The form is also available on the Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations website at http://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr . SERVICE N.S./MUNICIPAL RELATIONS–Heating Assistance ProgramDeadline Approaching Nova Scotians are reminded that the deadline to apply for theKeep the Heat program is Thursday, March 31. The Keep the Heat program will provide a cheque for a one-timepayment of up to $200, a coupon for a free furnace cleaning andan opportunity to win a do-it-yourself energy savings kit. Thecoupon has a value of $80.50 (includes HST) and is intended for afurnace tune-up by a qualified furnace technician. To be eligible for the Keep the Heat program, applicants mustheat their home with oil or propane and be paying for itthemselves, have a family income of $22,200 or less, or ifsingle, an income of $13,400 or less. Seniors who receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement and personsreceiving income assistance from the Department of CommunityServices are eligible if they heat their home with oil orpropane. In all cases, applications must include a fuel bill,dated within the past six months, in the applicant’s name. Applications for the Keep the Heat program can be obtained bycalling 424-5200 in the Halifax area, or toll-free 1-800-670- To date more than 23,500 Nova Scotians have benefitted from thisprogram. The province has issued more than 23,500 cheques, 11,500 furnace tune-up vouchers and 4,000 energy conservationkits.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliates the Free Media Movement (FMM) and the Sri Lankan Working Journalists Association (SLWJA) have called for more dialogue and discussion on improving working conditions for journalists in Sri Lanka if the country is to rebuild a strong, robust and professional media industry in the country.The IFJ joined the International Media Assessment Mission to Sri Lanka from May 8 to 14 to follow-up on its recent assessments of media freedom situation since the January 8 presidential election. During discussions with government officials, the Right to Information Act (RTI) was also vigorously discussed. The IFJ said: “There is an urgent and present need to build the capacity of journalists and their right to advocate as an industry on working conditions as well as on press freedom issues in the North and East provinces. Importantly, efforts need to be made to bring journalists and their employers together to discuss and engage on the future of the industry.” Increased training opportunities to support professional and ethical journalism and improved understanding and dialogue with media employers on journalists’ right to form were two of the key strategies highlighted by FMM and SLWJA as well as the long-awaited RTI Act.The government overwhelmingly supported the RTI Act and provided the draft law to the mission. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the Act would be presented following the general elections, which legally must be held in Sri Lanka before April 2016. The IFJ said: “We join the International Media Assessment Mission in welcoming the changes made by the government to ensure that media freedom has opened up across Sri Lanka. But throughout this latest mission we again heard of challenges for journalists including poor working conditions and pay scales and barriers being put in front of journalists when it comes to advocating on their rights.”“The IFJ joins FMM and SLWJA in highlighting these issues and finding solutions for a stronger, more vibrant media industry in the country as the government takes on its media reform agenda.”Last week’s mission follows an earlier International Media Solidarity Delegation to the country in March organised by FMM in cooperation with the IFJ, the International Press Institute and IFEX. · A broad, multi-stakeholder consultation should be held to identify needs in the area of professionalization of journalists and media workers, and this should be followed up by a series of concrete actions to deliver on those needs. While both FMM and SLWJA said the government has made a number of important positive steps in its media reform agenda; further work was still urgently needed to ensure the media industry in Sri Lanka is to grow and thrive. The IFJ affiliates particularly highlighted some of the obstacles preventing journalists from joining and being active in unions and said further support was needed for journalists in exile trying to return. The IFJ endorsed the issues raised by its affiliates and in its meetings with government. In the mission statement, a number of recommendations were presented, including:· An independent Commission of Inquiry should be created with a mandate and adequate powers to investigate past killings of, threats to, disappearances of and other attacks on journalists, media workers and media outlets, with a view to ensuring that those responsible are prosecuted and that appropriate compensation is paid to the victims and their families.· Media owners should recognise and support journalists’ and media workers’ right to form unions to negotiate and advocate on behalf of their members.