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Fire closes terminal at St. John’s International Airport until Sunday evening

The terminal at St. John’s International Airport will remain closed for another and flights are not expected to resume until 7 p.m. Sunday after fire broke out late Friday night.

The terminal was evacuated around 11:30 p.m. because of a fire near the children’s play area on the second floor. St. John’s International Airport emergency responders and the St. John’s Regional Fire Department responded to the incident. 

The airport authority says the fire was confined to a specific area. There were fewer than 30 people in the terminal at the time because of storm cancellations. They were evacuated and there were no injuries.

The Airport Authority is still assessing the situation and working with the RNC and Fire Department to ensure all protocols are being followed to reopen the building. The terminal building will remain closed to the public until about two hours before flight resume on Sunday.

“It is appreciated that this emergency may have an impact on the travelling public, but safety is the number one priority for all parties involved,” the authority said in a statement. “The Airport Authority is in contact with our partners to try and provide the most up-to-date information. 

“Passengers are advised to not visit the airport until they are advised we have re-opened the terminal safely. Please contact your airline directly for updates about flight information.”

Airport Authority CEO Denis Hogan will spoke to reporters twice on Saturday. He said there is smoke and water damage that needs to be dealt with. The cause of the fire is unknown, but it’s not deemed suspicious. The investigation into the fire is still ongoing.

Vianne Timmons takes leave of absence as MUN president while committee assesses claims of Indigenous heritage

Memorial University president Vianne Timmons is taking a voluntary, six-week paid leave of absence while a committee of Indigenous leaders holds discussions on Timmons’ past claims of Mi’kmaw heritage.

The move comes after a CBC investigation raised questions about Timmons’ past membership in an unrecognized Mi’kmaq band in Nova Scotia and her past statements on Indigenous heritage.

The Board of Regents announced Monday it is striking a committee of Indigenous leaders to lead a Roundtable Engagement with Indigenous Peoples to consider the president’s claims of Mi’kmaw heritage and provide guidance to the board on this matter.

“While our initial understanding was that President Timmons did not claim Indigenous identity, we have received a lot of feedback from the community,” Glen Barnes, the chair of the Board of Regents, wrote in a statement. “We have received important questions about the president’s actions, and we believe we have a responsibility to Indigenous Peoples and a fiduciary duty as a Board to explore these questions further.”

Timmons also released a statement Monday with an apology.

“While I have shared that I am not Mi’kmaq and I do not claim an Indigenous identity, questions about my intentions in identifying my Indigenous ancestry and whether I have benefitted from sharing my understanding of my family’s history have sparked important conversations on and beyond our campus,” Timmons wrote. “I have been reflecting on this feedback from the Indigenous community, and I sincerely regret any hurt or confusion sharing my story may have caused. That was never my intention and I deeply apologize to those I have impacted.”

Dr. Neil Bose, interim provost and vice-president academic, will fill in as acting president during Timmons’ leave of absence.

“We have started the process of engaging with Indigenous leaders in our province to lead these conversations and we will have an update about the scope, timelines and leadership of the Roundtable Engagement soon,” Barnes wrote.

Brad Gushue wins unprecedented fifth Brier championship as skip

Brad Gushue won an unprecedented fifth national championship as skip as Team Canada beat Matt Dunstone’s Manitoba rink 7-5 Sunday night at the Tim Hortons Brier in London, Ont.

It was a tight game most of the night featuring the top two teams from the tournament. Canada and Manitoba traded single points until the eighth end when Gushue broke it open by scoring three.

With the win, Gushue passed Ernie Richardson, Kevin Martin, Randy Ferbey and Kevin Koe to set a new record for championships by a skip. Team Gushue has now won five of the last seven Briers, twice as Newfoundland and Labrador, twice as Team Canada and once as a wild card team. The rink will now represent Canada at the men’s World Curling Championships in Ottawa April 1-9.

