We are working on our 2018 election platform which will be released soon. Please find our 2014 election platform below. Click on the headings below to explore each of our priorities.

gardnerphotography-75Changing the System

The People’s Alliance of New Brunswick is dedicated to democratic reform. This would be achieved through several strong initiatives.

Recall Legislation

People’s Alliance MLAs will table MLA recall legislation similar to existing legislation which the province of British Columbia has had in place since 1995.

The first step in the process would be the collection of signatures (threshold to be determined) of eligible voters in the target riding. After those signatures are collected, they must be given to the Chief Electoral Officer of New Brunswick, who would approve the request to proceed with a recall vote. The resulting recall vote would be held in conjunction with a scheduled municipal vote. If 45% of eligible voters from the target riding vote in favor, the recall will be enforced.The People’s Alliance believes that measures such as MLA recall are key to bringing a democratic environment back to New Brunswick.

Citizen-Initiated Referendum

People’s Alliance MLAs will table legislation for a citizen-initiated referendum act, also similar to existing legislation in the province of British Columbia. In order to trigger a referendum, the proposed question will require signatures from at least 15% of all registered voters from each riding throughout the province. Approval of a referendum question would require a 50% +1 approval from eligible voters, with no less than 60% of eligible voters casting a ballot.

The referendum itself would be held in conjunction with the closest municipal or provincial election, and the results would be binding on government.

MLA Salary and Pension Reform

The People’s Alliance believes in leading by example, including our calls for efficiency and fiscal accountability. As such, the People’s

Alliance will implement the following changes:

  • Reduction in the Size of Government – A People’s Alliance government would reduce the size of the government executive by decreasing the number of Cabinet positions from the current eighteen (18) in the Progressive Conservative government to no more than fifteen (15), thereby seeing immediate cost savings.

  • Reduction in MLA Salaries (This policy was developed before the 2014 election) – A People’s Alliance government would also reduce MLA salaries. Backbencher Members of the Legislative Assembly are currently paid $85,000; however, salaries for other positions can vary, from $104,750 for the Opposition House Leader to $164,000 for Premier. The average annual salary for an MLA is $111,107, which is $65,107 and 142% higher than that of an average, employed and unattached male of working age.**

The People’s Alliance firmly believes that these numbers need to be reduced, given the shape of our provincial finances. As such, we are proposing to enact the following salary reductions in addition to decreasing the size of the government executive.

  • Premier: Current Combined MLA and Additional Salary: $164,000. Proposed Combined MLA and Additional Salary: $120,000. Savings: $44,000. ($15,000 from the base salary, and $29,000 from the additional salary).
  • Leader of the Opposition: Current Combined MLA and Additional Salary: $140,300. Proposed Combined MLA and Additional Salary: $100,000, Savings: $ 40,300. ($15,000 from the base salary and $25,300 from the additional salary).
  • Minister and Speaker: Current Combined MLA and Additional Salary: $137,614. Proposed Combined MLA and Additional Salary: $95,000, Savings: $42,614. ($15,000 from the base salary and $25,300 from the additional salary).
  • Deputy Speaker, Government Whip and Government House Leader: Current Combined MLA and Additional Salary: $111,307. Proposed Combined MLA and Additional Salary: $85,000 Savings: $ 26,307 (($15,000 from the base salary and $11,307 from the additional salary).
  • Opposition Whip and Opposition House Leader: Current Combined MLA and Additional Salary: $104,750.
  • Third Party Leader: Current Combined MLA and Additional Salary: $104,730 (Opposition Whip / House Leader/third party leader) – Proposed Combined MLA and Additional Salary: $80,000, Savings: $24,730 and $24,750. ($15,000 from the base salary for all three, and $9,750 for the  Opp.Whip/Opp. House Leader and $9,730 from Third party leader from the additional salary).

  • Backbencher MLA’s: Reduction in salary from $85,000 to $70,000, saving $15,000 per Backbench MLA.

The current cost for government, consisting of 49 MLAs and 18 Cabinet Ministers, is $5,259,545. The total cost for 49 MLAs, 15 Ministers, and all related MLA positions under a People’s Alliance government would be $3,975,000, saving  $1,284,545 per year.

