Today in the Legislative Assembly we saw a slim majority pass the Act to Amend the Climate Leadership Act, and the subsequent bills that correspond with this government’s new carbon tax agreement. Climate change is no longer up for debate, but we need a government that understands that paying for the future now cannot come at the expense of surviving the present. There is no arguing that the sustainability of our environment and responding to the climate emergency our world is facing are everyone’s responsibility. However, as we attempt to move away from our reliance on fossil fuels, we must do so in a way that provides balance and equity for all those that are affected. The King Government has unequivocally failed Islanders in finding that balance and equity. This government inherited a Liberal plan that was described by experts in the field of climate change to be the best in the country. The previous government’s plan included programs to assist Islanders in their transition away from fossil fuels, investing in the infrastructure necessary to respond to climate change in our province, and assisting Islanders who will be most affected by the price increase associated with the carbon levy. They have proudly said all of the decisions made regarding our provinces pandemic response, were made by the experts at the Chief Public Health Office. Ultimately this accounts for the last two years of decision making in our province being passed off. This Carbon Plan negotiation was the first major project required of this government. I am thoroughly disappointed that their first challenge resulted in Islanders paying the price for their inability to negotiate a better deal with the federal government. A plan that includes a $140 rebate offered to Islanders making less than $50K/year, with energy efficiency rebate programs that do not help most Islanders, while raising the cost of fuel even higher, is penalizing Islanders. Due to the lack of feasible options for public transportation in this province, especially for those living in rural areas, and the exorbitant prices and unavailability of electric vehicles, the majority of Islanders rely on their personal vehicles to get to work and for all aspects of their personal lives. If this government cannot provide a feasible alternative for more environmentally sustainable modes of transportation, then Islanders should be compensated appropriately for the increase in fuel prices, and $140 certainly doesn’t cut it. This government has completely lost touch with the difficulties Islanders are facing during the cost of living crisis and the unprecedented inflation we are experiencing in this province and this carbon plan is a primary example. The Liberal Party of Prince Edward Island has been a trailblazer for climate action in this province, but this conservative government ran on the platform that they could do it better. Well, here is the result. Higher prices, less money in your pocket, and programs for which the majority of Islanders do not qualify. When Islanders who have no choice but to rely on fossil fuels notice the prices increase within the next few days, be sure to thank Premier King.
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