Kennedy shuffled to tough portfolio

Rob Antle
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Marshall back to finance, Collins gets justice

Jerome Kennedy is now the third health minister in the past three months, but he vows he'll be able to handle the strain of what may be the government's toughest portfolio.

"I'm worried to the extent that I know it's a difficult job," said Kennedy, who was sworn into his new position at Government House Wednesday afternoon.

Jerome Kennedy is now the third health minister in the past three months, but he vows he'll be able to handle the strain of what may be the government's toughest portfolio.

"I'm worried to the extent that I know it's a difficult job," said Kennedy, who was sworn into his new position at Government House Wednesday afternoon.

"But I can tell you, at least so far in government, it hasn't been as stressful as the job that I did before. When you're representing people whose lives are on the line in murder cases, that's real stress. The stress I feel here is one of a duty to the public, trying to do the best I can."

Before winning a seat in the legislature two years ago, Kennedy was a renowned criminal defence lawyer.

He said he wants to get "back to the basics" in the health department. He told reporters he planned to fly to St. Anthony within hours to visit hospitals on the Northern Peninsula.

That region has been the epicentre of health-care unrest in recent weeks.

Kennedy's predecessor, Paul Oram, announced plans to slash services in Flower's Cove, before partially reversing the cuts as a provincial byelection loomed.

And this week, surgeons in St. Anthony issued a letter warning of "preventable deaths, widespread public outrage and a big political mess" if action isn't taken to address surgical needs.

Kennedy - whose previous portfolios were finance and justice - noted that he has a wealth of information to digest.

"I've got lots of material to read over the next few days," he told reporters.

That is a contrast to his predecessor.

Oram - who quit politics Wednesday, blaming health woes and media scrutiny - had a gaffe-prone three months in health.

He insisted that he was only briefed orally when he took over the $2.6-billion department, thwarting media requests to view his briefing notes. However, weeks earlier, Oram said the opposite, telling a local newspaper he had "24 inches" of briefing notes and books on his desk waiting for him.

He also said he was "hands off" from his business interests after becoming an MHA in 2003. Reporters uncovered information on the public record that suggested otherwise.

In other cabinet changes unveiled Wednesday, Tom Marshall ping-ponged back into finance from justice for the second time in the past three years.

And Felix Collins joined cabinet as the new justice minister. The Placentia - St. Mary's MHA drew a sports analogy, saying he has endured his "share of blisters and splinters from sitting on the bench," but always worked hard and eventually got into the starting line-up.

Premier Danny Williams said he is not concerned about instability in his cabinet; two ministers have now quit in the past two weeks.

Williams said there was an "urgency" to fill the vacancy in health, but he left transportation open for now.

The premier insisted he has a "great backbench" of talent, but said he is waiting to fill that position until after the results of two pending byelections.

As for health, it is a "tough portfolio," the premier acknowledged.

"My biggest frustration I think from a health perspective is 99.9 per cent of the stories are good stories, and we only hear the bad ones," Williams told reporters.

"It's unfortunate that the kind of great, good news stories that I get, that my cabinet colleagues get, from people who've had wonderful experiences in the health-care system never get out. So we have to deal with the negativity, and sometimes that can wear people down."

rantle@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Government House

Geographic location: St. Anthony, Placentia

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Recent comments

  • Bones II
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    For the haters:


    http://www.pcparty.nf.net/record.htm



    I await a similar list from liberal and/or ndp lovers/worshippers. Any member will do. Thank you.

  • Taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    I have to way in and reiterate that if this province was a corporation Mr. Williams would have fired everyone of the incompetent boobs that were elected to serve as ministers in the House. Doesn't everyone realise that these guys are simply over paid administrative assistants. It is the deputy ministers and other civil servants that do the real work, that is if you can call any of this BS real work. I have to agree with all the HATERS out there that Mr. Williams runs a one man show...and I thank God that h does.

  • appalled
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Enough said with this picture!

    http://tinypic.com/r/vpj20w/4

    [IMG]http://i33.tinypic.com/vpj20w.jpg[/IMG]

  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Mike, Yvonne might have an acccent where she doesn't prounce her TH's, but at least she doesn't talk in cliches and garbage like the Great Educated man. Well y'know on a go-forward basis from my perspective quite frankly nothing could be further from the truth.

    Give me Yvonne's way of speaking over that tripe any day.

    PS when was the last time Yvonne called anyone a traitor, or laid into someone on live radio, for disagreeing with her?

  • Mike
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    @Gerard: You don't think that a person's freedom is just as integral part of their life as their health?

    Mr. Kennedy is the best man for this challenging post.