Further, under a People’s Alliance government, future annual increases or decreases to the MLA base salary would be determined by the previous year’s rate of wage growth in the province of New Brunswick MLA Pension Reform

Currently, taxpayers contribute to the MLA pension plan at a rate that exceeds even the most generous private sector plans. Furthermore, an MLA can draw the pension after serving just two terms in the Legislature. The People’s Alliance believes these conditions are unacceptable. A People’s Alliance government would replace the current MLA pension plan with an RRSP style plan for members. It would also reduce taxpayer contributions by implementing a dollar-for-dollar matching contribution comparable to plans available in the private sector; every dollar the MLA contributes to the plan, to a maximum of  5% of the MLA’s gross salary, would be matched by the employer (the taxpayer).

industrial-1636403_1280A Path to Economic Prosperity

Corporate Subsidies

Perform a Complete Audit

In order to eliminate the deficit, we need to cut waste.  Annually, over $100 million per year of our tax dollars is handed over to private business in the form of subsidies.  At the same time, we continue to lose thousands of jobs. This practice does not work.  A People’s Alliance government would immediately initiate a complete audit of all corporate subsidy programs.  All programs will be evaluated based on the goals of the program and its effectiveness. Any program that cannot be proven effective will be eliminated.

Reduce Corporate Subsidies and Eliminate the Small Business Tax

In an effort to help level the economic playing field in New Brunswick, the People’s Alliance of New Brunswick will eliminate the small business tax on income of up to $500,000. The plan is estimated to cost $9 million annually, but will be offset by slashing the amount government pays out in large corporate subsidies. Between 2006 and 2011, the provincial government handed out on average $109 million dollars annually in some form of subsidy.

Cost Estimate for small business tax reduction, according to figures received from the Legislative Library of NB:

For the 2014 taxation year, the Department of Finance has estimated that the approximate value of the Small Business Corporate Income Tax would be $9.0 million.  This tax rate applies to the first $500,000 of active business income of Canadian Controlled Private Corporations.

Costs: $9 million annually in revenue loss.

Savings Estimate from eliminating corporate subsidies, according to statistics in report from the Fraser Institute:

The Source:  http://www.fraserinstitute.org/uploadedFiles/fraser-ca/Content/research- news/research/publications/government-subsidies-in-canada-a-684-billion-price-tag.pdf.

The average corporate subsidy amount from 1981-2009 was roughly $84,379,310 million dollars. In the years from 2000-2009 the subsidies provided to corporations was roughly $122,200,000

A Canadian Press report from February 27, 2012 reported on corporate subsidies, using data obtained under an access to information request. It revealed that between the years of 2006-2011, the New Brunswick government handed over $653 million in “repayable loans, loan guarantees, equity investments and various forms of grants to companies”. Our estimate of $109 million is conservative and may likely be higher if we include energy rebates and property tax relief for large industrial users.

The Source: http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/23-per-cent-of-n-b-economic-agency-s-funds-went-to-failed-companies-1.774251#ixzz3B2G0TWfT

Merge Invest NB into Economic Development, Efficiency NB into NB Power

The People’s Alliance will merge Invest NB’s duties into the Department of Economic Development. Overlapping services, such as strategic emergency assistance, will thus become one. The direct result will be a program that is less costly to administer, allowing more resources and focus on achieving results, which will provide a measurable return to New Brunswickers. Invest NB, as a part of Economic Development, will adopt a new investment strategy as mentioned in our policy on converting Invest NB into a venture capital fund.

In an effort to find more cost savings from less administration, Efficiency New Brunswick will be rolled into a function of NB Power. Funding for the program will still come from the Government of New Brunswick. Significant cost reductions will be found by merging the necessary working skill set from Efficiency New Brunswick into an arm of our crown utility and by using existing NB Power infrastructure.

Savings estimate:

Estimated savings at $10 million annually, due to eliminating duplicate services and staffing. An example of duplicate services between the two is the “Strategic Assistance” program, which, currently, ED and Invest NB administer jointly with separate budgets.

Cost savings: $10 million yearly

Early Education and Childhood Development Policy Review Committee

Early Education and Childhood Development Policy Review Committee

Too often, when major changes are made to the education system, little to no consultation is done with educational professionals regarding how these changes will be implemented in practice and what resources will be required to make the changes effective. This is driven by the highly partisan nature of NB politics and the desire of the two main parties to modify or change the policies implemented by the previous government. Cancelling or modifying a program needs to be based on the effectiveness of the program and not the ideology of the governing party.
In order to ensure that we are continuously developing a better educational environment, policies need to be evaluated over time in order to determine the effectiveness of these changes. If the goals of the policy have not been met, it is important to determine why and then decide whether or not to modify or reverse the policy.

