Fredericton – David Coon, MLA for Fredericton South and leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick is encouraging the Premier to broaden the mandate for the review of property taxes.
“I was glad to see my call for a public inquiry to be led by a respected jurist was adopted by the Premier, but its mandate is too narrow,” said Coon. “I agree with the Premier, that we must rebuild the confidence of New Brunswickers in our property tax system, but this will only be possible if the system is reformed so that everyone is paying their fair share. Past political deals that see industrial and some business properties intentionally undervalued have to be scrapped.”
The Green Party leader wants the public inquiry to occur in two phases. Justice Roberts is to report on the circumstance by which many New Brunswickers were issued bogus property tax bills by August 1st. He says there should be a phase two of the public inquiry to examine the inequity in the property assessment system and recommend how it could be made fairer.
In the meantime, Coon wants the Premier to halt any further assessments using the new system, until Justice Robertson submits his report this summer.
Fredericton – David Coon, MLA for Fredericton South and leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick is calling on Finance Minister Cathy Rogers to initiate a public inquiry on restoring fairness to our property tax system.
“Sitting in the Legislative Assembly over the last three weeks I have heard the back and forth of my colleagues as each day brought forward some new injustice or mistake in property tax assessments for homeowners, landlords, small business owners, the City of Saint John and others,” said Coon. “The bickering back and forth has been heated, but all this energy has not cast light on a solution for New Brunswickers.”
In 2012, the Department of Finance published a White Paper on New Brunswick’s property tax system, concluding that ”Improving the fairness of the property tax system would require comprehensive reform.”
“We require an independent Commission of Inquiry, headed by a respected New Brunswicker, to develop recommendations that will bring the extensive reforms required to restore fairness to our property tax system,” said Coon.
“Today is the final day of sitting before the house adjourns for three weeks. New Brunswickers are looking for tangible action that will bring fairness to the property tax system. The Minister should announce her intend to establish the Commission of Inquiry today.”
Fredericton – David Coon, MLA for Fredericton South and Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick is calling on the Minister of Energy and Resource Development to plan forest activities on Crown land on a watershed basis to maintain adequate forest cover.
“During the public hearings of the select committee on climate change our committee heard repeatedly about the damaging consequences of widespread clear cutting to the health of our lakes and rivers,” said Coon. “Our committee recognized the important role of forests in minimizing flooding associated with damaging runoff and the resulting flooding. That is why our committee made a strong recommendation that the minister of Energy and Resource Development plan forest activities on a watershed basis from here on in.”
“World Water Day and the International Day of Forests both occur this week,” said Coon. “It’s the perfect time for the Minister to protect our watersheds by protecting our forests.”
Fredericton – David Coon, MLA for Fredericton South and Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick issued the following statement in recognition of International Women’s Day:
“International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievements of women, as well as to highlight the need for action to achieve equality.
While there has been significant progress in pursuing pay equity for women, the fact remains that the face of poverty is disproportionately female. Two-thirds of all minimum wage jobs in New Brunswick are filled by women. In Saint John, 25 percent of families are led by single mothers and over 40 percent of live below the poverty line.
In the role of primary caregivers without access to universal and affordable daycare, women are often restricted to working in the most insecure jobs, those that are part-time, seasonal or contractual.
In the long term, these factors contribute to a decreased ability to save for retirement, leading to a higher likelihood of being poor as seniors. According to the New Brunswick Health Council, 38% of women in their senior years live on low incomes, compared to 21% of senior men.
A Basic Income Guarantee would enable women to better invest in themselves and in their families, particularly for those receiving social assistance as the restrictions on work and savings would be eliminated. The experience of women during the pilot project that provided a basic income guarantee in Dauphin, Manitoba was that is served as an escape hatch from poverty.
PEI and Ontario plan to experiment with basic income guarantees. In the pursuit of economic justice for women, New Brunswick should institute its own pilot projects with basic income guarantees, as are planned in PEI and Ontario.”
BILL TO END POLITICAL DONATIONS FROM CORPORATIONS AND TRADE UNIONS TO HAVE SECOND READING – 16 FEBRUARY 2017
Fredericton – Today in the Legislative Assembly, David Coon, MLA for Fredericton South and Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick, will bring his amendments to the Political Process Financing Act forward for Second Reading. Bill 20, An Act to Amend the Political Process Financing Act will eliminate political donations from corporations and trade unions.
“My bill is a first step to take to end the pay-to- play culture that permeates New Brunswick politics and corrodesour democracy,” said Coon. “Corporate donations always skyrocket for the party in power, indicating that corporations see tremendous value in paying to play. This creates the perception for others, including some businesses, municipalities and voluntary organizations that they must “pay to play” for fear of missing out on a grant or contract.”
