Greens Vision for Healthcare Reform Submitted to Health Minister

SACKVILLE – On the one-year anniversary of the announcement of the Higgs government’s wrong-headed healthcare reform initiative, the Green caucus has released its healthcare reform submission to Health Minister Dorothy Shephard.

“Rather than cutting emergency health care services in rural hospitals, rural and urban New Brunswickers must have access to the health services they need, when they need them, and where they need them, ” said Megan Mitton, the Green Health critic and MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar.  “Our healthcare system is in crisis, and we are saying  the well-being of our citizens must be at the heart of the reforms.

The Green Caucus focuses on 6 pillars of reform in their statement:

  • Local Decision-making: Create local community health boards to decide the services to be offered based on the needs and expectations of the people they serve.
  • Primary Healthcare: Improve access to primary care by integrating family doctors with a variety of other health professionals, including nurse practitioners, social workers, dieticians, mental health specialists, and pharmacists.
  • Mental Healthcare: Open walk-in mental health clinics around the province, have Medicare cover psychotherapy, and transform our mental health mobile crisis teams into 24-hour first responders. 
  • Community-Based Health Care: Establish community health centres across the province staffed by a variety of health professionals, addressing the shortcomings of our current system, such as access to midwives, health services for the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and harm-reduction initiatives. 
  • Emergency Health Care: Replace the dynamic deployment model used for paramedics with a community-based approach.   The current model allows urban areas to be under-supported, requiring paramedics to be drawn away from rural areas to provide support, leaving those communities exposed.
  • Preventative Health Care: Provide Public Health the resources to implement targeted preventative health initiatives that would prevent cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

“The global pandemic has brought into sharper focus the improvements needed to bring New Brunswick’s health care system into the 21st century,” said Mitton. “The ideas we bring forward in this submission are not new. They are ideas that have been implemented and are highly successful elsewhere in Canada.”

Green Party Leader statement on Premier’s State of the Province speech

FREDERICTON – In response to Premier Higgs State of the Province speech this afternoon, Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon released the following statement:

“Premier Higgs has drawn a line in the sand on environmental action and a transition to a green economy during the State of the Province address, and he is standing against it. The Premier has firmly anchored self on the wrong side of history in order to maintain the status quo. He is ignoring the efforts of local businesses to expand renewable energy development but handing $20 million to foreign nuclear power developers to weigh us down with more costly and dangerous waste-generating nuclear technology. He came out firmly against the application of Canada’s clean fuel standard to the Irving Oil refinery while backing their application to the EUB to increase the price of heating oil, gasoline and diesel. 

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Green Party Leader says State of the Province must prioritize well-being, healthy communities and the environment

The state of our province is dependent on the well-being of our people, the health of our communities and the integrity of our environment, says Green Party leader David Coon, the MLA for Fredericton-South.  According to Coon, the Premier’s State of the Province address must speak to how he intends to help New Brunswickers get through the pandemic, while confronting inequality and the degradation of our environment.

“It is imperative that people have access to paid sick leave and lodgings for self-isolation in order to follow public health rules,” said the Green Party leader.  “And rent increases must be capped so people don’t find themselves forced to hunt for a new apartment in a tight rental market during the pandemic.”

Coon says the lack of targeted support for those small businesses hit the hardest by the pandemic, such as restaurants and bars, is causing their owners to fear they won’t survive to see the other side, while the care sector is struggling to recruit workers when the pay is poor and the working conditions are atrocious.

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Green agriculture critic calls on provincial government to help farmers amid hay shortage

ROGERSVILLE – Green Party Agriculture critic Kevin Arseneau is calling on the provincial government to support New Brunswick farmers who are facing a hay shortage due to last summer’s extreme drought. 

“I’ve spoken to farmers across the province who have told me that they had never witnessed a drought like last summer,” said Arseneau. “When reaching out for help through the Department of Agriculture, one farmer even told me he was blamed for not growing his hay properly.”

Arseneau is specifically asking the provincial government to help in coordinating bulk hay purchases and cover the costs of transporting hay from out of province. He points to a similar hay shortage in 2002 in the prairies where the federal and provincial governments collaborated to cover the cost of rail transport from eastern provinces. 

“Farmers have known since August that they could not grow enough hay for the winter because of the dry conditions,” said Arseneau. “When I asked the Minister about this in December, she acknowledged this impact of climate crisis on our province. Something should have been done a long time ago -- not now when farmers are facing the real prospect of having to sell their cattle to avoid seeing them starve to death.”

Green Party leader calls for landfill ban for organic wastes and recyclables

Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton wants the Province to ban organic wastes and recyclables from landfills rather than allowing regional solid waste commissions to build higher mountains of garbage.  The Fredericton Solid Waste Commission has applied to the Department of Environment to add 29 metres, or almost nine stories, to their garbage mountain.

“The idea that building higher piles of garbage is how our wastes should be managed in the 21st century reflects the complete abdication of Conservative and Liberal governments to any meaningful commitment to environmental progress,” said Green Party leader David Coon. “Organic wastes are the raw material for producing renewable natural gas, while recyclables are the basis for new manufacturing ventures in a circular economy. This is what is happening all around us in Nova Scotia and Quebec.”