Skip Brad Gushue and third Mark Nichols will be looking to add a second world title to their resumes, which also include Olympic gold and bronze medals. The team also includes Geoff Walker at lead, who has been with the team through its current dynastic run, and E.J. Harnden at second, who joined the team this season after Brett Gallant left to play for Brendan Bottcher in Alberta. Harnden also has an impressive resume, having previously won the Brier with Northern Ontario in 2013 and an Olympic gold medal in 2014.

Police make arrest in St. John’s homicide investigation

Police have made an arrest in connection with a homicide investigation in St. John’s.

Robert Belbin, 21, will be charged with second-degree murder for the death of 22-year-old Seamus Secord in the area of Mayor Avenue and Newtown Road on Feb. 7. Belbin will appear in court Saturday.

Belbin was arrested without incident around 6 p.m. Friday in the west end of St. John’s. He is being held to appear in court on charges of second-degree murder and breach of release order. The investigation is ongoing.

School bus service suspended at 20 metro-area schools because of safety concerns

The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District has suspended school bus services affecting 20 metro-area schools because of safety concerns.

“As the result of safety concerns for students, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District has suspended student transportation services provided by Glandey’s Bus Service Ltd.,” the district said in a news release issued Saturday.

“The District has not taken this action lightly, as it is aware it has a significant impact on families. However, following a review of information available, the District could no longer permit the continuation of busing services without confidence it is being provided in a safe manner for students.”

There are 20 schools affected, including some alternate transportation services. The District says it has a contingency plan in place to provide student transportation to those schools impacted. Staff are aiming to have new bus services in place by Feb. 20, but the district hopes they may be implemented earlier for some schools. Until then, families are being asked to make arrangements for transportation to and from school.

“The District sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience this will cause many families, students and schools,” the news release said. “However, the organization has been left with no alternative but to take these steps in order to maintain student safety. Impacted families are being contacted by the school administration.”

Schools Affected and Bus Route Numbers:

Beachy Cove Elementary, All routes
Beaconsfield Junior High, All routes
Brookside Intermediate, All routes
Elizabeth Park Elementary, All routes
Hazelwood Elementary, All routes
Holy Cross Elementary, All routes
Holy Spirit High, All routes
Mary Queen of the World Elementary, Route 22-044-1
Mount Pearl Intermediate, Route 22-044-3
Mount Pearl Senior High, Route 22-044-3
O’Donel High School Route, 22-044-4
Paradise Intermediate, All routes
St. Peter’s Primary, Route 22-044-2 and Route 22-044-4
St. Peter’s Junior High, Route 22-044
Topsail Elementary, All routes
Villa Nova Junior High, All routes

Alternate Transportation Contracts:

Cape St. Francis Elementary
Holy Trinity Elementary
Holy Trinity High
Juniper Ridge Intermediate

Tentative deal reached in Memorial University faculty strike

There has been a breakthrough in the 11-day Memorial University faculty strike. The two sides have reached a tentative deal.

“We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement today,” said Dr. Neil Bose, interim provost and vice-president (academic). “Overall, the contract provides a generous package of improvements to support our valued faculty colleagues, while at the same time maintaining the long-term viability of Memorial University.”

Next steps include ratification by the Board of Regents as well as by MUNFA’s members. The university will not share further details of the tentative agreement while the ratification process is ongoing.

“I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the negotiating teams for both Memorial and MUNFA for their hard work in reaching this agreement, as well as to the many employees who supported our students throughout the labour dispute,” said Dr. Vianne Timmons, president of Memorial University. Further details will be shared directly with students as they become available, including a potential timeline for return to classes.

Police respond to serious incident in centre of St. John’s

Police are asking for the public’s help after a serious incident in the centre of St. John’s.

The RNC responded to a serious incident around 5 p.m. Tuesday in the area of Mayor Avenue and Newtown Road. The investigation is ongoing and details will follow at a later time, but the RNC is restricting access to the area at this time. 

