If only moving on from the COVID pandemic were as easy as flipping the calendar to a new year.
But just days after we celebrated the arrival of 2022, we were all reminded that COVID and the Omicron variant still exists as a major risk to our health and well-being, and it’s unlikely to go away anytime soon.
As a result, we need to continue to be vigilant and responsible for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities, as we go about our daily lives. For those of you, who have already received your two vaccine shots, I encourage you to get your booster, as soon as possible. I received mine, last Friday.
Looking forward to the year ahead, as your Member of Parliament, I realize it is critical that our local businesses, particularly those in the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors, continue to have access to needed emergency federal support programs, to get them through this latest lockdown.
Our friends and neighbours who work for these local businesses, also need access to continued emergency federal programs during this lockdown. Again, workers most impacted in seasonal sectors like our local tourism industry, continue to face challenges unique to this sector.
You have my pledge that I promise to continue supporting these local businesses and workers by raising their issues and concerns over the weeks ahead in Ottawa.
Our local wine sector also continues to seek certainty from the federal government through the implementation of a more permanent excise tax exemption replacement program. While the federal government has made a short-term commitment to assist our wine sector, what we need is the certainty and longevity created by a standalone full-time replacement program. Doing so, will allow our industry to invest and grow as it did under the previous excise tax exemption program, which was introduced by the previous Conservative government.
I also want employers to know that applications for the popular Canada Summer Jobs program, are now open, for those who are looking to hire students this summer. Applications close on January 25. You can learn more and apply to this important employment program by visiting the Canada Summer Jobs website.
And speaking of summer, Niagara will be able to showcase itself to the country, when we play host to the Canada Summer Games. If you are interested in volunteering at this incredible event, you can visit their website and apply.
In November, I was pleased and honoured to get appointed to the Conservative Shadow Cabinet by Leader Erin O’Toole, in the role as Shadow Minister for Manufacturing and Export Promotion. I look forward to this new challenge, and have already reached out to local and national stakeholder groups to hear from them on the issues and opportunities impacting the sector. We need to make Canada and Niagara once again a place to invest, to grow one’s business, and to support good paying jobs.
Another priority upon returning to Parliament, will be continuing to hold this federal government accountable for their inadequate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two years into this pandemic, and it is all too clear that the Trudeau Liberals have failed to ensure we have the tools necessary to not only respond to, but more importantly live with COVID-19, so Canadians can get on with their lives. Continued sweeping lockdowns will not fix the underlying problem of a lack of surge resources in Canada’s healthcare system.
While it’s easy and convenient to blame provincial governments for healthcare issues and lockdowns, the reality is that we are in this situation because the federal government has failed to give enough support to the provinces. That is why in the last election, the federal Conservative Party promised a more collaborative approach to working with our provincial partners, in order to build greater healthcare capacity, by pledging a historic $60 billion increase to healthcare transfers.
For months, healthcare advocates and Canada’s premiers, including Premier Ford, have been calling on the federal government to increase healthcare funding. The federal government continues to ignore these pleas from those battling on the front lines. Instead, the Trudeau Liberals continue their focus on the politics of division, rather than working to unite Canadians and overcome this pandemic, once and for all.
I want to thank the residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls and Fort Erie, for continuing to place their trust in me to represent them in Ottawa. I look forward to continuing my work to advocate for you, and on local Niagara issues impacting us all.