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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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Reflections on my first full sitting

This has been my first full sitting since being elected, so I’m still quite the neophyte in the legislature.  In the fall I was sworn in just as the fall sitting was winding down. I always say being the newest MLA is like trying to drink from a fire hose--there is just so much you need to know--legislative procedure, policy issues, constituency concerns, interpreting legislation, and in this sitting trying to assess whether Bill 38 would survive a constitutional challenge.

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Reflections on the Spring Sitting

The morning after the legislature closed on June 12th, I took advantage of a suddenly free schedule and went for a long walk in the woods with our dogs, Balloo, Murphy, Jane and Knox (yes, that’s a lot of dog!)  There’s nothing like a beautiful PEI landscape and the uncomplicated companionship of man’s best friend to help me restore my mental equilibrium after a long legislative sitting. And when it comes to length, this sitting was one for the record books--the longest sitting since 1999.

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Green Party nominates first candidates at Summerside nomination meeting

SUMMERSIDE - Green Party members gathered at the Wilmot Community Centre on Saturday to nominate the Green Party of Prince Edward Island’s first candidates in anticipation of the next general election.

Candidates were nominated for districts 19 (Borden-Kinkora), 21 (Summerside-Wilmot), 22 (Summerside-South Drive) and 23 (Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke). The nominated candidates are:

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Raiders of the Lost PEI Ark...

Last evening I had the privilege of attending Steven Mannell’s book launch for “Living Lightly on the Earth” Building an Ark for Prince Edward Island, 1974-76 and although I should have left inspired, instead I left frustrated and thinking of how much short term planning without a vision can influence decision making.

The Ark was visionary, a project about redefining what a dwelling could be by incorporating sustainable design and experimenting with green ideas. I’m not going to delve deeply into the waters that were the political and environmental climate of 1970s, suffice to say there was a real push at the time to “live lightly on the land”. In 1974, PEI was leading an environmental movement, where today we have fallen behind.

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The Best Interests of the Child

On May 22, 2018 the federal government introduced Bill C-78 which sets out to amend the Divorce Act and other federal legislation that touch on child custody and child support. The Bill attempts to streamline the process for varying child support, and moves away from divisive language such as “custody” and “access” -- terms which have been known to drive conflict between parents sparring over their children.

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Preventing Despair

I have learned over a lifetime of personal and professional relationships that suicide and the thought of ending one’s own life is a complex and heartrending experience.   I don’t know how many people have shared with me their belief that suicide was a real choice for them - possibly hundreds. A belief that arose from despair and hopelessness.

Responding to suicidal ideation or behaviour in the moment, through initiatives such as Help Lines or peer support, is different than helping people to no longer consider suicide as an option at difficult times in their lives.  And this is different again than preventing, or at least reducing the incidence of, suicide in our society as a whole. Or as the final statement in the recently released Suicide Prevention Strategy The Building Blocks of Hope describes it: “make Prince Edward Island safer from suicide”.  

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Health in all policies

The following are the speeches in the Legislature delivered on May 1, 2018 by Peter Bevan-Baker and Hannah Bell in support of Peter's Motion 40, Encouraging government to adopt a “Health in all Policies” approach to governance.

Peter Bevan-Baker's speech

Improving the physical and mental health of Islanders is often viewed as the work of the healthcare system. But in reality what we currently call health care could better be described as illness management, as it is primarily tasked with caring for individuals when they are sick or injured.   That is, of course, a critically important service. We all need to know that we will have access to timely care when we are ill. Indeed in Canada, we rightly take pride in providing all citizens with access to critical interventions that often mean the difference between life and death. Yet these systems are mostly designed to respond to the absence of health and rarely focus on building health and resiliency nor do they bring significant improvement to the health of the population.

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One Piece of the Puzzle

Over the past few weeks we have heard a great deal about the new funding being made available to PEI’s post-secondary students through bursaries and debt-reduction programs. This is fantastic news for young Islanders who are beginning their post secondary education and those who are going to stay here on PEI after they graduate. I look forward to seeing the details of how these new programs will roll out.

I applaud this effort, but have been surprised to see Ministers pointing to this as a ‘cure all’ for the problems facing Island youth. Of course, it would be impossible for one program or initiative to address every issue. The needs of young Islanders are complex and varied.  Yet, in the current sitting of the Legislature, new bursary and debt reduction programs for post-secondary students have been presented as an answer to a wide range of issues such as affordable housing for youth, low youth income levels (see Hansard April 24, pg 1921), and perhaps most confusingly, as a response to why UPEI is not covered under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPP)  (see Hansard April 12 2018, pg. 1561). Indeed, the new student bursary and debt relief programs were featured in Ministers’ statements three out of the four days the first full week the legislature was in session (see Hansard April 17-20). Unequivocally, this seems to be a go-to-answer for almost any question related to post-secondary education or young Islanders.

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