The capital budget tabled by the King government today reaffirms they are skilled at storytelling but continue to disappoint when it comes to follow-through.
Something that is still the big priority for the King government remains highways, roads, and bridges.
“The largest amount committed by this government in this budget for the coming year is a whopping $80M in Transportation and Infrastructure,” said Bell. “This amounts to 26% or $1 of every $4 it has in its budget. More roads are nice but a responsible government would provide for peoples’ basic needs first. That’s what it means to be ‘about people’.”
Is life better under Premier King? Islanders are facing extraordinary challenges – from the rising cost of living to lack of affordable housing and shelter to healthcare access and unprecedented devastation by post-tropical storm Fiona.
“The quality of life on PEI has suffered under the leadership of Premier King,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition Green Caucus. “Time and time again this government has failed to provide the support Islanders expect in their times of need.”
This abandonment by the King Government cannot continue. This fall sitting of the Legislature, the Official Opposition Green Caucus will be working to secure relief for Islanders in healthcare, housing, and the soaring cost of living.
“These are tough times for everyone,” said Bevan-Baker. “People are facing difficulties in every area of life – from access to healthcare, to stable housing, to putting food on the table. Islanders need bold leadership to weather this perfect storm – and we are prepared to do just that.”
In healthcare, the Official Opposition will stand up for frontline workers who have been ignored by the King Government and call on government to provide the retention incentive to ALL frontline healthcare workers. We will also stand up for the thousands of Islanders who are without a family doctor. The Green caucus will call on Premier King to stop with the band-aid solutions and address the systemic issues in healthcare such as excessive workloads, workplace violence, and the effectiveness of the healthcare system for both patients and workers.
MICHELE BEATON: Another example of how the King government is consistently late and always unprepared
For three years the Official Opposition Green caucus has been listening to unions and all healthcare workers. We have been calling for improved retention initiatives like the one announced yesterday, along with others, that can help fix healthcare workplaces.
However, the announcement by Premier King just scratches the surface of the issue and it fails to address the root problems for retention. These are problems I have raised with the Minister who refused to acknowledge or accept the seriousness of the situation frontline workers face every day like being refused vacation, or preventing frontline workers from speaking openly about concerns in the workplace, or interfering in the hiring of staff, or any number of issues facing health workers.
In fact the announcement does not even address the issues identified in the Health PEI Exit Interview Project report that show a big part of our retention problem is a toxic and unsafe workplace environment. Throwing money at the issue but not dealing with the underlying problems is only adding to the further decline of our system.
Premier King and housing Minister Matt MacKay have said they are working on a bill to deal with the extraordinarily high allowable rent increase announced by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission last month.
“This government has repeatedly delayed bringing forward the new Residential Tenancy Act, despite a draft of that new law being completed in 2019,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition “This consistent failure to act has proven that Island tenants and landlords cannot rely on this Conservative government for prompt solutions to housing and tenancy issues.”
Today saw another unscheduled price increase from IRAC for home heating oil, diesel, and gasoline. Heating fuel has risen in price over $0.40 in the month of October alone, just as people are filling oil tanks for the winter. Islanders are lurching from one crisis to another with barely a chance to catch their breath, and with little meaningful or reliable help from the government they elected.
HANNAH BELL & KARLA BERNARD: Joint statement on failure of King government to get money into the hands of Islanders
It has been more than two weeks since Fiona wreaked havoc on Prince Edward Island. Everyone has been impacted and there are still thousands of Islanders without power. As part of its emergency response, the Government of Prince Edward Island is providing up to $250 per household impacted by post-tropical storm Fiona. This help can be for any expense and no receipts or proof of loss is required. You just need to confirm your name, address, and birthdate.
This seems easy enough, but for some reason the process to access these emergency dollars is convoluted and frustrating.
To try and get this money quickly into the hands of Islanders impacted, the King government has contracted with the Canadian Red Cross to administer the $250 Fiona financial relief program along with the Provincial Disaster Financial Assistance Program which is a separate program meant to cover uninsurable losses.
OFFICIAL OPPOSITION: Islanders needing post-Fiona financial assistance are facing a nightmare to just get the basic help they need
More than two weeks post-Fiona and Islanders are facing a financial crisis and ever-increasing anxiety to have just their basic needs met.
“This has been a colossal failure on the part of the King government to get financial help to Islanders impacted by post tropical storm Fiona,” said Hannah Bell, Official Opposition Green Critic for Finance. “Our caucus is being inundated by calls from anxious, frustrated Islanders who are having to jump through numerous – and seemingly random – hoops to access the $250 promised by the Premier.”
To try and get this money quickly into the hands of Islanders impacted, the King government has contracted with the Canadian Red Cross to administer the $250 Fiona financial relief program. This help can be for any expense and no receipts or proof of loss is required. You just need to confirm your name, address, and birthdate. While this seems to be easy enough, for some reason the process to access these emergency dollars is complicated and frustrating.
Almost two weeks after Fiona slammed into Prince Edward Island, the human and economic costs are becoming more and more evident. While the response is ongoing, there is increasing and unsettling evidence of preventable failures in key areas that need to be investigated.
These areas include, but are not limited to, Government planning and communication, power restoration, telecommunication companies, abandoned seniors and persons with disabilities, and getting financial support to Islanders.
A narrow third-party review, as was done in the aftermath of post-tropical storm Dorian, is not enough, and it is not a substitute for a public inquiry. It is not enough to focus primarily on EMO response—in fact, many Islanders have pointed to the slow and often inadequate response of government to roll out supports, and have raised questions about the practices of other non-government entities involved in the disaster response and recovery.
Twelve days after the hardest storm to ever hit our Island home, the King government is still unable to respond to gaps in its post-Fiona recovery efforts.
Last week the Official Opposition Green Caucus highlighted a number of those gaps. By and large, those gaps still remain. For example, the continued lack of support for Island tenants who have been displaced is particularly glaring, and I implore the Premier to show some compassion to these Islanders who have so far been ignored.
This week it is also becoming clearer that the distance between the help offered and the help needed is becoming wider and wider. And that’s simply not good enough.
The Premier has said he is working hard but those assurances are not translating into actual help for Islanders who are struggling after the greatest storm in the history of our province. Working his hardest, here is what Islanders received from him:
- Premier King took 10 days to get money into the hands of *some* Islanders. Most fridges and freezers were emptied on day two.
- Premier King thinks $250 will refill a fridge and deep freeze with food. Many Islanders will tell you this is simply not enough when the costs of basic necessities have sky-rocketed.
- Premier King took a week to get seniors in provincially run homes checked on. During that time they were without power, phone, and easy access to food for a week. Some had even taken a fall and had to be admitted to hospitals for treatment.
- Premier King has provided no money for parents who couldn’t go to work because schools and daycares were closed. His business subsidy does not even cover this.
- Premier King has offered no support to Islanders who have been displaced or are living in unsafe conditions after damage from Fiona.