FREDERICTON – Green Party Leader and MLA for Fredericton-South, David Coon, tabled a motion today urging the government to promote and develop jobs in renewable energy, energy efficiency and public transportation.
“We can’t self-isolate from the climate crisis as we are during this pandemic,” said Coon. “The COVID-19 pandemic has given us a unique opportunity to make ground-breaking changes in our economy, so now is the time to jump-start a New Brunswick economy that is sustainable, resilient, and puts people to work in well-paying jobs.”
The motion tabled by Coon has three main objectives:
- Create an agency that would have the mandate to promote and develop jobs in renewable energy, energy efficiency and public transportation;
- Update the renewable energy portfolio requirements under the regulations to the Electricity Act to increase the target to 80% renewable energy on the grid by 2030 and 100% renewable energy on the grid by 2050;
- Reduce barriers to generating green energy by allowing municipalities and First Nations to directly purchase small-scale, New Brunswick-based renewable energy for use in their government operations.
“The climate crisis is an energy crisis, so any meaningful solution needs to put renewable energy and energy efficiency at the front and centre of our economy,” said Coon. “By providing good job opportunities in the renewables sector, setting strong renewable energy targets and allowing for greater use of locally-based, small-scale renewable energy, we would be putting our province on the path to having a 21st century economy.”
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This issue constitutes the eighth principle of the Green Caucus framework for a just recovery from COVID-19: “Create a resilient economy in a time of climate crisis”.
Green Party Education Critic Tables Bill to Include the Teaching of Indigenous Languages in NB Schools
Fredericton – Green Party MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar and education critic, Megan Mitton, tabled a bill to amend the Education Act to include indigenous languages in the public education curriculum.
“Systemic racism goes beyond policing. Indigenous languages have been systematically attacked for generations in the residential school systems, and then they were ignored in the public-school system,” says Mitton. “We are at the point of losing indigenous languages here in NB, there are fewer than 100 fluent, life-long Wolastoqey speakers and about 2000 Mi’kmaq speakers left in the province.”
The change would add the word language to Paragraph 7(b) of the Education Act, so that the line would read:
“The Minister shall prescribe or approve programs and services which foster an understanding of aboriginal history, language, and culture among all pupils.”
“In 2017 David Coon passed a bill with all-party support to ensure that indigenous history and culture is part of our school curriculum and this is the next logical step,” said Mitton. “If we are taking reconciliation and right relations with First Nations seriously, then working diligently to preserve language, which is an integral part of culture, is essential.”
Fredericton – Kevin Arseneau, MLA for Kent-North, tabled An Act to Amend the Industrial Relations Act on Thursday. The bill aims to ban the use of replacement workers during a strike or lockout, and is modelled after legislation in British Columbia.
“Banning scab workers would be a concrete way of showing support to the province’s workers, many of whom have been working ceaselessly on the frontlines of this pandemic,” says Arseneau. “Now is the time to show respect for New Brunswick’s workers with real action, rather than words.”
If passed, the bill would ban the use of replacement workers during a strike or lockout. It would also create penalties of up to a $10, 000 fine for employers who use replacement workers.
“As we have seen with the recent situation at the Allardville landfill, the use of replacement workers in New Brunswick is a big problem,” says Arseneau. “The use of these workers decreases the bargaining power for unionized workers and is contrary to the principle of good-faith negotiations.”
Fredericton – On June 10, Green Party critic for Agriculture and MLA for Kent North, Kevin Arseneau, tabled a bill to ensure the province creates and maintains a sustainable, self-sufficient local food industry.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that we need to ensure that we can produce a sufficient supply of food to feed New Brunswickers here at home,” says Arseneau. “We only produce 8 percent of the fruits and vegetables we consume in the province. We need to do better.”
The bill aims to strengthen and ensure a sustainable local food economy in New Brunswick, promote local food procurement and access for public institutions, improve the health of New Brunswickers through increased availability of fresh local food and provide students with food, agriculture and garden-based education in schools.
