Tuesday, March 8, 2016

North Coast MLA returns to theme of testing of water for Northwest

On Monday North Coast MLA
Jennifer Rice returned to the topic
of drinking water in the Northwest
The topic of the drinking water in Prince Rupert's schools returned to the Legislature on Monday morning, as North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice brought the topic back to the forefront with a short presentation to the Legislature chamber.

During the course of her presentation to the Morning session of the Legislature the MLA renewed her call for full testing of all schools in the Northwest, asking a pair of questions related to the issue from recent weeks.

Why was drinking water in Prince Rupert schools not tested earlier? How long have officials known there was lead in the drinking water? Are other northwest schools being tested, and are they at risk?

As well, Ms. Rice also observed as to the lack of full information and notice provided to residents of the North Coast, outlining how the only correspondence on the issue in Prince Rupert was the letter sent home by the Ministry of Health staff through a letter to parents delivered by students.

Something she suggests was a situation that was not the best approach to delivering vital information to parents.

The only communication that has been done was a letter written by the Ministry of Health staff on behalf of the school superintendent in Prince Rupert that was sent home in the backpacks of kindergarteners with artwork and apple juice that may or may not be read by parents.

As a follow up to that point, the MLA also stated that No other public notice was made, not a single thing on the Northern Health website or through social media of Facebook and twitter, forms of communication that the MLA has taken on with a passion in recent months.

And while she makes some valid points on the lack of engagement during the week of the original flow of information, to the School District's credit, the information from Northern Health had been posted to the SD52 website

Something that Ms. Rice neglected to mention during her time in the Legislature on Monday.

The School District has also opened up a dialogue option for parents to contact School District officials related to the water concerns.

As well, one day later on February 17th, the City of Prince Rupert also provided a notice to the public on the Civic website and through its Facebook page and twitter feed, directing residents to the School District announcement and relaying the City's information notes on the issue.

Ms. Rice did make the most of her time in the Legislature on the theme of government inaction however, taking the position that the Ministry of Health has not properly handled the issue and pushing for the sensible concept of running further tests on water in Northwest communities.

The Ministry of Health has shown an absence of leadership by choosing not to test drinking water in a timely manner. Furthermore, to then not inform the general public in Prince Rupert that there are, in fact, lead issues in drinking water, not just in schools but throughout our community, is an abrogation of responsibility

You can review her full statement from the Legislature Draft Minutes, it starts just after the 10:15 point of the Morning session.

The Video presentation of the Morning Session of the Chamber can also be viewed from the Legislature's Video Archive.

For more items related to her work in the Legislature see our Archive page here.

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