies were ordered to pay an aggregate amount of RMB 1.683 billion (USD 266.7 million) to compensate for the marine ecological damage caused by the oil spill accident.Penglai 19-3 oilfield was cleared to resume production in February 2013.World Maritime News Staff
zoom Liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipping company Golar LNG Limited reported today a 3Q operating loss of USD 24.2 million as compared to USD 43.4 million in 2Q.In line with the company’s expectations, 3Q reported an improvement in vessel utilisation, albeit from a very low level in 2Q.Although headline charter rates remained relatively constant across the quarters, the increase in utilisation from 33% in 2Q to 43% in 3Q together with improved round trip economics resulted in an increase in time charter revenues from USD 16.9 million in 2Q to USD 24.3 million in 3Q. With the exception of the Golar Penguin, all of the carriers recorded utilisation at or above prior quarter levels.According to Golar, Middle East demand has been the main driver of LNG carrier spot fixtures. Fixing activity in the Middle East and Atlantic regions has been higher than in the Pacific.Both Egypt and Jordan have recently concluded tenders to buy 56 and 19 cargoes respectively through to the end of 2016. Activity levels in 4Q have continued to improve, particularly for European reloads heading into the new terminals in the Middle East, and in the Atlantic in general.On November 25, Golar took delivery of its 7th FSRU, the newbuild Golar Tundra. Golar Tundra will shortly proceed to Keppel where the vessel will undergo some minor modifications required to make the FSRU compatible with receiving facilities currently being constructed in the port of Tema, Ghana.Golar received an underwritten financing commitment for the Golar Tundra and following its delivery a total of USD 205 million was drawn down. Golar Tundra is to commence operations in 2Q 2016 inside the port of Tema under a five-year FSRU contract.“The company is progressing with the financing for FLNG number 2. Several banks have given indications and the company expects to have a committed facility in place before the end of Q1,” Golar added.The cash balance at the end of 3Q was USD 222.8 million. Financing of the Golar Tundra and repayment by Golar Partners of the USD 100 million Eskimo vendor loan have added USD 150 million to liquidity since September 30.The company has decided and agreed to delay the effective dates for the Gandria and Gimi conversion projects until employment contracts for these assets are further advanced.In addition, Golar said that it has agreed to the repossession of Salju LNG tanker from P.T. Equinox based on a vessel valuation of USD 125 million which is in line with current market valuations.“This will be satisfied by extinguishing a loan to the vessel owning company and therefore no cash will actually be paid. As the vessel valuation is lower than the USD 138.6 million loan and working capital advances receivable by Golar from P.T. Equinox and the equity injected by P.T. Equinox has been exhausted, a non-cash impairment of USD 15 million (net of associated repossession costs) has been recognised,” the company explained.With respect to market, the company said that the LNG carrier spot market is now showing the first real signs of recovery on the back of new production capacity starting up and the very welcome acceptance by the market of the Cool Pool, adding that the market for FSRU’s has clearly entered into a new phase.“Whereas, previously, potential new FSRU projects were frustrated by the inability to secure LNG supply, we now find holders of uncontracted LNG supply motivated to accelerate FSRU projects in an effort to reduce their exposure. Based upon current customer inquiries the Company is very confident that the available uncontracted FSRU capacity will be absorbed shortly,” the company anticipates.The company said that it was considering the release of some of the equity currently tied up in shipping activities and using this to grow the company’s FLNG activities.“This can include leveraging unencumbered assets, re-leveraging existing debt facilities as well as being open to strategic transactions within the shipping segment,” Golar said.“The company expects operating earnings to improve in the coming quarters, driven by an improved shipping market and Golar Tundra commencing operations in 2Q 2016. The Board also expects positive outcomes from the ongoing contract discussions in the FLNG business within the next six months and see significant opportunities to build a solid long term contract backlog and cashflow from this business,” the company concluded.
zoom Following the incident involving the Indonesia-registered ferry Sea Prince off Batam on November 29, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has launched an investigation into the incident with the ferry operator, Batamfast, and relevant Indonesian authorities.MPA said it has also interviewed some of the affected passengers and the ferry crew members, and calls on the members of the public to provide information regarding the incident.As World Maritime News reported, all passengers were accounted for after the vessel hit a floating object last week.At the time of the incident, the ferry was carrying a total of 97 passengers, including 51 Singaporeans and 7 crew members.The incident occurred shorty after the ferry departed the Nongsapura ferry terminal.
