Though Parliament rose in June, my work as your Member of Parliament here in Kelowna-Lake Country has not stopped.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to speak with me in-person, at community events, while I was out meeting with small businesses and not-for-profits, and everyone who has sent me emails about their issues and thoughts.
Last week, I had the opportunity to visit several local farms and processing plants including many of our proud multi-generational local cherry orchardists. The technological advancements of growing, processing, packaging and quality assurance is creating world class product desired locally and from around the world. It was good to hear about the expansion opportunities that opened up when the Canada – Korea Free Trade Agreement came into effect on January 1, 2015 and how the industry has been working towards being able to diversify their cherry exports with some shipments sent this year to South Korea with opportunities for other agricultural products. Our orchardists are a major employer and economic driver for our region.
I also toured some of our great value-added agri-businesses including wineries and a fruit beverage company hearing their thoughts and ideas. It's important to support all our growers and producers. Some issues I heard about were rising costs, labour shortages, concern about classifying plastic as a “toxic substance” and how this could affect their industries, as well as concern about possible changes to policies on nitrogen fertilizer usage.
Residents and visitors are enjoying all Kelowna-Lake Country has to offer with recreational and sporting events, music, arts and culture, and – from the activities I attended – the attendance has been very strong.
Speaking with diverse local groups provides valuable feedback. This summer so far has included meeting with business groups, networking groups, not for profits, and a women’s breakfast group at a senior’s retirement home.
With last Tuesday serving as National Peacekeepers’ Day, I was honoured to stop in and pay my respects to all Canadians who have served – and continue to serve – in peacekeeping operations around the world at an open house at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 26. Our efforts as peacekeepers are foundational to Canada’s international reputation and we should all take immense pride in their service.
As our team at our constituency office says, they are “overflowing with opportunities to serve”. I’ve mentioned before how most federal government departments are not meeting their own service standards, their phone lines are difficult to get through to and department responses oftentimes are extremely delayed. Our team is working very hard to help everyone who reaches out, in what ways we can, and I am very proud of all their dedication to serve.
We are still too familiar with the complex addiction crisis here in Kelowna-Lake Country, both in the rising number of overdoses and the increasing number of families who have lost a loved one. Numbers released this week are sad and shocking. Over the last few weeks, I have been meeting with organizations on the front lines including law enforcement and many community organizations helping and providing hope, all of whom are true heroes.
Lastly, I wanted to have a quick reminder, keeping in mind some of the tragic vehicle and water accidents and the increasing prevalence of local forest fires here in the Okanagan, for everyone to take extra precautions and be safe.
If you need any assistance with programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected].