• Government has failed to make New Brunswick climate-ready

    Posted by · November 23, 2021 11:00 AM

    FREDERICTON - The flooding that has cut off parts of British Columbia from the rest of Canada in the past week is a reminder, according to Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon, that the New Brunswick government is failing to protect New Brunswickers from the climate crisis despite a string of climate disasters dating back to the December floods of 2010 in Charlotte County.

    “A major overhaul of community infrastructure is needed to protect homes, buildings, coastal communities, roads, bridges and rail lines,” said Coon. “Whether it be inland flooding caused by rapid snowmelt in our clear cut forests or a failure in the dikes that keep the Bay of Fundy out of towns and farmland, the Premier must ensure the necessary investments are made. We have had plenty of warnings, but successive governments have not heeded them.”

    There have been studies, but they have gone nowhere. The governments of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, along with the federal government, commissioned a study in 2019 to recommend how to prevent the Bay of Fundy from flooding the Chignecto Isthmus, the low-lying land which connects New Brunswick to Nova Scotia.  It has yet to see the light of day.

    “People in my riding are one major storm away from disastrous flooding that would put us underwater,” said Memramcook-Tantramar MLA and Green Party Transportation & Infrastructure critic Megan Mitton. “This study needs to be released so the government can finally begin taking the actions necessary to protect people in the Sackville area. There is no more time to waste.”

    “The recent announcement of how the Higgs government intends to spend the $34 million in its climate action fund illustrates how little urgency the Premier attaches to climate action,” said Coon. “The biggest slice, $10 million, is going to research a pie in the sky nuclear technology, rather than making our infrastructure climate-ready and decarbonizing our society.”

  • Local governance reform creates new opportunities for local autonomy

    Posted by · November 18, 2021 2:00 PM

    FREDERICTON – Green Caucus Local Government critic and MLA for Kent North Kevin Arseneau says that Minister Allain’s local governance reform brings about a much-needed change of providing all New Brunswickers with elected local officials. 

    “As Greens, we have been saying for years that democratic reform is necessary,” said Arseneau. “All New Brunswickers should have elected local governments so that more decisions can be made at the community level while maintaining our rural identity in rural communities.”

    However, Arseneau says that this must just be the first step in a longer process to empower communities with greater resources and the citizens that live in them with access to more participatory democracy, such as citizen assemblies to tackle the great issues of our time like climate change and local development.

    “We need to move to a renewed democracy that is closer to the people and their communities,” said Arseneau. “The necessary resources must follow the responsibilities and aspirations of our local communities.”

    Arseneau added that communities must be empowered to take on regional economic development.

    “This is a great opportunity to develop locally-led renewable electricity projects, community woodlots and pastures,” said Arseneau. “To enable this, the government must put in place a structure to enable a nation-to-nation relationship between First Nations and other communities across the province.”

  • Greens Caucus says healthcare plan is positive first step, but not transformational

    Posted by · November 17, 2021 3:00 PM

    FREDERICTON – Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon says that after a decade of underfunding, inaction, and neglect of healthcare by successive governments, it is positive to see short-term actions to stabilize a system in crisis.

    “The virtual provincial walk-in clinic they are creating will provide welcome relief to people and families without a doctor or nurse practitioner,” said Coon. “However, this temporary patch to our primary care system must not become a long-term substitute for real reform. I am concerned there is an agenda at work that will further entrench the management of health care in the private sector.”  

    Green Party Health critic and MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar Megan Mitton was dismayed that the strategy does not fix the nursing crisis which is causing emergency and other health care services to be withdrawn from local hospitals, such as the Sackville Memorial Hospital.

    “This plan needed to include bold action to resolve the reduction of services from our hospitals,” said Mitton. “To help fix the nursing crisis, I was looking for bold action that would include a commitment to invest the money needed in post-secondary nursing programs and it's not there.”

    Mitton adds that the plan fails to tackle the determinants of health head-on through preventative healthcare measures.

