Last week, I was most disappointed to see that the Conservative Member of Parliament for Niagara Falls authored a column that omitted key facts about the federal government’s support for small businesses and the tourism sector.
While I understand that part of his role as a member of the Official Opposition involves criticizing the government’s policies, I do not believe that it is appropriate to leave out relevant details in communications to constituents.
In particular, I believe it is worth noting that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which has helped keep more than 5.3 million Canadians employed during the pandemic, was set to expire in June of this year, but is being extended to September 2021, to help businesses get through the summer. Our Conservative Member of Parliament criticized this extension in his column as inadequate, but then stood up in the House of Commons to vote against extending it at all. His column also failed to mention that the federal budget clearly committed to further extending the program until November 20, 2021, “should the economic and public health situation require it.”
The second omission from the MP’s column was that he failed to mention the new Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP), also announced in the federal budget. The proposed subsidy will make it as easy as possible for businesses to hire new workers as the economy reopens. The CRHP will be a critical payroll support program for small businesses and will incentivize them to hire more people as soon as it is safe to do so. Unfortunately, our MP also voted against this program, just last week.
Another curious omission in our MP’s column about support for tourism and hospitality was any mention of the aid programs announced in the federal budget that specifically support this sector. Budget 2021 included $500 million in a Tourism Relief Fund, which “will support investments by local tourism businesses in adapting their products and services to public health measures, and other investments that will help them recover from the pandemic and position themselves for future growth.” Similarly, the budget includes $400 million in financial support for festivals, artistic and cultural events, theatre performances, heritage celebrations, and local museums.
Lastly, I was particularly surprised to see the MP for Niagara Falls spread misinformation with respect to the federal government’s record on rapid tests and vaccine procurement. This is a critical component to not only our economic recovery but also the mental health and well-being of our community, as we face unprecedented stress about our personal health and safety.
The fact is that our federal government has procured more than 41 million rapid tests, and distributed them to the provinces, who are responsible for deploying them to local health units. Unfortunately, Premier Doug Ford has let the vast majority of the rapid tests he’s received from the federal government sit unused in warehouses. Just last week, an independent investigative report on CBC’s The National confirmed that provincial premiers had only deployed 1.7 million of the nearly 42 million tests received.
The MP for Niagara Falls continued the pattern of misinformation in his column by saying Canada is struggling with a severe vaccine shortage. The reality is, Canada now ranks 2nd among G20 in number of daily vaccines administered, and 3rd in the G20 in proportion of population vaccinated. Just this week, The Globe and Mail reported that Canada will have enough vaccines to ensure that every Canadian can receive both doses by the end of July. Similarly, the Toronto Star recently called Canada’s vaccination program “one of the best in the world.”
While this federal government is not perfect, it has been there to support Canadians with one of the most comprehensive COVID-19 support packages among developed countries. Moreover, its record ought to be evaluated by the Opposition on the basis of facts, not misleading columns that exclude critical details and contribute to the anxiety many residents are feeling during this pandemic.