Police do not believe there to be any immediate concerns to public safety at this time. They had asked pedestrians and drivers to avoid the area, but they have since reopened access to the area.

The RNC requests that anyone with information to assist, or any video footage in the area of Mayor Avenue, Newtown Road, or surrounding area during the hours of 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., please contact the RNC. You can contact the RNC at 729-8000 or to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers: #SayItHere 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), visit or use the P3Tips app.

RNC arrests Lisa Driscoll, charges her with fraud involving falsified nursing credentials

Lisa Driscoll has been arrested and charged with fraud involving falsified nursing credentials, the RNC announced Tuesday.

Police responded to a report of a fraud at a local long-term-care facility in St. John’s on June 10, 2022. They were informed that 43-year-old Lisa Driscoll had obtained a position in the long-term-care facility through fraudulent means.

The investigation was forwarded to the RNC’s Economic Crimes Unit. The investigation lad to the discovery of more cases in which Driscoll had applied for and obtained nursing positions in long-term-care facilities in the St. John’s area by fraudulent means. Police say Driscoll has applied for and obtained nursing positions under various surnames, including Driscoll, O’Driscoll, Strickland and Harris, with the use of similar given names.

As a result of the investigation, Driscoll was arrested and charged Monday with multiple Criminal Code of Canada offences, and offences under provincial legislation connected to the use of falsified nursing credentials. 

Driscoll was held to appear in court on the following charges:

–       Fraud x 3

–       Breach of Probation x 3

–       Identity Theft x 2 

–       Perjury x 1

–       Breach of the Licensed Practical Nurses Act

–       Breach of the Registered Nurses Act

This is not the first incident involving Driscoll. Back in December, Central Health released a statement saying that Driscoll had impersonated a registered nurse at one of its facilities. She had worked 25 shifts at Lakeside Homes between Aug. 19 and Nov. 7.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information regarding this or any similar incident is asked to contact the RNC at 729-8000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). You can now provide information anonymously on the NL Crime Stoppers Website at or use the P3Tips app #SayItHere

House of Assembly to hold emergency debate Monday on private ambulance strike

Premier Andrew Furey has asked for the House of Assembly to reconvene Monday to hold an emergency debate on the private ambulance strike affecting rural Newfoundland communities.

The House will debate the Essential Ambulance Services Act. If passed, the act will make private ambulance services essential. Striking members of Teamsters Local 855 would have to return to work until an essential services agreement is in place, at which point the labour action could resume.

More than 100 private ambulance workers in rural Newfoundland communities escalated their strike by walking off the job Friday. Teamsters Local 855 leader Hubert Dawe says it came after a hostile act by an employer against a union member. The companies owned by Bob Fewer cover areas from Fogo Island on the northeast coast to Trepassey on the southern shore of the Avalon to Stephenville on the west coast.

The Speaker’s Office says the House will reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday.

The legislation has not been made public yet, but the provincial government provided background information in a news release:

The Essential Ambulance Services Act

The Essential Ambulance Services Act will allow the employer and employees to determine the terms of the essential ambulance services agreement, and will allow them to engage with the Labour Relations Board when necessary ⁠— including authorizing the Board to refer a matter to binding arbitration to protect the employees’ meaningful right to a strike and the employers’ meaningful right to a lockout. When passed, the Act will require the union members to return to work until an essential services agreement is established, at which point labour action may resume. 

To date, only ambulance services provided publicly, through the Regional Health Authorities, fall under such legislation. Paramedics employed by private ambulance service operators fall under the Labour Relations Act and have thus far not been deemed essential. 

More than 100 rural ambulance workers walk off the job

More than 100 workers with seven private ambulance services in rural Newfoundland walked off the job at noon Friday.

Teamsters Local 855 leader Hubert Dawe says it came after a hostile act by an employer against a union member. The companies cover areas from Fogo Island on the northeast coast to Trepassey on the southern shore of the Avalon to Stephenville on the west coast.

NTV’s Ben Cleary reports.

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