NB election: Greens promise sweeping changes to fix health care ‘crisis’

NB Green leader David Coon with local candidate Megan Mitton addressing reporters in Sackville

New Brunswick’s Green Party leader is promising a revamped provincial health care system that would include improved mental health services, 40 new nurse practitioners, midwifery services in every region and eight new community health centres.

David Coon says the changes would be paid for partly by cutting $100 million a year in government subsidies and tax breaks to big business and charging forestry companies $30 million more for the wood they cut on Crown lands.

During an outdoor news conference on Wednesday near the Sackville hospital, Coon said he’s met with New Brunswickers from all over the province as well as health professionals such as nurse practitioners, nurses, paramedics and emergency room doctors who all say that health care is in crisis.

“What is this crisis of care?” Coon asked. “We have to begin with a wholly inadequate mental health treatment system in this province that is failing everyone,” he said. “We have a virtual epidemic of depression and anxiety disorders in our schools, among our youth in every corner of this province right now and the system cannot handle it,” he added. “The wait times are excruciatingly long to get treatment and long to get diagnosis.”

Coon also mentioned long wait times in emergency rooms, poor rural ambulance services, burnout among paramedics and nursing home workers as well as a looming shortage of nurses with more than 40 per cent of them set to retire over the next five years.

“We have fundamental problems,” Coon said. “Putting duct tape over them as has been the practice of the last number of governments is not the solution. We need fundamental change in the health-care system, we need reconstructive surgery.”

Green solutions

Coon’s solutions include increasing the money available for mental health and addiction services over four years until it reaches nine per cent of the health-care budget. He explained that would mean spending an additional $30 million in the first year, $60 million in the second, $90 million in the third and $120 million in the fourth.

“We will fundamentally move away from the solitary practice of physicians,” Coon said, “to a collaborative system where health professionals such as nurse practitioners, pharmacists and others work hand-in-hand collaboratively with physicians.”

He said eight new community health centres along with 40 new nurse practitioner positions would facilitate the move to a collaborative system while easing wait times in emergency rooms.

Coon also advocates giving pharmacists the power to diagnose and treat minor ailments as they can in other parts of Canada.

“So that instead of using the expensive machinery of an ER and having eight, nine, 10 hours of wait in our city ERs, people will be able to go to the local pharmacist and get treated for minor but painful infections and so on and get their prescriptions right there in a matter of minutes,” he said.

Financing the changes

Coon said improvements to health care would be paid for partly by cutting $100 million a year in assistance, subsidies and tax breaks to profitable businesses like the TD Bank.

“We cannot afford to give money or lucrative tax breaks to hugely profitable corporations,” Coon said, “nor can we continue to afford the token property tax bills charged to heavy industries like the oil refineries and the pulp mills of this province.”

The Green leader added that another $30 million would come from charging forestry companies fair prices for the wood they harvest on Crown lands.

“We’ve been earning very little from our forest resources and they’re extensive as we know and so, we will change that,” he said.

“We’ll tackle the health crisis head on,” Coon concluded. “New Brunswickers will then be able to get the care they need and our health professionals will be able to deliver the care they’re trained to deliver.”

To read the entire health-care section of the Green Party platform, click here.

Mitton on highway tolls

Here is a story broadcast last week on CFTA, Tantramar community radio, 107.9 FM in Amherst:

A New Brunswick Green Party candidate is defending her party’s plan to impose tolls on drivers entering the province on four-lane highways.

Megan Mitton is running for the Greens in the riding of Memramcook-Tantramar which is on the border with Nova Scotia.

She says the tolls charged to motorists on the Trans-Canada highway would help pay for another Green Party promise — improved public transportation to all parts of New Brunswick.

However, Mitton says the highway tolls would have to be implemented carefully to avoid hurting people who drive back and forth, to and from Amherst:

Mitton made her comments on highway tolls while campaigning in Sackville with federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

The Greens are hoping to make a breakthrough in the riding when the New Brunswick election is held on September the 24th.

To view the sections of the NB Green Party Platform where highway tolls are mentioned, click here.

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11 Responses to NB election: Greens promise sweeping changes to fix health care ‘crisis’

  1. Rima Azar says:

    I guess I got my answer (earlier comment) about the source of funds to pay 40 new Nurse Practitioners. Thank you Mr. Coon and the New Wark Times for reporting (this point makes more sense now).

    For fun, I cannot help not to wonder what Mr. Coon would think of this article signed by Mr. Maxime Bernier (https://nationalpost.com/opinion/maxime-bernier-why-my-new-political-movement-because-canada-has-been-hijacked). Bernier got to the bottom of the issue Coon seemed to be referring to in NB but at the federal level and in a clever way. Mind you, I do not mind sharing that I have never found myself voting for Mr. Bernier’s former party (from which he got divorced lately). However, I can easily recognize common sense when I read it (especially when it comes from a *mad* Max 😊). It is reassuring to see a politician in our country who does not care about being politically correct when pointing to a huge elephant in the room.

