NB Forestry

Why do we manage our Crown forests so bizarrely?

Last Wednesday I was invited to speak at the Annual General Meeting for the Woodlot Owners Association. They have been in the news lately as they are in a lawsuit with JD Irving who is challenging their marketing board’s legislated right to negotiate and sell wood from private woodlot owners in their area. The New Brunswick government has been silent during this attempt to circumvent their own legislation.

This is the latest twist in a long standing dispute that has arisen from a long line of bizarre decisions made by our government under success Liberal and Conservative parties. The consequences of these decisions are being felt mainly by woodlot owners – in their pocket book. They are completely ham-tied trying to jump through the hoops of large industrial players and the government’s mismanagement of the forestry file.

If you read my last column on Governance, you would know that I took issue with the first strategic objectives listed at the top of every report submitted by ministries to the Public Accounts Committee. The first objective listed on all reports is More Jobs. So perhaps that explains the way that we have managed and continue to manage our forests and Crown Land? In fact, by Statistics Canada’s figures, the number of jobs created by the forest sector over the past fifteen years is on a decline. Since a high of almost 20,000 jobs in 2004, we have lost over 30% of our forestry jobs, many of them gone from the Pulp and Paper industry. So what then explains this Gordian knot of a problem?

From the government’s own private forest task force report in 2012: “Over the past decade, forest policy innovation in New Brunswick has withered” “Important provisions of the Crown Lands and Forest Act (1982) and the Natural Products Act (1999) have been neglected” and “Proportional source of supply provisions have not been effectively implemented, and despite its legislated authority, the New Brunwick Forest Products Commission does not arrive at an equitable price for purchased primary forest products” “Conflicts among private woodlot owners, the government and parts of the forestry industry remain unresolved.” Why hasn’t this been resolved five years later on?

An NDP government would implement a new forestry strategy. After consultation with all stakeholders, we would allow a variety of woodcutters to have access to Crown forest while encouraging older growth forests, stopping the clearcutting that is detrimental to forest and soil ecology; and stopping spraying of glyphosates and other sprays harmful to forest health and perhaps human health.

Most of the best forestry practices of the world agree that a diverse forest is a healthy forest and that creating a monoculture or a forest with less diversity is an unhealthy way to manage our woods. Indeed, why then do we spray our forests with glyphosate, allow clearcutting only to replant and cultivate a few select species over most of it?

An NDP government would review best practices from around the world and find a made in New Brunswick solution to provide fair access, while being environmentally and socially responsible and providing the best economic advantage possible to as many people as possible. We would take back the management of our forests from large corporations.

Under an NDP government, our Crown land would be managed to support emerging value-added industries in the province for the benefit and jobs of many New Brunswickers. We would encourage innovation and high value products for here and around the world.

New Brunswickers know the woods. We have many highly trained and highly skilled craftspeople across this province either unemployed or under-employed. Let’s allow their creativity to shine through and let’s become an example of how a province can use it’s abundant resources to create a variety of jobs while preserving the natural beauty, health and vitality of our forests.

A New Approach to Home Care in New Brunswick

The Gallant government has just announced – with great fanfare – the building of ten new nursing homes and the creation of 1000 new beds. These may be needed but how can it take this momentous step without first addressing Home Care? Wasn’t the strategy supposed to be keeping people in their own homes first?

The New Brunswick NDP has announced a six step plan for Home Care that we will implement when we become government:

First, with regards to the new funding announced by the federal government of $230 Million over ten years, we will invest all of the funding earmarked for Home Care to the expansion of the Extra Mural Program to provide medical needs and home services supports to seniors and other New Brunswickers needing care. This will allow more patients to receive health care sevices in their own homes.

Second, We will end privatization in our health care system. We will return Ambulance New Brunswick, the Extra Mural Program and Tele-Care to the province to be run as a public institutions. We will end the contracting out of all management of services in our hospitals and end discussions with Sodexo.

Third, we will create immediately a new government agency, Home Care Service, to provide home support services that will allow seniors and others requiring support in their home to have access in a reasonable and affordable manner. All personal support workers and other personnel will be public servants and paid government wages and benefits. Where it makes sense, we will transition by integration of existing non profit services and staff into the new public agency.

Fourth, we will expand Tele-Care to complement the Home Care Service and to provide advocacy to assist New Brunswickers needing multiple services to navigate our health care and social services and direct them to the support they need.

Fifth, we will study the best way to create a Community Care public agency to replace the myriad of agencies that currently exist so that it that gives the province the accountability and transparency we need, creates uniform standards, and allows the workers in this industry to become public servants and earn living wages. We will implement such a public agency within our first mandate as government.

