Albas: Rookie MP getting his feet wet in Ottawa

In the past five days of the 41st Parliament, I had the opportunity to experience the following:

• voted to elect a new Speaker of the House,

• attended my first Throne Speech,

• witnessed a Parliamentary Page removed for engaging in partisan politics,

• participated in my first question period, and

• listened in as the first budget under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s majority government   was introduced to Canadians.

I also had a chance to attend the opening of the new Penticton Swimming Pool, where I was very honoured to meet and hear from many citizens on issues that are of importance to them.

One issue that I know is of great importance to all of us is the need to help those seniors who are struggling in their retirement.

The 2011 budget contains increased financial support to the Guaranteed Income Supplement  for low income seniors.

These increases for an eligible senior could be as much as an additional $600 for a single and $840 for a couple annually. This increase will help close to 700,000 seniors across Canada.

In addition, the income earnings exemption threshold for the GIS will also be increased from $500 to $3,500 to help those seniors who are still active in the workforce.

For family caregivers, there will now be a 15 per cent non refundable tax credit for those who care for dependent family members.

In addition, the $10,000 claim limit for eligible medical expenses will be also be removed.

There is also a new children’s arts and tax credit for eligible programs in the arts, culture and recreation.

The reason I raise these items is because this budget recognizes that different people in different stages of their lives have much different  needs. This budget also recognizes some of the diverse needs of a riding like Okanagan-Coquihalla.

While these are only a few of the many details contained in the budget, another aspect I believe is also worth noting, as it was announced in the Throne Speech, was a commitment to do a comprehensive review of all government spending.

I think we all know that government is very good at creating programs but not always as successful at putting an end to them.

This will be first review of its kind in roughly 15 years, carried out by a  cabinet subcommittee.

I may also have a chance to make my first official new member’s statement in the House of Commons this week.

It is my intent on asking my fellow MPs to be mindful with the many young high school and college students that will graduate in the weeks ahead that we not lose sight of the needs of jobs and a strong economy for their future.

Retirement is another topic that I will raise as our seniors deserve to retire with dignity.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Okanagaan-Coquihalla.


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