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Pay Transparency Act

In 1975, PEI passed the Human Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination in pay. In 1988, PEI passed the Pay Equity Act, which sought to achieve pay equity in the public sector. Despite greater economic participation by women and the advancement of more women into senior positions, the gender wage gap persists as an issue. As a result, women have less take-home pay than men.

Current Situation                                                                                                                                                                     

Statistically, PEI has one of the lowest gender pay gaps in Canada, with women who are full time workers making $46,855, compared to $55,726 for men. However, as experts have noted, there are certain factors that might affect our pay gap including the comparatively large size of our public service, low wages relative to the rest of the country, and a failure to quantify the value of unpaid labour like childcare and eldercare. A recent statistical review found that women on PEI are more likely to have higher levels of education than men, and that two-thirds of students enrolled at UPEI are women, yet PEI women earn less than men on average. Government has the opportunity to correct this disparity and truly make PEI a leader in pay fairness and equity.

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Responsible government means being responsible

Conservative governments love to tout their expertise as good fiscal managers – as long as it’s someone else’s money, and as long as you don’t look too closely at the details. Sometimes, there are no details at all.

During the unprecedented COVID pandemic, hundreds of millions of dollars have flowed into PEI from the federal government to help keep businesses afloat and support individuals through a range of programs and services. Using this injection of cash, PEI became one of five provinces to create large ‘unallocated funds’ – that is, contingency funds that can provide the government with wiggle room to make decisions as the situation evolves. On one hand this can help governments to be flexible and responsive. But it also means that the government does not have any checks and balances on how or if that money is spent, and no approved budget.

In fact, the recent CCPA Report ‘Still Picking Up the Tab’ states quite clearly “Large unallocated funds can often be considered poor budgeting practice, in that they provide no detail in advance to citizens as to how large amounts of money will be spent. In the worst-case scenario, unallocated funds can be a means of inflating the value of the crisis response while, in the end, being meant only to reduce the deficit.” (see page 15 of the report)

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Joint statement on King government’s inconsistency of guidance to protect Island’s vulnerable populations

Late yesterday the King government announced increased measures to protect Islanders living in Long Term Care Homes. This is welcome news and very much needed. Early in the pandemic seniors paid a steep price for their safety when they were isolated and cut off from their families and community support. Now with high vaccination rates among long term care residents, it is crucial to have measures put in place to both protect their health and allow critical access to family and community.

However, the approach for protecting this vulnerable group of Islanders lies in stark contrast to how the King government is handling the safety of another vulnerable Island population – our children. There is no child under 12 that is vaccinated on PEI, yet government is delaying or refusing to put in place measures that will protect them and ensure their continued health and safety.

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PEI's Federal Green Candidates

As you know, there is a federal election afoot right now! While the Green Party of PEI is not involved in federal elections, we believe that ALL elections are important opportunities to practice active citizenship, participate in the democratic process, and make progress on the most important issues of our time.

So first and foremost, we hope that you will vote your values in this federal election - and if you have young voters in your life, please encourage them to make their voice heard, too. If you've moved or just become eligible to vote since the last federal election in 2019, check or update your voter registration on the Elections Canada website, and if you would feel safer voting by mail, make sure that Elections Canada receives your application no later than September 14th - click here for more information and to apply to vote by mail.

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King government update on housing action plan shows lack of progress in social housing but an increase in supports to developers and landlords

Charlottetown, PE – In the 2021 Housing Progress Report released by the King government this morning, it is evident that government is not building public housing at the rate Islanders expect and need.

“The King government’s failure to effectively address the housing crisis has led to some Islanders being stripped of their basic human dignity and security,” said Karla Bernard, Official Opposition Critic for Social Development and Housing.

