Consultants will lead a review of homeowner protection to address public and industry concerns about poor home construction. The province awarded the contract last week to Novus Consulting Group Ltd., in partnership with Costello Fitt Ltd. “I am very pleased to see that consultants have been hired so that we can move forward with the review,” said Jamie Muir, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. “I have heard from many individuals and groups who have concerns and want the opportunity to take part in a public consultation process.” The first stage involves researching best practices. It will also seek targeted input to help identify issues and concerns. The information gathered will be used to develop a discussion paper that will be the focus of stage two, which is broad industry and public consultations to identify issues and possible solutions. The consultations are expected to take place in May and will be advertised to make sure everyone has an opportunity to comment. The consultants’ homeowner protection review report and recommendations will be ready by summer. The $87,000 contract was awarded through government tender.
“Innocent civilians should not be punished for the actions of their government,” Mr. Annan said in a statement released at UN Headquarters in New York. “The world is united against terrorism. Let it be equally united in protecting and assisting the innocent victims of emergencies and disasters.” On Monday, the heads of the UN agencies and programmes dealing with children (UNICEF), refugees (UNHCR), human rights (UNHCHR), food security (WFP), emergency coordination (OCHA) and development (UNDP) warned of the possibility of a humanitarian crisis “of stunning proportions” in Afghanistan and appealed to the world community to provide assistance to the fragile country.”I strongly support the statement issued yesterday by the leaders of all the branches of the United Nations involved in humanitarian action,” Mr. Annan said in his statement today. “The plight of the civilian Afghan population is indeed desperate.” The Secretary-General noted that more than two decades of conflict, seven years of oppressive rule by the Taliban regime, and three years of severe drought have left more than five million people dependent on foreign aid for their very survival.”Now, tragically, that aid has been interrupted,” he said. “Those who deliberately withhold food supplies from starving people, and attack or impede humanitarian relief workers – whether local or international – should know that the international community will hold them responsible.”The Secretary-General said that many Afghans trying to flee the country have found it difficult to cross the borders. “In accordance with international law, the borders must be open to civilians seeking refuge,” he said. “At the same time, the international community must send swift and generous help, so that refugees do not become an impossible burden on the neighbouring States.”