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

Childcare programming needs a firm foundation

Our children are important. Our early child care providers understand that care, consistency, support, nurturing, teaching and love are all crucial to healthy development. From this solid foundation, our children thrive and grow. The same holds true for any program developed to support families and the healthy development of children. It requires a strong foundation.

The government has plans to roll out a universal preschool for four-year olds in the fall of 2020. I am concerned it is attempting to build on shaky and unstable ground. Child care providers and staff have been sounding the alarm already about serious issues affecting our current childcare system and the ability to provide a solid foundation from which to improve child development. For some time, these professionals have been asking for help. Has the government been paying attention? Or are they simply ignoring those cries?

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Has government abandoned good governance?

The political climate on PEI has changed dramatically over the last year. So many things are vastly different; the functioning of standing committees, the degree of collegiality in the House, the ability of Opposition Parties to get legislation passed. All of these changes are, in my mind, significant improvements after the often suffocating and hyper-partisan environment that was politics as I experienced it on becoming elected in 2015.

And while the environment has improved to where debate often actually feels meaningful, colleagues listen respectfully to each other, and the House is much more productive, some things remain depressingly familiar. We are starting to see what look like incidents of the old-style political patronage and cronyism that have dogged Island politics for decades. Whether it be the mishandling of special warrants, or the manner in which Clifford Lee’s contract on the housing file was managed, or the most recent incident of a $50,000 report on establishing a land bank which government has failed to make public, confidence that this administration would behave in a new and better manner is rapidly fading.

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Facing an Agricultural Nightmare

The impacts of Dorian on the agriculture industry reach far into our food chain. Those impacts require a strong response that goes past providing an insurance claim to just get farmers through the loss. While insuring loss is important, there must also be a proactive approach to manage for the next loss event. Current policy and programming by the Department of Agriculture is leading many to ask: what is its purpose? Is it to administer crop insurance and claims? Or, is it to provide vision and leadership?

It is well known Dorian had a major impact on the 2019 corn and soybean harvest. We have all seen reports and evidence of this damage in media. But did you know there is another scary secret that is not being talked about and that it directly effects our food chain? The farming industry is all intertwined. What impacts one sector will also impact other sectors. For everyone’s benefit, let me shed a little light on what this nightmare is and what our farmers are facing.

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Playing games with Islanders’ health

No one has said solving the Islands’ healthcare crisis would be easy. However, it is impossible to make progress based on empty promises. Since being appointed, the Minister of Health and Wellness has, on a number of occasions now, made promises and set out plans that he could not, or simply did not keep.

Let confusion reign!

For example, last week, members from South Shore Wellness Inc. presented at the standing committee for Health and Social Development. What they had to say was shocking, and confusing. They reported they had been told by representatives from the Department of Health and Wellness that a doctor would not be recruited for Crapaud specifically. Rather, doctors would be recruited to the general Queens West area, which includes Cornwall and Charlottetown. This means they would be practicing in urban based hubs with more than one doctor located at each. As such, South Shore Wellness inc. were told they were not allowed to advertise independently for a Crapaud-based doctor. They were also told a second Nurse Practitioner would not be placed there because they would eventually be moved to Cornwall anyway. Crapaud area residents were told they would need to travel to Cornwall for appointments. Some patients even had their records moved out of Crapaud after one visit to the Cornwall clinic.[1]

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Children and Bus Driver Shortages

For most of us, we take a sick day or go to an appointment with our doctor with little pomp and ceremony. We also enjoy some measure of discretion from our employer when we do find ourselves away from work for health reasons. For the most part, employers respect our right to privacy. Most employers even have a back-up plan that allows an employee to enjoy that right to privacy. However, recent events have left me wondering whether or not some employees of the Department of Transportation enjoy this right too?

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The Challenge of Retaining Healthcare Professionals on PEI

It is very easy to point out the challenges we are currently facing in our healthcare system, with staffing shortages being at the top of that list. Even easier is highlighting all of the ways these issues are beyond our control. For example, staffing shortages are an issue across the Atlantic Provinces, it is often difficult to offer competitive salaries, doctors don’t practice the same way that they used to and many do not take on as many patients as they once did.

In many ways, responsibility has been placed on individual communities, and particularly our more rural communities, to play an active role in finding and recruiting doctors. Without direct connections already in place or dedicated staff to facilitate the recruitment process, this can be daunting if not impossible for small communities to achieve.

Unfortunately, far too often the sentiment seems to be, “We’re doing everything we can but insert any reason from the list of things we cannot control here.”

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The Art and Science of Transition

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about transitions. Having followed the science on why this is necessary for years, and now having the opportunity to contribute to that discussion, the various elements are of great interest to me. Increasingly, we hear about why we must move to a zero-carbon society, but too often we fail to talk about all the benefits that come with it. A well-planned transition can lower the cost of living, increase food security, improve health, create good-paying jobs, make homes more affordable to live in, foster community, address poverty, and improve countless other aspects of life for people. Yes, we must do it, but even if that weren’t true, the benefits of a well thought-out transition would still make it a smart endeavor anyway. And whether it’s because we don’t tell that part of the story very well, or because the top-down efforts we’ve seen tend to miss the point somehow, I’ve come to believe that successful transitions are as much art as they are science.

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Response to the Speech from the Throne

Peter Bevan-Baker's response to the Throne Speech is copied from the official Hansard transcript of his speech in the Legislature on June 18, 2019.

It is indeed a great pleasure to rise this afternoon and respond to the Speech From the Throne. I’d like to start out by thanking the Premier. Thank you, firstly, for including many of the opposition’s priorities in the throne speech, and I suspect that the level of cooperation and the level of consultation that happened in the production of this throne speech has never before happened on this Island. I think I could say that with great confidence.

 

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Parties need a formal agreement on collaboration

It has been over a month since the historic provincial election that brought in a Progressive Conservative minority government on P.E.I. In that time, we have been hearing a lot about collaboration and the need to work together, and I couldn’t agree more. We have an opportunity here on P.E.I. to set a shining example for other jurisdictions, like

New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, whose transitions to minority governments have been fraught with conflict.

We are fortunate on P.E.I. that the three party leaders genuinely like each other and see the value of working together. We also agree on many policy areas – with campaign promises often appearing on more than one of the three party’s platforms. But goodwill and a desire to collaborate will only take us so far. We also need a blueprint of what collaboration will look like and set ground rules for when we can’t agree.

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Government accountability and stuffed cats

One of our kids’ favourite books was about a little girl who wanted a cat. The plot is pretty simple: a young girl wants a cat and pleads with her parents to get her one. She leaves pictures of cats all over the house, dresses up as a cat, and eventually will only eat fish and say meow. But all these efforts to get a feline friend fail. The parents are resolute, pointing out how lucky this little girl is to have all of her books, her bike, her toy train set. Then one day, out of the blue, Mom and Dad show up with a cat-sized box. The little girl is delirious with anticipation, but when the box is opened, it’s only a stuffed toy cat. You can imagine the daughter’s reaction – not cool.

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