I hope everyone had time to relax and connect with family and friends this summer.
The many recent weather and fire disasters have certainly been unsettling. It must now be clear to all that we are not going to avoid the consequences of the atmosphere and oceans heating up as a result of burning fossil fuels. The question is, what are we going to do about it?
This summer I met with Mike Cassidy, CEO of Maritime Bus, to discuss how we could enhance bus service in a way that it would become a practical alternative to using personal vehicles. I have also scheduled a meeting with the CEO of VIA Rail to discuss developing a regional rail system in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
There has been no end of events to attend in Fredericton and around the province this summer. It’s a great way to hear what is on the minds of New Brunswickers. To no one’s surprise, the lack of access to health care providers tops the list.
The Deputy Minister of Health assures me that Service New Brunswick staff intend to contact everyone on the waiting list for a family doctor by the end of September to register them with NB Health Link. This will give them access to health care providers, when needed, at the new clinic in the Smythe St. Superstore. If you are on the waiting list and haven’t heard from them by September 30, please call my office. Not surprisingly, NB Health Link is having difficulty finding enough health care providers who have the time to work at the clinic.
A question from a student at Fredericton High this Spring spurred me to meet with the experts in youth mental health and addictions at Horizon’s Community Mental Health Centre in Fredericton. He wanted to know what help there was for a friend of his who had become addicted to drugs. While there is help through the Community Mental Health Centre and the Child and Youth Teams connected to our schools, there are substantial gaps in the system for young people, particularly when it comes to accessing rehab services.
Regarding the mental well-being of young people, the professionals I met with affirmed that social media and screen time are significant factors in the high levels of anxiety experienced by so many young people. As they said, engaging online is no substitute for face- to- face connections with your peers, We no longer see the numbers of children and youth in our neighbourhoods and parks that once was common, which suggests this isn’t happening as it should.
The lack of affordable housing and the growing number of constituents forced out of their homes because of unaffordable rent increases are among the most serious problems in Fredericton and many other communities across the province. While some of the measures I proposed in my bill to amend the Residential Tenancies Act are gradually being adopted, there is still no rent cap.
I have an update on my bill to provide for paid sick leave. The Department of Post-Secondary Education and Labour has developed consultation materials and plans to launch public consultations in September and October. They will then prepare consultation feedback in October/November and present the final report to the Standing Committee on Law Amendments in December or January.
I am happy to report that the former Craig’s Automotive Garage on Woodstock Road, beside the Sunshine Diner, is expected to be torn down by the end of the year. Clean-up of any contaminated soil will be done by next summer, and the property will then go up for sale. This has been a long and grinding road to get resolution but the persistence of City staff and willingness of the Minister of Finance to make it a priority (which I wouldn’t let him forget) finally resulted in an agreement between the City and Province on how to move forward.
The boundaries of our riding will be changing for the next provincial election, currently scheduled for October 21, 2024. The riding is essentially being split in half along Regent St. The eastern half of the riding, where I live, will take on Bishop Heights, Southwood Park, Lincoln Heights, the Lincoln Road, and Lincoln. The western half of the riding will take on the Hanwell trailer park, Garden Creek, Springhill and Silverwood.
Finally, I encourage you to read Kelly Lamrock’s review of the amended Policy 713 and his recommendations for making it fairer, more compassionate, and consistent with our laws and the Charter. I learned a lot and hope you will take the time read it as well, whether you have children in school or not.
If you need my help with anything, I can be reached at the office at 506-455-0936 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to seeing you at one of my upcoming community gatherings this fall.