The Leader of the Green Party sees Bill 20 as the first step to eliminating corporate influence on New Brunswick politics.
Fredericton –David Coon, MLA for Fredericton South and Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick, is calling on the government to invite the public to provide feedback to the Legislative Assembly on its sweeping proposals for improving local governance.
“The bills tabled today must strengthen local democracy, so citizens impacted by these changes should be given the chance to comment on the bills,” said Coon. “Government should send this bill to the Law Amendments Committee to hear from the public on the substance of the bill.”
The government has consulted with municipalities, local service districts and regional service commissions.
“Citizens and the organizations that represent them need the chance to comment on the bills to their Legislative Assembly,” said Coon.
Fredericton – David Coon, Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick and MLA for Fredericton South is dismayed at the government’s move to parcel out hospital services management to Sodexo.
“The Gallant government has decided to privatize the management of our hospital services at the expense of 280 full time jobs,” said Coon. “This is a big mistake.”
British Colombia, Ontario, and Québec have privatized management of hospital services before and they have seen massive job loss, lawsuits from previously unionized workers, and higher rates of infection, including instances of superbugs like MRSA and C.difficile. Many hospitals have taken back the management of their food and cleaning services.
The move to privatize hospital services will save government between $7.9M and $9.3M. But at what cost?
“Our government just announced it is handing $8.6M to Sears,” said Coon. “We are willing to gamble with millions in corporate hand-outs, but our government will sacrifice local jobs across the province on the promise of cost savings.”
“Hospital services should be run at the hospital level and they should create good local jobs in the communities where they exist,” said Coon. “Privatization is not the answer.”
Fredericton – David Coon, Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick and MLA for Fredericton South, is pleased to see such strong recommendations in the Council on Aging’s strategy released today.
“The members of the council have done an excellent job building a transformational vision for aging in New Brunswick,” said Coon. “Now the ball is in Premier Gallant’s court to see that these recommendations are implemented in a timely fashion.”
On Tuesday, the government will table its 2017/2018 budget and in the coming weeks, Coon will have the opportunity to question departments about how they will spend money in the coming year.
“The budget should reflect the priorities in the aging strategy,” said Coon.
Fredericton – David Coon, Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick and MLA for Fredericton South, wants seniors to have the opportunity to shape the mandate of the new seniors’ advocate.
“Since the legislation did not provide a mandate for this new role of the Child and Youth Advocate, the Legislative Assembly should ask seniors what they think,” said Coon.
Coon wants to see the Standing Committee on Social Policy hold public hearings to receive input from seniors.
On December 16th, 2016, the Child and Youth Advocate Act was amended to extend the Child and Youth Advocate’s responsibilities to seniors, as well as to adults under protection, without specifying his exact mandate. Norm Bossé, the now re-named Child, Youth and Seniors Advocate, is an officer of the Legislature, accountable to the public through the Legislative Assembly.
“Since the amended legislation doesn’t provide any direction to Mr. Bossé, the Legislative Assembly should seek input from seniors to help him develop his new mandate. The obvious place to do this is through the social policy committee,” said Coon.
Fredericton – David Coon, Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick and MLA for Fredericton South, is urging the government to act on its commitment to assist local communities to establish and implement regional economic development plans.
“While our major cities are growing, their success does not offer solutions to our rural communities and towns, beyond drawing their young people away. In fact, many rural communities and small towns have double the unemployment rates of our cities, hovering around 15%,” said Coon. “They need to have the authority and provincial support to develop local economic strategies that build on the strengths and assets unique to their regions. You would think that’s why the Regional Development Corporation was established, but it’s clearly failing to achieve its mandate,” said Coon.
Premier Gallant’s economic growth plan launched last September promised to work with communities to develop their own regional economic development strategies. In his election platform, Premier Gallant had committed to establishing locally-led economic development agencies as well.
The Regional Development Corporation (RDC) has a legislated mandate to prepare regional development plans and to coordinate and guide regional development, though it has never done so.
RDC will appear before the Crown Corporations Committee on Tuesday, 17 January 2017 at 2:00pm to have its activities from 2012 to 2015 scrutinized by MLAs to assess the effectiveness of its spending.
“RDC has spent $267 million in public funds to support regional development over the past three years, but has it actually helped develop our rural and small town economies?” asked Coon. “I am eager to find out whether this expenditure of more than a quarter billion dollars met the regional development goals of the RDC.”