“A 47-year-old man, who had an abdominal pain for two months, reported to Adelaide's Queen Elizabeth Hospital last year.
A three-dimensional scan revealed that the jaws of a bread clip had got fixed to the intestinal wall. The man needed a surgery to remove the clip where the intestine was temporarily removed out of the body. His case is published in a paper by University of Adelaide on the basis of which experts have demanded that bag clips be made from starch instead of plastic.” — from MED India website, May 19.
That’s the thing about hazards: the best time to think about them is before anything happens. Those little plastic clips, used for years to close plastic bags, have been cited as choking hazards as well, especially for elderly people with bad eyesight — people pick them up and swallow them without noticing.
You solve the problem best by changing the clip and preventing the hazard, instead of going back after the fact for extensive, expensive and possibly life-threatening surgery.
And that brings us to the latest round of Muskrat Falls oversight.
Thursday morning brought Premier Tom Marshall, outlining a list of the agencies overseeing the project, along with the first report of an internal oversight committee, where senior civil servants will supposedly tell their bosses, a government that absolutely supports the project, whether something’s wrong.
It’s the latest piece of rearguard action on the project — most of the major contracts are let, the bills are coming in hand over fist, the thing’s already overbudget and virtually unstoppable — and now, among other things, the premier has offered up an Ernst and Young report spelling out what project oversight should look like.
The report includes ideas you think would be standard: “The Oversight Committee should review cost and schedule performance, forecasts and risk management in addition to the validity of costs incurred,” and, “The Oversight Committee should be supported by specialized skills.”
It’s a little unnerving to see a report dated July 25, 2014, with this province already so deep into the project, spelling out that “The project stakeholders are all at different stages of developing their oversight and assurance programs,” along with advising that, when it comes to the oversight committee, “the terms of reference should also be finalized.”
There was a time for all this.
And it was a long time ago.
The best policy?
Perhaps the best option would have been a full and unfettered review by an independent agency like the province’s Public Utilities Board, even if that sort of review was likely to result in a report that the government wouldn’t have welcomed.
A stitch in time saves nine.
And having some sort of fiscal bread clip firmly lodged deep in your gut means many, many uncomfortable stitches ahead.