Finally, upon election we will apply pay equity legislation to this important sector so that, along with the announced introduction of an increase to a $15 minimum wage, the wages of those providing home care and community care services will be improved.

The New Brunswick government’s approach to the delivery of seniors and community care is to rely on patch work quilt of hundreds of agencies , some non- profit, some for- profit but all delivering services with inadequate standards and almost invariably at low wages with no benefits. This industry is plagued by high turnover and shortages.

It is perhaps not surprising that women are in the large majority in this sector.
This is in stark contrast to the excellent service provided by the government Extra Mural program which provides for medical needs of clients in their homes, and up until last year was run by our health care authorities as a public institution with union wages and benefits.

It is well understood that the key to reducing preventable hospital visits and the number of patients occupying hospital beds unnecessarily is an effective and coordinated transition process. This s is particularly important for seniors and people with disabilities who have the capacity for independence but still require attentive care. A continuum of care for New Brunswickers requires partnership, communication and oversight – all sorely missing and only made worse by the transfer of Extra Mural to Medavie.

Jennifer McKenzie,
Leader, NB-NDP

Elizabeth Weir Fund

Elizabeth Weir, Leader of the NB New Democratic Party for seventeen years, was the first elected female leader of a political party in New Brunswick and served in the legislature of New Brunswick from 1991 until 2005. She was a champion of women’s rights and a role model for women in politics. Today, she continues to advance this work through training of women parliamentarians throughout the world.

The Elizabeth Weir Fund has been established to support women candidates in the New Brunswick NDP. The first $5,000 raised in 2018 will be matched by a contribution from the NB-NDP. Donations will be pooled and distributed equally between all nominated women candidates.

Donations to this fund can be made by individuals in Canada (up to a $3,000 maximum) and NB residents will be eligible for a NB Provincial Tax Credit. Donations can be made online from the NB-NDP website, and cheques should be payable to “NB-NDP”, with “Elizabeth Weir Fund” in the Memo, or on the donation slip.

Message from Elizabeth Weir

January 29, 2018
Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar

Dear Jennifer:

Tonight, I join from afar with your friends and family, and our party members around the province to celebrate your nomination as our candidate for Saint John Harbour. And, I also offer my congratulations and best wishes to you as our Party Leader in the coming election.

It was my great honour and privilege to represent the people of Saint John Harbour as their MLA, representing the New Democratic Party. I look forward to you taking your seat in the Legislature to continue that tradition.

Saint John Harbour is, indeed, the resilient heart of the city of Saint John. We have been truly encouraged in recent years by the increasing diversity of our residents and the increasing number of businesses that have located here. And, as well, through the years so many community and labour organizations have enriched community life through their efforts and generosity. This constituency deserves the engaged leadership that you will bring.

And I profoundly believe New Brunswickers are yearning for political leaders who demonstrate genuine respect for our democratic institutions of government, in particular, our Legislative Assembly. New Brunswickers are yearning for leaders who value and practice public accountability to citizens – leaders who will put it front and centre in their legislative and political work.

Jennifer, your strong voice speaking against the cynical handover of our extra-mural public health service to Medavie, and the need for a living wage for minimum wage workers in New Brunswick has been so very welcome and is so badly needed during these difficult days.

I believe your integrity, and energy will make a vital contribution to restoring the confidence of so many people in our province, whose trust and confidence in the people they elect has been deeply eroded by successive Liberal and Conservative governments. These parties shamefully have treated our government as nothing more than their very own candy store, always putting their own private interests ahead of the public interest of citizens and communities.

Saint John Harbour needs you as our MLA! Our province needs your voice in the Legislative Assembly.

For surely “as long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality exist in our world – none of us can rest.” These words resonate as strongly today as when Nelson Mandela first spoke them.

All good wishes.
Elizabeth Weir

NB-NDP is Hiring !

NB-NDP Communications Specialist

The New Brunswick New Democratic Party is seeking an individual to fill the position of Communications Specialist.

The Communications Specialist reports to the Executive Director and is responsible for development and implementation of the NB-NDP communications plan.

The successful applicant must have proven skills and experience in all aspects of communications including written communications, media relations, advertising, and development of social media profile and content.

Qualifications include post- secondary education in communications or journalism or equivalent experience . Ability to communicate in English and French required. Salary commensurate with experience.

Applications must be received at the NBNDP at with resume on or before 4:30 pm on Friday, March 2, 2018. All applications will remain confidential.

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