PREMIER’S OFFICE—Statement from Premier Stephen McNeil The following is a statement from Premier Stephen McNeil. I am disappointed that the Nova Scotia Teachers Union has walked away from the negotiating table and that a collective bargaining agreement could not be reached. The most recent proposal from the province included everything in the previous agreement, and an additional $10 million to address classroom conditions, with the direction of spending to be determined by a working group of teachers, school boards, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. The union tabled an unrealistic proposal that would have cost taxpayers close to $500 million. This is simply not acceptable. The Nova Scotia Teachers Union continued to ask for more and presented a proposal that the province simply cannot afford to pay. We believe in the importance of education for our students and the overall health of the province. That is why in every budget we have made investments in the classroom. It is why we committed an additional $10 million for teachers and the union to address conditions in the classroom. I want to reassure parents that we will continue to do everything we can to find a resolution as quickly as possible. I also want teachers and parents to know that regardless of what happens next, we will continue to invest in education and the classroom to create the best learning conditions possible for teachers and students. -30-
“We are at the service of the Government of Afghanistan,” said Lakhdar Brahimi, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative. “We are working under your leadership and under your guidance and trying to implement your programme.” Today marked the second day of a three-day immunization campaign against polio in Afghanistan. In this round children aged 6 months to 5 years will also be administered Vitamin A drops, an important micronutrient to prevent night blindness. Special efforts have been made to give women vaccinators and supervisors a more prominent role in order to ease access to mothers. The drive, which is targeting 6 million Afghan children under the age of five, aims to interrupt the spread of wild poliovirus by end of this year, which has so far seen seven cases of the disease in Afghanistan. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO) are providing resources and support to the effort. Polio, a highly infectious disease, mainly affects children under three years of age, invading their nervous system. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis, while between 5 and 10 per cent of those infected with polio die when their breathing muscles are paralyzed. The international goal is to certify the world polio-free by the end of 2005.