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 MP’s 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 23rd 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.
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 MP’s. The concept of a “Virtual Parliament” has been misrepresented as the House of Commons has said they do not have the capacity for a full virtual parliament. As the Official Opposition, we have asked the government to include more in-person accountability sittings that meet health and safety requirements.
I was talking to a resident who referenced the “feeling” they have now is similar to the Okanagan Mountain Park fires of 2003. As a community, we rallied behind our firefighters and army personnel, as we are behind health care workers now. Those were different circumstances and thankfully no one lost their life. Though, how resilient our community is and how we work together during difficult times has not wavered.
Be sure 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 favorites 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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In your service,
Tracy Gray, MP for Kelowna-Lake Country
Shadow Minister Interprovincial Trade