    The government will never please everyone - there simply isn't enough money to have ideal circumstances for everyone. But money comes from the investments & agreements the Williams government is responsible for.

    I would suggest the Williams-haters of the province be careful what they wish for, as I can assure you that the big oil companies would've walked all over risk-averse Yvonne Jones as she stumbles to pronounce her 'th' sounds.

    Logic, intelligence and proven judgment will get this province ahead... not some misguided opposition looking to plug holes with short term solutions that have been repeatedly shown not to exist.

  • Dan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Go Jerome GO... I believe that Mr. Kennedy is best positioned to be Minister of Health... he is intellegent and he knows how to deal with people on their own level... the one or two times that I have met Mr. Kennedy, I found him to be very easy to talk to and he does not seem to be the pretentious type... he has worked hard all his life for the underdog in society, and I expect that he will continue to do so in his role as Minister of Health. One thing I have to say is that for the small number of people in this province we sure do rely heavily on health care... people run to a doctor for everything... the number of obese people in this province is astounding... I hope Mr. Kennedy puts more emphasis on education the public to take charge of their lives, by watching their diets, and getting more exercise, and stop smoking and drinking so much for the love of pete... people are always looking for a scapegoat, and I am sure that Jerome will step up to the plate and be strong enough to stand up to the demanding and resentful people of this province... you are your own worst enemy... good luck Jerome...

  • STOP THE RACKET
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Williams allready has Kennedy on the Northern Penisula telling them a Cabinet position is there for the takeing as long as they elect another PC. Tired of the LIES? Tired of the COVERUPS? Tired of the CORRUPTION? Then get off your rear end and do something about it. STOP THE RACKET STOP DANNY WILLIAMS.

  • Blair
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Well said Gerard. Nonetheless, the greater the risk, the greater the reward. This portfolio will make or break Kennedy.

  • gerard
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Mr. Kennedy, your former job did not deal with peoples actual lives, but instead, their freedom. This is the job where peoples actual LIVES are on the line , so already you do not realize the seriousness of the health care, or lack of in this province.

  • Chuck
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    What's wrong with you people? Danny Williams has been and will forever be the greatest premier this province ever had. Sure there are problems with our healthcare system, but no province has a flawless system.

  • Logical Thinker
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    My comments to Mike: Sounds great. Logic intelligence and proven judgment...

    Except for one thing! None of these are being applied to the health care in this province.

    There is an NATIONAL shortage of lab and X-ray techs. Neither NAPE, the health care boards or the Department of Health are willing to address this shortage. Carol Ann Furlong makes a few ineffectual squeaks occasionally but the other two agencies are afraid to open that Pandora's Box!

    Upwards of 50-60 enter the lab technologists program at CONA each year. After 3 years ess than 20 graduate. Some graduates leave the province, some work part-time in the city until a vacancy opens up; virtually none of them head to the Flower's Coves and Lewisportes of this province. Leaving these areas understaffed and placing strain on the people who are working there.

    It was an EASY fix for Mr. Oram. If we make positions redundant in these smaller places by saying the services exist in larger centres we fix the problem.

    Logical,intelligent and proven? I think not.

    I really wish the media would address the real problem that this province has... a shortage of trained and qualified health care workers. It ISN'T all about the doctors or nurses here. OR about Jerome Kennedy's ability to cope with stress.

  • Graham
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Mike why didnt you also add open honest and transparent government to your list of what makes Danny Williams so wonderfull? Oh yes hes neither honest open or transparent I almost forgot. Remember that election promise way back when Mike? I bet Danny hopes many people have forgotten about that one. Oh by the way Mike I dont hate your idol Danny Williams I do however hate some of his actions and I do hate all of his lies and I do hate the corruption that originates in his office and seems to have the trickle down affect. Other than all that whats to hate? The little dictator is just perfect.

  • Mike
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Obviously there are some very strong opinions here about this government and I think that's great.. I wouldn't exactly call him my idol I just simply highly respect his ability to generate revenue for the province in creative and strategic ways.

    I can't stick up for every decision he's made but regardless of how a government goes about addressing the issues of the public, it needs one thing -MONEY. I'm fine with having someone in power who knows all about how to generate maximal revenue... where that many goes is something that needs to be handled just as carefully, and yes not everyone will get what they want and a lot of people will disagree with what money goes where. That's fine and i'm sure you have great reasons for doing so.