A People’s Alliance government will create a non-partisan Education Policy Review Committee (EPRC) tasked with examining the impact of any proposed changes to the education system and to examine the effectiveness of any changes that are implemented. The ERPC will also recommend milestones that should be met for the specific policy and can recommend modifications, or the termination of a policy.

The EPRC will base its recommendations on information gathered from stakeholders such as the NBTA, DECs, student/parent groups, and the results from student assessments and standardized tests. The recommendations will be provided to the Minster of Education, within one year of the introduction of a new policy, and any current policies will be evaluated every two years.

Cost Estimate:
In the 2011-2012 fiscal year, expenditures on legislative committees totalled $286,800.2. There were 11 standing committees and 2 select committees in the 57th General Assembly. The Early Childhood Education and Development policy review committee would replace the standing committee on Education. This would add no new expenditures to the operating budget.

Addressing Low Math and Literacy

It has become apparent from the results of standardized testing that primary and secondary students in NB are not achieving a level of proficiency in math and literacy that is expected.  In order to build a strong economy we must have an educated workforce.  This begins with our children and we have an obligation to ensure that they achieve acceptable levels of proficiency in math and literacy. No person should leave the education system without the math and literacy skills expected for the current workforce or post-secondary education environment.

In order to address low math and literacy scores, a People’s Alliance government will implement the following policies:

  • We will mandate that math and literacy will be taught from the basics in kindergarten; there will be no expected entry requirement.
  • Give our teachers the freedom to teach in a manner that best serves each student instead of a standardized approach that does not meet the needs of the entire class.
  • Allow teachers to increase the content of the curriculum, in their classes, in situations that will allow individual children to advance to their maximum capability.
  • End the practice of social passing. Instead, a student’s progress will be discussed between the teacher and parent and a decision will be made on whether to hold the student back.

Address the lack of access to health and mental health services in our schools

Our children deserve the best and most timely health care available.  This includes both physical and mental health. Currently, there is no coordinated effort between the government and health care providers to provide access to services in the primary and secondary education systems.

The link between physical and mental health and a person’s success at learning is well documented.  In order to ensure the overall health of the children in our schools, a People’s Alliance government will initiate the following policies:

  • A minimum of 1/2 hour of physical activity per day will be required in the schools. There will be an emphasis placed on a variety of physical activity. It will be at the discretion of the teacher to determine what physical activities are best for the students.
  • Initiate discussions with health care professionals to determine the most effective and efficient way to maximize the health and well-being of our children while they are in school.
  • Develop a framework that will bring together health care professionals to address issues in the schools in consultation with parents.

Cost estimate:
This will be studied by our new Education Policy Review Committee, as well as through our policy of fostering better cooperation between educational institutions.

Funding for Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD)

In the long term, we cannot afford to inadequately fund EECD regardless of our poor economic situation. The People’s Alliance believes that a better educated population will ultimately lead to a better economic future. In order to ensure our children are receiving the best public education possible, we must ensure that EECD receives the resources and supports it requires.  This can only happen when the government fully understands what the appropriate level of funding is.  The People’s Alliance will work with stakeholders through the PRC (See Policy 1) to determine the appropriate level of funding and develop long term funding arrangements for EECD.
The current approach of determining the level of teacher FTE’s primarily from student enrollment does not produce the educational environment that our children deserve. It is our belief that resources need to be made available, at the district level, so that the challenges of classroom composition and the specific needs of the learners can be addressed on a case by case basis. The level of resources cannot be determined solely by legislators; the People’s Alliance commits to work with the NBTA and other stakeholders to develop an approach that allows appropriate FTE levels to be determined, while taking into account the challenges that exist in our system.

As a starting point the People’s Alliance commits that the annual increase to the EECD budget will not drop below 1% over the next four years.

Cost Estimate, according to figures received from the Legislative Library of NB:

The 2014-2015 Main Estimates provide a Total – Gross Ordinary figure for the Department of Education and Early

Childhood Development of $1,085,771,000.

A one-time budget increase of 1% would yield $10,857,710.00.

