An Update from your MLA
By David Coon
Sometimes small things unexpectedly take on great importance. In the series I post on-line from time to time, Neighbours, members of our community in Fredericton are profiled by photographer extraordinaire Kelly Baker. Three and a half years ago, I ran a series of interviews with members of the LGBTQ community, including one with Charlie (Charlotte) Gervais, a student at STU at the time. Her Mom contacted me from Ottawa today to find out how to reach Kelly to get permission to use the beautiful photograph of Charlie and her dog Scarlett that accompanied the interview. Charlie passed away last summer, and that photo is one of their favorite images of their daughter. Kelly was more than happy to agree. Small things unexpectedly can mean so much.
“Withhold judgments and realize that every individual is complex and unspeakably beautiful no matter how or with whom they choose to live their lives.”
-Charlie (Charlotte) Gervais, August 2016.
I have tabled two bills in the Legislature: both are waiting for Second Reading when the Legislature resumes in March.
The first is a bill to amend the Family Income Security Act, which governs the provision of social assistance but fails to provide income security. Social assistance is so low that it cannot possibly meet the basic needs for living. Any extra money you might receive — for child support, a disability, or as a survivor benefit — is clawed back, while sharing an apartment to make your money go further is grounds for revoking your social assistance. My bill is designed to help remedy this situation and provides the Minister the authority to negotiate a basic income guarantee agreement with Ottawa.
The second bill would amend the Crown Lands and Forests Act to provide fair access to the wood market for private woodlot owners, while giving them negotiating power over the price of wood by requiring the mills to buy private wood through the wood marketing boards. It also would end aerial spraying of glyphosate over Crown forests.
After many attempts to amend the government’s bill to dilute the powers of an arbitrator to settle contract disputes with nursing home workers, it passed without amendments with the support of the Alliance MLAs. It was a sad day for those who work hard every day to care for our vulnerable seniors.
On the positive side, the Department of Social Development purchased a building on Brunswick St. to be run this winter as an out-of-the cold shelter by staff from the Downtown Community Health Centre.
Budget time is upon us and I am touring the province during February to hear people’s priorities and concerns. I will assemble what I hear into a report to the Minister of Finance, who is inviting people to fill out an on-line survey or submit comments to email@example.com.
If I can help in any way or if you want to let me know your views on an issue important to you, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 455-0936, or drop by my constituency office at 346 Queen St. Suite 102.
All the best,