DEBBIE FORWARD SHOULD BE KINDER TO JOHN ABBOTT

Even the most politically disinterested observer had to know from
the minute the Deputy Minister of Health, John Abbott, uttered the word “change”
in relation to the health care system that he would be forced to eat his words
— by both government and union.

What were they? “We have put in a lot of services and
facilities that we no longer need and no longer can afford… We have 45 per cent
more nurses than the rest of the country.”

Having gotten Nurses’ Union head Debbie Forward’s knickers in
a knot, the premier’s office sent Abbott out to backtrack.

Many of us have long wondered if even one senior public
servant had the spine to speak truth to power, successive governments — mostly
Tory — having run the province over a fiscal cliff (note the past tense). It
seems there is one such person.

It is obvious that John Abbott has been given some latitude to
assess modifications to an excessively expensive healthcare system. His were
not random thoughts but a series of considered reforms. The CBC story read:

“Whether you’re a doctor, a nurse, a paramedic or even the
operator of a private personal-care home or ambulance service, Abbott said
prepare for a methodical and systematic retooling of the system over the next
three to five years.”

He says “change is coming in three areas: primary care, mental
health and addictions, and caring for seniors.”

Deputy Minister John Abbott
The CBC added: “He talks about reducing the health workforce
through attrition, reassigning health providers to where they’re most needed,
changing the way the four regional health authorities operate, and improving
services to rural areas by increasing the number of nurse practitioners.

“The most notable change? More services delivered in the
community through new primary health-care teams comprising a broad spectrum of
health professionals.”

Who would argue, notwithstanding our dreadful economic
situation, that such change is necessary?

Still, plans are fine. Government is full of them.
Unfortunately, the Premier’s message to Abbott — and to us — is that we should
not be over-confident that the government has the courage to actually do
anything.

The Premier’s Office was clearly concerned only about
messaging. Minister John Haggie was nowhere to be seen. He ought to have been
ready to give Debbie Forward some much-needed perspective and to remind her that
this Province is about to change forever.

Whether we want to accept the fact or not, some of that change
will not be pretty.

Admittedly, solutions to NL’s spending behaviour is a tricky
subject in a place where protecting one’s turf always holds precedence over larger
public policy concerns.

In uttering admonitions like, “we don’t have as productive… a
nursing workforce as we should,” or that the cost of “sick leave is
significantly higher” than in other provinces, Abbott might as well have been
suggesting the cancellation of the ferry services. The air is instantly sucked
out of the room, debate supplanted by vitriol.

To be fair, no one expects Debbie Forward to be supportive of
assertions that reflect poorly on her membership. But was it really “outright
betrayal of the more than 5,500 RNs in the province,” as she stated? Was it
“bargaining in bad faith,” or tantamount to being “slapped in the face by this
government”? What I heard was comment, not a campaign.
RNUNL President Debbie Forward
And aren’t those issues integral to the cost of health care
delivery? Do they not have primacy against larger questions — for instance, how
many nurses might be asked to take less work? 

Is the status quo the only condition that is acceptable?

The following four exhibits offer a glimpse into our sorry
state: overspending, government’s mismanagement of its human resource needs,
and expenditures on health care relative to both the whole Country and to Nova
Scotia (which also has a highly dispersed rural population).

Source:  Dr.Wade Locke Presentation

Source: Dr. Wade Locke Presentation
Health and Community Services represents $2.95 billion, or
40.8% of all current account expenditures in 2016-17. Health care alone
represents 36% of the current account — 115% of the Canadian average — in 2016,
according to Dr. Wade Locke in the above Exhibit; “… 25 per cent more for
health care than the national average,” according to Abbott.
It is fine to be sensitive about some issues. As some opine,
it’s not a recession until we are the ones out of a job. Fair enough. But it
seems to me, given the size of the problem, that the issues Abbott raises are
not the ones that should attract an excess of umbrage.
I am more inclined to think that Ms. Forward — like the
government — is missing an opportunity. She is skewering discussion even before
the real issues get their first breath. 
Forward is right to speak up for her RNs, but she is not doing
right by them if she promotes the belief that the status quo is sustainable. 
If she has objections to one approach, she might propose
another. Collective bargaining won’t be an option if bondholders are asked to
take a haircut too.
And I have to ask: where was Debbie Forward — and likewise the
heads of NAPE and CUPE — when a small cadre of politicians allowed sustainable
public policy to fall into an abyss? 
The Federal Budget Office likely wasn’t kidding when it
reported to Parliament in October that the Province of NL needed to find $2
billion in expenditure cuts or new revenues in order to achieve sustainability.
And the reader should note that that Report failed to mention the one-half
billion dollars required to mitigate electricity rates in 2020. 
Change is inevitable in part because we have not been good
stewards of our wealth.
We are not surprised when the Finance Minister or the Premier feeds
into the Liberal Party’s strategic plan — or when the Deputy Minister of Health
is told to make bland utterances but, otherwise, to stay quiet. It’s just that
Ms. Forward, like the rest of us, should be laughing at them, not joining them.
Finally, the debate about our fiscal future hasn’t even begun.
Refusing to make the easy decisions now means that the hard ones continue to languish.
The first cuts that government makes will test our passions and our patience.  They will affect health care and education;
rural NL, too. The hard ones will cause riots over roads and ferries, and wars
over jobs. More delay will only mean more riots, more wars.  
I am not content to have life in NL subjected to the wishes of
some federal bureaucrat on the Rideau. I am still hopeful that we are smarter
than that.
If Debbie Forward is sensible, she will cut John Abbott some
slack. 
Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.

