The Shadow Blog is where our Opposition Shadow Critics share their thoughts on current Prince Edward Island policy issues and their visions for a brighter future for all Islanders.

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The Fight Against Climate Change Cannot Be Won in the Courtroom

On October 3, 2016 Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the provinces had until 2018 to adopt a carbon pricing scheme, or the federal government would create one for them.  Each province had complete latitude to create the plan in its own best interests, so long as certain minimum thresholds were met. All revenue generated under the carbon pricing scheme would remain within the province.

Provincial reaction to the announcement varied: Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec already have carbon pricing regimes in place, and are generally fine with the federal mandate.  They have indicated that their economies have suffered no ill-effects under carbon pricing.

 

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Coming together

I read with interest Paul MacNeill’s editorial in the Graphic on August 29th and agree with his assertion that the time has come to rebuild trust throughout the Three Rivers region.  

Amalgamation in Three Rivers has been described by some as “the threat of Amalgamation” and by others as “the promise of Amalgamation”.    The conflict and divisive discourse is no secret. Conflict that, left unaddressed, could easily colour the nature of the regional relationships moving forward.  

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Look at the whole story, Minister Gallant

In his guest opinion in the Guardian on Aug 15 2018, Minister Gallant states that numbers tell the story, highlighting that “In the last two years, 4,200 new full-time jobs have been created.” While this is certainly a good news story, it’s only a part of it.  It doesn’t tell us how many of these jobs are permanent full year positions, how many are minimum wage, or how many jobs have been lost, particularly in rural areas. Employment increases in bioscience and aerospace will do little for the 40 people in O’Leary who recently lost their jobs at the Cavendish plant- a loss that will no doubt have significant impacts for the local community.

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A Tale of Two Islands

Am I the only one who feels that there are two Prince Edward Islands?  There is the one that we are constantly being told about by government--the “Mighty Island” that’s “on a tear” and where everyone is “getting ahead together.” On this Island, no matter what the question, the answer is economic growth, population growth, export growth, growth, growth, and more growth.   If you say anything negative on this Island, you can be sure the Premier will respond with a big confident smile and cherry-picked statistics to prove just how well we are doing, as he did recently in O’Leary when he was asked about the closure of the Cavendish plant and the loss of 40 jobs. Instead of addressing the workers’ anxiety, he reminded us that employment is up overall, so we really don’t need to worry about the 40 families who will be impacted.

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Affording time off after domestic violence

The PEI government has asked for public input into the proposed amendments to the province’s Employment Standards Act, including amendments that will provide survivors of domestic, intimate partner and sexual violence with 3 days paid and 7 days unpaid leave from their places of employment. Introduced by the Progressive Conservatives and supported by all parties, this addition to the Act recognizes the hardships that victims of domestic violence face when attempting to leave an abusive situation and the financial stress it puts on them, without the additional worry of possible job loss.   

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Social Housing or Affordable Housing?

For many Islanders, the day-to-day cost of living is overwhelming. Most of us know what it feels like to have more month than money - deciding what bills will be paid late this month so we can get caught up on the others; saying no to activities and events because we just can’t afford it and still get groceries or gas. Low and moderate income households are often managing at or near the poverty line, and the lack of affordable housing is at the crisis stage in the current PEI market. It is affecting families who are being evicted from their rented home as it is converted to an AirBnB, and prospective homeowners who cannot find a property in their price range; it is preventing Islanders from coming home and keeping Islanders new and old from staying. But what we mean by affordable isn’t always clear - and if we are going to make major decisions and investments with tax payers money, we should agree on the terms we are using.

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What's the BIG deal?

A Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) would be a universal, non-means tested government program, that would ensure everyone has a sufficient income to meet their basic needs. Undoubtedly, a BIG would have significant impacts on the health and wellbeing of Islanders- impacts that overlap many government portfolios. For example, a BIG would provide all workers with the freedom to engage in unpaid work in their homes and communities, to retrain or explore new employment or business ventures, and the safety net needed to stand up to unfair of unsafe workplace conditions.

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The prescription is collaboration

I would like to thank Sidney MacEwen for responding to my recent opinion piece "Wisdom in the room going unnoticed" (The Guardian; July 13, 2018).   It seems that there is more that we agree about than we disagree about and this instils hope for collaborative efforts moving forward. We agree that Eastern PEI is facing huge challenges with the failure to provide consistent access to acute and primary health care at KCMH.   We agree about the high level of interest in the room the night of the community forum in Montague. And although Mr. MacEwen suggests otherwise, I agree with him that the people in the room that night voiced many concerns and solutions worthy of consideration. It was hearing this, in fact, which motivated me to write my opinion piece.  Excuse me for repeating it, but I think the observations I made are important enough not to be dismissed: “Community members spoke of collaborative models and going beyond the same old, same old solutions for the challenges in acute care.  They offered solutions, identified problems with professional territoriality, pointed out when the statistics being offered were inaccurate or misleading, and concerningly, spoke of the lack of consultation with frontline health workers and community members.”

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Same old same old

Caring for our Health Care system is a complex, multi-faceted task, just as caring for our own health is.  While having a consistent relationship with a family doctor is essential, there are many resources, beyond family doctors, that we might access to support our health and our family’s health. In the same way, a healthy Health Care system is best achieved when decision makers think more broadly, more holistically, and, above all, more sustainably; when they look beyond the usual short term or singular remedies.

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Time to talk about short-term rentals

To be honest with you, I like Airbnbs. They can make traveling more affordable, offer unique stays in unlikely places and give homeowners a little additional income; what’s not to like? It’s only been the last couple of weeks that I’m starting to reconsider my answer to that question, and the journey started in an unlikely place.

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