MP Tracy Gray on U.S. border, help for seniors, kids' fears

Lots of COVID-19 questions

Thank you to everyone who has been reaching out. I’ve also been doing a fair amount of outreach within our community to answer questions and get feedback, and I appreciate all the individuals and organizations I’ve met virtually.

On May 7, I hosted a live Teleforum Town Hall with thousands of participants via phone and online. The focus of the town hall was on non-medical COVID-19 related issues, and I also had our local MLAs participate to answer provincial-related questions as many topics I am asked about often have elements of federal and provincial jurisdiction. This helped give participants a more comprehensive answer to their questions.

Once the Teleforum was completed, participants had a chance to leave a message with comment or question, and I spent the next few days following up on all of them. It was great to connect with so many people, and here are some of the calls that came in.

Doug asked about seniors. I mentioned the government reduced the minimum withdrawals for RRIF’s by 25% and funds to the United Way to assist seniors. Both myself and our MLAs discussed dispensing fee decisions where restrictions were put on prescriptions to ensure supply. This led to higher dispensing fees, but supply doesn’t appear to be an issue any longer, so we should see this rectified. (On May 12 the government announced, for those eligible, a one-time $300 OAS and $200 GIS boost.)

John and James were concerned about our food supply and what will be done to support small and local food producers. I mentioned the Official Opposition’s recommendation for a Summer Agricultural Student Program, similar to the Summer Jobs Program. I also discussed the importance of supporting local, changing program requirements, and ensuring health supplies are available. Our MLAs mentioned farmers markets, and the need for small-scale food processors.

Funds coming to support the homeless was asked about by Linda, and I let her know that the federal government announced an expansion to the Reaching Home Initiative. I wrote the minister of families and social development asking that our community be included in the disbursement of these funds. It was recently announced that $1.67 million will be forthcoming to our community.

Paul inquired if people were still allowed to walk across the Roxham Road border crossing from the United States and if they are being screened for COVID-19. I advised that the government finally closed this as part of the border closures, though it may be temporary, as border restrictions are being reassessed every 30 days.

Carolyn and Bobby had questions about hospitality and other businesses not being applicable for many of the programs offered and how difficult it was. I mentioned how I had questioned ministers about their exact concerns, and we have not seen amendments to the programs that would be helpful for them yet.

We talked about engaging with young people with Lindsay. Craig spoke passionately about the economy and internal trade, and I gave a lengthy response which I can make in a separate column. Patrick commented on firearm law changes and our democracy.

Other questions, which were primarily provincial jurisdiction, included Shelley asking about responsibility for seniors homes, Dell about gas prices, and Lynn asking how we are handling travellers coming from out of province. 

One of the most touching calls of the evening was from a young student who was concerned about going back to school since there is still no cure for COVID-19, and he is afraid for his family. Our MLAs reiterated that attending school in person will not be mandatory.  

On Mother’s Day, I made the multi-flight trek to Ottawa to fulfill my duties there. It was surreal to see so few people, but good to see so many safety precautions – very different than when I flew home in March.

Thank you to all who participated. Please feel free to reach out. 


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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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