GROUP SEEKS PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR CABOT MARTIN RESEARCH AWARD

Cabot Martin’s sudden passing, in September, has stirred his friends, colleagues, and others familiar with his work, to honor him and encourage continued work in applied research and public policy development.

GILBERT BENNETT AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF CRONYISM

$1 million is not bad farewell for a fellow whose work performance represents one of the principal reasons for a twenty million dollar Public Inquiry, and who failed so badly in his job so badly that NL Hydro is still trying to define the mess that he (and others) has left behind.

THE “ODE”: SHORT CUT TO POLITICAL CORRECTNESS LANDS MEMORIAL IN HOT WATER

As much as anything else, it is also a simple love song to a people and to their place. It is deficient in the language of inclusion, yes, sexist by the standards of today, too, but only those who misunderstanding the language of respect ascribe to it offense whether to aboriginal, to gender, or to religious belief.

86 COMMENTS

  1. The Uncle Gnarley Blog is an increasingly important platform on which express opinions about public policy issues. Presently, readers have an opportunity to comment once or several times and otherwise evaluate the opinions of others. There are not many outlets, NL based, for bringing such a community of interests together. However, as Blog Administrator, I have a duty to monitor comments and to ensure those that cross the line into the uncomplimentary arena are taken down. Equally, I want all readers – including the occasional ones – to not be distracted or turned-off by what sometimes seems less than thoughtful or disparaging comment. Every commentator can help elevate the discussion by being respectful – and on topic. By all means leave your comments but let's be sure comments are respectful and that they extend on the topic raised.

    • Much has been said of the cost of overtime because of sick leave with respect to the Nurses and Debbie Forward`s solution is to increase the number of nurses. I`ve been told by several people in the know (nurses) that one of the reasons there is so much sick leave is a direct result of the 12 hour shifts. Lets face it, working 12 hours straight is a sure fired bet that after the 3rd and for sure the 4th 12 hour shift, burnout occurs. As a result, sick leave kicks in. When another nurse(s) is called to come in on their days off and cannot or won`t do so the nurse who is about to finish her 12 hour shift is told to stay on duty and guess what happens then—more sick leave.
      I am also told that the nurse`s union is not willing to relinquish these 12 hour shifts. Question–WHY NOT?? Is it because it is a ploy by the union to increase it's membership or justify the excessive amount of sick leave or both?
      Returning to 8 hour shifts is a good start in cutting down on O/T. There are only 24 hours in a day and with mandatory "rest time" with 2 nurses working 12 hours each, a third is required for the rest time mandated for the 1st two as the work week progresses. Therefore 3 nurses working the 24 hour day at 8 hours each is the same but not the same amount of burnout. Am I missing something here?

    • Very few nurses are scheduled for four consecutive 12 hour shifts. They might pick up shifts as others call in sick and such but in general 12's aren't scheduled that way. Most of the nurses I know (and I know a good few) enjoy the multiple days off of the 12 hour shift system and would not want to change. If the sick leave problem (and I would want to see the actual numbers, not just a comment from John Abbott) is about mental stress then there are no doubt multiple factors at play combining to make an overall unhealthy organizational culture.

    • Since, both ferries and nurses have both come up in this posting, and hours of work I would just like to understand how both can be squared. Ferries can only make so many trips each day, and if there is an emergency overnight then trips have to be rescheduled, and then the meal and lunch time schedules, all set by transport Canada, who regululares nurse hours of work for meal, lunch time, rest periods, where they are required to do 2 twelve hour shifts back to back when no relief available. Ferries, shut down, I mean st at the dock, healt care continues through 24 hour periods, little confusing to me. Or maybe there is no direct comparison between the two work sites, even though we are talking about, people, over worked, burn outs, hours of work and rest periods. Just trying to understand, just asking, know they are two different unions….

