It will be six years this May since I opened my joint Summerland constituency office with Penticton MLA Dan Ashton.
At the time, it was one of, if not the only, joint constituency office in Canada shared by a federal MP and a provincial MLA or MPP.
It was such a rare of an occurrence, CPAC, the parliamentary affairs cable channel, flew out from Ottawa to cover the opening.
From my perspective, a shared office makes sense. Often there may be confusion as to what level of government—federal or provincial—is providing a service a citizen may be having difficulty with. It also makes sense from a cost-saving perspective as fixed costs and resources can be shared.
As I have stated many times, while there may be three levels of government in Canada, there is only one taxpayer. After six years in operation, the office remains a success.
Residents of Summerland have a one-stop shop to make inquiries about provincial or federal concerns, as well as meet with their local MP or MLA without having to travel to a nearby community.
Unfortunately, despite the success of increased service and the savings of a shared office, the idea has not caught on in other regions across Canada. But fortunately, as of this week, that is about to change.
By the time you read this, I will have announced the opening of my second shared constituency office, this time with Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield.
This shared office will be located at Merrifield’s existing office, located at 102-2121 Ethel Street in Kelowna.
With this new location, Kelowna residents who live in my Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding, will now have a much closer location to have access to me and (help with) federal services they may have challenges accessing.
For those not familiar with how constituency offices operate, due to privacy, you must sign a written consent form that allows an MLA or MP to make inquiries on your behalf. All personal information shared with a constituency office is protected and is not subject to Freedom of Information laws.
I should also add, constituency offices are strictly non-partisan. The dedicated staff are there to assist you free of any political considerations or obligations whatsoever.
My question this week:
Do you think there should be more emphasis on shared service delivery between different levels of government?
I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.