COLUMN: A July update from MP Gray

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Tracy Gray’s column

Thank you to everyone who reached out to our office for a Canadian flag set.

It was wonderful delivering flags to residents in every corner of our community, and having so many people post photos of themselves displaying their flags on social media. Canada Day looked different for most of us this year with all major community events cancelled.

Our MP office has reopened to the public by appointment, please email or call if you would like to connect. Our team has been working diligently to serve our community during COVID-19, and we have safety precautions in place so that we are able to serve the community in person once again.

Many businesses and not-for-profits I talk to every day are dealing with employment challenges, increasing costs to meet health and safety standards, and continued extended revenue decreases. Most will have little opportunity to recover this year, therefore, it is important we support our local businesses, not-for-profits and artists as much as we can. Consider ordering from local neighbourhood businesses where possible, instead of multinational companies.

I am also listening to concerns from local farmers and orchardists, who are having real challenges getting workers for their farms. Every year they have to look elsewhere for a large part of their workforce. Many of their regular workers from Mexico and Quebec are not coming this year due to COVID-19 health or travel restrictions and rules. If you know someone who is out of work, let them know that our local orchardists and farmers are looking for many people to help them prune and pick right now and through the fall.

As individuals, businesses and not-for-profits decipher their way through various government programs, I’ve heard confusion over the most recently opened program, the $900 million Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG), which was announced in April and opened on June 25. The intent of this program is to allow students or recent graduates who cannot find work to receive a “grant” for volunteer hours with a charity or not-for-profit organization. The government initially outsourced the administration of this large contract to a third-party organization, WE Charity. There were also reports that part of the funding would include paying teachers to find and coordinate students.

Since this announcement, many organizations across Canada who said they had the capacity and technology to administer the program questioned why they were not able to participate, and saw no request for proposal (RFP) from the federal government. Right here in Kelowna, there is at least one tech company that partners volunteers with not-for-profits, and can fully track hours and activities as well. Questions were also raised why the government wasn’t administering the program internally through our public service. The Official Opposition wrote the Auditor General asking to include the CSSG in her detailed post-pandemic spending audit report and asked the federal procurement ombudsman to review. The Ethics Commissioner is now also investigating the Prime Minister due to his close family ties to the charity, and WE Charity and the government have parted ways on this program. Surely we will hear more about this situation over the coming months.

As always, please reach out to me to let me know what is important to you, and I appreciate all the follow-ups on federal programs as businesses and individuals work their way through them. 250-470-5075, tracy.gray@parl.gc.ca

In case you missed it:

COLUMN: A thank you from MP Tracy Gray

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Canada

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

Just Posted

Rose Valley Dam wildfire ‘under control’

B.C. Wildfire anticipates no further growth from the three-hectare fire

Central Okanagan residents invited to give input on regional transport plan

The plan will help Central Okanagan governments work together to connect people and places across the region

Okanagan set for thunderstorms before sunny weekend

Thunderstorms are predicted to give way to a hot, sunny weekend around Kelowna

Body of 21-year-old man found in Okanagan Lake

BC Coroners Service is investigating the circumstances of the man’s death

UBC Okanagan caps digital fees per course amid COVID-19

The UBCO student senate capped fees at $65 per class for the first winter term in 2020

Airlines dispute Dr. Henry’s claim they ‘very rarely’ give accurate COVID contact tracing info

Air Canada, WestJet say they provide names and contact information

Masks urged for some students returning to Vernon schools

Phase two sees students return full-time Sept. 8

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

COLUMN: COVID-19 contact tracing app offers innovative approach

App designed to help monitor spread of pandemic in Canada

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

Abbotsford mom worried about her two kids in Beirut following explosion

Shelley Beyak’s children were abducted by their dad in 2018

Young Canadians, hospitality workers bear the brunt of mental strain in 2020: report

A study by Morneau Shepell points to economic uncertainty in the pandemic as the cause for angst

Dry Lake wildfire now classified as held

Wildfire was burning out of control north of Princeton for three days

Health Canada recalling more than 50 hand sanitizers in evolving list

Organization says to stop using products listed, and to consult a health-care professional

Most Read