    • Pater Patter:

      Correct—the compressed work week is generally 1 8hr shift with 6 12hr shift. Normally at most it would be 3 scheduled 12hrs shifts on consecutive days with at least 2 days off between a set of working days—either way, excluding OT the work year is 2080hrs, same as a Mon-Fri 9-5 job except the compressed work week consists of 7days work in 14.

      Nursing is a difficult profession—they work in the vicinity of people is distress (mentally or physically) and I cant imagine some of the images/thoughts going through their mind after hours.

      What is needed is a good profiling of both the nurse professional and the health care system—in construction we see various positions that are known for higher stress and turnovers, we usually try to place tradesmen in positions to alleviate stress rotate between active machine ours and other duties in these situations.

      A prime example that an understanding of organizational behavior is something else our governments have shown little understanding of.

      PENG2

    • Robert:

      For my best efficiency I prefer the rule of 3 for direct reporting technical positions—3 direct to me, with 3 under each of those etc. In practice I find generally the ratio tends closer to 4 per step on the org chart. For clerical, I would say that every 2-3 steps of the org chart share a clerical position with the lowest 1-2 steps sharing 1 person since they would do most of their own work as part of mentoring.

      Usually if you get to about 5 direct technical reports and you are higher on the org chart it becomes unmanageable.

      PENG2

    • Thanks. Sounds about right.

      Prior to my own retirement, on large site run projects, (Energy plants), the ratio was as high as 10-15: per manager, with about 1 clerk per 3-4 Technical staff. We were generally all run as "clerks", with extensive technical and managerial qualifications. EPC styled procedures, heavily over managed.

    • Robert:

      I should clarify that when I say 'direct reporting technical positions' I am referring to engineers only, other support personnel (drafting, safety, technicians, enviro etc) are not included in those numbers but would still be direct reports.

      PENG2

  2. $2 billion in spending cuts/new revenues should be a bumper sticker here in NL. MF while a large part of NLs fiscal woes ($500M a year in rate stabilisation that also wasn't included in the convoluted LCO argument) represents 20% of the necessary fiscal adjustments in order to stay afloat.

    NL has the heaviest drinkers, smokers, biggest and unhealthiest eaters – it's no wonder the HC sector is so strained and costly compared to other Provinces. Geography is a factor in HC costs here in NL but its still the minority of costs.

    Ageing shrinking population is just what an already over-strained HC system needs! 12 years of populism by 2 different Govs and MANY different leaders, yet NL is no better off fiscally and out health fares no better.

  3. “The most notable change? More services delivered in the community through new primary health-care teams comprising a broad spectrum of health professionals.”

    Translated this means more visits to the ER as patients at home are unable to cope with dying, sick and mentally ill patients.

  4. I was amazed at how quick Abbott pulled back from the attack by Debbie Forward.Abbott had stated what seemed necessary. But then was run over by the bus, with no support from the dithering Ball.
    I was reminded of the time when Ronald Reagan threatened to fire all air traffic controllers in the USA, when they threatened to strike and shut down the country. Such an action would have paralized the economy, and yet I thought firing them all seemed over the top. Yet Reagan did exactly that, letting them reapply if they wanted their job back. That ended that and showed who was boss, and where the buck stopped.
    Here in the face of stark financial conditions, maybe on the road to bankruptcy, and much waste and incompetence in health care, running at 3 billion a year, the nurse's union intimidated the Premier, a leader without a spine. And of course, this problem is made worse from the boondoggle MFs. All government services and employeees, as well as the private sector will feel the negative effects. Ball could not control Nalcor, and cannot control the nurses. It is a free for all, get what you can while the gate is open.
    Winston Adams

    • Winston, you summed up my feelings exactly. The main problem with this place is the utter absence of leadership. Just like we hired a mid level bureaucrat from Exxon to build a multi billion dollar hydro dam, we hired a naive but connected pharmacist to run the whole province. Dithering Ball has been aptly named. Strong, sensible & measured control is clearly not in his DNA. Yet we accept him as leader because he is supposedly the best we have to offer. The current alternative, Ches Crosby, offered by the other party is no better. The NL gov't needs a complete overhaul where people are hired on merit… not because of who you know… where managers are offered incentives & bonuses to save money & innovate, rather than offered bonuses because of a sense of entitlement. Of course, that will never happen because the civil service is like an incestuous family that takes care of its own…& Ball is certainly not the one to break the cycle.