zoom The European Parliament’s Environment Committee has called for the inclusion of maritime transport into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) from 2023 if the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) does not deliver a global deal by 2021.The Environment Committee MEPs agreed to align the start of shipping in the ETS with the date by which the IMO promised to deliver a global deal.The vote to include maritime transport into the revised ETS went against the advice of the European Parliament’s Industry Committee, which voted to keep shipping out, only a month ago, the Danish Shipowners’ Association said, adding that the association regrets that MEPs chose regionalism over global progress.The deadlines included in the vote show lack of understanding of the international climate road map warns MEP Bendt Bendtsen from the Christian-Democratic group, EPP.“By calling for an ETS for shipping in case no international system operates by 2021, my colleagues have unfortunately chosen to cave in to regionalism and ignore the long-term impact for European growth and the environment. With only a small part of global shipping touching EU ports, ETS will miss the intended climate target and runs the risk of derailing the IMO process,” said Bendt Bendtsen (EPP, DK), Member of the Industry Committee.“I can only say that the Industry Committee stands firmly behind its call for shipping to be addressed internationally, otherwise it may well lead to cargo being transshipped outside of Europe with direct impacts on European employment. I will personally follow the regulatory developments at regional and international level very closely.”On the other hand, the sustainable transport group Transport & Environment has said that the vote to include shipping into ETS is fair and will help ensure ships do not undermine climate action in other industries.Faig Abbasov, shipping and aviation officer at T&E, said: “When the choices were between sailing towards oblivion or having ships and planes account for at least some of their climate impact, environment committee MEPs chose the latter. It also sends a clear message to the global aviation and shipping bodies that the time for weak or no action has long gone. Why should we let ships and planes do nothing while we regulate every other industry’s emissions?”The Parliament plenary will vote on its position next year. Negotiations between Parliament and national governments will then begin, with the aim of reaching an agreement on reform of the ETS by the end of 2017.“With much uncertainty hanging over ICAO and IMO, the European Parliament has acted decisively to ensure these sectors will be subject to effective climate measures. Council should now follow the Parliament’s lead, and ensure climate ambition is not entirely outsourced to two agencies with long records of inaction,” Abasov said.
zoom UK-based ferry operator P&O Ferries carried more freight across the English Channel in the first three months of the year than in any first quarter in its modern history. The ferry and logistics company’s six ships on the Dover-Calais route transported 361,100 lorries during January, February and March.This figure was almost 11 per cent higher than the corresponding period in 2016 and nine per cent higher than the previous best ever Q1 in 2012.P&O Ferries also set individual monthly freight records in January, February and March respectively, the company said.Janette Bell, Managing Director of P&O Ferries, said: “Our performance during Q1 shows just how many businesses across Europe rely – either directly or indirectly – on the services we provide. We expect demand for cross-Channel transport to increase, driven by a rising population and the continuing strength of the British economy. It is essential for our customers from all parts of Europe that maintaining secure, safe and efficient passage through the ports of Dover and Calais is a priority for both sides negotiating Britain’s departure from the European Union.” During the quarter, two of P&O Ferries’ English Channel ships – the Pride of Canterbury and the Pride of Burgundy – spent several weeks each in Poland’s Remontowa shipyard for life extension work. Both vessels, which weigh up to 30,000 tons, have now been relaunched and are back in service.
zoom Norway has opened an autonomous shipping test bed in Horten on the Oslofjord, Kongsberg said.The test bed, officially opened on December 6, is the third of its kind in the country and the fourth such approved area in the world.Established to support the growth in the development of new solutions for autonomous maritime operations, the new area is open to both Norwegian and international organizations. As explained, the area is designed to be “a convenient, safe, non-congested space to trial new technology and vessels.”The area is specially designated for autonomous trials by the Norwegian Maritime Administration and the Norwegian Coastal Administration.The initiative to establish the new test bed was undertaken by maritime technology company Kongsberg, the town of Horten, classification society DNV GL, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) and the University College of South East Norway.The introduction of the test bed follows the last year’s opening of the world’s first autonomous shipping test bed located on the Trondheimsfjord. Additionally, Norway reached an agreement in October this year to set up a test area for unmanned vessels in the Sunnmøre region. What is more, a test area for projects related to autonomous ships was opened in Finland in August 2017.The test beds in Trondheim and Horten are said to be an important resource for Kongsberg’s ongoing development of technology for projects such as the Yara Birkeland, the world’s first all-electric, autonomous containership, the Hrönn, an autonomous offshore support vessel, and marine robotics technology.These and other autonomous vessel projects are expected to transform many aspects of shipping and offshore operations, by introducing safer, more environmentally friendly and cost-effective modes of transport and working at sea, according to Kongsberg.“With critical developments in maritime autonomy technology and software taking place at Kongsberg Maritime in Horten, the location of the new test bed will support a number of ground-breaking technology projects,” Egil Haugsdal, President, Kongsberg Maritime, commented. “The move towards greater autonomy at sea has the potential to transform maritime operations and while the technology has now been proven, we look towards the regulations. Establishment of these test beds are an important step, as it shows close co-operation between the people making the technology and vessels and the organisations developing the rules that will allow them to operate,” he added.
