Dear friends and families,
I write to you from my home, where Kelly and I are doing our part to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We have been self-isolating since my return home March 15 immediately after the suspension of Parliament and the closure of our personal business on March 21 due to quarantine measures.
First, let me say, I hope this finds you all safe, healthy and doing as well as can be expected during a global pandemic. My thoughts and prayers are with those who have loved ones fighting COVID or have lost someone to this terrible virus.
We truly are in unprecedented times.
While we have been using our social media to do our very best to communicate to you all, I wanted to write a letter to you. It seems that the days of the handwritten note from loved ones or friends are getting fewer and fewer.
With all of the uncertainty in our lives, the social or physical distancing measures being mandated, now, more than ever, we need that social contact … albeit at a two-metre distance!
Through this letter, I thought I’d provide you with an update of the situation from my perspective and to remind you that while Parliament is suspended, my office and team remain available to assist you throughout these challenging times.
First, we need to thank the extraordinary doctors, nurses and other health care providers in our riding, as well as the first responders and emergency services personnel who are doing exceptional work to keep our communities — our friends and families — informed, safe and healthy.
I would also like to recognize the work of our frontline workers — the grocery store clerks, pharmacy and drug store staff, truck drivers, farmers and other essential service workers that are doing extremely important work to maintain supply chains and keep us going.
The last few weeks have been challenging to say the least.
Our world is now a very different place.
As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic that has plagued our country, our day-to-day routines have been dramatically altered. Canadians in our communities and throughout our country have found themselves out of work, out of money and, in some cases, out of hope.
You’re concerned. I share your concerns.
As Canadians continue to worry about their health and the health of their loved ones, there is real concern of how they’re going to pay their bills.
While details are still being hammered out, there are now a number of new federal initiatives intended to help. The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will provide $2,000 per month for those who are laid off or can’t work due to Coronavirus. The application for this benefit became available on April 6. Families will see a temporary boost to the Canada Child Benefit, an increase to the GST credit, and the government is delivering increased funding to the provinces for health care.
My colleagues and I in the Official Opposition continue to provide the government with real solutions for everyday Canadians, and while we are working collaboratively with all parties, we also continue to press for information and answers to important questions.
As the Shadow Minister for Transport, I have worked collaboratively with Minister Garneau on industry issues from airlines, airports and their customers, to rail, shippers and the concerns facing our truck drivers.
We have worked tirelessly around the clock with Global Affairs in the repatriation efforts of many, many constituents who have made it home and those who continue to be stranded abroad. The stories of our friends and families stranded globally during this crisis and the efforts by all to repatriate them are truly unbelievable.
There will be a time to examine the missed opportunities and failure to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic sooner; now is not that time. Partisan politics have no place in a pandemic, and I will do my best to continue playing a constructive role for you.
The next 14 days are critical.
I know it has been a long and emotional few weeks, but now is not the time to become complacent. We have to remain vigilant in physical distancing to keep our most vulnerable citizens safe.
Please stay home, except for essential grocery store or pharmacy runs.
And please heed all the prescribed measures to keep you and your family safe. Do not underestimate this virus.
I want you all to know that my office and my team remain available to help you. Whether it is repatriation of loved ones or as the government continues to roll out federal programs to assist Canadians with their financial needs, my team is available to answer any questions you may have. I know that navigating federal government websites and applications can be overwhelming, and we’re here to help with that.
We may be apart, but we are in this together.
In this region, we do “community” extremely well. We rally around friends and neighbours in their time of need. We need to put a greater emphasis on these efforts during these times. Just as we did during the 2017 wildfires, be kind and generous wherever you can, and let’s look after one another.
Finally, I want to reiterate something I said earlier; now more than ever we need to stay together as a community, region and country. While physically, we may not be able to be together as friends and family, work harder at staying in touch. Call a friend or loved one, do a group video chat via Skype or Facebook messenger … or simply write a letter.
I wish you all the very best of health and wellness in the weeks to come. Please stay safe, be healthy and continue to heed the advice of our public health officials.
With God’s blessing, we will be able to connect in person again soon.
MP, Cariboo-Prince George