  5. "The debate about our fiscal future haven't even begun yet", "there will be riots about roads and ferries", and wars over jobs, these are dire warnings by UG, will this actually happen? Where are our leaders, politicans, governments, union leaders, bot, business leaders, are the heads berried in the sand, or are we racing to the edge of a cliff, and everyone has shut their eyes and pretend not to see, or us UG and friends alarmist, and the grinch that wants to steel Christmas and our near future. Nay by, the givernment is good for it, and uncle Ottawa is sure to save us….giver….but the debate has to begin….or UG says the wars and riots will be greater the longer we stall…..

  6. John Abbott should look into the mirror and ask "What have I done in the last 20 years to keep spending by politicians and bureaucrats in line?" the only answer he can give is "Nothing" and as a result we are at this point in our history. He like so many in government dare not speak out when the disastrous Muskrat Falls was be conceived not when the GBS make work projects were planned in return for reduced royalties or when the civil service was expanded out of control by Danny Williams to satisfy the economic data needed for a legacy. He is another over paid career civil servant who all of a sudden is reformed in his thinking that somehow he woke up and realized we are bankrupt. You should have spoke up before this Mr. abbot and you maybe wouldn't be so testy now.

  7. There is burn with nurses. One example: a nurse with a few years before retirisement age is stressed, and get a leeeter from her doctor for sick leave, 6 months or so.
    But what was the cause of the stress? No doubt her work environment was stressful, but this nurse also had a close relative drying from brain cancer, and needed care, love and compassion. The relative was out of province, and the nurse travelled there, until she passed.
    This nurse, reassessing her situation, took early retirement, collected some $300,000 in accumulated pension, got financial advise and invested her savings. She then applied to another heath care arm of our government and hired full time as a nurse, stress issue all solved.
    Many at times must make sacrifices for loved ones, which has a financial impact. But in this example the stress was likey 75 percent not from the work environment. How much of that goes on?
    Of course , this is small potatoes compared to Ed Martins 6 million payout.

  8. Reducing costs in health care is a complicated topic. Debbie Forward's job description makes no mention of it though. She is doing the job she was hired for and would be seriously incompetent if she didn't take the stance she is verbalizing. Should unions be part of the solution? The way the system works they are in fact, through the collective bargaining process.

  9. Just a side note and a little off topic but I find alarming. The original CBC story directly implied that John Abbott have given am interview to a CBC reporter. There was even a reference to how different it was to have access to high level bureaucracy and have them talk so openly. I wanted to see the full interview but could not find a link or other reference. Then the next day it turns out John Abbott made the comments as part of a panel discussion at a public event.

    Now many people might think that is an insignificant difference. I found it quite disturbing though. In this age of "fake news" it is vitally important to trust the source. CBC has a reputation of ethical journalism. While they have leaned to the sensational at times they have always been (in my experience) fairly meticulous about sources and fact checking. The need to make the original story seem like a one-on-one interview with a CBC reporter changes the underlying "facts" of the story, that Abbott was giving a presumably politically sanctioned interview with a major news outlet and delivering major official government policy. That was not true and it does change the story.

    It is a slippery slope and CBC seems to be teetering on the edge with this type of journalism. I want to be able to totally trust my news sources. Shame on CBC for for shoddy journalism.

    • Maybe it is time we took some of the money spent on the CBC in Newfoundland and transfer it to Health Care? Last time I spoke to a member of the CBC they told me there were 1100 employed in NL. If that is true then that is a colossal budget for a media with a population of 500 000 to serve. One has to ask "How many weather forecast do we need in one hour?"

  10. When Clyde Wells was premier, he planned on a wage rollback for many areas of government including nurses. Had he went ahead with the plan, 14 nurses in the Health Sciences ICU had resignation letters ready to hand in if the planned roll back was implemented. There were also other areas where nurses were ready to resign should their salaries had been rolled back. It would have fully shut down the health care system within two weeks and taked months possibly even years to repair the damage such a plan would have caused. Some of these professionals such as Doctors, Nurses, Xray and Lab personnel are not easily replaced and are in demand in just about any place on the earth. John Abbott should be more careful when threatening people on the front lines of health care since this was also an incident in the making several years ago with Doctors who were ready to leave the province if pushed too far. This is the situation we are dealing with and it doesn't help that career civil servants who all of sudden have woken up to the new fiscal reality speak out against others employed by government. Sometimes you just might get what you wish for and it isn't always pleasant to deal with the aftermath.

