Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle Class Prosperity, speaks with North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold during a Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce breakfast Monday, March 2 at Eatology. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle Class Prosperity, speaks with North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold during a Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce breakfast Monday, March 2 at Eatology. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

‘We need to do more,’: Minister on middle-class squeeze in Vernon

Quality of life and well-being at the top of new minister’s mandate

The head of a new ministry created to examine quality of life and well-being in Canada made her first B.C. stop in Vernon.

Mona Fortier is Minister of Middle Class Prosperity of Canada, and also the association minister of finance and development.

On the job since just November, the minister’s mandate is to develop a plan to place quality of life and well-being at the heart of government policy making.

“We know that too many Canadians are feeling that financial squeeze at the end of the month,” Fortier told approximately 20 Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce members at Eatology Monday, March 2.

To understand what it means to have a good quality of life, Fortier is working with Canadians to understand what they need. That includes visiting various communities, such as Vernon, which was followed by Kelowna Monday, then Surrey and Victoria.

The minister, and Ottawa-Vanier MP, said the government has done a good job of lifting many out of poverty, particularly through the Canada Child Benefit.

In the North Okanagan-Shuswap, 11,390 families receive the Canada Child Benefit, reaching 20,080 children.

That works out to an average yearly payment of $6,800 per family.

“We can do more to help Canadians,” she said. “We need to do more.”

One local business owner said the government actually needs to step back from helping in some areas.

“The government tends to want to build housing for people, which is completely wrong, you need to stimulate investors,” Okanagan Spirits president Tony Dyck said. “Free enterprise will build the buildings if the tax system is set up right.

“I’d rather you do it direct and help individuals who need help than building housing.”

Another businessperson suggested the government support the struggling forestry industry, which is shutting down mills and cutting jobs.

The government is also dedicated to getting resources where they are needed, the minister said.

“The Trans Mountain project is exactly why we are focused on moving our commodities,” Fortier said.

CP Rail blockades have also prevented resources from moving in recent weeks, which is why she says the government is dedicated to resolving the issues.

“Having blockades is not the solution and at some point it has to stop,” said Fortier, noting there’s been movement in the past few days. “One thing is making sure our commodities and resources get to places they need to be.”

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold said the blockades have been the No. 1 issue on constituents’ minds.

“We haven’t had that many calls on one issue in the last five years,” said Arnold, who spoke in the House recently about a Salmon Arm farmer who had an order for two rail cars of feed for his 300,000 chickens and couldn’t get it because of the blockades.

READ MORE: Protesters set up beside Vernon highway

READ MORE: Federal minister to speak in Vernon


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle Class Prosperity, speaks with Tony Dyck, an Okanagan business owner, during a Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce breakfast event Monday, March 2 at Eatology. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle Class Prosperity, speaks with Tony Dyck, an Okanagan business owner, during a Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce breakfast event Monday, March 2 at Eatology. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Just Posted

A COVID-19 exposure has been confirmed at Black Mountain Elementary in Kelowna Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Google Image)
Another COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Kelowna school

Interior Health confirmed an exposure at Black Mountain Elementary School Saturday

Members of BCEHS Station 343 in Lake Country receive a donation of treats and wine from the community in December. (Contributed)
‘Unexpected and heartwarming’: Okanagan community supports paramedics

Cards, discounts, treats, more given to Lake Country paramedics in sign of support

Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis has served as the band’s chief since his first of six electoral wins in 1991. (File photo)
Okanagan Indian Band seeks nominations for upcoming election

A new OKIB chief and council will be elected March 30, 2021

An individual at Rutland Senior Secondary school has tested positive for COVID-19. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Individual at Kelowna school tests positive for COVID-19

Authorities say they are self-isolating at home with support from local health teams

Flooding has become a reality for many communities in the Okanagan Valley as the region faces more extreme weather storms, blamed on the impact of climate change. (File photo)
Okanagan high target for spring flooding

Higher snowpack and mild winter precipitation levels raise concerns for Canada’s insurance industry

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

(Hal Brindley - Dreamstime)
Enderby farmers caught between coyotes and bylaw tickets

The Smith family is stuck in a Catch-22 between protecting their livestock and incurring noise complaints

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

The North Okanagan Naturalists' Club completed its annual swan and eagle counts Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (Claude Rioux - NONC photo)
North Okanagan bird count shows decrease in swan and eagle numbers

Trumpeter swans were down 61 per cent from last year’s count; eagles down 14 per cent

Lake Country firefighters helped deliver a healthy newborn baby Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Pixabay)
Lake Country firefighters help deliver baby boy

Firefighters from the Winfield hall assisted with the birth of a healthy newborn Thursday morning

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Skaha Middle School
Arrest made in indecent acts near South Okanagan schools

A 32-year-old man was arrested and released on strict conditions, say police

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Most Read