Increasing social assistance rates, government reviews high on Green priorities

P.E.I.'s Green Party released its full platform for the coming provincial election Monday afternoon.

Housing and social assistance make up more than half the cost of Green promises

P.E.I. Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker announced the party's platform Monday afternoon. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

P.E.I.'s Green Party released its full platform for the coming provincial election Monday afternoon.

The platform includes about $30 million in new spending, with the biggest chunk — $10 million — going toward increasing social assistance rates.

"We acknowledge poverty is a complex issue, but envision fewer people living in poverty by immediately increasing access to existing programs and services," the platform said.

Full platform released

"I believe that Islanders want a government that presents a pathway toward a practical, harmonious, and affordable future," said Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker.

"One that demonstrates an understanding of how complex issues need to be approached in a balanced and in an integrated manner."

Peter Bevan-Baker speaks during the party's full platform release in Crapaud, P.E.I., on Monday afternoon. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Bevan-Baker said many people, including in his own party, asked why they launched their whole platform on the same day. He said by releasing it early in the campaign, it will allow people an opportunity to look it over and pose questions to the candidates on the party's entire platform.

Bevan-Baker said their platform has three overarching and connected themes.

"Protecting the security, dignity and wellness of all Islanders. Building strong and resilient communities from tip to tip. And re-establishing trust in government."

Expanding supports for all

The Green Party says it would increase rates for housing and food, as well as the personal allowance rate. It also says it would expand dental coverage to low-income Islanders — $2.5 million for that — with a long-term goal of making basic dental care universal.

The second biggest line item in the budget is $5.5 million to support the housing supply.

The platform says the minimum wage would be raised to $15 per hour by 2023. The Greens would like to see a basic income guarantee, and say they would aggressively pursue the federal government for financial support for a pilot project.

'Lost faith'

The Green Party is proposing a number of reviews of government departments and operations.

"Islanders have lost faith in government," the platform said.

The Green Party says it aims to restore faith with a number of changes and reviews of how government works, along with enhanced support for government oversight offices.

  • Replace the Department of Rural and Regional Development with a rural secretariat that would expand focus beyond economy.
  • Give Health PEI more independence.
  • Review Lands Protection Act to ensure all purchases comply with the spirit of the law.
  • Review of Rental of Residential Properties Act to protect tenants and landlords.
  • Reintroduce the Government Advertising Standards Act.
  • Review the Expropriation Act.
  • More support for auditor general and conflict of interest commissioner.
  • Another $75,000 for Elections P.E.I.
  • Red tape review of social, family and disability support services.
  • Establish an independent ombudsperson office.
  • Establish an independent child advocate office.
  • Explore the idea of separating the roles of justice minister and attorney general.
  • Implement whistle blower protection for private sector workers.

Environmental highlights include support for electric vehicles and small-scale solar projects.

Education highlights include wage parity for early childhood educators and a universal school food program.

On the health front, the Greens propose more home care support and the introduction of midwifery services.

The Greens are also proposing to lower the provincial voting age to 16.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Steve Bruce


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