Parliament resumes this month and being out in the community extensively over the summer gaining feedback from residents has been important work.
Outreach involved various ways of hearing from people, including meeting in person with individuals, touring businesses and not-for-profit organizations, and connecting at many community events, including setting up our MP community booth where people can spend time chatting and discussing important matters. My annual farming tour included meeting with farmers and those who support the agriculture industry.
These activities provide me with valuable feedback on what is important to individuals and local organizations.
Thank you to all who responded to my last survey, which went to every home at the beginning of the summer, on how the high cost of living is impacting the personal financial decisions of members of our community. I’ll be bringing the voices of many of the comments from this survey into the House of Commons this fall. A quick summary of the responses from respondents said 70% are buying fewer groceries, 81% are taking fewer trips, 78% are donating less to charity, and 89% are putting less into savings, which truly speaks to how the cost of living crisis is affecting many here in Kelowna-Lake Country.
Top issues I heard about consistently included the rising cost of living, including for recent back-to-school shopping, the unaffordable cost of housing, increases in local not-for-profit and charity usage due to the squeezing of family finances, the administrative burden of red tape, bureaucracy, and delays with federal government programs and services. These, as well as new regulations affecting childcare operators and options, the concerns over the potential loss of natural health products (NHPs) in Canada, federal government program and service delays, the rising cost of personal and business debt due to high-interest rates, and mental health, addiction, and crime issues are all important concerns that were brought to my attention by residents.
The devastating fires in our community and surrounding areas from this summer will be felt for a long time. My heart goes out to all who are affected and to anyone who has suffered losses. People in our community opened their hearts and homes and there will be many who will still need help for a long time while they rebuild. Thank you again to all responders and volunteers who helped save lives and protect and support people in our community. I have mentioned previously how the community support for those who have been affected by the fires is emblematic of what I often refer to as “the spirit of Kelowna-Lake Country”. It was truly heartwarming to see our community come together to support each other during what has been an incredibly difficult time.
This crisis highlighted the importance of a concerted effort to address wildfires, including looking at federal government promises from the past. During the 2021 election, the Prime Minister promised to train and equip 1,000 woodland firefighters and provide $500 million to the provinces and territories to buy essential equipment to increase their ability to fight fires before the 2022 fire season. This promise was not fulfilled by that timeline, nor as of now.
I take all of the issues I heard over the summer seriously, including during the wildfires in Kelowna-Lake Country, and will bring our community’s voice to Ottawa when studying and debating legislation, questioning the government to hold them to account, working on studies at committee to make recommendations to the government, and working with colleagues on future policies.
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].