ROGERSVILLE – The following is a statement released by Kevin Arseneau, the Green critic for rural affairs and MLA for Kent North, in reaction to the government’s announcement that it has amended the regulations of the Buildings Code Act to exempt accessory buildings, such as sheds, from being required to use stamped lumber.
“This is great news for New Brunswickers. This reversal was the only right thing for the government to do, but it is a short-term fix. A system needs to be put in place to certify the timber sawn by small producers so that this timber could be used in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. In addition, a complete overhaul of the forest industry must see the light of day in order to allow community allocations in order to make more room for small sawmills, small timber producers and the establishment of a local timber market by encouraging cooperation and short supply chain models.
FREDERICTON – Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South, David Coon, is calling on the Higgs government to ensure all New Brunswick workers have access to paid sick days. Yesterday, Ontario’s government announced a paid sick day program for workers impacted by COVID-19.
“Whether a worker is self-isolating waiting for a COVID test and its results, or is sick with COVID, paid sick days are absolutely essential in the fight against the coronavirus variants,” said Coon. “When you live paycheck to paycheck, it can be a difficult decision to stay home when you have symptoms or must be tested. Paid sick days are an essential public health measure to stop the spread of the variants.”
Memramcook-Tantramar MLA Megan Mitton tabled a motion last year that sought to provide workers with 5 days of paid sick leave, that would be expanded to 10 days in times of crisis, like during COVID.
“We are in a race against the variants in New Brunswick as vaccines roll-out. Paid sick days could help make the difference,” said Coon.
FREDERICTON – Ahead of the Premier’s Council on Disabilities appearing at the Budget Estimates Committee later this week, Green Party Leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon wants to know why there has been not action to implement the recommendations of the Council’s Disability Action Plan that was released last July.
“In the nine months since the action plan was released, we haven’t heard a thing about it from the government,” said Coon. “The government has yet to bring forward a New Brunswick Accessibility Act as recommended by the Council, and the budget doesn’t include a budgetary increase for the Premier’s Council on Disabilities to assist other departments with the implementation of the plan.”
Coon is also questioning what happened to the government’s Throne Speech promise to hold legislative hearings regarding accessibility in New Brunswick for people living with disabilities.
“Before the pandemic and the election, the Premier had committed to having the Social Policy Committee hold hearings on improving accessibility in the province,” said Coon. “The government’s throne speech said these would happen this session, yet there is no mention of them on the schedule given to us by the Government House Leader last month.”
FREDERICTON – The Premier’s decision to end tax sharing arrangements with First Nations is the final nail in the coffin of what remained of the relationship between the Government of New Brunswick and the Wolastoqiyik and Mi’Kmaq, according to Green Party Leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon.
“The tax-sharing agreements provide essential revenue to support economic development and job creation in First Nation communities. The loss of $44 million to First Nation community governments from the gas taxes collected by First Nation businesses will undermine the budgets of many,” said Coon.
“Rather than address his concerns through the re-negotiation of the agreements, government to government, the Premier is rejecting them, just as he rejected the need for an inquiry into systemic racism, or the need to write indigenous rights into the Crown Lands and Forests Act. Under this government, any hope for reconciliation has evaporated,” said Coon.
FREDERICTON – After learning that the Department of Health will no longer fund diagnostic and laboratory tests ordered by nurse practitioners who are working outside of the public healthcare system, Green Health Critic and MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar Megan Mitton says that it is time for the government to bring all nurse practitioners into the public system by allowing them to bill Medicare for the services they provide.
“It defies logic that we have primary healthcare practitioners who are willing to work, but unable to work within our public system,” said Mitton. “We have a shortage of primary healthcare providers, so why aren’t we paying these professionals to provide healthcare services and reduce the waiting list in our province?”
Green Party Leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon adds that he has been advocating for this change since he was first elected in 2014.
“For years, successive governments have committed to fully utilizing nurse practitioners, while only making incremental changes to hire more nurse practitioners at the regional health authorities,” said Coon. “It is time to make this change to improve healthcare outcomes for New Brunswickers.”
FREDERICTON – The Department of Social Development has failed to table its plan to improve its treatment of children and youth taken into its care.
Following a devastating report by the Auditor General on the poor quality of care provided to children and youth in group homes, members of the Legislative Assembly unanimously requested Social Development present a plan to solve the problem by March 31, 2020. This never took place. Under questioning from Green Party leader David Coon at the Public Accounts Committee this year, the Deputy Minister for Social Development made a commitment to table the plan by the end of this March, a full year late.
“Over a year ago, the Auditor General uncovered serious problems in Group Homes that were placing children and youth in the Minister’s care at serious risk. Where is the plan to rescue those kids from inadequate, inappropriate, and in some cases, damaging care,” demanded Coon. “The Auditor General did her work, and as MLAs we did our work to hold the Department accountable for implementing her recommendations, and planned to call witnesses to comment on the adequacy of the plan, but there’s no plan. Now it’s up to the Minister of Social Development to explain why his Department is failing youth and children in care.”