The last provincial strategy to cut into the mountains of New Brunswick’s garbage goes back two decades to the government of Bernard Lord.  It was never implemented. 

Green Party leader says the political appointment of election officers must end

FREDERICTON - David Coon, Leader of the Green Party and MLA for Fredericton South, says its time for the government to take the politics out of the appointment of returning officers and elections clerks, as recommended by Elections NB.

“Its time to end the political appointment of election officers,” said Coon. “Most people will be appalled to learn that the party in power appoints the electoral officers who run the election in their ridings.  Our Chief Electoral Officer is recommending that her office take this over, and I support that.” 

Chief Electoral Officer Kim Poffenroth released her report on Wednesday on the pandemic election last fall, making nine recommendations, including the appointment of returning officers by the independent electoral commission, extending the minimum length of campaigns in the case of snap elections, and improving mail-in voting. 

“Its no surprise that the Chief Electoral Officer found there were issues with the election that need to be fixed,” said Coon. “During the campaign, my candidates and I experienced some of these first-hand.”

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Green Party leader says New Brunswick has fallen short on climate commitments

FREDERICTON - The most impactful commitments in New Brunswick’s 2016 Climate Change Action have yet to be implemented, says David Coon, Leader of the Green Party, former member of the Legislature’s Select Committee on Climate Change, and MLA for Fredericton South.

“The Action Plan was designed to put us on a path to transition to a low carbon economy, but failure to implement its most impactful commitments has failed to put us on that trajectory, so the status quo prevails,” said Coon.  “The last major province-wide climate action initiatives were launched 15 years ago by former Premier Lord.” 

Coon pointed to the failure to implement concrete targets for building energy efficiency; to expand the use of renewable energy to supply electric power and space heating; to improve access to public transportation and electric vehicles; and to ensure carbon tax revenue would be held in a climate change fund to help families, small businesses and communities reduce their carbon footprint rather than buried in general revenue.

New Brunswick’s Climate Change Action Plan and its Climate Change Act requires carbon emissions to be reduced to 10.7 million tonnes by 2030 and to 5 million tonnes by 2050.  This will require a 20 percent reduction in emissions from the current level of 13.2 million tonnes over the next nine years.

“We have a choice.  We can choose to fight for our children’s future and set a course to get off fossil fuels, or we can avert our eyes and tinker with the status quo.  As a Green, I choose to fight,” said Coon.

Greens Call for Natural Resources and Energy Development Minister to Resign

FREDERICTON – David Coon, New Brunswick’s Green Party Leader, is calling on Natural Resources and Energy Development Minister Mike Holland to resign his cabinet seat because he wrote the Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) to tell them how he thinks it should deal with an Irving Oil application to increase wholesale charges on fuel oil, gasoline and diesel.

“This was an egregious abuse of power by the Minister, to try to influence the work of the EUB,” said Coon.  “The EUB is an independent and quasi-judicial regulator that makes legally-binding rulings based on the evidence provided to them, and on the strength of the arguments made by the applicant and official intervenors.  The Minister must be held to account for trying to influence the work of the EUB,” said Coon.

Irving Oil is seeking an increase on the wholesale charges permitted in New Brunswick by the EUB on furnace oil, gasoline and diesel fuel.  If granted, wholesale charges would increase between 63 and 75 percent.  

Green Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries critic Statement on Local Food and Beverage Strategy

FREDERICTON – Green Party Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries critic and MLA for Kent North Kevin Arseneau released the following statement today on the government’s new “Local Food and Beverages Strategy: 2021-2025.”

“This is the first time New Brunswick has had a concrete local food strategy, so it’s a good first step. It comes after Greens have been pushing for a strategy for six years, since Green Party leader David Coon first tabled his Local Food Security Act bill in 2015. I am pleased to see that the strategy finally includes a definition for local food and that the government is admitting that there are economic opportunities in increasing food self-sufficiency.

However, ultimately the merit of the strategy will be judged on how it is implemented. The Minister must set concrete targets and timelines for government procurement of local food, increasing the area of production for fruit and vegetables, and expanding the number of and distribution of abattoirs.

Food sovereignty in New Brunswick cannot happen if we continue to hand over our food system to corporate monopolies and encourage industrial practices. Instead, the government must support small and medium-scale farmers and encourage cooperatives and local autonomy over our food systems.

I look forward to working with the Minister of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries to ensure that this strategy is implemented in a way that benefits New Brunswick farmers, harvesters and consumers.”

Coon says Official Languages Act Review should be Conducted by Legislators

Commissioners Should Investigate Second Language Training

FREDERICTON – Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon says that a public review of the Official Languages Act should be conducted by a committee of the Legislature, not by commissioners appointed by the Premier. 

“MLAs are the lawmakers in this Province, and it should be MLAs who recommend to the Legislative Assembly how the Official Languages Act can be improved to advance the equality of New Brunswick’s two official languages and two official language communities,” said Coon.  “My colleague Kevin Arseneau proposed that a Standing Committee on Official Languages be created 18 months ago, and its first task should be to conduct this review, but this fell on deaf ears.”

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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.

> 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.

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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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