Green Party leader says NB Nurses Union report on nursing homes is a wake-up call

FREDERICTON – Green Party leader David Coon and his caucus are calling the New Brunswick Nurses Union’s investigation into the long-term care sector a wake-up call for political leaders in New Brunswick. 

Entitled, The Forgotten Generation: An Urgent Call for Reform in New Brunswick’s Long-Term Care Sector, the report found that 73% of nurses surveyed say resident care has declined in their nursing home over the last 5 years.

“The Nurses Union investigation has torn off the veil on what amounts to systemic neglect of seniors in care by successive governments,” said Coon. “Government after government has failed to provide even the bare minimum funding necessary for nursing homes to comply with provincial standards of care, inadequate as they are.”  

Nurses working in nursing homes reported that residents fail to receive the emotional support they need 62% of the time, missed out on regular exercise 71% of the time, and did not have timely access to toileting 31% of the time.

According to the report, in 2019, nearly half the homes were unable to meet minimum staffing requirements.   Reliance on casual staffing has risen to unacceptably high levels of more than 75%.

“The system is broken. There is no direct link between the level of funding and the health needs of nursing home residents. This means that most residents do not receive the 2.89 hours of care, as staff tend to those with the most extreme needs,” said Coon.

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Green Party Leader Wants Government Commitments on Mental Health Care

This is Mental Health Week in Canada, which culminates in World Mental Health Day on Saturday October 10th.    Green Party Leader and Fredericton South MLA David Coon is calling on the Higgs government to rapidly implement its campaign commitment to opening walk-in mental health clinics around the province and take further steps to improve our mental health care system.

“It is shocking that less than five percent of our health care budget is devoted to treating mental illness,” said Coon.  “In addition to establishing walk-in mental health clinics, sufficient funding must be provided to transform our Mental Health Mobile Crisis Teams into 24/7 first responders, and to cover the costs of psychotherapy through Medicare.”

The regional health authorities operate mental health mobile crisis teams in the province, but their hours of operation and geographic reach are limited by their funding, leaving police to respond to mental health calls, for which they have no training. Coon says that the mental health mobile crisis teams must be funded to serve as a new class of first responders so they there will be trained mental health professionals responding to mental health or “wellness” calls, around the clock, rather than police.

Medicare does not pay for psychotherapy, leaving many with mental illness untreated.

“If you need chemotherapy to treat cancer, or physiotherapy to treat an injury, Medicare pays the bill.  If you need psychotherapy to treat your mental illness, you pay the bill, and that is indefensible,” said Coon.

Coon says that walk-in clinics to reduce the insufferable wait times for mental health care, mental health first-responders, and the pubic funding of psychotherapy would go along away to improving mental health care in New Brunswick.

Green Party Leader Calls on Premier to Open Negotiations on Wolastoqey Land Rights

Once again, First Nations in New Brunswick are being forced to resort to the courts because of the refusal of successive governments to recognize and implement their rights to land and resources, despite the Supreme Court’s admonition of provincial governments to recognize and negotiate the implementation of these rights.

Yesterday, Wolastoqey chiefs announced they will be seeking the Court’s recognition of the Wolastoqey Nation’s title to their traditional territory. This follows the 2016 court filing by Elsipogtog seeking the affirmation of the Mi’kmaq Nation’s title to the Sikniktuk district in eastern New Brunswick.

“Liberal and Conservative cabinet ministers in successive governments have routinely acknowledged at public events that First Nations in New Brunswick never ceded their lands, but any attempt by First Nation leaders to negotiate the implementation of land and treaty rights has been shunned,” said David Coon, Leader of the Green Party and MLA for Fredericton-South.

 “I am calling on Premier Blaine Higgs to open negotiations around the implementation of land rights to avoid a costly and unnecessary legal battle that inevitably will end up in the Supreme Court,” said Coon. 

 

Green Party Leader calls on Higgs government to provide more supports for people with a disability

FREDERICTON – During Disabilities Awareness Week, Green Party Leader David Coon is calling on the Higgs government to implement the key recommendations of New Brunswick’s Disability Action Plan, including introducing an Accessibility Act when the Legislature resumes in November.

“While significant progress has been made in terms of raising awareness about New Brunswickers living with disabilities, government legislation and policies have not advanced very far,” said Coon. “By implementing the 43 recommendations from the Premier’s Council on Disabilities report, the Premier can show that he is serious about ensuring that people with a disability can live a dignified life.”

Coon also urged the Higgs government to provide better income support for people with a disability by establishing a Guaranteed Annual Income for people with a disability and eliminating the Household Income Policy.

"The Household Income Policy is punitive and prevents people with a disability who receive social assistance from sharing accommodations,” said Coon. “The new Minister of Social Development must move to eliminate this policy immediately.”

Green Party Leader calls on Higgs government to ensure access to health services following closure of Clinic 554

FREDERICTON – With the announcement that Clinic 554 will be closing its doors to the public today, Green Party Leader David Coon says that the Higgs government must act swiftly to ensure its services, including abortions and LGBTQ2+ health care, remain accessible in New Brunswick.

“With the closure of Clinic 554, abortions will be completely inaccessible in western New Brunswick, and yet another family doctor will have closed their practice in Fredericton,” said Coon. “On top of this, Clinic 554 was a leader in providing healthcare services to the LGBTQ2+ community in New Brunswick, which are now gone.  Providing continuity of these health care services must be a priority for the new Minister of Health and the Regional Health Authorities.”