FREDERICTON – On the day before the Higgs’ government’s carbon tax increases to $40/tonne, Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South, David Coon, is calling on the government to invest the additional $28 million in increased revenue entirely in climate change mitigation.
“With increased carbon tax revenue, we have an opportunity to tackle climate change in a way that reduces emissions, increases energy efficiency, and helps New Brunswickers save on their heating bills,” said Coon. “I’m talking about major investments in home and business retrofits, support to improve public transportation, rebates for electric vehicles, and increasing the amount of small-scale renewable power on the grid.”
At a recent Climate Change and Environmental Stewardship committee, Green Environment critic and MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar, Megan Mitton, criticized the government for putting $20 million of carbon tax revenue into research and development for more nuclear power.
“We have a government that has become obsessed with more nuclear power, even at the expense of New Brunswickers and the climate,” said Mitton. “New Brunswickers need to know that their government is seeing the climate crisis for what it is, a crisis. The government needs to be investing in energy retrofits and tried and true existing technologies, like wind and solar - not expensive, potentially dangerous, and experimental technologies like nuclear SMRs.”
Fredericton – Memramcook-Tantramar MLA Megan Mitton, who is the Green critic for Women’s Equality and Human Rights, tabled a motion in the Legislative Assembly today urging the government to tackle the issue of sexual violence in New Brunswick.
“We know from the statistics that sexual violence is a growing problem in New Brunswick. The numbers of reports of sexual violence have increased, while at the same time, the number of people charged with such a crime have dropped significantly,” said Mitton. “We also know that the risk of sexual assault is not distributed evenly across gender, sexual orientation, and race. The vast majority of victims are women, with almost half under the age of 18. In Canada, Indigenous women are three times as likely to face sexual violence and LGBTQ people are twice as likely.”
The Motion urges the government to:
- Fully implement and fund the recommendations and actions in Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence in New Brunswick: A Framework for Action;
- Examine the gaps in victims services provision through the Department of Justice and Public Safety, to identify and address gaps, especially in relation to where the crime occurred;
- Increase funding for frontline services, including transition houses;
- increase funding for trauma-informed support services, including access for all public post-secondary campuses
- Adopt legislation requiring standalone campus violence policies for all publicly-funded universities and including provisions ensuring student involvement in the drafting and amending process, as well as built in metrics to guarantee the clarity of the reporting structure at each institution.;
“I hope my colleagues will grasp the pervasiveness of sexual violence in New Brunswick and lend their support to fighting it,” said Mitton. “Sexual violence is not a women’s issue, but a societal issue that is complex by nature and requires a multi-faceted approach to see results. Government action in response this motion would be a step in the right direction.”
Fredericton – Megan Mitton, the MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar and Green Caucus Environment critic, is denouncing the Higgs government’s misspending of carbon tax revenue. The government has cut annual funding for energy efficiency retrofits on government buildings such as schools, hospitals and offices by $5 million, while investing the same amount into researching unproven small modular nuclear reactor technology.
“It is irresponsible for the government to redirect money from energy efficiency initiatives that would provide savings to taxpayers, while reducing our carbon footprint, and instead wasting it on unproven nuclear technology,” said Mitton. “Small modular nuclear reactors are neither clean nor green, so this is a totally inappropriate spending of climate change dollars that could instead be helping New Brunswickers save on their heating bills.”
Mitton also criticized the government for leaving $10 million in carbon tax revenue on the table by only spending $26 million of the $36 million budgeted. Meanwhile, there is no funding from the carbon tax to expand renewable energy despite requests from communities across the province and funding for Social Development’s energy efficiency program is insufficient to meet demand.
“We are in a climate emergency, and yet the Premier is choosing to use $10 million from the carbon tax revenue to help balance the budget,” said Mitton. “The government needs to invest every penny of carbon tax revenue into initiatives that would help save New Brunswickers money while reducing carbon emissions, such as Social Development’s energy efficiency program and the expansion of cheap renewable power.”
Fredericton – On Tuesday March 9th, MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar Megan Mitton announced that she is expecting a baby in June. She is working with the Legislative Assembly to lay out the protocols for an expecting MLA.
“It’s hard to believe that it is 2021 and there is no plan in place for when MLAs have babies,” said Mitton. “To me, that exemplifies how much work we still have to do to make political spaces - spaces traditionally occupied by men - more welcoming to women and other genders.”
Mitton is hoping to effect change in the Legislative Assembly rules so future members will know what to expect when they are expecting.
“We are navigating uncharted territory in New Brunswick. The changes needed range from small things like putting changing tables into the bathrooms around the legislative precinct to larger things like parental leave,” said Mitton. “This is an exciting opportunity to make changes that will open the door to younger people who want to run for office and have children. We need diversity in our Legislature to make sure that all New Brunswickers are represented.”
“Megan is blazing a trail to make the Legislature work for women and for families, and it is a major undertaking in this male-dominated institution,” said Green Party leader David Coon. “I’m looking forward to making these historic, but long overdue, changes with my colleagues on the Legislative Administrative Committee.”