    Logical Thinker, you raise the Flower's Cove issue... i am by no means an expert in that area nor am I directly affected by the decision that was made by Mr. Oram. I do think you are probably right regarding the issue, that there is a shortage of these workers and, given their alternative options, they simply do not want to go to rural NL. Heck, a lot of them will probably be lured to get away from St. John's. A good proportion of young educated professionals will always have the desire to leave for the bigger cities, and it does create a problem for many many industries around here. BUT how do you get people to work in places they simply do not want to go to? You can pay them an inordinate amount of salary, but then everyone else wants a similar increase to stay on par which compounds budget problems. I don't know the answer to this problem and I'm sure Jerome Kennedy probably doesn't right now either. These people aren't magicians and there is no conspiracy or dictatorship here, all we can ask is that we get as much revenue as possible and do our best to put the people in place(vote!) to try their best and figure this mess out using the money we have.

    The opposition leaders continually lose my support as they are always jumping on the problems that require money to solve, all the while complaining about the investments government makes to ensure we are on sound financial footing moving forward.

    Perhaps I would change my tune if they could prove that they are just as economically capable while providing some realistic suggestions for improvement - not oh you can't close dis or dat is a waste of taxpayers money ! I mean no disrespect and I am sure she's not stupid at all but anyone who knows the stereotypes that exist across Canada about our education as NL'ers realizes we need a voice that promotes intelligence to be taken seriously.

    For me , it comes down to options - you may not like everything about the Williams' government but it sure beats what we've seen thus far from the others.

  • Mark
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    I believe the real story is the lack of depth in the PC party when Danny Williams has to re-shuffle the same Ministers over and over.

    Little new blood going into the Cabinet because the Premier does not have much to choose from in the backbenches.

    Can you see Joh Dinn or Steve Kent in Cabinet? Neiher can the Premier.

  • Bones II
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    For the haters:


    http://www.pcparty.nf.net/record.htm



    I await a similar list from liberal and/or ndp lovers/worshippers. Any member will do. Thank you.

  • Taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    I have to way in and reiterate that if this province was a corporation Mr. Williams would have fired everyone of the incompetent boobs that were elected to serve as ministers in the House. Doesn't everyone realise that these guys are simply over paid administrative assistants. It is the deputy ministers and other civil servants that do the real work, that is if you can call any of this BS real work. I have to agree with all the HATERS out there that Mr. Williams runs a one man show...and I thank God that h does.

  • appalled
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Enough said with this picture!

    http://tinypic.com/r/vpj20w/4

    [IMG]http://i33.tinypic.com/vpj20w.jpg[/IMG]

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Mike, Yvonne might have an acccent where she doesn't prounce her TH's, but at least she doesn't talk in cliches and garbage like the Great Educated man. Well y'know on a go-forward basis from my perspective quite frankly nothing could be further from the truth.

    Give me Yvonne's way of speaking over that tripe any day.

    PS when was the last time Yvonne called anyone a traitor, or laid into someone on live radio, for disagreeing with her?

  • Mike
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    @Gerard: You don't think that a person's freedom is just as integral part of their life as their health?

    Mr. Kennedy is the best man for this challenging post.

    The government will never please everyone - there simply isn't enough money to have ideal circumstances for everyone. But money comes from the investments & agreements the Williams government is responsible for.

    I would suggest the Williams-haters of the province be careful what they wish for, as I can assure you that the big oil companies would've walked all over risk-averse Yvonne Jones as she stumbles to pronounce her 'th' sounds.

    Logic, intelligence and proven judgment will get this province ahead... not some misguided opposition looking to plug holes with short term solutions that have been repeatedly shown not to exist.

  • Dan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Go Jerome GO... I believe that Mr. Kennedy is best positioned to be Minister of Health... he is intellegent and he knows how to deal with people on their own level... the one or two times that I have met Mr. Kennedy, I found him to be very easy to talk to and he does not seem to be the pretentious type... he has worked hard all his life for the underdog in society, and I expect that he will continue to do so in his role as Minister of Health. One thing I have to say is that for the small number of people in this province we sure do rely heavily on health care... people run to a doctor for everything... the number of obese people in this province is astounding... I hope Mr. Kennedy puts more emphasis on education the public to take charge of their lives, by watching their diets, and getting more exercise, and stop smoking and drinking so much for the love of pete... people are always looking for a scapegoat, and I am sure that Jerome will step up to the plate and be strong enough to stand up to the demanding and resentful people of this province... you are your own worst enemy... good luck Jerome...

  • STOP THE RACKET
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Williams allready has Kennedy on the Northern Penisula telling them a Cabinet position is there for the takeing as long as they elect another PC. Tired of the LIES? Tired of the COVERUPS? Tired of the CORRUPTION? Then get off your rear end and do something about it. STOP THE RACKET STOP DANNY WILLIAMS.