In 2018 the federal government concluded that “the lack of coverage for private clinic abortions under the New Brunswick provincial health care insurance plan ran afoul of the accessibility and comprehensiveness criteria of the Canada Health Act.” However the New Brunswick government chose to ignore this finding.

"Swift action to ensure the continuity of health care services that were provided by Clinic 554 is essential," said Coon.

Statement from Green Party Leader David Coon on the new cabinet

FREDERICTON – David Coon, Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick, released the following statement following the swearing-in of the new provincial cabinet:

“I want to congratulate all of the government MLAs who have joined or re-joined the provincial cabinet on their appointments today.  

The decision to separate Local Government from Environment and give the Minister responsibility for Local Governance Reform has the potential to strengthen local democracy and self-determination, should that be the mandate the Premier has in mind.

This decision also returned the Department of Environment to a stand-alone department, but this must not result in a reduction in its staff and capacity to function as an effective regulatory agency, and to implement the provincial action strategies on climate, water quality, and waste reduction. 

I was dismayed to see the Premier eliminate a dedicated Minister with responsibility for Indigenous Affairs when there is so much work to be done to build a relationship that respects indigenous, treaty and land rights, while rooting out systemic racism. 

With the major challenges we face to ensure New Brunswickers have access to the health care services, I look forward to working with the new Minister of Health Dorothy Shephard with whom I have developed a strong working relationship while she was Minister of Social Development. 

I will continue as a member of the COVID Cabinet Committee, as it resumes its regular work on Thursday.  We have much work to do in order to help keep New Brunswickers safe, secure and healthy as we navigate through the pandemic.”

Green Party Leader calls on Higgs government to take tougher stance on industrial carbon emissions

FREDERICTON –New Brunswick’s proposal to regulate industrial carbon emissions that was accepted by the federal government, contravenes New Brunswick’s own Climate Change Actaccording to Green Party Leader David Coon.

The purpose of Section 7.01 of the Climate Change Act is to regulate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in order to achieve New Brunswick’s legislated emission targets for 2030 and 2050.  The planned regulation comes nowhere close says Coon.

“While our own Climate Change Act targets a 27% reduction in carbon emissions between 2020 and 2030, the Higgs’ regulation is designed to cut industrial emissions by only 10%, making it among the weakest in the entire country,” said Coon.  “And if industry fails to achieve this modest reduction, their only penalty will be to pay a miniscule carbon tax.”

“It is time for the Premier to actually treat the climate crisis as the emergency it is,” said Coon. 

Lameque-Shippagan Bridge is a safety issue says David Coon

David Coon, leader of the Green Party, says he will replace the bridge linking the Lamèque and Miscou islands with Shippagan and the rest of the Acadian Peninsula within the prescribed time frame, which is no later than 2022.

"A Green government won't play politics with infrastructure projects whose timelines are based on public safety standards. Safety must transcend any political or partisan considerations," said Mr. Coon.

When the bridge closes, the two islands become totally isolated, as was the case during the recent ice storm in the region.

"This link is vital to the fishing, peat and berry industry that thrives on the islands. It is also vital for the survival of the Lamèque and Miscou community health centers, whose 40% of their employees come from outside these two islands. The same goes for access to educational and university institutions," says Marie Leclerc, Green Party candidate in Shippagan-Lamèque-Miscou.

The Lamèque-Shippagan Bridge is the essential daily road link for more than 10,000 people. It is a matter of medical emergency, economic, social and educational security, according to the candidate. Nearly 8,000 vehicles pass through it every day, including more than 400 heavy vehicles.* 

Green Party leader commits reinstating Tuition Access Bursary

This morning Green Party leader David Coon announced that a Green government would reinstate the Tuition Access Bursary for students with an income under $60,000.

“I was astounded this week when I discovered that neither the Liberal Party nor the Progressive Conservative party are offering any assistance for students in their election platforms," said Coon. “I have heard the concerns of students and unlike the other parties I am prepared to act.”

Coon also announced that a Green government would

  • Make it easier to qualify for the Free Tuition Program, and student loans, by eliminating the provincial credit checks associated with the loan application.
  • Reinstitute the Timely Completion Benefit so that anyone graduating within five years, would have a maximum of $20,000 in debt.
  • Eliminate interest on provincial student loans.

"Greens take students seriously, and we will work to ensure that our youth can launch into life with a good post-secondary education, without being dragged down by massive debt,” said Coon.

Green Party leader commits to restoring funding, independence to Chief Medical Officer of Health

This morning Green Party leader David Coon announced that a Green government would  immediately increase the funding to the Chief Medical Officer’s office, as well as the regional offices around the province.

“The budget of the public health department has been hacked away at for years," said Coon. “I would provide the Chief Medical Officer with the  resources necessary to help  guide New Brunswickers through the COVID-19 pandemic, without sacrificing other pressing  public health initiatives .”

Coon also announced that a Green government would ensure that the Chief Medical Officer is truly independent and able to make reports and recommendations on issues that affect the health of New Brunswickers.

"The Chief Medical Officer needs to be able to make reports and recommendations on issues that affect the health of New Brunswickers without repercussions, no matter how inconvenient it may be for the government,” said Coon.

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>Living within Our Ecological Means

A culture of cooperation, caring and understanding is essential to ending violence in our society. Rehabilitation rather than vengeance must be the goal of our justice system.

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We must have the opportunity and the responsibility as citizens to contribute to the common good, which requires that all have the capacity to participate in community life.

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We must be able to participate in decisions that affect our lives and be guaranteed that our votes are reflected in the make-up of the Legislative Assembly.

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Our communities should be in control of their own destinies, supported by strong local economies, and sustained by local sources of food and renewable energy.

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