Jobs, testing, vaccine rollout

I will be covering three items in this report, including :

  • December job loss numbers
  • Job losses in airlines and aerospace
  • Travel-related COVID-19 testing concerns and access to vaccines during roll-out.

The Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey showed that the Canadian economy lost 63,000 jobs in December, the first decline since April.

These figures remind us all that we need a plan to get people safely back to work, create jobs, and get our economy back on track.

The Official Opposition has made numerous recommendations. I am talking to small business owners every day who have just “gotten by” utilizing various government programs, but still had to dip into or drain their savings. Many are now very concerned whether they will survive this year.

On Jan. 8, WestJet announced that because of “incoherent and inconsistent government policy,” it will be cutting hours, laying off staff, and reducing their capacity by a third. This was on top of previous cuts by themselves and other airlines.

On Jan. 13, Air Canada announced laying off 1,700 workers. That same week, it was reported by the Globe and Mail that 12 foreign airlines received money through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy all while some received, at the same time, “generous bailout packages from their own governments.”

The airline and aerospace sectors are important to Kelowna-Lake Country and includes many related jobs. I’ve met with local aerospace companies and am hearing from local families within these sectors who are genuinely concerned about paying their bills.

The federal government must introduce a real plan to test international travellers at our airports to ensure the safety of Canadians and provide certainty and support for those who work in our airline and aviation sectors.

Despite almost a year of lockdowns, restrictions, and calls from the Official Opposition, the government has yet to implement a clear, testing-protocol plan for travellers coming into Canada, or a comprehensive rapid testing plan for travel within the country using evidence-based information as many other jurisdictions and G7 countries have.

Instead, travellers and officials have to navigate a complex system of confusing, difficult to enforce, and seemingly random requirements.

I often get asked by those who wish to have a vaccine, who will receive them first. This is from the Canada.ca website:

“Vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 - Vaccine rollout. Groups that will get the vaccine first - Priority for early COVID-19 vaccination will be given to the following populations:

  • "Residents and staff of shared living settings who provide care for seniors
  • "Adults 70 years of age and older, with order of priority beginning with adults 80 years of age and older then decreasing the age limit by five-year increments to age 70 years as supply becomes available.
  • "Health care workers who have direct contact with patients, including those who work in health care settings and personal support workers.
  • "Adults in Indigenous communities.

"Then: as additional COVID-19 vaccine(s) and supplies become available, the following populations should be offered vaccinations:

  • "Health care workers not included in the initial rollout.
  • "Residents and staff of all other shared living settings, such as homeless shelters, correctional facilities, housing for migrant workers
  • "Essential workers who face additional risks to maintain services for the functioning of society."

It is fair to question if the government does not follow these rollout priorities. Before years end, we heard that Canadians would be at the front of the line globally for a vaccine.

Yet now in January, the provinces continue to run out and we’ve heard of procurement delays. The Official Opposition will continue to press the government to be transparent about vaccine procurement and rollout to those who want it.

If you need any assistance with programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out. Stay well.
250-470-5075 or [email protected]. tracygraymp.ca

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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