    I would have to say that a far better option is to look to Nova Scotia (a central area in terms of Atlantic Canada's Population) and start locating more shared services there to reduce costs. I see no difference in traveling from St. John's to Halifax to reduce costs than it is to travel from St. Anthony to St. John's. Centralization of many services to reduce costs doesn't just apply to Newfoundland. it is a policy needed for all of Atlantic Canada.

  11. Any debate about health Care has to be paralleled by a debate about lifestyle. Such habits as over eating, drug and alcohol abuse and cigarette smoking as well as the lack of exercise need to be discussed and dealt with as well. Without such a discussion everything else is white washing.

  12. Sister Elizabeth Davis, at the MUN forum expressed her fears, that the bigger risk of the Boondoggle, would hurt the poor, sick and seniors government spending programs. This should be on the collective conscience of those, with embedded contracts, high earners, overpaid for what they do. Featherbedders! Professionals all, working as project clerks.

    • And she is right. We are now facing cutbacks in every department to pay for Muskrat Falls. Because Healthcare is the biggest spender that also makes it the baddest spender. With royalties from Hebron pretty much non existent and royalties from other oil fields and mining declining and taxes about to decrease because of a decline in population, an aging population and an increase in unemployment we are indeed facing a bleak future. It is 1932 all over again only this time it wasn't our involvement in a colonial war that got us into this mess.

  13. Remember also that many reports have been written to conclude that per capita comparisons; civil/gov. employees in Atlantic Canada, as compared with National averages, points up the folly of the 4 small provinces, and related inefficiencies of separate administrations. One Atlantic Gov. Health program admin system would achieve some of the savings M. Abbott is seeking

  14. And Debbie Forward said she won't call for Abbott's resignation. So sweet of her. And if she did? Make no wonder the NDP gets nowhere in Nfld……they dominate the process anyway by unions, govn employee unions, and would bankrupt the province rather that give an inch.
    Government is seen as one big outfit to take advantage of, many employees retiring early with good pensions, holidays twice a year in florida, or houses there, as we go tits up. Privat business not much different, but at least they take some risk and create a few jobs.
    And no one capable of taxing sugar drinks and junk food, and the sick the over weight lined up at emergency, make no wonder …..health care is a make work project. Old people medicated with 10 cent pills until they fall and break a bone or become inconitent of bowel and bladder………and made like zoombies. Why improve………lots of good paying jobs……….shut up Abbott…….Debbie says so…..you might spoil the party.
    PF

    • Just to add one more comment to yous. It's about time we elected individuals who are prepared to make difficult decisions for the greater good. Instead we have repeatedly put those in power who have but one priority, and that is to get re-elected. Thus we will continue with providing ferry services at staggering costs (Ex: St Brendan's) and the union will continue to seek unrealistic benefits.

    • I am not sure if it is any union's place to solve our economic woes. We tried that with Mega Projects and the construction unions and look with it got us-12.7 Billion further in debt possibly even bankrupt. A union exists to serve its members and not anyone outside the union. The sooner we acknowledge that the better off we will be.

    • Public sector unions in NL (particularly NAPE and CUPE) have become very good at presenting their self serving message through use of paid advertisements on TV and use of social media. NAPE has even become so arrogant as to say "We are community", which is a complete fabrication and is fanciful at best. They are in the community but I am damn well sure they are not the community. I know a lot of people (including myself) who become angry when these ads run during the evening news but there is no organized push-back on their message. I think the unions naively thing they have support of the majority of the people but outside their own ranks, there is a lot of contempt for public sector unions and their brutal sense of entitlement and complete refusal to willingly work with government to explore ways of reducing our runaway deficit. If things going forward continue to be like this, I expect at some point, as our finances continue to deteriorate, there will be an explosive push-back on the propaganda of public sector unions, as they are increasingly seen as the selfish, the privileged and the entitled who want what they want regardless of the impact on seniors, low income earners and other vulnerable people in our province. The public sector unions need to wake up and realize that nearly everyone else has already paid a higher price than them in the last two provincial budgets and it's their turn to step up and make a sacrifice. I think if there was a provincial leader who ran in an election with a promise to take on public sector unions while restoring some of the things that have stripped from seniors, they would easily win a majority.

