Tuesday, September 30th13.7°C
Ron Cannan

Talking about suicide prevention

Over the past year, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has been actively encouraging all 308 members of Parliament to shine a light on suicide prevention by holding a forum for conversation in their communities. 

That is why on September 8th, my colleague Dan Albas and I, MC radio morning host Phil Johnson, and the Okanagan Suicide Awareness Society opened the doors of the Parkinson Recreation Centre and welcomed people in to talk about suicide. 

Many brave people came forward to tell their stories.

Among the tears, and yes, some laughter, there were many comments about how the community needs to do more to help folks with mental health issues.  

In this respect it was good to see such a cross-section of our community present including our school district trustees, local government representatives, as well as those from the Canadian Mental Health Association, Interior Health (IHA), and other individuals who work on the front lines of social services.

Folks need and want to talk about suicide and suicide prevention because not talking about it is not working!

According to the World Health Organization, someone in the world commits suicide every 40 seconds, that means approximately 11 Canadians will end their lives today by suicide.

In BC, approximately 500 people take their own lives every year.

#308Conversations is designed to include Canadians from coast to coast to coast in a national dialogue about suicide prevention.

At the local level, #308Conversations will provide citizens with information on the actions and initiatives taking place in their own communities.

At the federal level, it will bring together community best practices to inform decision making and strategy in tackling the urgent issue of suicide.

The results will be gathered by the MHCC to produce a working community model with tools and solutions that can be shared as a resource for communities across Canada.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada exists as a result of the comprehensive May 2006 Senate report entitled “Out of the Shadows At Last: Transforming Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction Services in Canada”. 

Created and funded by our government, the MHCC works to develop a national mental health strategy, share knowledge and best practices for the benefit of Canadians, and undertake public awareness and education in order to combat the hurtful stigma associated with mental illness.

I encourage constituents to go to www.mentalhealthcommission.ca  to access information and resources pertaining to mental health.

I’d also like to acknowledge the efforts of Dr. Harold Albrecht, MP, who championed the Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention Act.  More information on this initiative is available through the Public Health Agency of Canada website at www.phac-aspc.gc.ca.

Organizing community events is one step in an ongoing process. As one participant noted to me in an e-mail, “Hearing from IH staff, seeing school district trustees attend, citizens touched by this horror, all walking out of that meeting and empowered by the ability to simply communicate openly. It was the most inspiring and moving event I have attended this year.”

I’ll be sharing what we learned with our MLA's and  I also hope to learn about the status of the after-hours mental health community care team that was in place in Kelowna, which is not presently active - an issue raised at our meeting by Christine Walsh, who is the Social Development Coordinator for the Central Okanagan Regional District.

Mainly, we need to keep talking to each other about suicide prevention because there are many of us trying to deal with tough personal issues alone.

Former CO of BC Dragoons, Cliff Jamieson, who many of us know from the Veterans community, recently sent out a tweet that said, “Thank you for taking this on. It's an important topic. Many people who are affected, fight it alone & lose.”

Many thanks again to those who came out to our meeting.  By reaching out, by talking, and by pooling our resources and best practices, we might have a chance of helping those who are struggling.

The key is to see others and their stories as our own - our family members and friends, our neighbours, our society, and our responsibility.  


The Honourable Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country and welcomes your feedback at [email protected].  Information on local announcements and federal government programs can be found at www.cannan.ca


Minister of Industry working for Canadians

Over the course of the summer, our federal regional minister for British Columbia and Minister of Industry, the Honourable James Moore, has made several announcements that will have a direct impact on folks here in the Okanagan.


Removing Barriers to Internal Trade

Canada has been successful in pursuing an ambitious international trade strategy, but progress on domestic trade has not always kept pace.  That is why Minister Moore recently announced One Canada: One National Economy, a plan that lays out a broad proposal to remove barriers to internal trade.  You can visit www.ic.gc.ca/internaltrade to learn more.