An annual 1% increase for each of the next four years would yield the following figures:

Year Budget
2014-2015 $1,085,771,000
2015-2016 $1,096,628,710
2016-2017 $1,107,594,997
2017-2018 $1,118,670,947
2019-2019 $1,129,857,657

 

Ensuring Adequate Post-Secondary Preparation

All too often, the students entering post-secondary institutions are not properly prepared for the scope of the material presented in first year classes.  This is especially true for courses in the STEM fields, but also for the humanities.  In many cases, the post-secondary institutions deal with this by reteaching material from scratch. This method of teaching and learning is inefficient, and it reduces the amount of material that can be covered in a first year course, which subsequently harms the quality of education received by the individuals.

A People’s Alliance government will implement the following policies to ensure students are fully prepared to enter our post-secondary institutions:

  • Work with post-secondary institutions to determine the appropriate level of understanding that is to be expected for a student entering the post-secondary education system in NB.
  • Develop a framework, in collaboration with teachers, to implement these standards into our education system.
  • Work with post-secondary institutions and the Dept. of Education to implement appropriate university preparedness testing to gauge the success of the system (testing will not be used for grading purposes).

Commitment to our Universities and Students

Multi-year funding agreements and tuition rate stabilization

Our post-secondary institutions are an asset that must be leveraged to aid in economic development and the long term prosperity of our province.  The economic footprint of these institutions is immense (over $1 billion) and the capacity that they have to aid in the growth of our economy cannot be overstated.

Our institutions attract exceptional academics, from across the globe, who provide a world class educational environment for our youth.   These researchers attract millions of dollars in research funding to the institutions.

They hire graduate students and postdocs, and pursue Research and Development (R&D) activities that increase the overall innovative capacity of the province. These activities need to be leveraged in order to nurture entrepreneurs and allow small businesses to grow around these institutions.  These businesses then hire graduates and give them experience, allowing NB to retain and build an educated workforce.

Investing in our post-secondary institutions benefits all New Brunswickers.  For many years, under successive Liberal and PC governments, New Brunswick’s universities have not been provided with adequate long term stable funding. This has forced universities to make tough decisions regarding their capacity to teach and conduct high quality research. It is also the main driver that has led to one of the highest tuition rates in Canada. These high tuition rates force potential students to leave the province for cheaper education elsewhere in Canada.

A People’s Alliance government would negotiate multi-year funding agreements with our universities. These agreements will be based on the following guidelines:

  • Provide an initial multi-year funding agreement allowing for a 4% increase to the operating budgets per year for four years.
  • Require that 10% of the new funding be directed towards supporting applied research activities within the universities.

In an effort to stabilize rising tuition rates and provide stability for families planning to send their children to university, a People’s Alliance government would:

  • Freeze tuition rates for the duration of the multi-year funding arrangement.
  • Continue to fund the freeze until tuition rates match the national average.

In the first year of our mandate we will initiate discussions with the stakeholders (including administration officials, faculty representatives, and student groups) to determine a sustainable path forward for each institution. These discussions will include controlling rising tuition rates, increasing student participation, and how best to maximize our academic and research capacity in the province.

In the third year of our mandate, we will sign a memorandum of understanding with each individual institution to provide stable long term funding over the following four-year interval. This will provide institutions, students, and parents a stable and predictable funding arrangement which will allow them to plan ahead for the costs of education.

Cost Estimate, according to figures received from the Legislative Library of NB:

The Operating Budget for the Université de Moncton, Mount Allison University, St. Thomas University, and the

University of New Brunswick for 2014-2015 are as follows:

UdeM Mt.A STU UNB
$115,666,000 $45,503,000 $28,263,900 $185,800,000.00

 

With a 4% increase, the Operating Budgets would be:

UdeM Mt.A STU UNB
$120,292,640 $47,323,120 $29,394,456 $193,232,000

The 2014-2015 Provincial operating grants for the universities are as follows:

UdeM Mt.A STU UNB Province Total
$64,344,883 $20,334,159 $14,082,351 $110,064,308 $208,825,701

The Provincial  operating grants with a 4% increase factored would be:

UdeM Mt.A STU UNB Province Total
$66,918,678 $21,147,525 $14,645,645 $114,466,880 $217,178,729

 

Year PSE Operating Budget
Contribution (4% per year)
2014-2015 $208,825,701 (Current university revenue from province)
2015-2016 $217,178,729
2016-2017 $225,865,878
2017-2018 $234,900,513
Total investment: $26.1 million

Public Oversight

Universities receive a significant amount of public funding; as such, they need to be transparent and

accountable.  The institutions must also be able to provide an environment that fully supports and encourages the unfettered pursuit of knowledge. This can only happen in an atmosphere where academic institutions retain their independence from the government. This is critical if the institutions are to be seen as destinations on the world stage.