  • Blair
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    Well said Gerard. Nonetheless, the greater the risk, the greater the reward. This portfolio will make or break Kennedy.

  • gerard
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Mr. Kennedy, your former job did not deal with peoples actual lives, but instead, their freedom. This is the job where peoples actual LIVES are on the line , so already you do not realize the seriousness of the health care, or lack of in this province.

  • Chuck
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    What's wrong with you people? Danny Williams has been and will forever be the greatest premier this province ever had. Sure there are problems with our healthcare system, but no province has a flawless system.

  • Logical Thinker
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    My comments to Mike: Sounds great. Logic intelligence and proven judgment...

    Except for one thing! None of these are being applied to the health care in this province.

    There is an NATIONAL shortage of lab and X-ray techs. Neither NAPE, the health care boards or the Department of Health are willing to address this shortage. Carol Ann Furlong makes a few ineffectual squeaks occasionally but the other two agencies are afraid to open that Pandora's Box!

    Upwards of 50-60 enter the lab technologists program at CONA each year. After 3 years ess than 20 graduate. Some graduates leave the province, some work part-time in the city until a vacancy opens up; virtually none of them head to the Flower's Coves and Lewisportes of this province. Leaving these areas understaffed and placing strain on the people who are working there.

    It was an EASY fix for Mr. Oram. If we make positions redundant in these smaller places by saying the services exist in larger centres we fix the problem.

    Logical,intelligent and proven? I think not.

    I really wish the media would address the real problem that this province has... a shortage of trained and qualified health care workers. It ISN'T all about the doctors or nurses here. OR about Jerome Kennedy's ability to cope with stress.

  • Graham
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    Mike why didnt you also add open honest and transparent government to your list of what makes Danny Williams so wonderfull? Oh yes hes neither honest open or transparent I almost forgot. Remember that election promise way back when Mike? I bet Danny hopes many people have forgotten about that one. Oh by the way Mike I dont hate your idol Danny Williams I do however hate some of his actions and I do hate all of his lies and I do hate the corruption that originates in his office and seems to have the trickle down affect. Other than all that whats to hate? The little dictator is just perfect.

  • Mike
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    Obviously there are some very strong opinions here about this government and I think that's great.. I wouldn't exactly call him my idol I just simply highly respect his ability to generate revenue for the province in creative and strategic ways.

    I can't stick up for every decision he's made but regardless of how a government goes about addressing the issues of the public, it needs one thing -MONEY. I'm fine with having someone in power who knows all about how to generate maximal revenue... where that many goes is something that needs to be handled just as carefully, and yes not everyone will get what they want and a lot of people will disagree with what money goes where. That's fine and i'm sure you have great reasons for doing so.

    Logical Thinker, you raise the Flower's Cove issue... i am by no means an expert in that area nor am I directly affected by the decision that was made by Mr. Oram. I do think you are probably right regarding the issue, that there is a shortage of these workers and, given their alternative options, they simply do not want to go to rural NL. Heck, a lot of them will probably be lured to get away from St. John's. A good proportion of young educated professionals will always have the desire to leave for the bigger cities, and it does create a problem for many many industries around here. BUT how do you get people to work in places they simply do not want to go to? You can pay them an inordinate amount of salary, but then everyone else wants a similar increase to stay on par which compounds budget problems. I don't know the answer to this problem and I'm sure Jerome Kennedy probably doesn't right now either. These people aren't magicians and there is no conspiracy or dictatorship here, all we can ask is that we get as much revenue as possible and do our best to put the people in place(vote!) to try their best and figure this mess out using the money we have.

    The opposition leaders continually lose my support as they are always jumping on the problems that require money to solve, all the while complaining about the investments government makes to ensure we are on sound financial footing moving forward.

    Perhaps I would change my tune if they could prove that they are just as economically capable while providing some realistic suggestions for improvement - not oh you can't close dis or dat is a waste of taxpayers money ! I mean no disrespect and I am sure she's not stupid at all but anyone who knows the stereotypes that exist across Canada about our education as NL'ers realizes we need a voice that promotes intelligence to be taken seriously.

    For me , it comes down to options - you may not like everything about the Williams' government but it sure beats what we've seen thus far from the others.

  • Mark
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    I believe the real story is the lack of depth in the PC party when Danny Williams has to re-shuffle the same Ministers over and over.

    Little new blood going into the Cabinet because the Premier does not have much to choose from in the backbenches.

    Can you see Joh Dinn or Steve Kent in Cabinet? Neiher can the Premier.