An Update from your MLA
There are hopeful signs that a solution will be found to the planned closure of Sir Max Aitken pool at UNB. Officials from the City and UNB have been participating in productive discussions to find a long-term solution that would result in the construction of a new aquatic centre. If they are successful in reaching an agreement, then I believe a solution to the short-term dilemma of losing access to the current pool facility can be overcome.
The swimming community, from our youth to our seniors, has done a remarkable job in building awareness about the importance of an aquatic center for Fredericton. I was pleased to present a petition to the Legislative Assembly that asks the provincial government to provide financial support once the City and UNB have reached an agreement on how to proceed.
The other day, I had a briefing from Tim Yerxa, the Playhouse’s Executive Director on a new proposal for its future. Many of you have wondered why the new performing arts centre couldn’t be established at the site of the current Playhouse. That is the idea behind the latest proposal. The Playhouse was done on the cheap in 1964 and has multiple problems. The new proposal would either maintain and improve the existing auditorium and build out around it to accommodate a second 300 seat performance space, or pull down the Playhouse and construct a new building on the site. The final decision on what happens will be made by the City.
Our two new midwives in Fredericton, the first in modern-day New Brunswick, began their practices in October as part of the Horizon Health Network. A third midwife is about to be hired. This is very exciting for pregnant families in our region who choose either a hospital or home birth. And it will enable our obstetricians to concentrate on high-risk pregnancies where their expertise is needed most.
At the Legislature, we currently are considering 24 bills. These include the bill to take our Extra-Mural health services away from the Horizon and Vitalité health networks, transferring the nurses to a re-named Ambulance New Brunswick, and contracting out the management of their work to Medavie Health Services Inc. This could lead to a deterioration in the health care now provided at home by our hospital without walls. I proposed an amendment to the bill that would have cancelled it. Every MLA on the government side voted as a block, defeating my amendment. The contract with Medavie Health Services Inc. has not been finalized, nor have the nurses been transferred out of the health authorities as yet.
Five bills have been tabled to establish the regulatory regime for legalizing cannabis. Going from probation to legalization is a fundamental change, so the proposed laws need to be beyond reproach. I participated extensively in the debate on each of the bills at Second Reading and will propose a series of amendments during the committee stage. I supported motions by the Official Opposition to send two of the most significant bills to our Law Amendments Committee so public hearing could be held, but these motions were defeated.
Over the legislative break, I prepared bills and motions to present this session. This included a bill to eliminate unfair property tax exemptions for heavy industry, a bill to make it easier for newly unionized workplaces to secure their first contract without strikes or lock-outs, and motions calling on the provincial government to improve recycling services and assistance for New Brunswickers living in poverty. I will also introduce a bill to help families and businesses cut their heating costs and install renewable energy systems.
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I have been holding my neighbourhood meetings this fall with the local city councillors. You should have received a notice in your mailbox. If you did not, please contact me. The next round of meetings will be in early Spring. If I can be of help in any way or you want to let me know your views on an issue important to you, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call or drop by the constituency office at 133 King St, 455-0936.
All the best from my family to yours, for an enjoyable holiday season.
David is the leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick and the MLA for Fredericton-South.