It has become apparent in the past decade that the internal politics within the institutions has begun to harm this educational environment. We believe that the public’s desire for more public oversight in this regard must be balanced by the recognition that universities must maintain their independence.

In an effort to increase public oversight, a People’s Alliance government would form a non-partisan legislative committee dedicated to post-secondary education.  The goals of this committee would be the following:

  • To expose legislators to primary issues faced by the institutions.
  • To gather information from the stakeholders (administration, faculty associations, student groups, Board of Governors, Senate’s, etc.) and produce annual reports for the legislature detailing the primary issues within each individual institution.
  • Use this information to provide context to the next multi-year funding agreement.

Cost Estimate, according to figures received from the Legislative Library of NB:

In the 2011-2012 fiscal year, expenditures on legislative committees totalled $286,800.2. There were 11 standing committees and 2 select committees in the 57th General Assembly. If you take a maximum size of 10 members, the total cost of a standing committee dedicated to issues surrounding post-secondary education would add less than $25,000 to the expenditures.

Increased Cooperation between Institutions

Providing adequate, and stable, funding lays the foundation for our education system; however, the People’s Alliance believes that it is critical for the four publicly funded universities and our community colleges to work together in a strategic way for the public good.  In an effort to encourage further collaboration between institutions a People’s Alliance government would:

  • Facilitate dialogue between institutions in an environment that allows for open and frank discussion.
  • Require that the institutions develop a shared strategic vision for post-secondary education in New Brunswick.
  • Work with the institutions to develop milestones that gauge whether we are meeting our goals.

 

Applied Research Innovation Funding

Our direct investment to applied research in NB universities:

  • Set up an applied research equipment grant through NBIF to be available to labs doing applied research at New Brunswick’s publicly funded universities. Each grant will be valued at a maximum of $100,000, with a total maximum of $1 million to be awarded per year.
  • Create ten NBIF Postdoctoral Fellowships in Applied Research valued at $60,000 per year for a maximum of three years per Fellowship.

Cost estimate:

Total investment is $4 million plus 10 x $60,000 per year for four years. This adds $6.4 million to the general budget.

Student Aid, and Reducing the Cost of Education for Students

NB is currently losing our graduating students to other parts of the country, and this has a damaging effect on our economy. One of the primary drivers of this exodus is student debt and the pursuit of higher income jobs to pay for it.   In an effort to retain and build an educated workforce, the People’s Alliance commits to reducing student loan debt by addressing the following items:

In-Study Work Exemption and Summer Earnings:

Students who work during the summer and during their studies should not be punished for being employed by having their earnings count against their loan assessment.  The People’s Alliance commits to:

  • Increasing the in-study work exemption from $100/week to $200/week.
  • Eliminate summer earnings from the student loan assessment.

Parental Contributions:

The average NB PSE student has $5200 per year in unmet financial need.  The People’s Alliance believes that the expectation, by government, that parents in NB have the finances available to save and contribute significantly to their children’s education shows the absolute misunderstanding of the financial distress that exists in most families. A People’s Alliance government would eliminate the inclusion of the parental contribution from the assessment for student loans.

No More Back Room Deals

The Development of our natural resources will play a key role in restoring the fiscal health of the province.  In order to protect the environment, and for the people of NB to obtain the maximum benefit from the economic activity associated with resource development, we must end the practice of signing contracts behind closed doors.

A People’s Alliance government will introduce legislation to ensure all contracts involving resource development that involve dollar figures greater than $100,000 are made publicly available and posted online before they are signed.

Forestry Ombudsman

Stakeholders in the forestry industry have voiced concerns that there is a lack of oversight in how the rules are implemented and followed in the harvesting of Crown timber.

As such, the People’s Alliance would create an ombudsman position, within the Department of Natural Resources, to work as a watchdog for all stakeholders in our Crown forest from large industry to smaller mills down to private woodlot owners and nature-loving New Brunswickers.

This ombudsman would be able to investigate, with the help of DNR enforcement officials, to ensure that all New Brunswick mills are receiving their allocation of Crown wood, that mills are not improperly utilizing materials more beneficial to other mills, and that private woodlot owners are receiving fair market value on a regional, or national, standard for their product. Further, the ombudsman would be able to investigate to ensure that harvesting practices on Crown Land are not detrimental to the environment. Some examples of these detriments would be such things as over-sized clear-cuts, or areas in close proximity to sensitive ecosystems like wetlands, and watersheds and specific wildlife habitat such as deer yards.