As one of the premier wine regions in Canada, we are familiar with the ongoing efforts to encourage freer trade between the provinces and territories so that Canadians across the country can enjoy our award-winning wine.  While there has been movement from provinces like Manitoba and Saskatchewan, it is still easier for Canadians to access wine from the US or France than from our own country.

At a time when Canada is entering into new trade agreements around the world that seek to eliminate irritants and barriers to international trade, our Government is determined to eliminate domestic regulation that leads to increased and unnecessary costs for our businesses, and limits growth and job creation.

Minister Moore, on behalf of the Government, is committed to working with the provinces and territories to bring about a better agreement and begin the essential work of renewing internal trade.

I support the Minister in this endeavour and look forward to hearing more about the progress made as the federal, provincial and territorial governments work together to achieve freer internal trade for the benefit of all Canadians.


Connecting Canadians

More and more, access to the Internet is essential to creating jobs, realizing economic opportunities, and linking Canadians to online services, as well as far-off family members and friends.

That is why Minister Moore recently announced Connecting Canadians, the Government of Canada’s plan to bring high-speed Internet to 280,000 Canadian households, mainly in rural and remote communities.

Between now and 2017, the Government will invest up to $305 million to extend access to high-speed Internet at 5 megabits per second (Mbps) to 98 percent of Canadian households, and will provide incentives for the private sector to invest in wireless and wireline Internet services in areas of the country where they currently do not exist. 

By ensuring rural and remote communities have access to high-speed Internet, the Government is taking important steps toward giving all Canadians the chance to take full advantage of Canada’s digital economy.

For more information on your connectivity or to provide feedback on service in your area, please visit the Connecting Canadians website (www.ic.gc.ca/ConnectingCanadians).


Ending Paper Billing Charges on your Telecom Bill

Minister Moore has also recently announced that the federal government will introduce legislation to end pay-to-pay billing practices in the telecommunications sector.

Canadian consumers have been clear that they expect lower prices and better services from telecommunications providers. That is why our government committed to ending this unfair practice and putting the interests of Canadian consumers first.

As the Minister noted, "More and more Canadians are finding a new charge appearing on their monthly bills, including their wireless bill. This fee is charged to those who receive their bill in the mail. Increasingly, many Canadians are being charged this new fee by companies from whom they have been receiving service for decades. We do not believe that Canadians should pay more to receive a paper copy of their telephone or wireless bill.”

In the 2013 Speech from the Throne our government committed to end this unfair practice and to continue to promote policies that support Canadian consumers putting more money back in the pockets of hard-working Canadian families.

I want to congratulate the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Industry on a productive summer and for working on behalf of British Columbians and Canadians across the country.


Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country and welcomes your feedback at [email protected].  Information on local announcements and federal government programs can be found at www.cannan.ca.

Keeping seniors active, informed, engaged

No matter your age staying informed, being engaged and keeping active in your community is vital for one’s general well being. It also makes the community itself a healthy and vibrant one, such as we are blessed with here in the Okanagan.

Earlier this month I had the honour of hosting my colleague, the Honourable Alice Wong Minister of State for Seniors, in the riding. We toured some local senior centres and met with folks of all ages, who are dedicated to working daily with our seniors, many on a volunteer basis.  We were not only impressed with the quality of volunteers but also the excellent leadership within the organizations.  It reinforced why the Okanagan is such a wonderful place for seniors to live. 

Thanks to the hospitality and great work of the Kelowna Community Resources (KCR), Minister Wong and I had a chance to sit down and chat with representatives of various organizations who work hard every day to make our community safe, fun and liveable for people of all ages.  

The topics of discussion focused on seniors in isolation, helping groups work with local and provincial governments to provide better transportation systems and the challenges/best practices for keeping seniors, active, engaged, and informed.

Minister Wong and I drew attention to the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) and that it has a stream that is focused on preventing the isolation of seniors. All communities are different and have different needs. That is why the NHSP program is so well received, it lets communities design programs and projects that are tailor made to fit their unique needs.

