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

KARLA BERNARD: Why won't the King government enforce its own laws on short-term rentals?

PEI is in a housing crisis. This crisis has only grown in the last number of years and the King government has done almost nothing to address it. In fact, the King government seems unable or unwilling to fulfill its duties as a responsible government that makes the hard decisions.

Not only does this mean we are in a dire housing crisis where renters can no longer find affordable apartments and prospective home buyers are being priced out of the market, it also means this inaction from government is having a negative effect on our tourism industry.

As my colleague, Hannah Bell, pointed out: The King government is responsible for all Islanders – not only the ones that can afford to invest in stocks and properties. This leaves Islanders with the question, why is Premier King reluctant to enforce legislation his own government has put in place?

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HANNAH BELL: What it means for Islanders that PEI has the highest inflation in Canada

The King government loves to talk about our strong economy and growth, and how their policies are keeping the good times going. So how is it possible that PEI has the highest inflation rate in the country this month? And, what does this mean to everyday Islanders?

When the rate of inflation is high, the cost of living increases. Islanders already know this - they see the cost of food, housing, and gas increases every day. Increased inflation also reduces economic growth as people’s purchasing power decreases, and those who can afford to do so invest their money to protect it.

Islanders are paying a higher percentage per month every month for their housing, leaving less disposable income in their pocket. And, surprising no one, the rise in inflation is tied to one of the wicked problems this government has been absolutely reluctant to tackle - short term rentals and their effect on the PEI housing market.

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The King government abandoning Islanders in need of access to primary care

It is becoming increasingly clear that Premier King has abandoned Islanders hoping for and needing a family doctor. In fact, last spring the Premier said in the House that it was unrealistic for Islanders to expect to have access to a family doctor. We are now seeing the effects of this terrible plan of the King government.

Last fall a family doctor in Charlottetown retired. He had over 3600 patients. When Health PEI learned of the retirement, they put in a temporary band-aid solution to cover the patients with nurse practitioners and locums. The contract has since finished and nothing else has been offered in its place.

Patients are now discovering that they will not be assigned a family doctor as there is no family doctor available. They have to join the over 17000 other Islanders already waiting for years for a family doctor. In fact, we were told by the Health department that they themselves had just learned of the situation late last week. Our healthcare system is deeply fractured.

 

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Better School Bus Safety Needed

In a recent CBC article, a mother told the story of how her child was involved in a near-miss with a car that passed a stopped school bus. The diligent bus driver saw the vehicle wasn’t going to stop and kept the boy on the bus. No doubt this saved the boy from serious harm and possible death.

I am so thankful for the quick actions of the bus driver. However, we shouldn’t expect our bus drivers to also actively observe and report on the actions of other drivers when they’re also operating a vehicle and monitoring the children inside the bus. It’s even worse when we realize our drivers aren’t able to see the vehicle licence plates and record them. This means the offender is free of consequence and is likely to try it again.

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What is government's plan to deal with increasing ER wait times?

I am extremely concerned about Dr. Jain’s announcement last week that wait times at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital are increasing significantly due to shortages of board certified emergency physicians and emergency trained nurses. Anyone who has attended the ER already knows wait times are often hours long for urgent care.

So, with this new announcement that those wait times are increasing significantly, what does this mean for Islanders who need to access ER services? What is the plan for the QEH to address this shortage? Will it mean bed closures in the emergency room?

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Environmental bill of rights — What is it and what does it mean for Islanders?

Recently in the provincial legislature, Bill 108 - Environmental Bill of Rights passed unanimously in its second reading. The support it received from all parties really speaks to how the conversation around sustainability has shifted. I’m grateful that discussions on getting serious about protecting our environment — now and into the future — is something all political parties are in agreement about. I thank all the MLAs in the house for voting to support this important piece of legislation. Getting environmental rights secured for P.E.I. is now one step closer to reality. So what exactly does an environmental bill of rights mean for Islanders? Let’s talk.

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Water Act regulations favour some farms over others

This post was originally published as an Op-Ed in the Journal Pioneer on April 7, 2021.

 

Living on an Island, we understand limits in a way that isn’t as obvious in other places. I think that’s why discussions on land and water use drum up so much interest.

The strain of climate change is being felt in many places, especially in agriculture. We need a sustainable irrigation strategy for PEI. And two of the pillars of that strategy must be environmental protection and fairness.

Past governments, led by both PC and Liberal, have shown with their choices that they do not really believe in environmental protection. It is treated mostly as an inconvenient afterthought. That has real consequences and, I would argue, the farming community especially suffers when government does not take their role as environmental stewards seriously.

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Peter Bevan-Baker's Member Statement on Xenophobia on PEI

The following was delivered in the Legislature as a Member's Statement by Leader of the Official Opposition, Peter Bevan-Baker, on March 30, 2021.

I often stand in this House and speak about what a warm and welcoming province we live in. Every day I wake up feeling such gratitude that I live on this beautiful Island, filled with people from all backgrounds and walks of life, who love this province as much as me. 

When I walk into the Legislature, I’m aware of the immense privilege I carry as one of 27 people who get to represent our province, and the people who live here. But I am also aware of the immense privilege I carry every day as a white man, and the benefits and opportunities I have been awarded simply because of that.

Because while it is true we live in a province filled with kind and welcoming people, it is also true that our province has a long history of discrimination, xenophobia, and racism. From the moment that white settlers arrived on these shores, colonizing Epekwitk, our Island has been steeped in white supremacy, genocide and violence against Black, Indigenous, and people of colour.

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Steve Howard's response to the Throne Speech (2021)

This transcript of Steve Howard's response to the Speech from the Throne is copied from the official Hansard record of the Legislature. 

To watch the video recording of this speech, go to www.assembly.pe.ca/video-archive, select "Spring 2021", click on the March 5th video and advance to the 2:36 mark.

I won’t be too terribly long here. A lot has been already said about this throne speech. But I had a lengthy response to the throne speech less than two years ago. All of what I said then still stands today.

One item from my previous response that remains entirely dormant is electoral reform. I asked the Premier about his thoughts on it at the end of the last sitting and I was encouraged to hear that he was still open to exploring this. More Islanders voted for changing the system by which we elect MLAs than voted for any one particular party that sits in this House. I think that bears attention and I implore the Premier to take action on this. Islanders like how collaborative governments work. Let’s see that it becomes the norm instead of the exception.

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Michele Beaton's response to the Throne Speech (2021)

MB_throne_speech_quote_(1).pngThis transcript of Michele Beaton's response to the Speech from the Throne is copied from the official Hansard record of the Legislature. 

It is a pleasure to rise to speak to the throne speech. I believe it’s a great honour to be in this House and to be a part of this type of proceeding and to get the opportunity to speak on behalf of your constituents and Islanders who have reached out with priorities, thoughts, concerns.

First of all, I’d like to recognize that I know a lot of work has gone into this throne speech. I know a lot of consultation and looking at what’s the best road to travel for this province, which I think is important.

I also look at how front-end loaded the throne speech is. We have some really interesting concepts and visions at the very beginning. I see something that’s really missing, and that is information from a finance perspective. I do know that there’s a couple of paragraphs focused on agriculture, but they’re jam-packed paragraphs. So, I’d just like to dig in a little bit.

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