This Week in New Brunswick

Activists push for gender parity in N.B. government

A grassroots movement called Women For 50% has formed to lead the effort to implement gender parity in New Brunswick legislature. The group says they are trying to prepare and support women candidates well ahead of the 2018 provincial election. Their goal is for 50 per cent of the candidates running for election for each party to be women in 2018. Currently, eight of 49 MLAs, or roughly 16 per cent, are women. This is down from the peak of 18 per cent in 1999. In an interview with the CBC, former provincial cabinet minister Aldéa Landry said that in her experience, the last-minute panic to find more women to run doesn’t work.

Pharmacists call for provincial government to cover costs of overdose antidote

As New Brunswick prepares to be struck by a wave of illicit fentanyl, which has recently hit New England, as well as many Canadian provinces as close as Ontario, pharmacists are calling on the provincial government to cover the cost of a life-saving opiate overdose medication, naloxone. The provincial government is currently preparing to launch a prescription monitoring program, which will make it more difficult to access over-the-counter opiates, such as Oxycontin. When the program is launched, addicts in New Brunswick are expected to turn to illegal opiates, such as fentanyl. According to the CBC, officials with the Department of Health said the government does not have plans to start paying for naloxone.

Saint John police release sketch of suspect in bank holdups

Five bank holdups have occurred in Saint John since Oct. 28. The police went door-to-door last week with a flyer showing security video stills of the suspect or suspects, and have recently released a sketch of a suspect. The sketch, which is being distributed through media, social media and by police officers going door-to-door, depicts a middle-aged man with short, dark hair. According to the CBC, the police cannot state with certainty that one individual is behind all five robberies, due to the perpetrators in the latest robberies covering their faces and to the low quality of the video surveillance. However, the CBC reported that investigators believe the incidents may be connected, due to similarities such as the type of handgun used and the robbers’ interactions with bank employees.

Contract negotiations with Nova Scotia Teachers Union and government resume

Nova Scotia Teachers Union president Liette Doucet said that they have agreed to a new round of talks with the provincial government under a media blackout. Previous contract talks had collapsed in November. CTV reported that the union rejected the province’s latest contract offer that “attempted” to address concerns about classroom conditions, wages and retirement benefits. A spokesperson from the union expressed frustration with Education Minister Karen Casey for raising questions over teachers’ professional development trips to Hawaii and elsewhere. Last week, Casey publicly asked whether a “double standard” was at play, and why approved trips weren’t cancelled once the work to rule campaign began. The union says teachers had already been granted permission to travel to conferences before the campaign began on Dec. 5.

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