Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Jennifer Rice raises concerns on "systemic issues" from oil and gas industry

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice provided for one of her longer topic reviews on Tuesday, as she outlined a string of questions for Minister of Health Dr. Terry Lake at a Committee session on Health Estimates.

The Tuesday afternoon session, provide the MLA an opportunity to make a number of inquiries on a range of topics related to LNG development both at the source of the gas of the Peace region and for potential development of terminals on the North Coast.

Speaking to the theme of rural health concerns, Ms. Rice offered up questions when it comes to risk assessment on oil and gas development. .

"Today I'd like to start with some questions on the human health risk assessment in regards to the oil and gas in the northeastern part of our province. During the public engagement phase the Fraser Basin Council received over 300 submissions from stakeholders outlining their health concerns as a result of oil and gas development. Of these, several questions were raised about gas flaring, as these pollutants can wreak havoc with human health. 

A Finnish study found an increase in spontaneous abortions among populations chronically exposed to low dosages of H2S, and multiple studies have found that chronic exposure is linked with depression, fatigue and reduced mental function. 

My question is: how will the Ministry of Health work with the Ministry of Natural Gas to address these health concerns directly related to flaring?

The Minister offering up the replay that public engagement on the topic is using a three phase approach,
with the first phase having recently come to an end, he advised her that the review of  the health aspects of LNG development are part of the second phase.

Ms. Rice then outlined a string of concerns when it comes to the prospect of development of the oil and gas industry and the impacts that it can have on family and social issues in those communities that will be at the centre of that development.

"How will the ministry work with the other ministries to address the widespread systematic issues that arise from this industry? For instance, we know that there is an increase in prostitution catering to cash-rich oil and gas workers in these communities, and we know that the shift work can severely disrupt family life and lead to an increase in domestic violence, strain on children, marital breakdown and so on. 

How will the ministry work with other ministries such as the Ministry of Children and Family Development or the Ministry of Justice to address these widespread effects of the oil and gas industry in northern B.C. communities?

She also raised a number of discussion points on work camps and the Government's oversight on the prospect of widespread growth of those camps in the forestry, mining and oil and gas development sectors across Northern BC.

Among her questions, the distribution of the camps across Northern BC, the number of workers at the sites currently in place and how many of those facilities may be required for camps that are expected to be developed.

You can review the full exchange on the health and social concerns of industrial development from the Legislature archive page. Ms. Rice offers up her questions from the 1345 to 1415 mark of the draft minutes timeline.

The video archive of the session can be found from the Legislature archive page, the Committee session took place on Tuesday afternoon and is listed as A on the video listings. Ms. Rice outlines her concerns from the 8 minute mark to the 35 minute mark on the video player timeline.

For more on developments at the BC Legislature see our Archive page.

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