• Green MLAs want regions hardest hit by COVID to move to Level 3

    Posted by · January 10, 2022 3:00 PM

    New Brunswick’s Green MLAs say that the government needs to take immediate steps to reduce the transmission of COVID in the province’s hardest hit communities so students can go back to school, while also ensuring that healthcare workers are better protected. 

    “The government should implement the Level 3 measures to limit public gatherings to slow the spread of COVID in communities with major outbreaks,” says David Coon, Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South. “This will reduce community spread and should ease the pressure on our hospitals, enabling students to return to school more quickly.”

    The Saint John region has 3,176 active cases with 40 of the Saint John Regional Hospital’s 43 ICU beds filled, while Moncton has 2,152 active cases with 11 out of 14 ICU beds occupied at the Georges Dumont Regional Hospital.

    “We know that what happens in the schools is reflective of the extent of transmission in the community,” said Megan Mitton, the Green critic for Education and Early Childhood Development and MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar.  “The government needs to be proactive to reduce community transmission so students can return to the classroom.”

    Many workers in New Brunswick do not have access to paid sick days; however will be required to stay home to isolate after contracting COVID-19, or being the close contact of a family member who has.

    “More needs to be done to protect healthcare workers, and all of those on the front-lines,” said Kevin Arseneau, the Green advocate for strengthening communities and MLA for Kent North. “This includes providing paid sick days for all workers, distributing N-95 masks to reduce the risks of front-line workers contracting the virus, and making investments in our healthcare system to make it more resilient.”

  • Premier must accept and fully implement Official Languages Act review recommendations

    Posted by · December 15, 2021 4:00 PM

    FREDERICTON – Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon urges Premier Higgs to accept the recommendations from the Commissioners of the Official Languages Act and move to fully implement them.

    “I am happy that Commissioners Finn and McLaughlin have recognized many of the improvements that my Caucus colleagues and I have been calling for,” said Coon. “Now it is incumbent upon Premier Higgs, who is the Minister in charge of Official Languages, to accept these recommendations and implement them with sufficient resources.”

    The first recommendation in the report is to establish a Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly on Official Languages. The creation of such a committee was first called for by Kent North MLA Kevin Arseneau in the Legislature on June 6, 2019.

    “For over two years I have been trying to convince the Premier and all Members of the House, with the support of my caucus colleagues, of the necessity of a Standing Committee on Official Languages to facilitate further discussion of official languages by MLAs,” said Arseneau. “Premier Higgs needs to accept this recommendation from his commissioners and bring a motion for its creation to the Legislative Assembly this week, so the new committee can get to work in the New Year.”

    “We are glad to have had the opportunity to send a submission to and meet with the commissioners,” added Arseneau. “We thank them for their work. It is now up to legislators to take action. Our caucus is impatient to move in the direction of substantive equality.”

  • Green Party leader tables bill to support workers and small businesses

    Posted by · November 30, 2021 3:00 PM

    FREDERICTON – Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon tabled a bill in the Legislative Assembly today to improve working conditions for New Brunswick workers. The bill will provide ten paid sick days to all workers in New Brunswick.

    “The pandemic has shown us just how important paid sick days are to public health,” said Coon. “People who are being asked to help the common good by staying home because they have COVID symptoms, or were a close contact of a confirmed case, need to be supported in doing so.”

    New Brunswick’s minimum wage is just $11.75 per hour, the lowest of any province. Coon’s bill will also raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, bringing it in line with British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario.

    “In order to address the labour shortage, the minimum wage must be raised closer to a living wage,” said Coon. “This will help businesses find the employees they need and make New Brunswick a more attractive place to live and work.”

    Small and medium businesses have many challenges during this pandemic, so Coon’s bill would have the government establish a fund to ensure the costs of paid sick days and an increased minimum wage do not cause additional hardship as they adapt to the new requirements.

    “For years the government has subsidized large corporations for millions of dollars. Meanwhile small and medium businesses are having difficulty attracting and retaining employees,” said Kevin Arseneau, Green Caucus critic for Economic Development and Small Business. The government should step up to support them with subsidies for wages and sick days, rather than expect employees to continue to subsidize businesses with low wages, perpetuating the labour shortage.”

    The bill will be brought for second reading debate during opposition day this Thursday afternoon.

  • Government Bill Opens Door for NB Power to Pursue Private Business Interests

    Posted by · November 30, 2021 9:00 AM

    FREDERICTON – Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon says that the government’s bill to amend the Electricity Act will allow NB Power to establish private companies to sell products and services, without any public oversight.  The bill will create a holding company to own NB Power itself but will be controlled by NB Power management, who will be able to launch private business interests backed by taxpayers.  

    “I was flabbergasted when I first saw this bill, because it fundamentally changes the mandate of NB Power as a public utility,” said Coon. “The bill enables NB Power to set up a corporate structure that will allow it to pursue business ventures or invest in the business ventures of others, like JOI Scientific’s hydrogen project, without any public accountability.”

    The bill, which will also allow NB Power to transfer staff, property, and other assets into newly created private business ventures, is currently being debated by the Legislature’ Economic Policy Committee, which does not have the mandate to call for expert witnesses. At the second reading debate, Coon tried to have the bill sent to the Law Amendments Committee in order to hear from expert witnesses, but government members defeated his motion.

    “Why is the Higgs government using their majority to ram this bill through the Legislature without an adequate review?” asked Coon.  “It fundamentally changes the mandate of NB Power as a public utility, launching it into the world of venture capitalism at the taxpayer’s risk.”

  • 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.”