“It has never been more important to support the farmers who, alongside other primary producers like fishers, aquaculture farmers, and woodlot owners, are the backbone of our local communities. I hope that all members of the Legislative Assembly will join me in moving this bill forward.” says Arseneau.
Green Party of NB calls for an investigation into the treatment of First Nations people by the justice system and the police
The Green Party of New Brunswick's Annual Meeting this past weekend expressed concern about the treatment of First Nations people by the police and the justice system. In the wake of the killing of Chantel Moore and the death of Brady Francis, Green Party members join the Chiefs of the Wolastoquey First Nation in calling for a public inquiry into the treatment of indigenous people by the justice system.
"The Annual General Assembly of Members passed this emergency motion because we cannot remain silent in the face of the tragic death of another indigenous woman just days before the anniversary of the release of the report of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. That inquiry found that First Nations people, in their interaction with the justice system and police are viewed through the prism of pervasive racism and indifference," said Green Party Leader David Coon.
The report also called, as have many reports before it, for reform of the justice system and mechanisms for monitoring and oversight of police investigations of cases involving indigenous people.
"The outcome of the judicial process in the case of Brady Francis' death has been deeply shocking to the Mi'kmaq community who feel that justice has not been served. The family of Chantel Moore deserves real answers to their questions about how it is possible that Chantel died at the hands of a police officer. We must take action to change our institutions and practices. A public inquiry will help identify and correct the flaws," according to Mr. Coon.
Fredericton - Kevin Arseneau, MLA for Kent-North, tabled a motion today that would seek to end the concentration of media ownership in New Brunswick.
“Having a free, competitive, and diverse media landscape is absolutely crucial to a well-functioning democracy,” said Arseneau. “The level of media concentration in this province is unheard of in the rest of the developed world. That fact has been made especially evident in light of the closures of 9 of the Irving-owned Brunswick News offices recently.”
Currently, all daily English-language newspapers in New Brunswick are owned by Brunswick News, which constitutes 84% of all daily newspaper circulation. Brunswick News also owns 71% of weekly newspaper circulation in the province, with all of their physical offices closed permanently. Brunswick News is owned by James K. Irving, who also owns J.D. Irving, Limited.
“The fact that a major employer in the province, who is directly tied to many industries would have control of the media is beyond concerning,” said Arseneau. “What we have here is an industrial-media complex and it’s holding us back as a province.”
The motion presented today will seek to institute a 40% cap on the concentration of print media ownership in the province and prohibit the cross-ownership of media and non-media businesses, a commitment made in the 2018 Green Party Platform.
“The media landscape is like a farm; diversity contributes to its strength and resilience,” said Arseneau.
FREDERICTON – Megan Mitton, MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar, tabled a motion urging the government to increase protections for non-unionized workers by giving all workers access to at least five paid sick days, with ten additional days during emergency situations such as a health pandemic; increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next two years; and ensuring all employees receive overtime pay of one and a half times their wage.
“The COVID pandemic has made it clear that our essential workers, who often make minimum wage and have no access to paid sick leave, are undervalued,” says Mitton. “I’m calling on the government to move forward on making the changes outlined in this motion because they would have a big impact on minimum wage and casual workers.”
Workers who work overtime in New Brunswick are only required to receive overtime pay at one and a half times the minimum wage, and not one and a half times their wage. Employers are currently not obligated to provide employees with paid sick days.
“This is about both workers’ rights and public health,” said Mitton. “When you make minimum wage or thereabouts, it’s difficult to make the decision to stay home without pay, even if you should be staying home to avoid spreading your illness, whether it’s COVID-19 or otherwise.”
FREDERICTON – Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton-South, David Coon, tabled a motion today that urges the government to commit to sourcing 10% of goods and services for the upcoming fiscal year locally in New Brunswick.