We also mentioned the National Seniors Council’s ongoing study of seniors in isolation through roundtables and research, as well as the need for local city council to be involved with community programs.

The benefit of roundtables like this one should not be underestimated as it provides for the opportunity to network and leverage partnerships to establish best practices and create working relationships between organizations.  

Minister Wong told the group how she has been to over 150 ridings and has been listening to folks from all over the country and one common issue is that there is a strong correlation between health and getting out into your community and keeping active.

Minister Wong and I encouraged those present to use the information that has been aggregated on www.seniors.gc.ca to find resources from all levels of government. Knowing what benefits you are entitled to as well as being aware of elder and financial abuse is important to the well being of seniors.

For those who do not have an internet connection available to them, there is still hard copy material available for free from Service Canada which can be reached at 1-800-O-CANADA.

Or you can always contact my Capri Mall Constituency office at 250-470-5075 and we will do our best to help you find what you need. 

As Ernest Myers the poet and author stated, “Don't just count your years, make your years count.” I think that is sage advice to everyone, no matter your age.


The Honourable Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country and welcomes your feedback at [email protected].  Information on local announcements and federal government programs can be found at www.cannan.ca.


Veterans never far from our minds

Veterans are never far from our minds and this August has been a particularly poignant time of remembrance.

On August 4th, Prime Minister Stephen Harper marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War which plunged Europe into conflict from 1914 to 1918.

Canada’s experience in World War I became a source of deep national pride due to important victories at places like Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele and Amiens, which gave Canada a newfound standing in the world.

More than 66,000 men and women from our soils gave their lives during the First World War, and an estimated 172,000 more were wounded.

In his official statement the Prime Minister honoured the sacrifices and tremendous achievements of the more than 650,000 brave Canadians and Newfoundlanders who left their families and the comfort of their homes to serve their King and country, and extended gratitude and appreciation to all members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families – past and present – who courageously serve to preserve the universal values of freedom, peace and democracy that we hold most dear.

On August 5th, Veterans Affairs Parliamentary Secretary Parm Gill, and my colleague MP Laurie Hawn, also a Veteran, came to the riding and participated in a roundtable at Legion Branch #26, with the Oyama Legion Br. 189 President and a Veterans Affairs Client Services Team Manager also in attendance. We also met with the President, the Service Officer, and members of the Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada Unit #376, where we talked with Veterans and toured the facility.

The discussions gave the Parliamentary Secretary the opportunity to provide updates on Government of Canada initiatives related to Veterans’ employment and the full spectrum of benefits and services available to those who have served. In turn, the meetings allowed Veterans to provide feedback on ways to help Veterans and their families successfully transition from military to civilian life.

I would like to remind local Veterans that a full-time dedicated Veterans Service Agent is available at the Service Canada office located at 471 Queensway Ave. and is open Monday to Friday, 8:30 AM - 4 PM. We have been told that few Veterans are using the service with only one or no visits on any given day; however, the Minister of Veterans Affairs is committed to providing this service for our local Veterans.

Last but not least, on August 6th, I received the following from a constituent hoping to get the message out about a ceremony commemorating an important time in history during WW11:

Dear Mr. Cannan,

The events referred to in the following news item took place in Sept 1944 when the writer (a retired journalist ) and I were both 15 years old and attending Dover Grammar School. When you read it I believe you will be struck by the strong Canadian connection to this unique town at a significant moment in its history. The Prime Minister consistently demonstrates his support for our people in the military and the purpose of this message is to ask if you would use your good offices to ensure that our High Commission in London is made aware of this upcoming service so that Canada might be suitably represented. I wish we could identify the army units involved! - Regards Richard Spear

The news item to which Mr. Spear refers is a notice that on Sunday, September 14th, 2014, at 10:45 am, the town of Dover, UK will be holding a service at the church of St. Mary the Virgin to commemorate the devastating effects of a barrage of shelling on the town in September 1944, which killed civilians and allied troops, and was stopped only when advancing Canadian troops, who had landed in Normandy during the June 1944 D-day invasion, captured the long-range guns of the Germans.

