Questions By Members, 7 December 2016
Source: Legislative Assembly of PEI

WCB concerns

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

On November 25th I asked the Premier about concerns with the Workers Compensation Board, to which he replied that I should present any concerns I may have to this House.

I have with me today a letter from John MacLean to the Premier, sent to, and also forward to the Premier’s office via MP Lawrence MacAulay’s office. These are dated November 2015 and December 2015, so the Premier can hardly say that he has not been informed on issues with WCB.

Mr. MacLean also informed me that he attempted to take up the Premier’s often-repeated open door policy to discuss his concerns. After several months staff in the Premier’s office finally told John that there would be no meeting.

Question to the Premier: Why did you refuse to meet with a concerned Islander about problems in one of your portfolios?

Speaker: The hon. Premier.

Premier MacLauchlan: Mr. Speaker, it’s essential to the workers compensation regime and to the autonomy of the Workers Compensation Board as an arm’s length agency of government, that they operate with a CEO, with a board, with officials.

While I am the minister reporting to the House on the work of the Workers Compensation Board, it would be not in order for me to start meeting with individual clients who are approaching me about concerns they have about their claims.

It has to do with the autonomy of the Workers Compensation Board, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, your first supplementary.

Meetings with Premier

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. MacLean is not the only one who has found the Premier’s door to be closed rather than open.

I have also heard from the National Farmers Union, from the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Water, and many others, that they were also unable to get meetings with the Premier despite repeated requests.

Question to the Premier: To whom is your door open?

Speaker: The hon. Premier.

Premier MacLauchlan: Mr. Speaker, it’s my practice, when people approach the Premier’s Office, that they’re approaching government and where they need to speak to the people that can help them the most.

Indeed, we do get approaches from people who have concerns about workers compensation, and it’s our practice to ensure that they are in touch with the Workers Compensation Board. In the case of the National Farmers Union, their leadership has met directly with the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, with the Minister of Communities, Land and Environment, and we may well have a further meeting with the three of us with them.

I think it has to be very clear and I think the House should appreciate, and I think the House would mind, if the Premier started meeting with everybody and doing the work of the whole of government because it doesn’t work that way, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, second supplementary.

Meeting re: electoral reform

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Another issue in which we’ve seen a similar pattern emerge, of course, is electoral reform.

Given the Premier’s not-so-open door policy and the fact that government seems to have abandoned its motion for the not-so-binding referendum, will the Premier commit to either completing the debate on Motion No. 80 before we adjourn for the holidays in this House or making himself available to meet the leaders of the proportional representation campaign team to find a common solution to electoral reform?

Speaker: The hon. Premier.

Premier MacLauchlan: Mr. Speaker, I’m under the understanding that that matter is still before the House, and the House has got a ways to go, so I’m sure that we’ll have an opportunity, among the 27 of us here in the House, to see what is the best way forward.

But as far as an open door on that one, we’ve made it very clear that there’ll be a referendum with MMP on the ballot and that we recognize the importance of the plebiscite.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


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