September 24, 2020
Dr. Andrew Furey
Province of Newfoundland and Labrador
Dear Premier Furey;
We have followed with interest the initiatives of your first months in office as made public in the media. In your new role as premier of our province with all its challenges and potential, we send our best wishes and our hope for achieving a sustainable, equitable future for our citizens.
We noted with concern the support you have given for further expansion of the offshore oil and gas industry and the program you announced September 24. As big investors worldwide turn away from fossil fuel industries toward investment in alternate energy initiatives we ask that our provincial government be doing the same. Here is an opportunity to shift our reliance on this segment of our economy by investing the unused exploration security deposits in the sustainable energy resources we have in abundance. We need to use our electricity for a green transportation infrastructure and to invest in programs to meet or surpass the climate targets our province has already committed to. Our skilled workers will also need help to transition to these new industries.
As the current COVID-19 crisis has made abundantly clear, our national healthcare system is critical to all Canadians regardless of financial means. In March the federal Parliament voted unanimously on a motion in support of universal, national pharmacare for Canadians and in the Throne Speech the Prime Minister has promised to start discussions with the provinces. We ask for your support and commitment to implement this vital program. Laid off workers have lost their drug coverage and for so many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians the cost of drugs is beyond their means. Many do without or make dangerous choices to stretch their prescriptions which have costly personal and healthcare outcomes. Pharmacare is a critical piece of our socio-economic recovery and as documented (Parliamentary Budget Officer report), will be a health dollars saving in the long run.
The real picture of poverty in our province has been clearly shown in recent months. It raises the question of why workers who work 40 hours a week to keep our systems and society functioning have incomes below the poverty line. We ask that your government swiftly implement a minimum $15/hour wage to support Newfoundland and Labrador workers as a basic step in addressing poverty. When those wages are spent locally it also can be a sustained boost to our economy. As seen previously, the push back from the local business community and corporate sector will be significant but many of those arguments have been used in the past to support slavery and keeping women’s wages lower than men’s. For a more just economy we need a livable minimum wage.
We are looking to you and your government to implement policies that will provide a just recovery for Newfoundland and Labrador’s communities and which immediately take responsibility to meet or surpass climate targets.
Avalon chapter, Council of Canadians