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In-Your-Service

Priorities, recommendations

We recently passed the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 being declared a global pandemic.

While I continue to be impressed by the spirit of Kelowna-Lake Country, there is no doubt that the physical, mental, and economic impacts of COVID-19 have been severe.

I’ve heard from many in our community who are not only concerned about their own physical health and that of loves ones, but those whose mental health has suffered due to the pandemic.

Many people are struggling financially as businesses have shuttered and personal or business savings have dried up.

A report published by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, the COVID Misery Index, rated overall well-being and misery due to COVID-19 policies.

It showed that of 15 similar advanced countries, Canada has the fifth highest number on the scale, with higher scores indicating more misery — showing Canadians have suffered more than many other countries as a result of the pandemic.

Three main categories captured the disease impact, economic impact, and management response of each nation by measuring performance on 16 metrics.

It’s time for the Liberal government to step up and show a clear data-driven plan for a path out of the lockdown. It is also the federal government’s responsibility to provide an economic roadmap.

As we rebuild our economy, fiscal transparency and accountability are more important than ever. However, the federal government has continually delayed the release of a budget for two years now.

The government prorogued parliament last summer in order to give themselves a new mandate, and yet seven months later, Canadians still do not have an economic recovery plan or budget.

While the federal government has spent a lot of time talking about a budget, referring to it as “the most significant one of our lifetimes,” the reality is every G7 country made it a priority to present a budget to its citizens in 2020, as did all Canadian provinces and territories.

It is the role of the Official Opposition to hold the government to account and put forward recommendations. Like all Canadians, we want a successful vaccine rollout as well as utilization of other tools to get us through this pandemic.

On March 11, we put forward an Opposition Day motion calling on the government to include in the next federal budget support for workers in sectors heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic including industries such as hospitality, tourism, charities, airlines, and small-and medium sized business.

We’ve recommended practical measures such as providing repayable loans to airlines in exchange for consumer refunds, job guarantees, and restrictions on executive compensation, and the restoration of regional routes.

We also called for improvements to support and lending programs to prevent a wave of bankruptcies and layoffs.

We cannot allow the pandemic to destroy livelihoods in many sectors. By helping those most impacted, we can secure jobs, and quicken our economic recovery.

The government continues to bring forth bills in no logical order on their legislative agenda in parliament. Instead of prioritizing legislation on Canada-U.K. trade so that a deadline would be met in order to continue having tariff-free trade, the government instead prioritized legislation so they can have an election.

The Official Opposition were able to negotiate debating the trade agreement so businesses have certainty, and this bill passed in the House of Commons.

I was slated to debate on what would have been my third speech last week, but did not have an opportunity because the government, supported by the Bloc Quebecois, shut down debate on Bill C-7.

This bill came back to Parliament from the Senate dramatically expanding medical assistance in dying (MAID) to include those whose sole underlying condition is mental illness.

This expansion goes far beyond the original C-7 and against the serious concerns mental health and disability groups brought forth to the Justice committee.

I’m continuing with my “small business spotlight” features and on my social media you’ll also see several short videos about a number of topics such as International Women’s Day and the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club’s 55th anniversary.

There are a couple community clean-ups being planned, so reach out to my office if you are interested, and as details come in, we can pass the contact information on.

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

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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]



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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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