Green Caucus urges Premier to make investments to curb child poverty

FREDERICTON – With the release of the Saint John Human Development Council’s Child Poverty Report Card for 2020, Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon is calling on Premier Higgs to implement the report’s key recommendations to curb child poverty in New Brunswick.

“We know the solutions to child poverty, but in order to address this problem, the Premier needs to be willing to invest money in improving the lives of New Brunswick families,” said Coon.  “By making investments to increase social assistance rates, support local food production and build more affordable housing, the Premier could make a big difference in the lives of New Brunswick families.”

The Human Development Council’s report found that 26 communities in New Brunswick have a child poverty rate over 30 percent. The seven communities with the highest rates are all First Nations communities, with Esgenoôpetitj having the highest at 71.8%. Three of the fourteen communities with the highest levels of child poverty are in Green MLA Kevin Arseneau’s riding of Kent North.

“While the Premier and Minister of Social Development are not presented with child poverty in their ridings on a regular basis, since Quispamsis and Riverview have among the lowest child poverty rates in the province,  I see it daily in my riding, and it is heartbreaking,” said Kevin Arseneau, MLA for Kent North. “The Premier needs to act now to reduce poverty, so all kids in New Brunswick have a fighting chance at a decent life.”

Coon wants Premier to ensure Atlantic Premiers present a common front at First Ministers meeting

FREDERICTON – Ahead of the First Ministers meeting between the Prime Minister and the Premiers on Thursday December 10, Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon is calling on Premier Higgs to first meet with his Atlantic counterparts to ensure they present a common front for a demographic adjustment to the Canada Health Transfer.

“The political history of Atlantic Canada teaches us that if we don’t hang together in dealing with the federal government we hang alone,” said Coon.  “It is essential that Premier Higgs take the leadership here, like his predecessors have in times of change, and bring Andrew Fury, Stephen McNeil and Dennis King to the table to ensure the Atlantic Canadian Premiers present a common front to other first ministers.”

Coon wants Higgs to initiate a meeting among the Atlantic premiers prior to the First Minister meeting to hammer out an agreement on a demand for a demographic adjustment to the Canada Health Care transfer.

“Our needs in this region of the country are unique because of our distinct demographics, making the simplistic per capita funding formula profoundly unfair, prejudicing our ability to deliver health care services on an equitable basis to Atlantic Canadians,” said Coon. “The current formula is unjust to Atlantic Canada, so we must stand up for ourselves at the First Ministers meeting.”

Youth Losing Hope in Government Commitments to Climate Action

As Canada and the world grapple with the climate crisis, on the 4th anniversary of the launch of a provincial climate action plan, Green Party leader David Coon is wondering why New Brunswick’s government seems oblivious to the fact the planet’s climate is rapidly destabilizing.

NB Power has just released its latest 20-year resource plan, but its emphasis is on extending the life of its fossil fuel plants, not replacing them with hydroelectric, wind and solar power.

The Electricity Act’s target for renewable energy expires at the end of the month, but the Higgs government has failed to set a new renewable energy target1.

Three years have passed without any action since the tabling of a public transportation strategy for New Brunswick in 2017.

“Our youth no longer have the confidence that governments will make the changes necessary to stop a climate calamity,” said David Coon, Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton-South.  “We are failing them.”

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Green Party leader calls for Higgs government to commit to an ambitious renewable energy target

FREDERICTON - Green Party leader David Coon is calling on the Higgs government to commit to an ambitious target to grow the renewable energy industry in New Brunswick, rather than continuing down path of expensive and risky nuclear power generation.

The legally regulated target set by Bernard Lord in 2006 to supply New Brunswickers with 10 percent of our electricity needs from new sources of locally produced renewable energy has now been achieved.  That regulation expires in three weeks without any commitment from the Higgs government to a new target for further expanding locally produced renewable energy in New Brunswick.

“A reasonable target would be to double the local supply of renewable electricity by 2030,” said Coon.  “Pairing this with a long-term contract for 700 to 1000 MW of hydroelectricity from Labrador and Quebec would substantially increase our supply of affordable electricity while laying the foundation to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

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Green Party leader calls for better supports for small businesses during pandemic’s second wave

Fredericton – New Brunswick Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon is calling on the Higgs government to provide support for those small businesses, such as cafés, restaurants, pubs and bars hit hardest by the second wave of the COVID and the public health measures needed to fight it.

“Businesses in the hospitality and accommodations sector are really struggling, especially those dealing with orange phase rules.  Should any region have to return to red, businesses in the fitness sector will join them.” said Coon. “It is time for the Premier to help those businesses as his colleagues in Nova Scotia and PEI have done.”

Coon is calling on the Premier to do three things:

  1. Create a grant program of up to $5,000 per month to support small, independently owned dine-in restaurants, bars, and fitness and leisure establishments impacted by public health directives in the orange zones, or potential future red zones.

  2. Create a Workspace Adaption Assistance Fund to retroactively offer grants for small businesses for expenses that were directly related to implementing safety measures of a COVID-19 operational plan.

  3. Help small businesses reduce their costs by supporting energy efficiency upgrades with targeted loans and technical advice designed to achieve 15% to 35% savings on their energy bills.  This will also create work for local trades people and business for local suppliers.

“It is in the public interest for our local economies to weather the COVID storm, so public investment in the small businesses most affected by COVID measures is urgently needed,” said Coon.  “Small businesses are the backbone of our local economies and need our support.

Green Party leader says committee work blocked by Legislature shutdown

Fredericton – David Coon, Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South, says that by shutting down the Legislative Assembly, the Higgs government is preventing important committee work from happening.

