Our thoughts and prayers this week are with our neighbours in Alberta from the community of Fort McMurray who have been devastated by a raging wildfire that has caused immense loss of property but fortunately to date no reported loss of life.
Citizens in the Okanagan know firsthand the impacts of forest fires and I know all citizens in our region are in support of the many first responders who are working tirelessly to regain control of the situation. In Ottawa the Federal government will be providing military support to assist with the firefighting efforts and the prime minister has indicated other supports may be available as this situation unfolds.
I would also like to thank those citizens who have donated to the Canadian Red Cross relief effort for victims who have lost homes in this tragedy.
In Ottawa this week debate has been largely focused on Bill C-14 (Medical Assistance in Dying) with daily sittings extended into the late evening as the Liberals also prepare to shut down debate using an upcoming vote to enact time allocation. After my recent MP reports on this subject the overwhelming response I have heard back on this bill is largely supportive; however, with concerns as well as constructive suggestions on how the bill might be further improved with additional safeguards.
One additional challenge to this bill is that the Supreme Court has established a June 2016 deadline for the bill to be passed. This Supreme Court-imposed deadline ultimately limits not only the debate but also what amendments and other criteria might be added to further ensure that the bill does not adversely impact those who are most vulnerable.
As an example of this, currently Bill C-14 proposes that a written request for medical assistance in dying is independently assessed by two doctors or nurse practitioners.
One suggestion I received is that this two-person requirement could be expanded to also include a social worker, a medical ethicist, a palliative care expert and possibly someone with mental health experience. This is only one example of potential amendments that could better strengthen this legislation.
One other update I would like to provide stems from my April 13 MP report on the bank ‘bail-in’ legislation contained in the new Liberal Budget Implementation Act. At the time of that report it was unclear if the bank bail-in provisions would specifically exclude the deposits from everyday bank customers. I can now confirm that the bank bail-in provisions would exclude, and thereby protect, consumer bank deposits from this legislation.
As a result I now believe that the bank bail-in provisions will further strengthen our Canadian banking system while also adding increased accountability with less taxpayer risk. For a refresher on this topic my April 13 MP report can be viewed at www.danalbas.com/mp-report/bail-in-or-bail-out.
On a final note I would like to announce that my primary West Kelowna Constituency office has made a small move and is now located at 2562-B, Main Street, in West Kelowna. The new location has ample parking and I invite citizens to drop in if you require assistance or would like to arrange an appointment.
For seven of the next eight weeks I will be in Ottawa as the House is now in the spring session that is the busiest of the year until the anticipated June 24 summer adjournment. This summer, as in previous years, I will also be conducting my annual summer listening tour as I look forward to visiting all communities and regions within Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.
As always your comments, questions and concerns are welcome and I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or toll free 1-800-665-8711.