The service will offer thanks and prayers for those who died. I have been informed that Canadians will be represented at the service by Colonel Rory Radford, army adviser to the High Commissioner.

Terry Sutton, spokesman for the church, and a friend of Mr. Spear says: "We are hoping that those still alive who endured those terrible September days will join us at this special service. Perhaps those whose family members were killed by shelling would like to attend.”

"We will also be giving thanks to the brave Canadian soldiers who risked death, and those who gave their lives, in capturing and eliminating the German guns that in four years fired more than 2,200 shells into the town of Dover."

Further information on this event can be obtained by e-mailing Terry Sutton at [email protected].

The World Wars and those fought since may be behind us, but through commemorations like these and by talking directly to our Veterans about their needs, we are confirming that their service and sacrifice will forever hold a meaningful place in our hearts and minds.

Read more MP Report articles


About the author...

The Honourable Ron Cannan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in January, 2006. He was subsequently elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. He is a member of the Conservative Caucus.

On September 13th, 2012 Ron was summoned to be a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and will provide advice to the Government as a member of the Priorities and Planning Sub-Committee on Government Administration.

Ron successfully uses his experience and knowledge as a long-time Kelowna City Councillor and regional government representative to be an effective and enthusiastic champion for his riding and his constituents.

His greatest satisfaction comes from helping local organizations and citizens obtain the support they require from Ottawa. 

He is also dedicated to doing what it takes to ensure that the growing and vibrant communities in his riding continue to thrive and prosper.

He is proud of the partnership and cooperation between federal, provincial and municipal governments which have resulted in significant infrastructure projects including upgrades to Highway 97, expansion of the Kelowna International Airport, a new horticulture strategy for fruit growers, obtaining a full service passport office for Kelowna and addressing critical economic issues such as labour skills shortages.

He works closely with the local Chambers of Commerce and once a year arranges meetings for the Chamber with Cabinet Ministers and senior policy staff in Ottawa to move forward important local issues such as crime prevention and labour skills shortages.

He is also an ardent champion for important community initiatives including homelessness, mental health, women’s resources, and support of arts and culture.

On Parliament Hill, Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade since 2006 supporting initiatives which will broaden the economic opportunities for local businesses and businesses Canada-wide.

In previous parliamentary sessions Ron has been a member of the Standing Committee for Government Operations and Estimates, Veteran’s Affairs, Human Resources and Social Development, the Scrutiny of Regulations Committee, and the Standing Committee for Fisheries and Oceans.

Ron is also involved in a variety of inter-parliamentary organizations: he is Vice Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group, and a member of the Canada-Taiwan Friendship group.

As Chair of the Conservative Wine Caucus, Ron works with his colleagues across the country to promote the wine regions of Canada.  Ron tabled Motion 218(formerly Motion 601) which supports direct to consumer purchasing of Canadian wine. His motion became Bill C-311, sponsored by MP Dan Albas, seconded by Ron, which was passed into law on June 28th, 2012.

Prior to entering politics, Ron developed a diverse business background as a small business owner and had several years experience in marketing and sales management working with corporations including Coca-Cola, Costco and Corus Entertainment.

Very active in his community, Ron has been a Director for both the Central Okanagan Regional District and the Central Okanagan Hospital Board. Ron also served on the Okanagan University College Access to Training Advisory Board, the Glenmore Elementary School Parents Advisory Council, and the Kelowna Christian School Fund Raising Committee.  He was co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. Currently Ron is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Kelowna and, along with his wife Cindy, was the honorary Chair of the 2012 Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Ball.

Ron lives a family-oriented and active lifestyle with his wife Cindy. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather to three grandsons.  His hobbies include music and sports.


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories

RSS this page.
(Click for RSS instructions.)