Government has known using non-electrical workers made smart meters dangerous

Government’s exemption to use unqualified workers for smart meters secretly cancelled

The government was aware of the danger caused by using unqualified workers to install smart meters, and a government exemption to do so was cancelled on Aug. 1, according to documents obtained by the NDP Friday.

The documents also indicate the program went ahead despite eight incidents being reported during a trial period with the unqualified workers ending Aug. 27, 2013.

“The government has knowingly been putting people, homes and millions of ratepayer dollars at risk, ignoring direct warnings,” said Trent Wotherspoon, NDP deputy leader.

Government documents show that exemptions from a law requiring that only qualified electrical workers remove and install power meters were given to both SaskPower and American smart meter company Grid One Solutions in July 2013. The government’s exemption allowed them to skirt the law and use less-qualified workers, hired through a temp agency, instead of electricians or electrical workers to install smart meters throughout the province.

Shockingly, the decision to hire 150 unqualified workers was made despite the fact that 50 qualified electricians had already applied to do the work, plus additional qualified power line technicians, according to the documents, which were obtained by the NDP under Freedom of Information laws. Electricians can also supervise electrical apprentices who have completed post-secondary education, which would have rounded out the number of qualified electrical workers for the job.

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Q1: increasing debt hidden, health care ignored

The government’s first quarter financial update released Thursday shows it’s ignoring big problems in health and seniors care while hiding its increasing debt.

“By reading the government’s first quarter financial update, it’s clear this government is ignoring problems in health and seniors care,” said Trent Wotherspoon, NDP deputy leader and critic for finance.

“There’s not a dime redirected to actual health care from the massive allocation to its Lean experiment, and no adjustment in the first quarter to address the seniors care crisis. Is this government not listening at all? We know this government is still spending untold millions on American consultants and Japanese senseis for its Lean experiment – that money needs to be redirected into front-line care.”

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Time to send American smart meter company packing, says NDP

With the tenth smart meter fire in the province, and SaskPower acknowledging installers need more training, the NDP says the government’s contracting out experiment has failed – it’s time to send the Texas license plates back to Texas.

The government chose to contract out the smart meter project, and allowed the American company it hired to use inexperienced workers with about a week of training instead of qualified electricians. In a move that seemed to acknowledge that the untrained workers are putting themselves, families and homes in danger, a bit of extra training was announced last week.

“The government’s $200 million contract with this American company has been a complete and dangerous failure. It’s time to look for a full refund on the $200 million contract, and send the Texas licence plates back to Texas,” said NDP Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon. “SaskPower has qualified electrical workers, and they should have been doing this job from the beginning.”

 

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It’s government’s privatized way, or nothing

NDP calls on government to support a second bridge in Prince Albert without privatization demands

The provincial government has taken its privatization push to a new level. It has repeatedly stated that it believes Prince Albert doesn’t need a second bridge – but now says it will consider chipping in only if the city chooses a typically more expensive P3 method for the bridge.

“Prince Albert families and businesses need a second bridge. They do not need manipulative political games,” said Trent Wotherspoon, NDP deputy leader. “Telling Prince Albert their only hope for a second bridge under this government is if they go the privatized route is an attempt by this government to hold a city hostage to its politics.”

Wotherspoon said the government’s story doesn’t add up.

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No toxic waste storage above Dalmeny aquifer, demands NDP

In the wake of the devastating British Columbia tailings pond spill, the NDP is calling on the Saskatchewan government to reverse its decision to approve the Fortune Minerals plan which would see toxic waste stored right above a vital aquifer.

The proposed Fortune Minerals processing plant near Langham would generate 158,000 tonnes of toxic waste every year, including cyanide and arsenic. This waste would be stored permanently in pits at the site, right on top of the Dalmeny aquifer, the area's main source of drinking water.

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