Premier 'extremely concerned' about Italian marine calls
Routing medical calls to Rome causes firestorm from St. John's to Ottawa
Premier Kathy Dunderdale said she was "surprised and ... extremely concerned" to learn that marine rescue calls from Newfoundland and Labrador were routed to Italy.
On Wednesday, CBC revealed that after the closure of the Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John's, the Coast Guard decided to direct marine medical calls to doctors in Rome.
Liberal leader Dwight Ball asked Dunderdale in the house of assembly on Thursday when she was made aware of the situation.
"So, you weren't notified that — what was happening with this call centre? That you only found out just yesterday?" questioned Ball.
Dunderdale responded, "I found out yesterday. I was surprised and I was extremely concerned."
"And I have relayed that to Minister Ashfield, Mr. Speaker. And I am glad that the matter has been resolved quickly because that's extremely important to the people whose lives depend on it, Mr. Speaker. And I have asked Minister Ashfield to do everything that he can do to make sure this doesn't happen again."
Minister Ashfield is Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield.
After the CBC News story aired Wednesday evening, the Coast Guard issued a statement that Rome was an interim measure and that a deal had since been struck to handle those calls within Atlantic Canada.
The fallout from the story also spilled onto the floor of the House of Commons on Thursday.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper why the lives of Canadians were put in jeopardy.
"Public Safety is being put at risk. Can the prime minister tell the House [of Commons] how long the lives of people will be put in danger, before the government corrects the situation?"
Harper responded, "There's actually no change to procedure here. The first response to calls has always been to medical facilities in Halifax and there is backup in case those calls are backed up. But that has been the case and that will continue to be the case."
Newfoundland MPs Jack Harris, Ryan Cleary and Scott Simms also spoke in the House of Commons about the search and rescue controversy.