Parts of shale gas health report will now be released, Government officials still won’t say how much or when

Parts of shale gas health report will now be released, Government officials still won’t say how much or when by CBC News, October 3, 2012
The Alward government now says it will release at least parts of a report by the province’s chief medical officer of health on the potential health impacts of the shale gas industry, but not right away. On Tuesday, Department of Health officials would not commit to releasing Dr. Eilish Cleary’s recommendations on how to minimize the negative effects of the industry on people’s health, which outraged the Opposition Liberals. “When you’re talking about people’s health, the health care system, people need to have that information free of political bias,” said health critic Bill Fraser. “It needs to be basic information that comes from a professional, like Dr. Cleary.” Former health minister and current Liberal leadership candidate Mike Murphy went even further, citing his own time at the department. “It was clearly understood that if there were a question about whether information was to be divulged, concerning public health, food, water, safety, it was [the public health officer’s] decision,” he said. “The minister of health could not overrule their decision. The minister of health has no such authority under the Public Health Act,” Murphy said.

Still, by late Wednesday afternoon, the two ministers announced the recommendations in Cleary’s report will eventually be made public, although they did not say when. In addition, anything that overlaps with other current studies, such as a report by Prof. Louis LaPierre on his public consultations regarding proposed rule changes for the industry, may not be released, said Fitch. … The uproar surrounding the Alward government’s refusal to release the shale gas health study is the third secrecy controversy to hit the Progressive Conservatives in the past few days. On Monday, an advocacy group for Canadian newspapers gave the provincial government a failing grade on its handling of Right to Information requests. And on Tuesday, the province’s information and privacy commissioner criticized the government for holding a review of the province’s Official Languages Act behind closed doors. When David Alward was elected premier two years ago, he promised there would be no secrets. “This will be an open and inclusive government,” he had said on Sept. 27, 2010. … “We’ve got to get people more involved in decisions that affect them,” Alward had said. His theme of openness continued after the election. “We need to be a society that engages, informs, educates our citizens,” he said in October, 2010. “We know New Brunswickers want to be involved in the big decisions,” Alward said following a think tank session in Moncton. [Emphasis added]

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