Documents obtained by the Saskatchewan NDP through a Freedom of Information request about the smart meters were publicly released on Friday, but there has been no comment on them, on behalf of the Wall government.
It’s not as if the Saskatchewan Party has been quick to comment on this issue over the past few weeks, so this comes as no surprise.
The surprise, according to the NDP, was that the government was “aware of the danger” of using “unqualified workers to install smart meters.”
After the government granted a July 2013 exemption to a law that requires qualified electrical workers be the only ones to install the meters, Deputy NDP leader Trent Wotherspoon said the documents show, eight smart meters caught fire during a trial installation period in August 2013.
The NDP alleges that 150 unqualified workers were hired despite 50 qualified electricians already having previously applied to do the work.
In the NDP’s news release it also points out that in October 2013, the government was warned by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) experts that it “is dangerous” to use unqualified workers.
“These meters could have been removed in a safe manner, requiring less of an outage and not placing the unqualified electrical worker in front of a hazard, had the worker had knowledge of the electrical system and the conditions of the service area,” reads the Oct. 7, 2013 letter from the IBEW to Dr. Tareq Al-Zabet, executive director of Occupational Health and Safety.
Not only were at least some of the province’s 105,000 smart meters installed without due care and attention, but also in examining the documents, they were installed by workers who lacked the proper credentials.
“The government sold out Saskatchewan by putting the bottom line of (a) private American company it contracted the smart meter job to ahead of Saskatchewan families,” said Wotherspoon.
Whether this issue results in voters caring enough to consider flipping their votes from green to orange at the next provincial election, we don’t know.
That said, until the government pipes up, or at least acknowledges it’s backroom dealings with smart meters, a big target will remain on the back of Brad Wall and his fellow Saskatchewan Party MLAs.
A government report on the the situation is expected some time in October and this government can be assured people in this province will be watching closely. Between the fires that have occured, the families potentially put in danger and the $47-million in increased costs that will be associated with replacing these smart meters, people want answers.
If the NDP accusations are accurate, maybe some smart meters are needed to help with government decision making.
Moose Jaw Times-Herald editorial staff