The end of 2021 marks an important way station for the Green Party of Prince Edward Island.
To begin with, our Green Official Opposition Caucus has now served out more than half of its first term in office, allowing us to look back on what we have already accomplished over the past two and a half years together, thanks to your support.
Unequivocally, we can say this: Great things happen when Greens are in the House! The work our Green Official Opposition Caucus has been doing is making PEI and Islanders better off.
Since 2019 alone, Green MLAs have passed a total of 17 bills - this is unheard of for an opposition party in PEI. Together with the many Green motions that have passed and the work we’ve moved forward through committees, Greens have already ushered in significant change in areas like:
- Raised PEI’s emissions reduction targets to the highest in Canada, and in alignment with climate science;
- Passed the Net Zero Carbon Act, a climate change accountability law to ensure we get and stay on track for Net Zero emissions by 2040;
- Established and chaired an all-party Special Committee on Climate that heard from Islanders and experts and delivered 40 concrete recommendations for reducing our emissions, most of which could be implemented very quickly;
- Passed a motion calling for all new provincial buildings to be built to Net Zero standards;
- Fought to close loopholes in the Lands Protection Act and the Water Act;
- Won all-party support for a groundbreaking Environmental Bill of Rights, which will be brought back for final approval pending ongoing consultations with PEI Mi’kmaq Nations;
Began the work needed to pave the way for a major renewable energy transition.
POVERTY AND THE HOUSING CRISIS:
- Established and chaired the Special Committee on Poverty in PEI, which forged consensus across all parties on the need for, and feasibility of, a Basic Income Guarantee;
- Passed the first-of-its-kind Poverty Elimination Strategy Act, setting binding targets for the progressive elimination of poverty, food insecurity and homelessness in PEI by 2035;
- Worked with government to secure the first significant updates to social assistance allowances in years, helping those in need meet their basic needs amid rising living costs;
- Passed a law requiring public input together with such factors as the cost of living, economic conditions and measures of poverty to be considered in annual minimum wage reviews;
- Secured free dental care for low-income Islanders, and free shingles vaccines for seniors;
- Passed legislation enabling the government to track short-term rentals on PEI;
- Passed a motion calling for the creation of a rental registry to prevent illegal rent increases;
Put a two-year moratorium on “renovictions” (starting last month).
HEALTH AND WELLNESS:
- Passed legislation restoring proper governance and accountability to Health PEI, reversing troubling changes made by the previous government;
- Passed motions supporting new approaches to healthcare, such as expanding the scope of practice of pharmacists, supporting mental health through the prescribing of social, cultural and artistic activity, and preventative care such as pelvic floor health;
- Stood up for science-led public health protocols and the safety of students in our schools, including the need for proper ventilation, strong COVID prevention measures and accountability to students exposed to noxious substances during renovations;
- Passed motions to improve the wellness of students in schools, such as through improved sexual health curriculum and more play-based learning;
- Passed a motion calling for the creation of drug treatment courts, focussed on rehabilitation over punishment;
Successfully advocated for life-saving drugs to be made available to those in need.
GOOD GOVERNANCE, DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS:
- Through the Legislative Rules Committee, fundamentally changed the way the legislature operates by ensuring that Committees have equal representation from all parties in the House (prior to this, governments maintained majority control of the committees and thus controlled their agendas), and adopted modern legislative schedules and calendars to make the Legislature a more inclusive workplace;
- Passed long-awaited Whistleblower Protection legislation, and introduced legislation that led to the adoption of stronger Conflict of Interest laws;
- Passed a law giving the Auditor General more powers to carry out their important work;
- Passed the Government Advertising Standards Act to put an end to the all-too-common practice of governments using tax dollars for purely partisan self-promotion;
- Created a Special Committee on Records Retention to investigate the infamous missing emails from the E-gaming affair, and to recommend how to prevent important government records from going missing again in the future;
- Amended the Police Act to make it easier for people to file complaints against misconduct by provincially-regulated police forces;
- Passed a motion calling for a framework to consider the rights of children and youth in all government policies;
- Passed motions calling for annual reporting on how the government is implementing the recommendations of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and supporting the free and safe exercise of Mi’kmaq treaty rights, including a moderate livelihood fishery;
- Passed a motion calling on government to get on with long-awaited supported decision-making legislation to allow adults with disabilities greater self-determination;
- Passed a motion calling for increased civics education in Island schools;
Passed a motion just this fall calling for a Citizens’ Assembly on Proportional Representation, to create a forum for the much-needed conversation about how to build a fair, made-for-PEI electoral system that we can all be proud of. (By the way, this motion was directly inspired by a similar motion created and approved by Green Party of PEI members at our first online policy convention this spring!)