“The government with the support of the Liberal opposition has brought the work of the Legislative Branch of government to a screeching halt,” said Coon.  “There are seven committees that cannot begin their work because the Legislature has yet to approve their membership or chairs yet.  Without the ability for members to participate in the sitting of the Legislature virtually, I don’t see us reconvening until sometime in the new year.”

To date, the Legislature has approved the membership of only one committee, the Economic Policy Committee responsible for studying government bills. Committee membership must be established by a motion put to a vote by MLAs, which requires the Legislative Assembly to be in-session.

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Green Caucus to propose emergency debate in Legislature on hybrid or virtual sittings

Fredericton – In the Legislative Assembly this afternoon, Green Party MLA for Kent North and Acting House Leader Kevin Arseneau will move a motion calling for an emergency debate on hybrid or virtual sittings of the Legislative Assembly. A hybrid system is in use in the House of Commons. Since September, Members of Parliament have the option of participating in debate and voting virtually.

“My caucus colleagues and I have been consistently calling for virtual or hybrid system for Assembly sittings since April,” said Arseneau. “The Legislative Assembly has had over six months to study and implement such a system that would enable the MLAs who cannot be in Fredericton for public health reasons to represent their constituents by participating in debate and voting on important legislation.”

Section 45 of the Legislative Assembly’s standing rules allows for an emergency debate for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter requiring urgent consideration. Arseneau says that allowing the Legislative Assembly to continue to function during a pandemic is vitally important to democracy.

 “We cannot afford to suspend our democratic institutions in times of crisis, especially when there are proven and safe alternatives, as have been convincingly demonstrated in the House of Commons,” said Arseneau. “The Legislative Assembly has only sat for 12 full days of routine business out of 328 this year.”

“While Members of the Legislative Assembly are being asked to stay home, the government is asking workers across the province, including teachers, retail workers and healthcare workers to go to work every day,” said Arseneau “Democracy is an essential service.”

Green Party leader tables bill to protect tenants

FREDERICTON – In the wake of steep rent increases experienced by some New Brunswickers this year, David Coon, Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick and MLA for Fredericton South will introduce an  Act to Amend the Residential Tenancies Act on Friday to establish rent controls to protect tenants from unreasonable rent increases.

“New Brunswick renters have fewer legal protections than other Canadians,” said Coon.  “This is why I tabled a bill to strengthen our weak Residential Tenancies Act almost two years ago.” 

The bill, which mirrors sections of Coon’s 2018 bill, will:

  • Ensure that a tenant’s rent will not rise within the first year of a tenancy,
  • Ensure that a tenant’s rent can only be raised once per year, and
  • Establish an annual rent increase cap

“Four provinces, including PEI, have rent control to protect tenants from large increases, while New Brunswick is the only province that allows landlords to raise rent multiple times a year,” said Coon. “We need to ensure that tenants who cannot afford large increases in their rent are not left out in the cold without housing this winter.”

Green MLAs announce their critic roles and areas of focus

Fredericton – On Wednesday November 18th, the Green MLAs announced their critic roles and their priority policy areas.

David Coon, Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick and MLA for Fredericton South will be the critic for Aboriginal Affairs; Executive Council Office; Intergovernmental Affairs; Natural Resources and Energy Development; Postsecondary Education Training and Labour; and Social Development.

Megan Mitton, MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar, will be the critic on matters of Healthy and Inclusive Communities, Climate Justice, and Education. The government departments she will be responsible for are Education and Early Childhood Development; Environment and Climate Change; Health; Service New Brunswick; Transportation and Infrastructure; Women’s Equality; Human Rights; and the Premier’s Council on Disabilities.

Kevin Arseneau, MLA for Kent North, will be the critic on matters of Developing and Strengthening Communities, Food Sovereignty and Fiscal, Economic and Social Justice. The government departments he will be responsible for are Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries; Finance and Treasury Board; Justice and Public Safety; Local Government; Official Languages; Rural & Economic Development; and Tourism, Heritage and Culture.

“Our team is ready to get to work,” said Coon. “We are going to hold the Higgs government to account, while pushing forward on important files with ideas and solutions.”

Green Party leader calls for a more ambitious affordable housing plan

FREDERICTON - Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon is calling on the Higgs government to be more ambitious when it comes to providing affordable housing. The current commitment is to increase the subsidized housing supply by just 1 percent by 2022.

“There are 5,668 households on the Department of Social Development’s waiting list for subsidized housing, including an increase of 758 since July,” said Coon. “The government’s target of adding just 151 units over three years is a drop in a leaky bucket.”

In 2018, there were 28,000 New Brunswick households in need of affordable housing according to CMHC, defined by the number of households paying more than 30% of their income for housing. Yet funding for the Affordable Rental Housing Program has remained stagnant over the past three years, at less than $1 million per year.

“I was appalled to learn that the not-for-profit housing developers have been informed that the Province will no longer contribute to projects with federal government funding,” said Coon. “When the need is so great and the cost of borrowing is so low, government should be making major new investments in affordable housing now. That means budgeting far more than their obligations under the bilateral agreement they signed with Ottawa as part of the 2017 National Housing Strategy.”

Our Principles

>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.

> Local Self-Reliance

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.

> Real Democracy

Everyone must have equal access to the necessities of life and be treated with dignity and respect. Treaties with First Nations must be honoured.

> Social Justice and Equality

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.

> Active Citizenship

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.

> A Culture of Peace and Respect

We must live within the ecological limits of the Earth, while meeting our needs without threatening our children's future or the survival of other species.

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