Attention turns to Bill 35, rental review as N.B. legislature set to return

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WATCH: As MLAs get ready to head back to the legislature on Tuesday, there are renewed calls to stop proposed changes to the education act. Meanwhile, opposition parties are getting ready to push for more pandemic supports. Silas Brown reports. – May 10, 2021

New Brunswick’s legislature returns Tuesday, which has some re-voicing opposition to pieces of government legislation.

The College of Psychologists raised concerns about Bill 35 when it was first introduced and says the government has expressed little willingness to reconsider.

“When it comes to the department we’ve tried as hard as we can and have been met with significant resistance,” said Mandy McLean, executive director of the college.

“I think they believe this is going to solve the problem so they’re not willing to look at alternate solutions.”

Bill 35 would allow resource teachers to conduct and interpret psycho-educational assessments for the purpose of creating personalized learning plans for students. The college says it is happy to see the government try to reduce wait times for assessments, but says the current proposal could do more harm than good.

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Read more: New Brunswick college of psychologists ‘blindsided’ over possibility of teachers performing psychoeducational assessments

“I think a better solution would have been to bring together all the stakeholders together and to come up with some real legit solutions that are going to solve the problem,” McLean said.

“I think as it stands, Bill 35 is not going to alleviate the wait-list.”

The college has some support from the official Opposition.

“We as an Opposition will be asking lots of questions on this bill,” said Liberal education critic Benoit Bourque.

The Liberals say they’ll be focused on amending the 50-plus page bill, as well as pushing for more pandemic supports.

“There is not lack of subjects to talk about when it comes to shortcomings of this current government,” Bourque said.

“We will have lots to discuss.”

Read more: N.B. rental review recommends increasing housing supply, reviewing tenancy act

Green Leader David Coon says Bill 35 cannot be allowed to pass in its current form.

As the assembly returns, Coon says his party is also calling for protections for tenants after the release of the government’s rental review.

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The review, released on Friday, recommended that yearly increases to rents be limited to once a year, along with protections against unreasonable increases. The government has said tenancy legislation will likely be amended this fall, but that’s not fast enough for Coon.

“We want to see a bill come forward that actually does what the government’s report suggests, which is to remove the ability to raise rents more than once a year,” Coon said.

As for the People’s Alliance, it will be looking to see a plan for how the government will transition out of a state of emergency over the coming months.

“As more and more people become vaccinated we are going to be pushing government for an exit strategy to the current state of emergency that has lasted over 14 months,” leader Kris Austin said in a statement.

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