Respect is the foundation of every community and society.
The COVID-19 pandemic has tested our respect for each other and our cohesion as a society. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reported that between March 2020 and February 2021 more than 80,000 residents and staff members of Long-Term Care (LTC) homes were infected with COVID-19 resulting in the deaths of 14,000 residents and close to 30 staff. The LTC tragedy has shown me that we need to respect our seniors in LTC homes and end the for-profit LTC system in favour of a public system with national standards of care, community-based models, and more staff.
Economic stress during the pandemic led to many families and individuals being unable to afford rent and having to make difficult decisions on dangerous living conditions, going to already full shelters, or living on the street. The housing crisis intersects with the opioid crisis, violence and crime, policing, and healthcare system in very real ways that affect all of us.
Nearly one in six gen Z youth are members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. In Calgary Shepard that represents over 8,000 youth. Youth in the LGBTQIA2S+ community are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their cis-gender and straight peers and are marginalized in many ways including higher rates of anxiety and depression, discrimination, and homelessness. LGBTQIA2S+ youth deserve our respect and compassion. We must uphold the conversion therapy ban and continue to listen to our LGBTQIA2S+ youth to ensure that we are building a truly equitable and inclusive community.
Housing is a human right and the federal government can and should address housing affordability, secure supportive housing for people getting off the street, put a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic, and create an assistance program to help those who have been evicted from accumulated arrears. Furthermore, the government should be looking to solutions in the private sector including partnering with companies to build affordable housing units quickly or investing in 3D printing construction companies that can build houses in a week for 30-50% less cost than a traditional build.
Resilience is facing challenges with foundational changes to better protect our future.
Climate change, biodiversity loss, future pandemics, economic crises, and other challenges are already affecting the lives of people around the world. These challenges will affect the lives of ourselves, our children and grandchildren. We must have dialogue about where we will invest our public tax dollars to ensure that our children have access to the resources and infrastructure they need to survive and thrive in the future.
The Green Party target of a 60% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions under 2005 levels by 2030 will give our children and grandchildren the best chance at a liveable future. The federal government must invest in workers in declining industries and fund retraining initiatives in industries and sectors that are growing such as renewable energy and high tech. Instead of focusing on partisan climate solutions that force Canadians to pick and choose between incomplete and half-way solutions let's allow communities to assess their carbon budgets and find solutions that work best for them. The climate solutions for mega-cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver will look very different than for smaller cities like Calgary and Regina which in turn will look very different from climate solutions for rural communities, farms, and ranches.
We need to ensure that funding for public transit infrastructure helps our municipalities adapt to international economic trends toward low-cost, low maintenance electric vehicles. Furthermore, there is a need for affordable public intercity bus and train service across the country. Canadians have a right to live in remote communities and have access to the rest of the country through safe and affordable transit.
Regeneration is repairing environmental damage, reconciliation with the land and Indigenous peoples, and protecting our natural resources.
I am so grateful that Indigenous peoples have allowed me to live and play on this land. For me, regeneration is about getting back to our roots and helping our children connect with the land, nature, and this beautiful province we call home. Regeneration also means that we need to repair the damage we have done as a society, protect the environment from future damage, help land stewards such as farmers and ranchers implement environmentally friendly farming solutions, and return as much land as possible to the peoples who were here first.
To repair the damage done, the government should increase funding to the Western Economic Solutions Taskforce (WEST) to bring rural and urban voices together to advocate for western solutions such as the clean-up of orphaned and abandoned wells and net-zero emissions by 2050.
To protect land and water from future damage we must end coal mining and fracking for natural gas in Alberta. Land stewards such as farmers and ranchers sequester huge amounts of CO2 on their land through permaculture practices, grassland management, and grazing practices. The government should offer a full carbon tax refund to farmers and ranchers as well as other incentives so that farmers and ranchers have the money they need to implement environmentally friendly farming practices.
I support reconciliation with Indigenous people and engaging Indigenous Nations and communities on land use and land management. I recognize the importance of including Indigenous people in co-management of our national parks to bring much needed jobs and to support greater biodiversity, conservation, and sustainability of our beautiful parks and recreational areas. To learn more about the Green Party's commitment on Truth and Reconciliation read more here.