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About-face by Liberals on all-party agreement to postpone Legislature during COVID lockdown "incomprehensible"

Statement by Honourable Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition, on agreement by all party leaders regarding COVID safety measures and the PEI Legislative Assembly


Yesterday I met by teleconference with Premier King and the Leader of the Third Party, Sonny Gallant, to discuss the Legislative sitting during the modified red restrictions that are in effect until Wednesday, February 3rd at 11:59 pm. 

After initial discussions, a second call was scheduled with the Speaker and the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. In this call, it was decided and agreed by all three party leaders to adjourn the Legislature until Thursday at 1:00 pm. It was agreed by all present that the best thing to do was suspend the House so government could carry on the immediate and necessary work to assist Islanders through this difficult time. It was suggested at that time by the Leader of the Third Party that the Speaker would draft a letter for all Leaders to sign and return to the Speaker, and then a joint announcement would be made. 

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Government must provide guaranteed sick leave benefits and immediate financial support for Islanders who are unable to work regardless of employment status

Statement by Honourable Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition, on need for government to provide guaranteed sick leave benefits and immediate financial support for Islanders who are unable to work regardless of employment status


During the emergency COVID update yesterday, Premier King made a comment calling on Islanders to not be ‘pandemic heroes’ and stay home during this most recent lockdown. On the surface, this seems like solid advice. However, it fails to acknowledge the almost impossible position it puts many Islanders in.

A large number of Islanders work in service or low-income jobs. For many, there are no paid sick leave benefits. This means when their work is closed due to a public health emergency or they turn down a shift out of an abundance of caution and communal responsibility to limit potential spread, they have no income. This places great pressure on Islanders who are trying to keep a roof over their heads, or to keep the heat and lights on, or to provide food for their family.

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Official Opposition responds to timid, tepid vision for PEI offered by King government in Throne Speech

Charlottetown, PE - After asking for a reset, the King government outlined its priorities and vision for Prince Edward Island in its Speech from the Throne yesterday. Today, Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition, voiced concerns over the government’s lack of vision and Premier King’s satisfaction with the status quo.

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Official Opposition releases its Throne Speech submission and list of priorities for Winter-Spring 2021 sitting of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island

Charlottetown, PE – The Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island is set to resume Thursday, February 25, 2021 with a new Speech from the Throne. After nearly two years in power, the King government is resetting its agenda.

“Islanders have seen decisive action when it comes to our COVID response, largely guided by Dr. Morrison, so it is deeply troubling that we see such a complete absence of decisive action from Premier King on a number of other critical matters,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition. “PEI has some serious and complex issues that were affecting Islanders long before COVID arrived, and will be there after the pandemic passes: mental health, housing, agriculture and land, and implementing a just and clean economic recovery. Government must come forward with a vision and execute a coherent plan to tackle these wicked problems.”

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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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February Green News

Did you know that you can receive our newsletters straight to your inbox? Never miss a thing by signing up to our mailing list here!

District 21 MLA Lynne Lund reading with her children on Family Literacy Day, January 27th. What is your family reading?

I hope 2021 has been good to you so far! I know that I am constantly counting my blessings to live here on Prince Edward Island.

All of us at the Green Party have been very active during the first few weeks of the year, none more so than our MLAs who are preparing no fewer than eight bills for the spring sitting of the Legislature, which begins on February 25th. The "spring" sitting will open with a throne speech, which is the government's way of pressing the "reset" button and creating a new agenda. We also saw the Premier shuffle several members of his cabinet last Thursday. Our Green MLAs will be pressing for a throne speech that puts the needs of people and a sustainable future first and foremost.

If you'd like to learn more and provide your feedback on the bills our MLAs are proposing, please check out our Outside the Rails series (see below). These have been really interesting and useful discussions, and you can view recordings of any you've missed and sign up to participate in the ones coming up this week and next.

If you support the great work Green MLAs are doing and want to keep building on that, why not join the Green Party of PEI as a member? Right now, we are inviting members to help create our new strategic plan, join our Provincial Council or Election Readiness Committee, or to participate in the development of new Green policies. If you want to learn more about politics and make a positive impact on PEI's present and future, please join us!

Jordan Bober
Executive Director

In this newsletter:

  • Upcoming Events
  • Green MLA updates
  • In loving memory of Bernadette Mulligan
  • Statistics Canada hiring 2021 Census workers

 

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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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Official Opposition responds to King shuffle of cabinet

Charlottetown, PE - Premier King has signalled his priorities today with a shuffling of his cabinet. A number of portfolios have been suffering due to lack of attention, direction, and investment. Primarily, these have been the Health and Wellness portfolio, and Social Development and Housing.

“Islanders’ patience has been stretched to the limit in these areas. Unfortunately, many families are suffering the consequences of leadership that is either unconcerned or unable to meet these wicked problems,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition. “It is a little concerning that the Premier is choosing to appoint Minister Hudson to Health and Wellness - which is arguably one of the most demanding and critical portfolios - when his work in social development and housing has been so insufficient.”

 

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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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