New Brunswick

Minimum wage hike, new waste reduction targets among Green Party campaign promises

The Green Party of New Brunswick has unveiled a wide-ranging election platform that includes promises to hike the minimum wage and social assistance rates, eliminate the interest on provincial student loans and make it possible to get to the four corners of the province via public transportation if the party is elected next month.

Leader David Coon launches wide-ranging election platform, entitled Our Pathway for Change

Green Party Leader David Coon presented his party's election platform, Our Pathway for Change, in Fredericton Monday. (Twitter/David Coon)

The Green Party of New Brunswick has promised to hike the minimum wage and social assistance rates, eliminate the interest on provincial student loans, bring in border tolls on four-lane highways and make it possible to get to the four corners of the province via public transportation if the party is elected next month.

It has also pledged to increase the auditor general's budget and make the office of the chief medical officer of health independent, legislate waste reduction targets and remove industrial property tax exemptions in its wide-ranging campaign platform, launched Monday at the party's Fredericton headquarters.

"The Green Party's vision for the kind of province — the kind of future — we all want for our children and grandchildren, springs from the shared values that define us as New Brunswickers," party Leader David Coon said in statement.

"This platform — Our Pathway for Change — will help transform our vision for the province we love into reality."

Would scrap Medavie contracts

The Green Party is also expected to take aim at the province's contracts with Medavie for the management of extramural nursing and ambulance services when it details the health-care plank of its platform on Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Sackville Memorial Hospital.

"Health care is not a business, and the public health system should not be run like one — or by one," said Coon.

"Instead, it should be organized to meet citizens' health needs effectively, with decisions about providing care made at the community level."

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs has also pledged to try to scrap the Medavie deal if elected on Sept. 24.

The Green Party contends the management responsibilities for extramural health services should be returned to the Horizon and Vitalité​ regional health networks.

It wants ambulance services under public management and would initiate a public inquiry into how they can be improved.

Coon holds the party's only seat in the legislature.

Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is expected to support Coon's bid for re-election in the riding of Fredericton South on Thursday. She will campaign with Memramcook-Trantramar candidate Megan Mitton Tuesday and Wednesday.

The party's platform includes 120 commitments covering seven key areas. Among them:

Restore relations with First Nations

  • Fully implement the Calls to Action of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission and "address" the recommendations of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women as soon as they're released.
  • Help preserve Indigenous languages and culture by securing federal funding for Indigenous language teacher training and immersion programs for Indigenous children.

Living within our ecological and financial means

  • Legislate a cap on industrial carbon pollution.
  • Phase out single-use plastic products, such as bags, straws and utensils, as well as disposable cups and containers.
  • Petition the federal government to increase the per capita health transfer to New Brunswick to reflect the needs of the province's aging population.
  • Require the Department of Finance to develop and publish a tax expenditure account to track losses in provincial revenues associated with tax cuts, tax breaks, deferrals and credits.

Good health and good care

  • Establish a 20 cents per litre-tax on sugar-sweetened beverages and direct the revenue to healthy school food and child wellness programs.
  • Reduce public and occupational exposure to "harmful" chemicals, including phasing out the release of cancer-causing pollutants by industries.
  • Investigate significant flood events to identify aggravating factors and develop ongoing adaptation plans.

Share the wealth, extend a hand

  • Increase minimum wage by $1 per year to $15.25 per hour and then index it to inflation.
  • Increase social assistance rates for individuals by 13 per cent for single people and five per cent for other recipients, followed by indexing, and eliminate rules that prevent recipients from improving their living conditions, such as the prohibition on sharing accommodations.

Investing in education and culture

  • Raise literacy and numeracy levels to the national average by investing in after-hours programs involving students, parents and community organizations.
  • Ensure all students receive "effective" second-language training in both the anglophone and francophone school systems and develop "comprehensive, accessible" adult French and English training programs in co-operation with community colleges.
  • Expand school-based arts programs, including visual, musical and dramatic arts.
  • Establish a commission to explore how the arts, including filmmakers, can be better supported.

Growing a green economy

  • Implement a local food strategy with targets for increasing the ratio of local food production to food imports and for increasing organic production.
  • Require government departments, hospitals, schools and community colleges to increase their purchase of local goods and services by at least 10 per cent.
  • Enact legislation to cancel all 25-year contracts with forestry companies and increase the proportion of forest managed for conservation purposes.
  • Prohibit the extraction of shale gas and support the retraining/training of workers in fossil fuel industries and young people to meet the labour needs of a green economy.

Revitalize democracy

  • Require all government contracts to be posted in full in a public registry.
  • Legislate a 40 per cent cap on the concentration of print media ownership and prohibit cross-ownership of media and non-media businesses.
  • Implement proportional representation, where seats in the legislature "more closely reflect the popular vote," require all-party representation on legislative committees and "aim for" gender parity.
  • Lower the voting age to 16.