zoom A Magellan-owned oil platform, located three miles offshore of Corpus Christi, suffered a fire in the afternoon hours of March 7.According to the United States Coast Guard, watchstanders received a report of the fire and launched a Coast Guard Station Port Aransas 45-foot response boat crew to the area.Once on scene, the response boat crew established a 200-yard safety zone. There were no persons aboard the platform at the time of the fire and at around 6:30 p.m. local time the response boat crew reported the fire was out.A team of firefighters, coordinated by O’Brien’s Response Management, arrived on the platform and confirmed the fire was out, as well as no visible signs of pollution.An investigation into the cause of the fire was launched.
zoomImage Courtesy: Team Tankers International Chemical tanker operator Team Tankers International has finalized the acquisition of Laurin Shipping AB and Anglo-Atlantic Steamship Company.Earlier in 2018, the company entered into agreements to acquire all of the outstanding shares in each of the two companies, which are engaged in the Medium Range (MR) tanker shipping sector.The preliminary purchase prices payable at closing for the shares in Laurin Shipping AB and Anglo-Atlantic Steamship Company have been estimated to USD 10.4 million and USD 55.3 million, respectively.The preliminary subscription price for the shares in the company has been estimated at USD 2.00 per share and a total of 21,096,099 new shares in Team Tankers have been issued to the former owner of Anglo-Atlantic Steamship Company, Thunder Bay Ltd.The new shares represent 10.07% of the issued shares and votes of Team Tankers.The mentioned preliminary purchase prices and the subscription price are subject to customary post-closing adjustments.Following the issuance of the new shares, the issued share capital of the company will be 209,578,173 common shares, each with a par value of USD 0.01.
After becoming an early adopter of drones across its mine sites, international resources company BHP has started introducing drones into its ocean freight operations. As explained by the company, this provides “enormous safety benefits and efficiency gains”.Although the project is still in the trial phase, BHP’s Vice President of Marketing Freight, Rashpal Bhatti, sees the potential for drones to be a key part of a tablet-based technological package, incorporating artificial intelligence that provides captains a digital view of their ship.“All of our chartered ships receive a tablet when they berth. And on the tablet they can read the tension of the mooring line which has major safety benefits,’’ Bhatti said.“The question now is can the same tablet become a holistic technological package by also delivering ship hold inspection data, draft readings and other critical information captured by drones. It’s all a bit futuristic but that is the direction we are going,’’ he added.BHP was an early adopter of #drones across its mine sites. Now drones are taking flight at BHP’s ocean freight operations, providing enormous #safety benefits and #efficiency gains. Discover more → https://t.co/YXVb38aruj pic.twitter.com/2ervQ5ltq2— BHP (@bhp) October 11, 2018Like the drones being used across other parts of BHP’s operations, marine drones can be programmed to carry a range of specific tasks.In the ocean freight business, there are clear and immediate advantages from using drones in the inspection of holds and in the taking of draft readings. Then there is their nimbleness in the seemingly simple but important task of advising the ship’s bridge on the water position of the rudder, BHP said.Hold inspection reports would continue to be independent assessments but the use of drones promises to cut inspection times per hold from an hour to 15 minutes.“The hold inspection process involves ships which have five to nine holds which a person checks by climbing down ladders. The inspector has to be physically fit, use fall protection, and carry a parrot (oxygen meter) to make sure there is enough air in the hold. And it takes a lot of time,’’ Bhatti explained.“With drones, we can fly them into a hold and capture 4K images, but also infra-red, and other types of cameras that can show cracks or other specific parameters that cannot be seen with the naked eye. There are basically three or four types of ships with hold sizes about the same. So once you program a drone to go into a certain ship, it can become an autonomous process. So you have a better way to assess the condition of the hold, and you are removing a person from a potentially hazardous situation,’’ Bhatti further said.BHP is also testing the use of drones to improve the safety, time and cost of ship draft readings. This is usually done from a boat when the ship is berthed and ready for a cargo.One of the logistical challenges to overcome is to get the drones on ships when they are offshore at anchorage, as distinct from being berthed, according to the company.“We are working with ship owners on this and other ways to use technology to improve safety and productivity,’’ Bhatti continued.BHP ships more than 300 million tons of iron ore, coal and copper around the world annually. More than 1,500 voyages are made, making BHP one of the largest charterers of dry bulk carriers in the world.
