A Charlottetown woman’s outspoken campaign to protect the rights of tenants from second-hand smoke has been recognized by the Council for a Smoke-Free P.E.I.
Council president Shirley Jay presented a plaque to Tamara MacDonald during the council’s recent annual meeting in Charlottetown.
Jay says MacDonald was honoured because of her “outstanding leadership and community advocacy efforts in protecting the public from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke in seniors housing and other public places”.
P.E.I. needs advocates like MacDonald to ensure government knows what is happening in its buildings, says Jay.
“She is giving a voice to other people who are living in the same circumstances.”
MacDonald lives in a government-subsidized family housing facility under the management of the Charlottetown Area Housing Authority.
MacDonald’s major concerns surround the second-hand marijuana and tobacco smoke she says tenants have to put up with. In her case, the smoke aggravates her asthma and sinus issues and gives her migraine headaches.
She has contributed to media stories on the issue, is a frequent contributor to The Guardian’s letters to the editor section, and has fired off many emails to government officials outlining her situation and the lack of enforcement by her landlord.
MacDonald thought the problem was solved late last year when the then government minister responsible for housing said a no-smoking ban would begin on Jan. 1 of this year.
It hasn’t happened so the Charlottetown woman has continued to speak out. Two of the agencies she has approached are IRAC and the Human Rights Commission. Her cases there are still pending.
MacDonald says the building’s landlord argues smoking is allowed in the building but she says she wasn’t told that when she moved in. The fact the building receives public funding should ensure tenants have the right to clean air, she said.
As for moving out, MacDonald says her limited finances make moving a difficult option.
She feels others at 407 Queen share her concerns but are silent partners in the fight — they don’t want to rock the boat.
Frank Morrison, a long-time member of the Council for a Smoke-Free P.E.I., says MacDonald’s advocacy work, her style, tenacity and research are all to be admired.
“She speaks from the heart as a voice of the people.”