  2. Tom Philp says:

    It’s sad, but I believe the Green Party started losing credibility in this country the second Elizabeth May began riding-jumping in order to win a seat in Parliament. In her first outing, in London, Ontario, May finished a close second behind the winner of that election. With a bit more hard work there, the Greens would have put May in the House a few years later. But, no, she had to jump to Nova Scotia where May attempted to take on the McKay dynasty and lost handily. The question Green Party supporters asked then, “What was she thinking?” Not a quitter, of course, May then leaped to the West Coast and found a cozy little niche among the nouveau riche in the Vancouver Island area. Voila! The first Green Party member in Parliament. And that’s where it stands. Oh, Blair Wilson and Bruce Hyer jumped to the Greens after being elected as something else, but subsequently both lost their following electoral attempts. May has no real impact on policy decisions, and the Greens have no clear cut Party policy that even a large minority of Canadians would support in an election. And here she’s boasting that Memramcook will send the second Green Party member to Ottawa. My question is, “Why should they?”, when the organization she represents lost its credibility years ago.

    Bruce Wark says: Thanks for your comment Tom. One correction though. May was campaigning on behalf of a Green candidate in the New Brunswick provincial election. The Greens already had one seat in the legislature at dissolution, so if the local candidate were to be successful, this would be a second one. I quoted May in an earlier story as pointing out that at the provincial level, Green candidates have been elected in B.C., Ontario, New Brunswick and P.E.I. I’ve also changed my headline to make it clear that the story is about the NB election.

  3. tuxemal says:

    As a person who has family who work for big business, who own homes, have children, spend money in their community, pay property tax, income tax and HST, along with paying for provincial services such as vehicle registrations etc, I am concerned that taxing big business further may hurt the employees. Big business could lay off workers, not offer wage increases and increase prices of their services due to increased taxation. In turn increased prices effect all consumers, all New Brunswickers.
    Our province is broke and struggling with growing the economy. Spending money to assist with growth is good. The issue is how the province monitors the success of the spend and how it grew the economy. Maybe the thought should be around fixing that.
    Also the health care system needs to be fined tuned in order to truly understand what is and is not working. Sackville’s hospital generates the most user fees in the province due to our outpatient department seeing visits by our neighbors in near by Amherst and area as well as the student population from out of province. It goes into a pot of money in Fredericton, yet we seem to face the microscope on a regular basis to our Hospital services being reduced here in Sackville.
    Then there is the proposed highway tolls announced by Greens at the $22,000 fundraiser event held in Sackville. Tolls that will go towards enhancing public transit. We live in a Rural riding with vast distances between communities and a small population. Public transit in our riding would be a losing proposition and cost taxpayers more money in the long run. Now putting toll revenue towards highway infrastructure improvements would makes more sense.
    But don’t worry Sackville folks our local Green candidate states there would be some sort of exemption for those who travel to Amherst for work. That makes sence let’s focus on getting people to jobs in Nova Scotia instead of working on helping create jobs in New Brunswick. Then again based on the plan to tax big business more in New Brunswick to pay for more social services that’s where the jobs will be as big business will invest elsewhere.
    One final thing Mr.Wark, can you provide some articles on the other parties platforms?
    All you seem to be posting is Green related platform announcements. It makes it appear you favor and support one party over another as opposed to being a means of keeping the public informed to the political race currently happening.
    Thank you

    Bruce Wark replies: Thanks for your comment. Yes, I will be providing full coverage of other parties as well. My Warktimes blog mainly covers news from “Sackville and vicinity” except, of course, for my coverage of the tidal energy story near Parrsboro where I used to live and where Warktimes began. So far, only the Greens have held campaign events in Memramcook-Tantramar. When the other parties hold events, I’ll definitely cover them. I’ll also be covering all-candidates’ debates and I’ll be requesting interviews with each of the candidates.

    My previous coverage has included reports on nomination meetings held by the Greens, NDP, where I covered remarks by provincial leader Jennifer McKenzie https://warktimes.com/2018/04/22/boudreau-wins-ndp-nomination-in-memramcook-tantramar/ and the PCs, where the guest speaker was Blaine Higgs. https://warktimes.com/2018/06/27/retired-military-policeman-chosen-as-pc-candidate-in-memramcook-tantramar/

  4. Percy Best says:

    I really thought I was dreaming when I heard that our local Green Party representative was actually in favor of having toll booths installed at the entrance to NB from NS. Nothing like deterring shopping, or just visiting in Sackville, by all of our NS neighbors! And — nothing like sucking a few more dollars out of our Sackville, Dorchester, Port Elgin, etc wallets just so Fredericton can puff up their piggy bank.

    In actuality, constructing toll booths and staffing them 24/7 costs WAY more than the cost-free act of adjustment of just simply adding a percentage point or so to the existing gas tax. It is difficult to comprehend why they would ever install a new toll on a basically old road that they can’t even mow the shoulders of, compared to what they do with the privately maintained sections. The NS border to Riverglade section is the worse maintained piece of the TCH in all of NB.