zoomImage Courtesy: Pacific Basin Hong Kong-based dry bulk shipping company Pacific Basin Shipping has closed a USD 40 million seven-year term loan facility with ship finance institute Danish Ship Finance A/S.As explained, the facility is an extension of the company’s existing term loan with Danish Ship Finance A/S and is secured by the same 19 vessels currently secured under the original financing.Pacific Basin said that borrowings under the new facility will carry an interest cost of Libor plus 1.5%, extend the company’s overall amortization profile and enhance its financial flexibility.“We are very pleased with the terms of this additional new tranche to our existing term loan facility which further consolidates our funding flexibility with access to long-term committed funding for the next seven years at an attractive cost which contributes to our competitive vessel P&L breakeven levels,” Peter Schulz, CFO of Pacific Basin, commented.Pacific Basin currently operates around 210 dry bulk ships of which 111 are owned and the rest are chartered.
A new funding agreement between the Municipality of VictoriaCounty and the provincial government will help Nova Scotia keepits lead as one of the most connected provinces. The agreementwill help bring advanced broadband technology and improvedInternet access to more than 20 communities throughout thecounty. The province is investing $100,000 as part of the Victoria Countyproject known as Broadband Solutions for Rural Development. Phaseone of the project will bring DSL broadband technology tocommunities that currently are without high-speed Internetaccess. The province’s investment is being made through matching fundingunder Industry Canada’s Broadband for Rural and NorthernDevelopment (BRAND) pilot program. That program deploys broadbandto unserved or under-served rural communities. “BRAND offers the best option for encouraging other investmentsthat help to extend basic broadband service into rural NovaScotia,” said Economic Development Minister Ernest Fage. “Thatkind of Internet access helps Nova Scotia maintain its status asone of the most connected provinces, so look for us to sign moreagreements for matching BRAND funding in other areas in the nearfuture.” The province has also invested $170,000 in BRAND projects in theStrait area and Cumberland County. The provincial government investment in these three projects hashelped to leverage about $5.9 million from other public andprivate sector funding sources. “The provincial investment will help us complete the first phaseof our plan to make broadband an essential part of ourinfrastructure and an important tool for growing and sustainingour rural economy,” said Wayne Budge, warden, Municipality ofVictoria County. “Our municipal broadband team has been extremely busy preparingto implement the business plan and we are delighted to be able toofficially announce that implementation has begun,” said DanMacNeil, chair and deputy warden, Municipality of VictoriaCounty. The county’s broadband plan includes three phases which areexpected to be completed in three to five years. Phase one of theplan is the BRAND part of the project. Under this phase, Aliantwill set up 11 switches to deploy the technology that will bringhigh-speed access to the Internet to the additional communities. Victoria County is currently hosting Atlantic Canada’s leadinginformation technology conference. The two-day ConnectingCommunities — The Rural Challenge, concludes today, Nov. 9, inBaddeck. “Community leaders and champions from Atlantic Canada and Ontario are sharing ideas and knowledge at this conference on broadbandinfrastructure, applications and engagement,” said Tom Wilson,conference chair and co-ordinator of Victoria County’s broadbandproject. For more information on the BRAND phase of the project, see thecounty’s broadband website at www.connectedcommunities.ca . ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT–Spreading Broadband Access to Communitiesin Victoria County
Motorcycles sporting personalized plates will soon be travelling on Nova Scotia roads. “Over the past several years, we’ve had many requests to expand the personalized plate program to include motorcycles,” Barry Barnet, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, said today, June 15. “Today, motorcyclists now have the option to purchase personalized plates.” In 1989, the Registry of Motor Vehicles allowed customers to purchase a personalized plate for buses, campers, passenger or light commercial vehicles. The new personalized motorcycle plates will be similar to regular motorcycle plates and will have the words Nova Scotia at the top. The size of all motorcycle plates, including the personalized versions, has also been reduced from eight by five inches (20 by 12.5 centimetres) to seven by four inches (17.78 by 10.16 centimetres) to better fit some manufactured licence plate brackets and to align with those issued in other jurisdictions. “We are very pleased that motorcycles can now have personalized plates,” said Bob Hiltz, general manager of Privateers Harley Davidson. “There is a demand for personalized plates and for smaller plate brackets. Our customers will be pleased to see these changes.” Personalized motorcyclist plate applications are available from Access Nova Scotia centres and Registry of Motor Vehicle offices. Applicants must include their desired two- to six-character slogans. The registration fee for a personalized motorcycle plate is $86.25 per year. The plates are made to order and customers can expect to receive their plate four to six weeks after placing their order.