  15. Agree with you PF, and might add the two greatest challenges facing this province today and into the future, health care at 3 billion a year and muskrat at a capital cost of 15 billion. Both very complicated and expensive, their combined weight is sinking the province. When will we get our heads around both, and what to do about it. Unhealthy life style is a problem on one side by most and a brain disorder on the other side by a few that perpetrated muskrat on us. Either overweight on one side or massive egos on the other, we can't win for loosing…

    • Of course there is a third challenge that is maybe bigger than either health care or muskrat and that is the drug problem in our province. It is somewhat integrated into health care, but more directly into the Justice and police departments of the government. It may be more difficult to put a financial figure on it than the other two because of the human toll it takes on society. So what to do about drugs and crime. Nothing one might say, except lock them up and throw away the key. Or maybe it is a great spectators sport as it is one of the areas that the media finds all consuming. No other area receives more coverage that the police work and the court houses. No, I am not complaining, just saying. But we do live on an island, and most of these drugs come in the mail, on the ferries, or at the airports. If we don't get those drugs at these three points, we will never get them after they have been scattered through every community and all levels of society. How many sniffer dogs do we have in the province, maybe a couple, should be hundreds, how many undercover and uniformed police at the ferry terminals, and on the ferries, and at the airports. Very few I would suggest. Get these drugs at their point of entry, not after been scattered to all corners of society. Amen…

  16. Ok, ok, again, what are we going to do?
    Health isn't the only thing that is going to change, what are we going to do?
    We need to plan our approach to our impending, enforced, poverty, and soon, 2002 is creeping up on us, what are we going to do?

    Anyone?
    Hmmm … not desperate enough yet, I guess.

    • I think a parallel inquiry is almost happening on UG. May be more objective than Leblanc court , and cost a lot less. No $300 /hr lawyers ripping us off.
      Idle no more sounds good, but needs a sufficient number of concerned citizens. 6000 toppled Iceland a few years ago. Ug readers is growing, as the impacts to health and all govn services will take the hit.
      PF

    • Finally some action talk

      Give me some men who are stouthearted men
      Who will fight for the rights they adore
      Start me with 10 who are stouthearted men
      And I’ll soon give you ten thousand more
      Oh shoulder to dhoulder, bolder and bolder
      They grow as they go to the fore …

      I am ready, now find another 5,999, please.

  17. To move the debate forward……….PENG3 has debated with Bruno on the future of electricity and reliability for Nfld,…. postings on a recent piece.
    Bruno predicts that microgrids and wind and solar and batteries is our future. Peng3 says reliability is best with our current hydro generation.
    I agree 80 percent with PENG3, 20 percent with Bruno. That our distributed hydro on the island is a very valuable resource and also for reliablity , when maintained. We have been slack in not adding some wind, and very slack as to DSM and energy efficiency.
    Bruno talks of Tesla in 1 week having a solar feed for a hospital in Puerto Rico. The feed was capable of only 80 percent of the hospital needs, and took up the whole parking lot for solar panels…..a temporary , partial fix………for one hospital, and one third the country without power after 3 months.
    Imagine solar here on HSC parking lot all burried in snow. And 1/3 of Puerto Rico solar panels were destroyed during the hurricane.
    Our hydro, even the small Nfld Power are jewels. We have nearly 1200MW of island hydro…….and need to use it wiser.
    Winston Adams

    • You are being silly Winston. It was a response to an emergency. The point is it was cheap and fast. They can also rebuild solar farms in record time after a natural disaster.

      You do know that in the course of a year NL gets as much sun as the equator overall don't you? In most of central NL solar will soon be cheaper than buying from Hydro. Beware Winston!

    • "Weeks before he was elected as Newfoundland and Labrador's 13th premier two years ago, Dwight Ball was facing personal turmoil that included harassment by an accused drug dealer, slashed tires, and tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges to his credit card."

  18. Winston, you know this island well. Is there not a couple hundred of MW of reliable hydro power that could be developed on this island, in addition to what we already have???? With 30 percent wind or so would that not take care of all our current and future needs, forgetting, ns, emera, and muskrat??? Just asking!

  19. Nalcor had identified about 80 MW of additional cost effective hydro. there is likely plenty more than Nfld Power could develop if allowed.
    30 percent wind is about 500 Mw , and at 43 percent cap , about 215 Mw
    The sleeping giant is customer energy efficiency, about 600Mw reduction potential, and is the lowest cost of all. NS doing this big time, and now Ont with big incentives to homeowners.
    Most all think of adding new generation, but Efficiency reduces customer and grid loads, the same effect , but more cost effective, and saves customers money.
    Combining EE with modest new hydro and modest wind is THE LEAST COST…..was the least cost, but never evaluated. But EE will be the result of higher power rates, as customers seek to lower costs.
    Govn and power companies can be part of the solution or continue as the problem, out of step with other jurisdictions. Up to now they are part of the problem.
    Winston

    • Just think of the savings, if baseboard electric were embargoed, or billed at a premium as a disincentive. Elasticity demand/supply economics, David would say. Muskrat could have been deferred indefinitely, and the savings expended into reducing poverty, housing, health, seniors, job creation, (real productive stuff, not dirt moving by cable guys, etc.).

