I am honoured that you have put your trust in me to continue to represent you in the Legislative Assembly, following the snap election in September. It is a privilege to work for you.
As soon as the election was over, I re-immersed myself in the major issues facing our community, so I could hit the ground running. Taeyon Kim, my constituency coordinator organized a whirl-wind schedule of meetings so we could pick up where we left off when the election was called.
The tremendously large waiting list for family doctors in Fredericton was top of mind. I have met with the Medical Society, Horizon Health, Department of Health staff, and the new Minister of Health, Dorothy Shephard. In the short-term, the nurse practitioners’ clinic set to open shortly at the Priestman Centre at 565 Regent St. will hopefully take 5,000 patients off the wait list in Fredericton. From the meetings I have had, I learned that a long-term solution might be to replace the obligations of family doctors to provide care at the Chalmers Hospital with hospitalists, physicians dedicated to that purpose. This would enable family doctors to focus entirely on their practice, providing the kind of working conditions that should be more attractive to doctors considering a move to New Brunswick.
The lack of affordable housing in Fredericton and homelessness are major issues that must be addressed. Part of the problem is the meager budget the provincial government provides to establish low income housing. To make matters worse, they will not contribute any of it to affordable housing projects that are receiving federal money. I am strongly advocating for a significant increase in funding for housing and for the reversal of this retrograde policy. I have already met and discussed this with the Minister of Social Development, Bruce Fitch. Our City also needs the provincial government to amend the law to give it the authority to require private developers to include affordable units in new apartment buildings, as has been done in Halifax. I will be advocating for this in the Legislative Assembly.
So many of the homeless are struggling with mental illness and addictions that three new developments in our city should make a big difference. This summer, Dr. Sara Davidson and pharmacist Dan Pike opened the Riverstone Recovery Centre for addictions that is doing ground-breaking work in our community. The new government is committed to opening a mental health walk-in clinic in Fredericton. And finally, the hard work of so many to see a housing first strategy implemented to provide housing with wrap-around services to enable people to stay housed should become reality by the end of this year.
The feasibility study for a regional aquatic centre has been completed under the leadership of Chris Ramsey and a steering committee chaired by Don Fitzgerald from the Regional Service Commission. It should be released publicly before the end of the year. The City has also decided to commission the design of the new Performing Arts Centre so a concrete application can be made to the provincial and federal governments for funding. I have met with the Province and this is what they are waiting for to decide on their support.
There is a real need for active transportation infrastructure in Fredericton to enable people to bike or walk to school, stores, appointments, or social gatherings. The citizen’s committee in Skyline Acres was successful in having the City carry out a feasibility study on a pedestrian bridge over the old TransCanada, Route 8 to link the eastern side of the City with the City centre. I recently convened a meeting of cycling and trails organizations to discuss this and other initiatives. It has become clear that we need to get the provincial government committed to making active transportation a priority for our cities, and I look forward to moving this along. Now that the MLA for Fredericton North, Jill Green, is the transportation minister, the first appointed from a city in living memory, this should be somewhat easier.
I continue to work as a member on the COVID-19 Cabinet Committee, to do my best in helping to ensure the policies adopted respond effectively to the coronavirus pandemic.
Please do not hesitate to contact me or Taeyon, my Constituency Coordinator, directly with any concerns or suggestions you may have. If you need help, please do not delay. Reach out to me if you don’t know where else to turn. You can reach my Constituency Office at 506-455-0936, and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.