Nova Scotia has a new environmental lab policy that will further protect public health. The policy, which came into effect on Aug. 1, guarantees better consistency and reliability of test results as environmental labs are required to maintain even higher standards of quality. “The new policy will ensure data is consistent with national and international standards,” said Mark Parent, Minister of Environment and Labour. “In addition, all procedures are documented so that any deficiencies or sources of error can be identified and addressed as quickly as possible.” “This new policy assures Nova Scotians of reliable drinking water test results,” said Dr. Ann Roberts, medical officer of health. In addition to testing drinking water, labs test for a variety of things including contaminated site clean up, water resources and discharge monitoring. There are 15 accredited labs in Nova Scotia that provide environmental testing services to the Department of Environment and Labour. For more information about the new environmental lab policy see the Environment and Labour website at www.gov.ns.ca/enla/airlandwater/labcertification.asp .
Government has completed the second round of radon tests on nearly 600 public buildings in Nova Scotia, as part of a five-year program. More than 5,000 radon tests were completed by this month in public housing, schools, health-care facilities and provincial buildings. Radon gas is a naturally occurring radioactive soil gas. “The province has been working since 2007 to comply with the new national guideline for radon in indoor air,” said Pat Wall, chair of the interdepartmental advisory group on radon. “Building owners and homeowners should test for radon gas and take proactive steps to reduce radon levels where necessary.” Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Public Health Officer, said radon doesn’t pose an immediate health risk, but there is an increased risk of lung cancer when exposed to elevated levels over a lifetime. “The best way for Nova Scotians to protect themselves and their children from elevated radon levels is to test their homes, whether their house is old or new,” said Dr. Strang. The national guideline recommends that radon in the indoor air of buildings and homes not exceed 200 becquerels per cubic metre. Rooms in 109 buildings exceeded the national guideline. Rooms where radon exceeded the guideline will be re-tested and, depending on the results, appropriate remediation will be done to reduce radon gas. Building owners should remediate within two years if levels are between 200 and 600 becquerels. If the levels are more than 600 becquerels, building owners should remediate within one year. Radon is a naturally occurring odourless and colourless radioactive soil gas that is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Smokers are at six times greater risk. The risk of lung cancer increases when people are exposed to high levels over a lifetime. Radon does not pose an immediate health risk. Typically, radon seeps into buildings through cracks and openings in foundations. Radon concentrations can vary from property to property, even from room to room in large buildings. Testing devices for radon gas, including mail-in laboratory analysis of the unit, can be bought locally or on the Internet for $60 to $100. A summary of test results are available online at www.gov.ns.ca/nse/airlandwater/radon.asp .
A new employment-equity policy, an improved fair-hiring policy and additional diversity training for employees, have made the provincial government a more diverse and inclusive workplace over the past year. The developments are outlined in the province’s 2007-08 annual progress report, Moving Toward Equity: Employment Equity and Diversity in the Nova Scotia Public Service, which was tabled today, Nov. 25, by Human Resources Minister Carolyn Bolivar-Getson. “A diverse workforce that is reflective of our population is a crucial part of providing quality service to Nova Scotians,” said Ms. Bolivar-Getson. “We must make every effort to create a discrimination-free public service workplace where diversity is valued and differences are embraced.” To help improve workplace culture and diversity representation, the Public Service Commission has established a number of policy improvements, employment opportunities, training, and awareness initiatives throughout government, which include: — an improved Fair Hiring Policy that reaffirms government’s commitment to fair hiring practices — a new Respectful Workplace Policy that replaces and expands the scope of the previous No Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy to include personal harassment — the replacement of the Affirmative Action Policy with a new Employment Equity Policy, which reaffirms government’s commitment to being a workplace that is free of discrimination “Through these policy improvements, as well as our educational programs and diversity employment activities, we are building a work environment of fairness, equity, mutual respect, understanding and cultural competence,” said Ms. Bolivar-Getson. Other corporate and departmental activities outlined in the report include: — internationally known teacher, lecturer and diversity activist Jane Elliot’s visit to Halifax — eighteen summer-employment opportunities for students through the Summer Diversity and the Summer Female Mentorship programs — continued support of champions that participate on the Diversity Round Table and work collaboratively to develop ways to support the achievement of our corporate diversity objectives — building additional diversity education opportunities for public servants to increase skills and competencies in the area of diversity.