    • It is ironic that MHI that was brought in to analyze the MF shortcomings, suffers from management lack of experience in dam construction and management. Did they all attend BOZO U? Or do they just not care because because they have chumps picking up the tab and no one ever gets fired for incompetence?

  20. Anyone out there have any thoughts as to why VOCM hasn't posted anything on its webite about the story regarding the content of the documents pertaing to the Brandon Phillips case that Ball sought to keep under wraps with a court injuction?

    Meanwhile both CBC NL and The Telegram are covering the story.

    It couldn't be that VOCM is just a bloody mouthpiece for the sitting government of the day, could it? You know… like one of those rinky-dink state-run radio stations serving as a propaganda machine in some poverty-stricken banana republic to filter out news unfavourable to the current dictatorship.

    The Woody Allen comedy skit of the Soviet news anchor reading the state-approved news while someone off-camera holds a gun to the anchor's head comes to mind.

    Thoughts on that anyone?

    http://vocm.com/news/

    http://www.thetelegram.com/news/local/drug-dealers-harassed-nl-premiers-family-documents-171493/

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/nl-premier-key-info-murder-suspect-arrest-2015-1.4456290

    • Proportional representation is as bad as any other system. Instead of individual districts electing members we will then have special interest groups determining who represents us and also holding the balance of power in the legislative body. Can you imagine what the US Congress would look like if this were the case? The NRA would determine all and the type of legislation or here in NL can you envision a government where the Arts community holds the voting balance? A theatre on every street corner and funding to match it-like was done with the rooms. The reality is that government should stay out of certain areas altogether. Economic development being one and allow a more competitive environment from companies outside of the province to bid on contracts. This will "help" keep the costs down but we also have to acknowledge that in any modern society, a certain level of taxation and government spending is need. That is something we will never get away from.

  21. At 2 am (02:10) Bruno posts " You do know that over a year Nfld gets as much sun as at the equator?
    Well…….who knows or who believes that? The implication is that solar panels are as cost effective here as at the equator, and Bruno predicts that is the future for Nfld central area energy supply.
    Let me reply by asking whether Santa uses solar panels for his elves work shops for Nov to March? Or does he use fossil fuel , or reindeer dung? Or has a a source of energy like superman, kliptonite?
    Whether Nfld gets the same amount of sun as the equator, and its cost effectiveness for solar panels and heating etc, is an important question…..and others may want to take a shot first at the Bruno Myth. Gosh, didn't we have the Sprung cucumber scandal here, part due to little sun. And has Bruno heard the song " A great foggy day"? Me thinks one who blogs at 2 am may be using too much weed?
    I await others to first tackle the Bruno Myth.Such assumptions ranks with the false assumptions made by Nalcor to sanction MF.
    Winston Adams

    • Winston you need to use logic, not uninformed character shots to make your point. When you lose a point you resort to dumb insults.

      At the equator on June 21 they get 12 hours of sunlight. Labrador gets 20 or so hours. In the course of a year they get equal amounts of sunlight. If you and PENG2 don't get that you should lighten up, perhaps indulge in some mind expanding substances to open your minds and intellect and do a google search.

      It sounds like you missed the sixties Winston. Too bad. That may be part of your narrow minded and inflexible views that alienate anyone that tries to talk common sense to you. Too bad but it is never too late to expand your consciousness and soon you will be able to shop at your NL outlet! Good news Winston.

    • Bruno:

      I simply posted a link showing a graph of latitude va sunlight vs Julian day—not sure where you interpret I don't understand solar exposure.

      Really not much point in promoting solar in regions where plenty of solar exposure in summer when energy draw is down (ie summer) vs no solar exposure when energy draw is great (ie 8 months of winter).

      You habitually misquote/slander/and antagonize—please going forward understand the issue before making a comment.

      In my reply to WA, I simply sowed a solar exposure graph—I full well understand that on an annual basis solar exposure is roughly equal everywhere on the planet, the better question is can YOU define (scientifically, not just subjectively) the amount of useable solar exposure at various latitudes.

      PENG2

    • I can but two things. It is too wonky to be of any value except for your self aggrandizement. If you acknowledge that all parts of the planet get equal daylight in the course of the year apart from the shallower angle and therefore reduced intensity, the energy collected would vary by that ratio. Whether the energy is used for heating or running appliances, lights etc. in summer months reduces energy used. Surely you are not saying that solar energy collected in the high season (forgive the pun Winston) would be wasted?

    • Bruno:

      The graph was clear in both those aspects—no confusion on my part.