    “Preventative health care often gets ignored in health care discussions, but if it isn't addressed, it'll continue to contribute to some of the problems we face,” said Mitton. “Significant investments are desperately needed to reduce New Brunswick’s rates of poor health.”

  • Green Party leader issues supplementary opinion calling for end of use of glyphosate on Crown Lands

    Posted by · November 03, 2021 9:00 AM

    FREDERICTON – In response to the Standing Committee on Climate Change and Environmental Stewardship’s report on the use of glyphosate in New Brunswick this morning, Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon has issued a supplementary opinion. Coon says that the Standing Committee heard more than enough evidence from witnesses for the Department of Natural Resources and Energy to end its use of glyphosate on Crown lands.

    “In light of the infringement of Indigenous rights from spraying glyphosate on Crown lands asserted by First Nation witnesses; the weight of the evidence that was presented concerning its negative impacts on biological diversity in our forests, and the evidence of health risks it poses to wildlife, I wrote a supplementary opinion calling for a ban on its use on Crown Lands,” said Coon.  “I asked that the committee attach my supplementary opinion to the report, but my motion was defeated.”

    Lawsuits are currently before the courts asserting Indigenous title over lands encompassing most of the Crown lands in New Brunswick, which the Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq neither ceded nor surrendered to the Crown. Further Indigenous treaties and rights are enshrined in Canada’s constitution.

    “First Nations representatives told the committee that glyphosate spraying poses a direct constraint on the exercise of Indigenous and treaty rights,” said Coon. “Yet this was completely ignored within the committee’s recommendations, so I have included this in my supplementary opinion.”

  • Green Caucus to propose emergency debate in Legislature on ongoing labour issues

    Posted by · November 02, 2021 12:00 PM

    Fredericton – In the Legislative Assembly this afternoon, Green Caucus House Leader and MLA for Kent North Kevin Arseneau will move a motion calling for an emergency debate on the ongoing negotiations between the government and 22,000 public service workers who are asking for a real wage increase. Section 45 of the Legislative Assembly’s standing rules allow for an emergency debate for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter requiring urgent consideration.

    “Never before have we seen a government allow a strike to happen with so many public sector workers at once,” said Arseneau. “Under no circumstances should the Premier resort to the Emergency Measures Act powers to order people back to work, but since he is considering it, it is important that this topic come to the Legislative Assembly for debate as soon as possible.”

  • Greens to press for social and environmental progress during fall session of Legislature

    Posted by · November 01, 2021 11:00 AM

    FREDERICTON – Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon says he and his caucus will bring forward proposals during the upcoming fall session of the Legislative Assembly to get affordable housing built, to get buses back on the roads and trains back on the rails, and to tackle the healthcare crises head-on.

    “People have lost faith that government is committed to serving the common good. They don’t believe that their well-being is at the centre of government decision-making,” said Coon. “High paid lobbyists, and the captains of industry have full access to the halls of power when citizens don’t even get their letters to Ministers or the Premier acknowledged.”

    The provincial government failed to present its health care reform package at the end of October as promised.  New Brunswick is losing nearly 1000 affordable apartments every year.  Carbon emissions from motor vehicles have barely budged while train, bus and city transit services have badly deteriorated.

    “My caucus colleagues and I will propose practical solutions to pressing problems while holding the government accountable for those initiatives designed to serve special interests rather than the common good,” said Coon. “It is time that the well-being of people, and the environment that sustains us, are put at the heart of government decision-making.”

  • NB Green Party Leader Calls for Urgent Action to Wind Down Fossil Fuel Use

    Posted by · October 29, 2021 8:00 AM

    FREDERICTON – On the eve of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which begins Sunday in Glasgow, Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon says that the world is moving out of the fossil fuel era, and its time for New Brunswick to follow suit or we will be left behind.

    “I was part of New Brunswick’s delegation to the historic 2015 Paris Climate Summit, which laid out the goal to keep the Earth from warming by no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and we have made little progress in New Brunswick since,” said Coon. “At minimum, Premier Higgs should follow Nova Scotia’s lead and end the use of coal by 2030, while ensuring 80% of our electricity comes from renewable sources by then.”

