Friday, February 19, 2016

NDP continues to make SD52 water concerns part of Legislature debate

Prince Rupert has long been known for its water, whether it's as part of the life of a port community, or the impressive levels of rainfall that the community can record in its wetter seasons.

Yet this week, the only water anyone wanted to talk about was the water coming out of the taps at four schools in the community.

On Thursday, for the second day in a row, members of the Opposition NDP were hammering away at Health Minister Terry Lake, seeking more information on what the Ministry of Health knew about School District 52's water issues, with the NDP members also focusing their attention on the remainder of the province's schools as well.

Opposition Leader John Horgan led off the discussion on the NDP side, outlining his concerns in the morning session, looking to get 'a little bit deeper about the routine tests that discovered lead and copper volumes 14 times higher that Health Canada's guidelines.'

Mr. Horgan's inquiries on the high lead issues in Prince Rupert can be found below.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice also returned to the theme during her time in the Legislature on Thursday morning,  hoping for more detail and seeking more answers from the health minister. In particular seeking some background on whether water has been tested at other schools in remote areas of the North Coast riding.

In addition to her line of questions in the Legislature, the North Coast MLA provided another media statement on the issue, calling for the examination of lead levels from other sources as well.

To further outline their concerns about other schools across the Northwest, the NDP brought up the topic of a report on water concerns from the Kitimat area.

Ms. Rice's questions to the Minister can be reviewed below.

The NDP have made the SD52 water issues their main talking point for much of the week, something which at times has even over shadowed the ongoing discussion over the recent Provincial Budget.

As we outlined on the blog yesterday, the North Coast MLA raised the issue during the Wednesday Question Period with two other NDP MLA's also raising their concerns on the topic.

One of those MLA's from Wednesday, was Victoria's Rob Fleming who was also back on the theme on Thursday with his own line of questions for Health Minister Lake.

With the arrival of the Friday and the end of the Legislature week, one imagines that the Liberal government will be hoping that they have weathered the North Coast squall that developed over the water issues at the four schools in Prince Rupert.

The Liberals are no doubt looking towards the reassurances from the City of Prince Rupert as to the safety of the city's water supply, to help to take some of the heat off a topic that the Opposition NDP found some political traction on this week.

For the government however, the week should serve as a warning of the need to be not only transparent on the issue, but to continue to actively seek to reassure parents on the North Coast that permanent solutions are being considered for the issues.

Providing clear answers and offering up some kind of explanation as to how they will address the issue would be a sensible approach one might think.

The issue continues to frame the discussion on infrastructure that the Liberals will have to address, both for municipalities and School Districts.

Clearly there is a need for some remedial work needed  on at least four Prince Rupert schools, the water concerns of the week highlighting the conditions in Prince Rupert, but ones which no doubt are found in many communities across the province.

The full review of questions from the Opposition and the statements and replies from the Minister can be examined through the Legislature Minutes.

As well the full House video is available from the Legislature Video Archive here.

For more items from the British Columbia Legislature see our archive page here.

The growing list of stories related to the School District 52 water issues can be reviewed on our education archive page.

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