      No change in the question–can you define the usable solar exposure considering the low population densities and sparse geographical setting?

      I still am waiting to see what type of solar (or other renewable source) with storage you propose for coastal Labrador and other sparsely populated areas that can replace the transmission system we are using more efficiently.

      PENG2

    • Wind and battery storage on all Labrador coastal communities would today cost an order of magnitude less than the diesel generation now imposed on the disempowered communities.

      I suggested that rooftop solar with battery storage will or already is a cheaper alternative to buying energy from NL Hydro. An enlightened utility would subsidize this and heat pumps instead of encouraging wasteful use.

  22. Lol…if we get any sunshine on this island it is in the summer months, certainly not in the winter months (6 months duration) when we need our houses heated to keep from freezing. In addition to being one of the windest places on earth we are also one of the foggiest and cloudiest. But agree we can get a great sunburn a few days of our summer. Nope, solar panels won't work here.

    • But they do and will. Ever heard of underground thermal storage?

      A solar farm on Bell Island, would extract sufficient solar hot water in Summer, stored in the mine shaft, to heat initially all buildings on the island in winter, and heat green houses in winter, diverting fresh produce trucking from Mainland, and have sufficient hot water to supplement a small steam generation to offset oil generation at Holyrood say 50%. Estimated cost, somewhere below $1Billion. Get a move on NL. Renewable energy can help realize you commitment to Low Carbon Canada!

  23. Lol…yea…think we should grow mushrooms on bell island instead."…and pie in the sky too….we are only the size of the city of Hamilton, and declining…..are they doing that too in their redundant steel mills…

  24. The book, God Guard Thee Nfld, says:
    `A professional historian`s definition of an hypothesis might be: A provisional theory, well documented, but not finally proven` (Think of Muskrat Falls as a good solution for our energy future and a sound financial project, with thousands of pages of Nalcor`s consultant`s opinions and studies, but nothing yet proven).
    `An amateur hypothesis could be :An opinion, supported with related information, put forward for consideration` (Think Marcocchin`s Myth, that is, Bruno`s myth : that power generation by solar panels is Nfld future for cost effective electricity for Nfld)
    Now, least Judge Leblanc, or co-councel, might take such a scheme serious and make recommendations along that line, I submit it is worth while for this blog,( being less costly than the official Inquiry), to resolve the `solar generation myth`, least the Inquiry spend half a million dollars on experts to debate this amateur hypothesis, and make recommendations leading to another boondoggle.
    I suggest that some with reasonable knowledge write a piece for consideration for publication by UG to expose or prove the said myth.
    Perhaps others can comment.
    Winston Adams

  25. Muskrat boondoggle and solar panels are equally useless to solve our energy requirements. Maybe the biggest difference is muskrat will cost 15$ billion or so and take almost a decade to bring on line, and maybe be mothballed, where as solar would cost much less and much shorter time period to bring on line. But as stated equally bogus for our energy requirements.

    • Your view, anom, is an opinion that lacks technical support.
      Ryan Snodden on CBS TV Here and Now , just stated that tomorrow is the beginning of winter with the sum lowest in the sky, just 18 degree above the horizon. This is an example of one technical argument. Perhaps Snodden could write a piece? But many have insight into the various technical issues, but seem too shy to write a piece?
      WA

    • On the issue of whether the North Spur will fail, I had proposed a $50,000 bet, 4 to 1 odds that it will fail. PENG2 said he would not take the bet. No Nalcor person or consultant has offered to take the bet, which casts doubt of their assurances of safety.
      As to the solar generation myth, I propose a modest essay prise, the "B Prise" (in honour of Bruno) of $500 for the best essay to expose or support the myth. If anyone is interested, I will get the $500 to this blog moderator.
      Winston

    • Keith, I think failure within 1 year of filling the reservoir. Nalcor says the design is good for the life of the project , some 57 years.
      Dr B says it will likely fail before it gets filled.
      Nalcor says the safety factor is about 1.5 , so if that is good, someone should bet 1.5 to 1 odds that it will NOT fail. So you have a big advantage on odds, if you trust Nalcor, their engineers and consultants and our government.
      You seem prepared to take the bet, you should leave room for others to take part of it, especially Nalcor engineers etc, you could spread out your possible easy winnings with like minded people, and there may be many. Or maybe not?
      Failure is failure , from any cause, whether a slight seismic event, water pressure, pump failure, an upstream slide that causes a pressure increase, the COW (cut off wall failure), or equipment working in the area, record rainfall, etc.
      Can you give your full name, and whether you have technical insight, or just a gambler who likes the odds?
      Winston