“Many of our small and medium-sized businesses are now in survival mode in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown. The self-employed are seeing their livelihoods evaporate, while laid-off workers from export-oriented industries may lose their jobs altogether. The government must use its massive purchasing power to buy goods and services produced right here in New Brunswick, instead of importing them,” said Coon. “Money leaves the province with every imported good and service. By replacing imports with New Brunswick products and services, we will keep the money circulating in the province, creating wealth in our communities.”
A 2018 study by Université de Moncton economist Pierre-Marcel Desjardins found that just a 5 percent increase in New Brunswickers buying local products would result in over 9000 jobs, add $881 million to New Brunswick’s GDP, and generate $1.14 billion in revenue for the provincial government and $2 billion in additional sales annually after five years.
“If we want to encourage New Brunswickers to support their local economy, government needs to lead by example,” said Coon. “When we support businesses in our communities, our money goes directly towards supporting our neighbours, families, and the local tax base. It’s fundamental to strengthening our local economies.”
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Green Party Leader Proposes Select Committee to Forge a Path Forward in New Brunswick in COVID’s Wake
FREDERICTON – In order to address the challenges that have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton-South, David Coon, is calling on the Higgs government to establish a Select Committee on Social and Economic Resilience, with the following two main goals:
- Promotion of Personal and Social Well-Being
- Promotion of Sustainable Economic Progress
“As we begin to navigate a recovery from the pandemic, we need to be sure to place the well-being of all New Brunswickers at the heart of our decision-making,” said Coon. “We also have a unique opportunity to reset our economy in a way that is more locally-based, resilient, ecologically sustainable, and most importantly, serves all New Brunswickers.”
The Select Committee would include members of all parties in the Legislature and be mandated to engage with New Brunswickers to recommend social and economic measures which will put New Brunswick on a path toward a more resilient society and economy.
“In the weeks and months since the beginning of the pandemic, we discovered that partisanship can be put aside and party leaders are capable of working together to serve the common good, as we have on the all-party cabinet committee,” said Coon. “I want to carry through that spirit of collaboration into the Legislature with this Select Committee to look at how we better support the most vulnerable, such as our seniors, youth and the poor, while pursuing economic progress that is more sustainable and suitable for a province the size of New Brunswick.”
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FREDERICTON – “While the government says it only has a few bills it wants to pass when we resume the spring Legislative session, the Greens have a full agenda,” says Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton-South, David Coon.
The Green Caucus has three bills awaiting second reading and four motions awaiting debate:
Bill 7: Ensure equitable access to timber markets for private woodlot owners and ban Glyphosate spraying on Crown Lands.
Bill 31: Improve the social assistance system to meet the needs of recipients.
Bill 35: Ban the practice of conversion therapy in New Brunswick.
Motion 37: Make documents public related to the proposed healthcare reform.
Motion 38: Send healthcare reform to an all-party legislative committee.
Motion 39: Increase social assistance rates and pilot a Guaranteed Livable Income.
Motion 40: Give the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries the mandate for food sovereignty and food security and change the department’s name to reflect that mandate.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues on, the Green Caucus has been working on additional three bills and four debatable motions to ensure that New Brunswick and New Brunswickers can emerge from this crisis stronger than ever. These bills will be tabled over the proposed 4 weeks of the spring session.
Bill: Strengthen the local food system.
Bill: Ban replacement workers during strikes.
Bill: Amend the Education Act to include teaching Indigenous languages.
Motion: Urge government to support building retrofits and embrace renewable energy.
Motion: Urge government to procure 10% of its goods and services locally.
Motion: Prohibit the provision of grants and loans to companies that shelter their income in tax havens.
Motion: Prohibit cross-ownership of media and non-media businesses
While the Legislature will hold all sittings in person, the Green caucus has advocated for the hybrid system adopted by the House of Commons that uses videoconferencing in combination with members in the House, to conduct legislative business.
“We need to adopt strategies and technology that allow MLAs to do our legislative work, whether in person at the Legislature or online,” said Mitton. “We have seen government business conducted online in Ottawa and elsewhere, so we know it can be done. We need to put this in place so that the Legislative Assembly can do as much work as possible, even during a pandemic.”
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