Nova Scotia’s education department has not met its duty to taxpayers or to students because of significant weaknesses in its management of P3 school contracts, Auditor General Jacques Lapointe said in his latest report. The Auditor General’s first report of the year, released to the legislature today, Feb. 3, also raises concerns about “irresponsible practices and questionable expenditures” involving MLAs’ expense accounts. Mr. Lapointe cited a range of problems with management of the 20-year agreements between the province and developers who built and own the 39 P3 schools. He made 21 recommendations to address those problems and urged the department to begin planning for the end of the contracts, now less than 10 years away. The report says procedures to monitor whether the developers are meeting the terms of the contracts are inadequate. The department relies on principals and other school board employees to alert them to problems. But those officials were unaware of maintenance or other service levels called for in the agreements. “If there are no complaints, the department assumes the contract is being fulfilled,” said Mr. Lapointe. The audit found a number of contractual requirements that were not met, including child abuse and criminal record checks, first aid training and fire safety inspections. In two cases, developers subcontracted school maintenance back to school boards, in effect transferring responsibility for maintenance and operation of the buildings back to taxpayers — an arrangement that seems to benefit developers but has questionable value for taxpayers. The Auditor General audited the expenses filed by and paid to members of the legislature between July 2006 and June 2009, and found a “deficient” system that invites errors and misuse. Mr. Lapointe said it is difficult to determine to what extent system weaknesses, processing errors, innocent mistakes or conscious decisions by members contributed to questionable expenses payments. He pointed out that the government has already moved on his key recommendation and initiated a comprehensive examination of the expense system. In addition, some procedures have been tightened and some members have paid back money. While his report cites a number of specific incidents of what he called excessive or inappropriate expenses, Mr. Lapointe decided not to identify individual members in his report, although “…the argument can be made that there is both a public interest and right to know (names of MLAs).” “Ultimately, I decided to exclude members’ names from the report, not for their protection but because I hope to focus attention on a broken system that requires fixing, rather than on individuals,” said Mr. Lapointe. The Auditor General provided information to the Speaker and the legislature’s Internal Economy Board to enable the recovery of funds from individual members. His report also focused on the development of electronic health records. While Mr. Lapointe’s audit found good project management practices in the electronic health record initiative, he noted that the various initiatives underway in the Department of Health are not integrated and may not be compatible. He recommended the development and implementation of an overall IT strategy for electronic health records. Mr. Lapointe’s 150-page report cites financial reporting issues across government including the excessive use of additional appropriations at year end and the continuing practice of paying universities in advance. The report also includes information on various economic and financial indicators which are designed to assess government’s ability to respond to changing economic conditions. The complete report and related documents are available online at www.oag-ns.ca or by contacting the office at 902-424-5907.
Nova Scotia seniors and their families will no longer be required to pay security deposits before entering nursing homes. “We promised to eliminate the burden on seniors and their families caused by security deposits and we have delivered,” said Health Minister Maureen MacDonald. “It’s another commitment we have kept to make life better for families.” The Department of Health announced today, Feb. 10, that effective immediately, nursing homes and residential care facilities licensed by the department will no longer be permitted to charge security deposits to residents. In some nursing homes in the province, security deposit charges could range anywhere from $900 to $4,700, depending on the client’s daily accommodation rate and whether the home requires a 30 day, 60 day or 90 day deposit. The regulatory change prohibiting security deposits will require current security deposits to be refunded by April 12. Ms. MacDonald said the change is not expected to have any impact on nursing home operators, because bad debt has not been a serious problem. “Seniors welcome the elimination of security deposits in long-term care facilities,” said Group of IX spokesperson Jack Hatcher. “They’ve been an unnecessary burden for years.” The Group of IX represents seniors’ organizations in the province.