The Office of the Ombudsman would also work as a go-between for Crown land sub-licencees when selling or trading their wood to another mill. Under the current system, the sub-licenced mill is required to inform the main Crown licence holder when they wish to sell or trade parts of their allocation to another mill. This can create a conflict of interest for the main licence holder. The use of the ombudsman in this circumstance would eliminate such conflict.

The ombudsman would also have the authority to levy fines and penalties, against any mill or contractor that harvests on Crown Land, should companies be found in non-compliance of any and all rules and regulations surrounding wood harvesting operations.

These penalties could include monetary fines and the possibility of losing the Crown allocation. Cost estimate: A People’s Alliance government commits $200,000 per year for salary and expenses.

Forestry

1. Elected People’s Alliance MLAs will not allow companies to use Crown Land Wood, a provincial natural resource owned by the public, to be used as a weapon against private citizens who make their living off the land by using private woodlots.

There have been instances of companies claiming the need for a greater wood supply, in the province, to keep mills operating. Rather than allowing more cutting on Crown Land, and jeopardizing the health of our provincial forests, the People’s Alliance believes that the necessary supply can be sourced from private woodlot owners. As such, we will insist that provincial mediators be allowed to oversee negotiations, between private woodlot owners and companies, to ensure that fair market values, similar to other jurisdictions, are reached to the satisfaction of both sides.

2. The People’s Alliance will not allow any forestry company to cut, or purchase, Crown land wood if that company is not also willing to deal with its local community-based forestry products marketing board and private woodlot owners association. A wood supply contract must be signed between the two sides; however, neither side has the right to hold out and extend negotiations, unnecessarily, for either extremely low or higher than fair market value. The forestry ombudsman will enter the discussion, as arbitrator, in the event of a stalemate.

3. The People’s Alliance will not permit a forestry company to have further access to Crown land wood supply should such a company that has a mill in the province for sale decline an offer and opt to keep the mill closed, rather than sell, because the interested buyer is looking to make the same, or similar, product. Companies fully retain the right to sell to whom they want, but a company that would rather hold onto an idle mill, than sell to a competitor that wants to create jobs, will not continue to harvest on Crown land to simply ship the wood out of province.

4. The natural Acadian Forest consists of thirty-two species of vegetation, including sugar maple, yellow birch, beech, red oak, white pine, hemlock and red spruce.  In recent times, as consumption of wood products has increased, this natural forest has dwindled. The People’s Alliance would amend the Crown Lands and Forests Act by requiring all companies clear-cutting on Crown Land to set aside five per cent of the clear- cut area to be replanted in Acadian Forest type seedlings. The holder of the Crown land license will be responsible for the actual planting of the seedlings, as well as for covering all associated costs. The licensee may potentially include the sub-licensees in sharing costs. Existing staff within the Department of Natural Resources will be required to inspect the planting sites to ensure the five per cent requirement is being met. Failure to meet the requirement will result in fines for non-compliance, and such fines will increase each time the same licensee fails to meet the standard for replanting. Depending on the circumstances, repeated or multiple instances of non-compliance may result in a suspension of the license to harvest.

5.The People’s Alliance will seek to reduce the amount of aerial herbicide spraying on Crown land. Companies managing Crown land leases will be required to reduce aerial spraying of herbicides which are used to kill vegetation for commercial purposes. For example, some herbicides destroy hardwood species in order to increase growth of spruce and fir. We will push to reduce the aerial spray amount by 50 per cent by 2020, with an immediate reduction of 10 per cent required in the first year of a government mandate. Aerial spraying of herbicides shall be phased out completely by 2030. In place of aerial spraying, Crown land license holders will be permitted to manage vegetation for commercial purposes through manual mechanization, such as thinning saws and chain saws; this measure will increase jobs in the forestry sector for everyday New Brunswickers. Aerial spraying for destructive insects and vegetation diseases would still be permitted in severe circumstances.

Cost estimate: Zero net cost to government.

Potential for Revenue: A CIBC report presented to the province identified that our renewable resources will cost us $32 million dollars. In addition the current management strategy results in a loss of more than $100 million annually.

