Charlottetown, PE – The spring sitting of the PEI legislature gave Islanders two visions for the province.
One is a province where in the face of soaring inflation Islanders are told by government to “tighten their belts”, where the free market dictates housing prices, and Islanders and healthcare workers are abandoned.
The other is a province where Islanders get the support they need during these difficult times, where everyone has access to affordable housing and healthcare, and where healthcare workers are respected, valued and paid what they deserve. During the sitting the Official Opposition Green caucus called on government to build this kind of province, one that responds quickly and effectively to the needs of Islanders.
“Over the last number of months Green MLAs have been proposing solutions and creative options to help Islanders where they are,” said Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition. “However, whenever we brought these ideas forward, government argued against them and often complained that the Opposition was asking too many questions and making too many demands.”
For example, the Green caucus introduced a motion urging the King government to immediately raise paramedic wages to match those in our neighbouring provinces and move towards public paramedicine. Government’s response to this motion was to vote against it.
The Green caucus also introduced a motion to address PEI’s housing crisis and better regulate the housing market similar to how we regulate land. A creative approach that government also voted against.
“We have heard this government make promises and announce programs that they do not deliver on,” said Bevan-Baker. “In March, the Premier made an announcement for emergency relief for Islanders facing soaring costs of living but then could not figure out how to get that money to Islanders. Last we heard it will be at least July before Islanders can receive this emergency relief.”
Despite repeated promises to bring forward updated tenancy protections, the King government has chosen not to and further delayed introducing this critical legislation. Once again, tenants are left in limbo and unprotected against illegal rent increases.
During debate on the carbon tax, the Official Opposition Green caucus argued for a full carbon rebate that would see up to $800 be returned to Island families. In the end, government flexed its majority to ensure Islanders will only receive up to $140.
“I am shocked that the Premier and Minister of Finance suggested Islanders could not be trusted with up to $800, that it wasn’t that much money and wouldn’t really be helpful,” said Bevan-Baker. “Ironically, the Minister of Finance felt it was totally acceptable for Islanders to foot the $500 bill for a trailer hitch to carry her personal bicycle around. Unbelievably out of touch!”
The King Government has the budget and the capacity to build something better, it just needs the will. Islanders are rightfully concerned and anxious as they watch this government abandon them in their time of need.