MP outlines concerns about what's coming this year

Looking ahead to 2024

As we look forward to this new year, I've heard a wide variety of concerns from our community regarding upcoming government policies and legislation.

Residents in Kelowna-Lake Country, and Canadians across the country, continue to face a worsening cost-of-living crisis, with increasing mortgage interest costs, several increasing federal taxes, an increase to EI premiums, concerns from workers about “Just Transition" legislation and the potential expansion of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID).

An eight-year decline in the standard of living performance leaves Canada lagging behind other advanced economies, and with soaring costs in essentials like food, fuel, and housing, many local residents and people across Canada are grappling with unprecedented challenges.

The 2024 Canada Food Price Report estimates food prices will increase by 2.5% to 4.5% over the next year. We have to remember, this is on top of the last couple of years, where we saw increases as high as 11% year-over-year.

2023 also marked a distressing milestone as more Canadians than ever turned to food banks. Housing expenses have skyrocketed with the most interest rate increases in one year in Canadian history.

Should we hope to see any substantive change in inflation or interest rates, a serious change in fiscal management and balanced budgets will need to be undertaken by the federal government.

Families will soon face added financial strains as the government raised EI premiums on Jan. 1, leaving less on paycheques despite the assurance in Budget 2023 that those premiums would stay the same for workers. Businesses will also have to pay higher premiums.

Wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries in the Okanagan, and across Canada, are very concerned about the government's yearly "escalator" (automatic) excise tax increase on alcohol once again on April 1. Not only will that cut into producers' bottom line at a time when many are struggling, but the cost inevitably gets passed on to restaurants and other licensees, and ultimately consumers. That, in itself, will increase inflation further.

Increasing mortgage interest payments, increasing carbon taxes making the price of everything go up and other tax increases are fuelling the inflationary fire and reducing Canadians' quality of life and putting more small businesses at risk of closing.

If the government's "Just Transition" legislation passes, it will continue to create uncertainty for the 2.7 million workers in the country who the government has said will have disruptions to their jobs.

I'll be following the effects of the implementation of firearms legislation on responsible firearms owners, the federal drug decriminalization policies in B.C., the minor amendments to bail reform legislation and how online news could continue to be restricted in Canada due to legislation passed last year.

Another issue coming up soon is the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) eligibility date for persons suffering solely from a mental illness. It is approaching (March 17), based on government legislation. Conservatives got behind the many experts, including doctors, who came forth expressing the inherent risks of implementing MAID for mental illness, with concerns about adequate safeguards to protect the most vulnerable.

Wars, international instability and geopolitical issues can also affect our residents at home in our community who may have family abroad. My constituency office is always available to serve in any way it can.

I will continue to fight for residents across our community to ensure we bring home safe streets, powerful paycheques and homes people can afford.

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

Tracy Gray is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.

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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