    The Higgs government has announced its intention to apply to the federal government to keep the coal burning Belledune Generating Station open until 2040, ten years beyond the federal government’s cut-off. It also has failed to announce a new renewable energy target, after the previous goal of 40% by 2020 was met.

    “The Higgs government has its head in the sand when it comes to acting on the climate crisis,” said Coon. “We have not seen any ambition to implement New Brunswick’s 2016 Climate Change Action Plan, nor any indication it will be updated to acknowledge the urgent action that is required this decade.”

  • Green Party leader requests Attorney General withdraw new land acknowledgement policy

    Posted by · October 15, 2021 12:00 PM

    Green Party leader and the MLA for Fredericton South, David Coon, is calling on Attorney General Ted Flemming to withdraw his prohibition on public servants, teachers, and healthcare providers making land acknowledgements.

    “Acknowledging that the Wolastoqey, Mi’kmaq and Peskotomuhkati peoples never surrendered or ceded their lands to the Crown is to state a historical fact. It is the truth. The first step towards reconciliation is to tell the truth,” said Coon. “The Attorney General’s memo is ordering public employees to be complicit in this government’s sophistry. It is repugnant”

    Coon said he will open his reply to the Speech from the Throne next month with a full land acknowledgement and plenty of truth-telling.

  • Memramcook-Tantramar MLA calls for investigation into COVID outbreak at Drew Nursing Home

    Posted by · October 12, 2021 3:00 PM

    FREDERICTON – Megan Mitton, the MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar and the Green Party’s health critic, is calling for the provincial government to launch a formal, independent investigation into the COVID-19 outbreak at the Drew Nursing Home in Sackville. As of October 8th there have been eight deaths, while 29 residents and 10 staff have tested positive, far more than any other long-term care facility during the fourth wave.

    “It feels like the government has been asleep at the wheel in Sackville. The outbreak at the Drew Nursing Home has been going on for a month now,” said Mitton. “Residents and their families need answers. Why wasn’t this outbreak immediately brought under control by PROMT and the Department of Social Development, as past outbreaks in long-term care facilities have been. What went wrong?”

    Mitton is also requesting that the government be more transparent on which facilities have had outbreaks, and how many cases and deaths have been reported in long-term care facilities since the fourth wave began over a month ago. On September 22nd the government announced that PROMT teams had been activated at 15 long-term care facilities around the province; however, there has been no update in the past three weeks.

    “The government needs to be far more transparent about the current outbreaks in care facilities,” said Mitton. “We are now seeing the same type of crisis at the Drew Nursing Home that other provinces experienced during previous waves.  What is happening in long-term care facilities elsewhere in the province?  It seems as if the government is trying to sweep this under the rug.”

  • Green Caucus calls for Legislature to be called back to provide accountability of government’s COVID response

    Posted by · September 29, 2021 4:27 PM

    FREDERICTON – Kevin Arseneau, the Green Caucus house leader and MLA for Kent North, has written to Speaker Bill Oliver requesting that he call the Legislative Assembly back to provide better accountability of the government’s response to the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Legislative Assembly is scheduled to resume meeting on November 2; however, the speaker can recall the Assembly early if it is in the public interest.

    “New Brunswick has had more COVID deaths and hospitalizations this month than in any previous month. There are outbreaks in numerous nursing homes. Contact tracing and testing are overwhelmed,” said Arseneau. “To provide for greater oversight of the government’s response to the fourth wave, the Speaker needs to call the Legislative Assembly back, with an option for MLAs to participate virtually, as soon as possible.”

    Megan Mitton, the Green Caucus health critic and MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar, says that the government’s lack of action and planning a month ago as cases started to rise led to the fourth wave hitting New Brunswick harder than it otherwise would have.

    “Despite the Delta Variant surging in other areas with similar vaccination rates, the Higgs government was not prepared for any further outbreaks of COVID-19 after the province went to the green phase on July 30,” said Mitton. “Now this tepid response has resulted in us not having the contract tracing or testing capacity to keep up with the rapid spread of the fourth wave.”