It doesn't make sense to force Canadians to choose between a strong economy and strong public services like Search and Rescue
ST. JOHN'S, Feb. 3, 2012 /CNW/ - The Public Service Alliance of Canada
hosted a news conference in St. John's today with search and rescue
survivor Oakly Johnston, as well a union shop steward for Maritime
Search and Rescue coordinators and members of the MayDay Coalition, to
launch a video highlighting the absurdity of putting lives at risk to
pay off the deficit.
This comes just two days after the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) revealed
that the shut-downs of the Marine Rescue Sub Centers in St. John's and
Quebec City would be accelerated.
The video is part of a social media campaign arguing that it doesn't
make sense to force Canadians to choose between a strong economy and
strong public services like Search and Rescue.
In the video a man hangs from a cliff over the ocean calling for help. A
Search and Rescue worker is about to run to his aid when a giant
squirrel appears, and, seeming nice at first, gets in the way,
ransacking her supplies. The man is left hanging from the cliff.
"Like Stephen Harper, that squirrel is just a rat with good PR. It might
seem like a good idea to pay off the deficit, just like that squirrel
seems nice until it starts ransacking the office. But the hard reality
is that no matter how he spins it, Harper's cuts to search and rescue
are going to put lives at risk," said PSAC regional vice-president for
the Atlantic, Jeannie Baldwin.
The federal government apparently plans to transfer St. John's services
to Halifax on April 1, 2012. Quebec City's services will be transferred
in two phases - some services will go to Halifax in the fall of 2012
and the remainder will transfer to Trenton, Ontario in spring 2013.
"I don't understand why the department is determined to put Canadian
lives at risk. Since the first announcement we have asked for an
independent impartial review of the announced closures," said Christine
Collins, President of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees,
the component of the PSAC which represents search and rescue workers.
The MayDay coalition wants an independent review of the federal
government's decision before the Maritime Rescue Sub-centres in St.
John's and Quebec City are shut down this spring.
"Countless studies and inquiries into maritime tragedies concluded these
sub-centres were essential because only they have the local knowledge
and expertise that saves lives" said Merv Wiseman, a Maritime Search
and Rescue Coordinator, speaking today as a UCTE Local 90915 Shop
Steward representative for all the rescue Coordinators at the St.
John's search and rescue sub-centre. "None of that has changed."
"Tens of thousands of Canadians including fish harvesters, ferry and
tour operators and oil and gas industry workers make their living on
what are the most dangerous waters in the world," said Lana Payne, the
President of the Newfoundland Federation of Labour and MayDay coalition
coordinator. "Why is Harper putting their lives at risk?"
The Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John's alone watches over an area
spanning more than 900,000 square kilometers of ocean and 28,956
kilometers of coastline, and responds to more than 500 distress calls a
Oakly Johnston, a lobster fisherman for 59 years, was rescued from heavy
seas near Placentia Bay on June 7, 2011, just hours before the
shut-downs were announced in Ottawa. He says he and other fish
harvesters are convinced the shut down will put lives at risk.
"I'm not confident that without the expertise of the St. John's search
and rescue, that I'd be here today," said Johnston.
Visit www.thirdchoice.ca to view the video or watch it on YouTube at http://bit.ly/xRkXCz
Video with caption: "It doesn't make sense to force Canadians to choose between a strong economy and strong public services like Search and Rescue". Video available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpaxHtyaJqI
For further information:
Lesley Thompson, PSAC in St. John's, 902-471-6201
Ariel Troster, PSAC in Ottawa, 613-292-8363