Uncertainty for many

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me over the past several weeks. Whether you did so by phone, email or through video conferencing – it is hearing your personal situations that allows me to be your voice during these unprecedented times.

For businesses, many of your ideas have turned into recommendations we have made to the government. I have been involved in many meetings with other MPs in the Official Opposition and the government (virtually), and I am continuing to bring your thoughts and opinions forward daily. 

This pandemic has created uncertainly for many. Individuals, not-for-profits and businesses are making tough decisions. I’ve owned a business with everything on the line, and I can empathize when I hear concerns from new and established businesses today. We need to provide support where most needed now, while defining and rolling out plans for our next steps.

Service Canada offices continue to be closed. If you have any questions about EI, CRA, or any of the new federal programs please reach out. Every person’s questions and situations are unique so it’s best to get details from you. It has been challenging for everyone with daily announcements made without all the details, but we will do our very best to help you. We work closely with other government offices, so if you’re not sure who to contact, just reach out and we’ll help direct you. I am so proud of my team who have been working seven days a week since mid-March. 

Standing committees are starting up again (virtually), with the focus on COVID-19. I am a member of the industry committee. I had the opportunity to question the minister of small business on April 23 on program requirements that exclude many small business owners. For example, if you use your personal business account (as many small business owners do), or if you don’t do “payroll” for yourself, you may be exempted from the Canada Emergency Business Account Loan. I’ve also questioned the minister responsible for tourism about the government’s plan for our tourism sector once the economy safely reopens. The minister said that they are not presently working on any plans. It’s important to have a plan in place for the thousands of businesses and residents in the Okanagan who are employed in our tourism sector. 

Parliament is only sitting in person in the House of Commons for one part-day per week, and there are two virtual online part-day meetings with a limited number of participating MPs. The concept of a “virtual Parliament” has been misrepresented. Both in person and online are technically committee meetings with a limited number of participating MPs. As the Official Opposition, we have asked the government to include more in-person accountability sittings that meet health and safety requirements.  

On May 1, the government made an order in council that immediately brought into effect new firearms regulations. An order in council comes directly from the cabinet without going through the parliamentary process. As such, there is no input from experts or government officials at committee, no debating, no opportunity for amendments by opposition parties, and no vote in the House of Commons on this matter.

With lots happening in Parliament, I know how important it is to continue to reach out virtually to friends and family, especially those living alone. Many not for profit and charity fundraisers have been cancelled, so support your favourites in whatever way you can. Thank you to our first responders, front-line workers and health professionals. Please stay healthy and safe. 

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About the Author

Tracy Gray, MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, is the Official Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Export Promotion and International Trade.

She also serves on the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, and is a member of the National Caucus Committees Credit Union Caucus, Wine Caucus, and Aviation Caucus.

Gray, who has won the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the year, and 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, on the Passenger Transportation Board 2010-2012, and elected to the board of Prospera Credit Union for 10 years.

In addition, she served on the Okanagan Film Commission, Clubhouse Childcare Society, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan Regional Library as a Trustee and was chair 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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