An update from your MLA
I hope everyone has been enjoying the fine summer weather. It’s hard to think of a more beautiful city in the summer than Fredericton. And then to ease the transition to fall we can look forward to the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival. I will be volunteering again this year, and hope to see some of you at the blues tent.
The Legislature wrapped up its Spring sitting in May this year. I am pleased to report that I was successful in securing all-party cooperation to pass two of my initiatives.
My bill 10, to amend the Education Act, received Royal Assent from the Lieutenant Governor on May 5th. It will ensure that all children learn about the treaties that guide our relationship with First Nations, the historical and contemporary experience of indigenous people, and the consequences of the residential school system. This will foster intercultural understanding, empathy and mutual respect among our children and youth – a step toward reconciliation. That is not to say that we do not have a big job to do to raise the consciousness of the adult population in New Brunswick. We do. But this legislation begins with our children.
It represents the first effort in New Brunswick to implement any of the Calls to Action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I want to thank David Perley, the Director of UNB’s Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre for the inspiration to present this bill to the Legislature.
My second initiative passed by the Legislative Assembly during this session was a motion to establish a job description for MLAs that would detail our roles and responsibilities, and append it to the Standing Rules that direct our work in the Legislative Assembly. It is now the work of a committee to draft a proposal for our consideration. It’s my hope that this will strengthen the ability of all MLAs to rise above partisanship, so they can be effective representatives of their constituents in the Legislature.
As you know, I have been championing improvement to our mental health care system, so I wanted to let you know about the establishment of a FACT team in our city. This stands for Flexible Assertive Community Treatment, which is delivered by a multidisciplinary team that provides support to people with significant mental issues where they live. It’s the first of its kind in New Brunswick, so I met Karen Brocklebank who manages the FACT team, and with Linda Hoyt, Chief of Psychiatry for the Fredericton Region to learn more. The team includes psychiatrists, a psychologist, a nurse, occupational therapist, social workers and human service counsellors, based out of the Victoria Health Centre. It’s an impressive group offering much needed services.
Significant challenges remain with long wait lists to see a psychiatrist, and especially the child psychiatrist. The quota of psychiatrists established by the provincial government for Fredericton is clearly inadequate. And the Community Mental Health Centre remains under staffed and underfunded. This must change.
I have heard from so many people concerned with the poor recycling services in town that I was pleased the City of Fredericton has taken the initiative to turn things around. Only 19 percent of our garbage is actually recycled. The provincial government’s original target was to see 50 percent of waste diverted from landfills by the year 2000. Fredericton is contemplating making recycling available to people living in apartments and condos. That would be welcome indeed.
My summer gathering will be held at the Stepping Stone Centre in Wilmot Park on Saturday August 26, 2017 at 3 pm. I hope to see some of you there. My neighbourhood meetings resume in September. You will be getting a notice in your mailbox with the details. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to call the constituency office at 455-0935 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, if I can be of any help, or if you just want to let me know what’s on your mind. Remember, you can keep up to date with what I am doing at www.davidcoonmla.ca and on facebook at david.coon.fredsouth.
All the best