Responding to you

This pandemic is dramatically affecting each of our lives, and I wish you health and strength as we work together to get through this.

I want to thank everyone who has been reaching out to me, including our business owners. I appreciate hearing all your individual situations and how we need to act quickly so small business owners don’t lose their life’s work and savings. Future employment opportunities are lost if many businesses cannot survive. 

My team and I are working non-stop day and night to respond to the volume of correspondence we are receiving, in particular since Service Canada closed their physical offices. Most incoming inquires have been about assisting people getting home from other countries, helping with EI and CRA issues, and responding to all the inquiries from businesses and not for profits. We are also hearing from residents who are in all stages of life – including students and seniors. Daily announcements without details have created uncertainty for many people and we assist as we can. 

Last week, I released a statement, alongside our transport critic, to ask the government to ensure our supply chains stay open across the country with a plan for long-haul truckers to have adequate stops. 

As a member of the Official Opposition, I have been participating in virtual meetings and conversations every day with my colleagues, and I am bringing forth your concerns. In particular, being a member of the Shadow Cabinet helps me elevate your voice. Our Shadow Cabinet discusses and researches ideas to ensure Canadians aren’t falling through the cracks, and make recommendations to the government every day. Please continue to reach out so I can hear your individual situations.

Parliament sat on Saturday, April 11, to vote on legislation to enact changes, in particular with the Income Tax Act, which needed to occur in order to properly implement the government’s programs. It was also tabled and agreed by unanimous consent (meaning all political parties agreed) to have the government to look at gaps in the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Work will have to be done to determine what these amendments look like. We are anticipating the House of Commons to sit in some form next week. 

The best place to look for anything federally related to COVID-19, whether health or economic: canada.ca

Here are some of the recent recommendations we, as the Official Opposition, have made to government:

  • Refund small businesses the GST they paid over the last year to put cash flow immediately in business owners hands
  • Lift the $40,000 cap on CERB that banks and credit unions are delivering so businesses can borrow to get the cash needed now and pay CRA back once they deposit the wage subsidy
  • Amend the various qualifying rules for programs, and allow more flexibility for people who want to work part time
  • Declare the Agriculture Sector as Critical Infrastructure 
  • Scrap planned tax hikes (this includes taxes like federal Carbon Tax and Excise Tax, on items like liquor)
  • Increase the Charitable Donation Tax Credit and remove capital gains tax on donations for the 2020 year

As isolation can be tough on many people, maybe call some friends or family you haven’t talked with in a while. And, remember that many charities and not-for-profits have cancelled fundraising events, so support your favourite groups if you are able.  We are seeing the human spirit shine. Please stay healthy and safe.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tracy Gray, Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, is her party's critic for Employment, Future Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

She is a member of the national caucus committee’s credit union caucus, wine caucus, and aviation caucus.

Gray, who has won the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award, worked for 27 years in the B.C. beverage industry.

She founded and owned Discover Wines VQA Wine Stores, which included the No. 1 wine store in B.C. for 13 years. She has been involved in small businesses in different sectors — financing, importing, oil and gas services and a technology start-up — and is among the “100 New Woman Pioneers in B.C."

Gray was a Kelowna city councillor for the 2014 term, sat on the Passenger Transportation Board from 2010-2012 and was elected to the board of Prospera Credit Union for 10 years.

In addition, she served on the boards of the Okanagan Film Commission, Clubhouse Childcare Society, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan Regional Library and was chairwoman of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

She volunteers extensively in the community and welcomes connecting with residents.

She can be reached at 250-470-5075, and [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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