    It is indeed quite sad to hear a platform presentation item such as this, especially from the Green Party. I thought that they were against any extra emissions that would be created by having all traffic stop, then idle until their turn came at the DRIVE THRU to pay their fee, and then have to accelerate again to continue on their way.

    Bruce Wark adds: Thanks for your comment Percy. I think you may have heard my radio story about the Green proposal for highway tolls. I’ve included it at the bottom of my report on what the Greens are saying about revamping health care so that everyone can hear it: https://warktimes.com/2018/09/01/greens-promise-sweeping-changes-to-fix-health-care-crisis/

  5. Rima Azar says:

    Your comment is too funny Percy :). Seriously, I agree with both Tuxemal and you. This highway fees point does not make ANY sense (sadly even with the radio explanation); in contrast to the rest of the Green Party platform. It is really surprising how $22K were raised despite this.

    • tuxemal says:

      I am wondering if the reason $22,000 was raised anyway due to most attendees likely working at good paying jobs with pensions and health benefits right in Sackville and there is no need to commute to Amherst.
      Those jobs are few and far between here now. No Atlantic Wholesalers, no crime lab, no animal pathology lab, no foundries.
      What a shame that people do not see the reality when it does not effect them personally. Have a look at the last provincial elections pole results.
      The Green candidate did well in poles that incorporated Charlotte St, Lansdown, Estabrooks, Union, Salem, Park, Quary Lane, York St.
      Walking in those areas over the last week that is where the majority of the Geen candidates signs are.
      It would be interesting to understand the demographics in those areas. Age, education, where they work, income level.
      Might provide some insight to why the Greens were still able to raise $22,000 even after announcing the implementation of tolls if elected.

      • Marika says:

        I’d say that you’re describing the university ghetto. A place where all seems right with Big Green Government: most university faculty -type people seem to be doing just fine, despite the general economic climate. Up in the ivory tower, the world of theory where salaries always get paid on time, it can be quite hard to realize what goes on in the rest of the town.

        I nonetheless find the amount raised huge. I suspect that the Green Party thinks that they have a real hope, and their devotees have been told to concentrate on this race.

        All the more reason for regular people to make sure to vote. We’ve seen what Mitton and her ilk have brought us on Town Council. That’s quite enough, thank you. We have enough problems already.

      • Rima Azar says:

        Interesting observation, Tuxemal. Why can’t we simply be pragmatic? I am afraid too much ideology may become handicapping to the point of killing pragmatism or common sense in a society. Mind you, I am saying this in general (regardless of the ideology in question or its colour). That’s my personal opinion; with all due respect to everyone’s platforms or own voting preferences.

  6. Marika says:

    I guess now we have a short version of how the Green Party intends to “create jobs”…

    1) Several people to man the tollbooth and
    2) A bunch of bureaucrats to determine who gets an exemption from the tolls.

    While the rest of us can go and grovel for exemptions or pay extortionate tolls.

    No thanks.

  7. Louis says:

    I must say, I’m generally unimpressed with Megan Mitton.

    Full disclosure: I’m not generally fond of the Green Party, though some of their platform has good ideas. For example, I’m all for increasing the role of pharmacists. I consider this to be common sense. This being said, to me, some candidates are worth voting for *despite* their party, and some are worth voting against *despite* their party. So I’m addressing this to everyone, whether they be a Green Party supporter or not.

    Megan Mitton comes off as the “fresh face of change”. That’s her whole shtick, in my analysis. That’s the basis on which the same group that supported me (and myself) put her on the “Recommended” list for the last Council elections. Now, one doesn’t expect miracles from this kind of action, though it probably got her somewhere between 50-100 votes, I’d guess. Well, post-election, what did I, or anyone whom I’ve been in contact with, hear from her about the issues that led to the “Recommended” list? NOTHING. NADA. Totally useless. We’d already served our purpose, she was elected… and has bigger dreams, anyway.

    From what we see here on Wark Times, Megan Mitton has since become buddies with Bill Evans, etc.

    In my analysis, she’s not the fresh face of change on Council. She’s really a continuation of the “old ways”, albeit with a fresh coat of green paint.

    For those of you who have hopes that she’ll be the “fresh face of change” in the Legislature, if she gets elected, I wish you luck. There must be a lot of you, judging by the amount that she has raised. But I have a prediction: what she’ll do if she gets elected to Fredericton will be the same as what she has (and especially, hasn’t!) done on Council. The only difference will be that on Council, as 1/9 in a non-party system, she actually could have had real influence, but in Fredericton, she’ll have none.

    So in a way, I can only hope that she gets elected, as she presumably will quit Council if she is.
    Which would be an improvement to Council.

    • Azi says:

      I agree that there will be no change to anything if Magon Mitton finds her way to Fredericton. As I do also judge her by what she could have done as a councillor…..not even a breeze of fresh air …
      So, I agree with Louis but I do not think there will be any positive change if she leaves the council. I am confident there is something wrong with those councillor “chairs” as whoever sits on those chairs turns into the old version council member (except for only one councillor).

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