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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
We were delighted to read the province’s recent announcement of one-time financial support for 16 non-government organizations (NGOs). Discretionary funds are invaluable for these non-profit community organizations to move forward on projects and activities, and we applaud this move.
Supporting the NGO sector is a good investment for so many reasons; the very nature of NGOs means that in addition to creating meaningful jobs, they also are tackling social, environmental or financial injustices. Many provinces have taken steps to recognize and value the contribution of this sector, and rightly so. This announcement, however, did leave us with a few questions.Read more
Being fiscally responsible is socially responsible. As the special edition of The Guardian (April 6) dramatically demonstrated, poverty is a huge issue in PEI with 15.8% of Islanders classified as low income. The reality for too many Islanders is that our social systems are not meeting their needs, and band aid solutions are not going to be enough. We are not meeting our obligations to our citizens if we are not providing basic and equitable quality of life to all – and that requires a commitment to fiscal policy that is different, but not radical.Read more