Source:  http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/nr-rn/pdf/en/ForestsCrownLands/DonRoberts.pdf

Shale Gas

The development of the shale gas industry may have the potential, in the years ahead, to be a source of significant economic activity and prosperity for the province.  All extraction industries have the potential for environmental impacts on our air and water quality. This activity must be weighed against these potential environmental impacts.  The timeline of development does not need to be rapid.  A People’s Alliance government would take a “cautious, responsible” approach to the industry.  This will allow the debate to continue, for the science to progress, and for the government to consult with the people.

Prior to significant development taking place, we must ensure that not only strict enforceable regulations are in place, but also that regulations are properly monitored. Further, we must ensure that the penalties for infractions are severe to ensure we protect our air and water quality.  These regulations must stand up to real scientific scrutiny.  Also, a long term economic development strategy, detailing the use of expected royalty revenues and revenue due to increased economic activity, must be developed. This economic activity must be cautiously approached to ensure that New Brunswickers receive the maximize benefits available in terms of jobs, and royalties, from this resource.

Finally, in order for the industry to proceed, the people of this province must be consulted.  This is your resource and your environment. A People’s Alliance government would not proceed with the development of a shale gas industry without a clear mandate from the people of New Brunswick.

The sections that follow detail how a People’s Alliance government would proceed with strengthening the current regulations, protecting property rights, maximizing the financial benefit to New Brunswick and providing the opportunity for real consultation.

Protection of the Environment

Water Quality

Water Quality

Elected People’s Alliance MLAs will push for the following environmental conditions to be required by the government, in regards to water quality:

  • Allow for the complete classification of the watersheds in the province.
  • Expedite the classification of those complete watershed applications currently in the hands of the Minister of the Environment.
  • Develop a comprehensive plan to deal with waste water disposal.
  • Develop a comprehensive monitoring strategy that does not rely primarily on measurements from the industry.
  • Ensure that full baseline testing of the water quality is complete before full scale production begins.
  • Companies will be required to employ experts at each site to ensure proper lining of the bore hole, and to ensure that back pressure does not contaminate surface water.
  • Support the scientific community, in New Brunswick, in developing technologies to prevent contamination of surface water.

Air Quality

Elected People’s Alliance MLAs will push for the following environmental conditions to be required by the government in regards to air quality:

  • Develop a strategy to determine the baseline air quality before production begins.
  • Develop a strategy to monitor methane release at the well sites during drilling and all phases of extraction.
  • Support the scientific community, in New Brunswick, in developing technologies to monitor and mitigate methane release.

Official Language Act Review

The People’s Alliance supports the value that citizens should receive government services in either French or English.  However, over the last number of years the Official Languages Act has been used as a tool of social engineering, rather than a guarantee of government services.  In order to correct this imbalance, the People’s Alliance of New Brunswick would make the necessary changes to the Official Languages Act to ensure the following:

The Official Languages Act should not be applied to private industry.

Signage, hiring, and all other language considerations will be decided by individual business entities.  Further, legislation would be enacted to disallow any municipality from enacting laws that do the same.  Any business owner will logically use the language best suited to serving their customers, otherwise their business would suffer and in many cases fail.

Qualifications, and not language quotas, should be the determining factor in public service hiring policy.

The focus of every department, every agency, and every manager in the public service should be the effective and efficient delivery of services, not the entrenchment of language quotas.

Duality in government departments and agencies should be eliminated.

In cases where services are managed by parallel administrations (one French, one English), these administrations will be merged into a single bilingual administration where possible.  As an example, the two health authorities we currently have in NB would be merged into one bilingual health authority.  This merger is estimated to save tens of millions of dollars for the NB taxpayer.

In all cases possible, government departments and agencies should take advantage of translation technology. Although not perfect, technology is improving at a rapid pace; the cost of using technology, rather than professional translators, is a substantially more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

Legislation should be enacted to ensure that language is not a suitable defense for criminal activity.

If a person requests a specific language (whether an official language or not), the closest available TRANSLATOR will be IMMEDIATELY dispatched to the location. In cases where the language of choice is not an official language, OR a translator IS NOT AVAILABLE, A TRANSLATION DEVICE WILL BE ON HAND.

All schools both Francophone and Anglophone will transform/create a second language program that teaches conversational language instead of just the present system of grammatical language.

There needs to be a review of the duties of the Official languages Commissioner to ensure fairness of the needs for both official languages.