PROMOTING EQUALITY AND ENDING SEXUAL VIOLENCE
There has never been such a strong team of women MLAs in any PEI political party before; more than one in seven of the women ever elected to the PEI Legislature are members of the current Green caucus! It is no wonder, then, that the Green Caucus is doing amazing work on issues that have disproportionately affected women and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and been largely neglected by past legislatures:
- Passed the first laws in Canada to limit the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to silence the victims of sexual harassment, discrimination and assault;
- Made PEI the second province in Canada to adopt pay transparency legislation, which among other things is expected to help reduce the pay gap between men and women by preventing discriminatory practices;
- Passed legislation cracking down on those who share intimate images of a person without consent;
- Passed a motion resulting in a government commitment to supply free period products in Island schools, to combat period poverty;
- Passed a new law ensuring that victims of domestic, sexual and intimate partner violence can obtain temporary leave from their jobs.
Just putting this list together has been a moving experience - in the hustle and bustle of political life, it can be easy to forget just what we have already accomplished. Yet this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the work our caucus has been doing, both in the spotlight and behind the scenes.
We know that the list will grow still further in the next two years of our mandate, and that there are more good things to come. But a simple fact remains: to achieve our vision of Prince Edward Island as a leading example of ecological, social and fiscal sustainability, governed within a caring, compassionate, participatory democracy, we cannot remain in the opposition benches forever - we will need to form PEI’s government.
While our current government and premier can be credited with solid leadership related to the pandemic and generally more openness to collaboration than the government it replaced, it has become clear that this government lacks direction and vision, fails repeatedly to deliver on key promises, and holds Prince Edward Island back in so many areas that Islanders want to - and can - lead:
- In spite of its rhetorical recognition of climate change and the need to cut emissions, the government has yet to implement a single one of the 40 recommendations of the Special Committee on Climate Change. None of its actions have been equal to its words;
- While showing tacit support for ending poverty and homelessness, the government has shown reluctance to deal with the housing and homelessness crisis in any serious way, consistently prioritizing investments in pavement over investments in housing, and dragging its heels on measures to help renters;
- Our healthcare system has deepened into a crisis of disastrous proportions under this government and its predecessor. The lack of a cohesive vision and plan is hurting Islanders who need healing;
- While Islanders seek an end to a legacy of poor governance, lack of transparency, conflicts of interest and corruption, the current government seems mostly content to keep the status quo and repeat bad governance habits that are the hallmark of PEI’s governments, whether Red or Blue.
Events here at home and around the world have shown us that Greens and Green policies are needed more than ever before. What our caucus and party have shown since 2019 is that, indeed, Greens are ready to govern.
This is where we need your help. With less than two years left until the next election, the Green Party of PEI has a bold mission: to plan and prepare for the most important election campaign yet - one capable of returning Green MLAs in sufficient numbers to form the first Green government in Canada!
Work has already begun in the party and caucus to plan an election campaign that can do just that. A campaign that starts with a powerful and diverse slate of candidates from every riding, a bold and inspiring platform, and strong campaign teams with the resources to mobilize support in every corner of PEI.
Here’s the thing: to achieve this vision, it’s going to take money. Not the kind of million-dollar warchests that we’ve seen some of other parties spend in elections past, but certainly more than the shoestring budget we were working with in 2019.
We’re going to level with you: the past two years have been a challenging time for fundraising, for obvious reasons. We are behind where we would like to be in building up our “hope chest” for the next election, but we are confident that, with your help, we can quickly catch up.
To reach our goals, we need to start by raising at least $15,000 this December.
Can you help?
There are many different ways to give - all the details can be found on our website at www.greenparty.pe.ca/donate.
If you don't have much cash to spare right now but still want to support, you can help a whole bunch by starting a small monthly contribution. By giving $10 or $20 a month as an Ever-Green donor, you can help us all year round without feeling a pinch in your wallet. After the tax credits, a $10 monthly donation costs the equivalent of a cup of coffee each month! And for a limited time, we are offering every new monthly donor a free, stylish Green Party of PEI mask made by Green Eyes Design!
Thank you so much for your support!
Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader