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 facing a worsening cost-of-living crisis, with increasing mortgage interest costs, several increasing federal taxes, increasing EI premiums, concerns from workers about "Just Transition" legislation and the potential expansion of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID).
An 8-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 of our 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 percent 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 marked a distressing milestone as more Canadians turned to food banks than ever. 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 January 1st, leaving less on paychecks despite the assurance in Budget 2023 that these premiums would stay the same for workers. Businesses will also have to pay higher premiums.
Local 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 1st, 2024. Not only does this cut into producers' bottom line at a time when many are struggling, but the cost inevitably gets passed onto restaurants and other licensees, and ultimately consumers, in itself, then increasing inflation further.
Increasing mortgage interest payments, increasing carbon taxes making the price of everything go up, and other tax increases are fueling 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, this 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 BC, 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 approaching on March 17th, 2024, based on government legislation. Conservatives have gotten behind the many experts, including doctors, who have come forth expressing the inherent risks of implementing MAID for mental illness with concerns of adequate safeguards to protect the most vulnerable.
Wars, international instability, and geopolitical issues can affect our residents at home in our community who may have family abroad. Our constituency office is always available to serve in what ways we are able.
I will continue to fight for residents across our community to ensure that 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].