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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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Carbon Pricing Leadership

The recent debate around carbon pricing has created challenges I would never have anticipated three years ago when I was first elected.  Back then, I was the lone Green MLA, I had a tiny but enthusiastic group of advisors, and party membership was small. On the issue of tackling climate change, I could stand up and defend my conviction that carbon pricing is the most effective and efficient means to reduce emissions. Economists agree, and it has been implemented successfully in dozens of jurisdictions.  When done properly, it not only reduces emissions without placing any additional burden on low and middle income families, it can actually improve the economy by easing the transition to new green tech opportunities.

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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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Fun and Games with FOIPP: Part One

Some of you may remember me complaining in January that I was forced to place a Freedom of Information (FOIPP) request to receive a copy of an internal review of the FOIPP Act.  At the time I thought it was the height of irony. I wanted to see the report because government had launched a consultation with the grandiose title “Open and Accessible Government--Modernizing the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.” I was eager to participate in such a monumental endeavour, and immediately asked the Minister Responsible, at the time Premier Wade MacLachlan, to table the internal review.

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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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Your Tax Dollars at Work

Advertising plays an important role in swaying public opinion. Companies use ads for a number of reasons; to raise their profile, to secure their place in the market, to demonstrate superiority over their competitors or to brag about how wonderful they are. Most of us are savvy enough to take some of the claims we hear in commercials with a grain of salt because we know that the opinion being presented is not completely objective.

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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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