This is where members of the Green Party of PEI elected caucus share their thoughts about contemporary issues on Prince Edward Island.

Giving authority back to the Health Experts

When healthcare decisions and plans are made by experts, Islanders benefit greatly. When those same decisions are left to the whims or political will of an individual, they can be devastating.

In 2018 government amended the Health Services Act to move decision-making power and authority away from the Health PEI board and gave it to the Minister of Health and Wellness. This means the minister can make decisions and changes on how plans are implemented without consultation and discussion with health experts or consideration of best practices and evidence. It means politics can interfere with and directly influence Islanders’ health outcomes.

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The unfinished work of Water Act Regulations

It was surprising to hear the former minister of the environment make excuses on the way out the door as to why she never had the chance to have the Act proclaimed. This is rather unbecoming for a minister, especially as the excuse she gave threw her caucus colleague, who chairs the Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability committee, under the bus.

The department began briefing the committee on the draft regulations on January 30th, 2020. That briefing concluded February 20th, just before MLA Jameson was sworn in as minister. The committee submitted recommendations to proclaim the Water Act in November. That report was sent directly to her for review.

According to her own briefing book, there are changes to the draft regulations that the department would like to make. For that to happen, those changes need to be sent to the Natural Resources committee so they can review them. This has to happen 90 days before the Act can be proclaimed.

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Government is playing a high stakes game with Islander lives

Death and taxes are, so we’re told, the two inevitabilities in all our lives. This last year has focused our attention on the fragility of life, and the economic fallout from the pandemic has disrupted government operations and budgetary forecasts everywhere.

Governments operate on income that, in large part, comes from taxes. It is used to carry out two of their core functions: to provide services, and to redistribute wealth in our society. Graham Steele, author of What I Learned About Politics: Inside the Rise-and Collapse-of Nova Scotia’s NDP Government and former elected Nova Scotia MLA, puts the role of taxes this way: “taxes = services, and services = taxes.”

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A long and difficult delivery

Pregnancy.jpgPerhaps we shouldn’t read too much into the slogans that political parties adopt for their campaigns. However, presumably, they are crafted to not only capture our attention and be memorable, but also to reflect the character and goals of the party itself.

“It’s about people” was Premier King’s promise to Islanders and invitation to vote for his team. Politics is, of course, all about people. My understanding is that it means all the people, and that good politics is about providing the most benefit possible to the most people possible.

In many respects it is our littlest people that require the greatest care. Children are unable to fend for themselves and it is the responsibility of society to ensure that all newborns are protected and nurtured from day one – actually from before day one. The best start in life means proper information and supports before conception, prenatally, during delivery, and postpartum. Everywhere in Canada, unless you live in Prince Edward Island, one of the options available to mothers for these supports is midwifery services.

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Eliminating Poverty on Prince Edward Island

Tackling poverty is the right thing to do from both an ethical and economic perspective. People in poverty are not only those who are utterly destitute, but those who are treading water, paycheque to paycheque.

Recent data show that over 50,000 Islanders live at or below the official measure of poverty (Market Basket Measure). We also know that one in five Island children are not getting enough to eat. When poverty is the experience of a third of our entire population, it has to be a priority for government.

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Smart small business investment can lead to sustainable growth in our Island economy

If you are starting or growing a business in Prince Edward Island, you may already know that there is an extensive range of programs, loans, grants, and tax rebates available to businesses. These are provided by the Department of Economic Growth and Culture, and primarily delivered through Innovation PEI and Finance PEI.

Innovation PEI has a mandate to focus on accelerating economic development in PEI by investing in people, innovation, and infrastructure. A recent and long overdue strategic review of the Innovation PEI business support programs will bring a welcome update and simplification to better meet the needs of small and medium businesses on the Island. But we also know that COVID has had a devastating impact on small businesses, and PEI is no exception. We don’t just need to review what we have, we must be bold with new approaches to invest in what is frequently called the engine of our economy – small businesses.

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We need a new and fresh foundation to build a better story

My first glimpse of Canada was on the approach to Gander International Airport on August 4th, 1985. The direct flight had left London, England and when we broke through the clouds, I feared that we had been diverted to Siberia. Mile after mile of rivers, rocks, ponds, and trees – with no sign of human habitation – eventually gave way to a concrete landing strip on the edge of a small town. I was a spellbound “come from away”, decades before the Broadway musical of the same name celebrated the thousands of air passengers who landed unplanned at the same airport on 9/11, and forever memorialised the legendary hospitality of the people who live there.

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Modernizing electricity on PEI

I am inviting all Islanders to share with me their thoughts on a proposal I am making to modernize PEI’s energy laws.

Recent government announcements have committed our province to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2040. These goals are reconfirmed in the Net-Zero Carbon Act. This was introduced by my fellow Official Opposition member Lynne Lund, MLA for Summerside-Wilmot, in the Legislature last fall. It became law after all parties and MLAs agreed unanimously to pass it.

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We need action on mental health, not another piece of fiction

Premier King, end of 2020: Mental health will be a big priority in 2021

Premier King, start of 2021: As our first order of business, we are closing the Psychiatric Urgent Care Clinic (PUCC) at Hillsborough Hospital

Have you ever called customer service and had to ask for a manager? It’s usually after you’ve done your best to communicate your issue with whoever answered the call, but then you realize they did not have the authority, or perhaps the will, to do what was necessary to help. So, you ask to speak to a manager. A manager has more authority and ultimately can make the decisions.

I am starting to feel that way when it comes to working to improve mental health and addictions services on PEI. I have worked tirelessly over the past two years to engage with the Minister of Health on this topic. After the last election, based on the Ministers’ and the Premier’s promises, Islanders believed the much needed new mental health campus would be up and running. But here we are, two years later, and all we’re left with are broken promises.

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Failure to ignite

The Ignition Fund, launched in 2014 and delivered via Innovation PEI, is a competitive annual program providing up to $25k to start or expand a business in PEI. The fund is unique in PEI as it does not require matching funds and is non-repayable. There are up to 10 grants funded every year. To be eligible, products or services must be innovative and have the potential to be sold outside of the province. 

I’ve been working in and with the small business and startup community in PEI and across Canada since 2014. I can tell you that starting a business is hard.Fifty per cent of new startups will fail in their first few years of operation. One of the many barriers to startup launch and success  is access to capital (cash). This is why this fund is so welcome to the entrepreneur community in PEI. 

What isn’t welcome at the Ignition Fund, it seems, are women-owned companies.

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