Concerns the Official Opposition identified with the report include:

  • No indication that government intends to make the necessary regulatory changes to permit inclusionary zoning by Island municipalities;
  • Aside from a study, there is no timeline or commitment to actually introduce a rental registry on PEI—one of the best defenses against illegal rent increases;
  • The lack of data concerning population projections to determine whether the number of planned new units is adequate to support our growing population;
  • No references to and actions for anticipated labour shortages in the construction sector, which will affect PEI’s ability to build new housing supply; and
  • No indication that government intends to move forward on a vacancy tax to discourage the under-use of existing housing supply.
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Statement from Peter Bevan-Baker on lack of leadership by King government in Back to School Plan 2021-2022

 

The plan released today by the King government presents more questions than answers. It is incomplete. It follows this government’s pattern of taking the easy path to avoid taking clearly defined positions on difficult issues. It shows a lack of leadership by the government of Dennis King to enact measures that will definitively ensure the safety of Island children and school staff.

We have a large cohort of PEI children who are not vaccinated – through no choice of their own – and this government seems to believe this is not an area of concern. I am frustrated and concerned by the King government’s reluctance to protect student well being by making vaccines mandatory for front-line staff. In fact, there is not even a provision in this plan requiring pro-active periodic testing for those unvaccinated staff.

Equally concerning is this government’s lack of commitment to mandatory masking in schools. Masking is easy and respectful of those who are vulnerable, especially those who aren’t and can’t be vaccinated. It’s the least we can do for each other.

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King government’s empty promises on mental health is hurting Islanders and costing lives

For years Islanders have been begging for increased mental health support on PEI. Premier King ran a campaign focused on getting “shovels in the ground on day one” for the long awaited Mental Health Hospital. Not only did Premier King fail to expedite the construction of the hospital, but his government recently announced that the hospital opening will AGAIN be pushed back at least another two years to 2025-26 – a whopping four years later than his election promise.

A timeline of discouragement

It has been 18 months since the mental health forum at The Guild where a panel of mental health advocates share their lived experiences with the former Health Minister. At the forum, the best the Minister could do was suggest creating more bureaucracy by making a new cabinet position for mental health.

It has been 9 months since the members of the Legislative Assembly unanimously passed the Official Opposition motion calling on government to make mental health and addiction services a priority.

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King government ignoring Summerside housing crisis

*Originally published as Letter to the Editor, Journal Pioneer, August 18, 2021

Whether we’re talking about housing, healthcare or education, at the heart of it, what most Islanders are really looking for is the services and support they need, when they need it, and where they live. That’s not too much to ask for. And when it comes to housing, I cannot believe how difficult it is to get the Minister to see just how important this is and then do something about it.

As the MLA for Summerside-Wilmot, I’ve been working with people who could never have known they were about to experience homelessness. Oftentimes, these are people with jobs, who have children and busy lives, who were just going about their daily lives when for one reason or another they had to leave their home.

Only when people start apartment hunting do they realize the extent of the housing crisis in Summerside. Ask anyone who has had to look recently and you’ll hear how hard it is to find a place. At 1%, the vacancy rate is extremely low. For many, there is simply nowhere to go, so it’s becoming increasingly common for people to run out of time and run out of options. It’s a shock when they realize they are going to have to put their belongings in storage and live in a motel room without even a kitchenette while they continue to apartment hunt.

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Lack of communication and delay regarding a return to school plan for COVID leaves families anxious

It may still feel like a lifetime away, but school is just around the corner for Island children and youth. Store shelves are packed with back to school supplies and teachers are beginning to plan the curriculum. Last week during the COVID-19 briefing, Dr. Morrison said the back to school plan for COVID would be released by the end of the week, yet the King government still has not announced any type of plan to keep kids, teachers, and staff safe.

COVID has long been thought of as a virus that has little impact on children and youth, but the virus is changing and evidence is reflecting that. This month Florida and Texas reported hundreds of pediatric patients in hospital for COVID. The virus is spreading quickly among unvaccinated people and, unfortunately, every one of our children under 12 are in that group.

PEI also has no mandatory mask guidelines. We are now open to the rest of Canada and the US. And in a few short weeks our children will be grouped together by the hundreds. For our students in primary and elementary schools, the vast majority will not have a vaccine.

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Official Opposition Makes Capital Budget Submission to PEI Government

Charlottetown, PE – Last Friday, August 13, the Official Opposition sent its capital budget submission to the King government. It was created using what Islanders have been telling us are their priorities.

The submission includes calls for increased funding to new public housing developments and mental health and addictions infrastructure, which were both areas of government underspending in the previous capital budget.

It also includes requests for:

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