As we move through stages of reopening and recovery, I have been connecting with many individuals and organizations from every sector. Many of our local tourism and business association groups have been working diligently connecting with their members and greater business community, offering important surveys which help us all understand how the pandemic has affected local businesses in detail. One virtual meeting I attended was with the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission hosting a large Advisory Council Industry Round Table focusing on three important business sectors in the Central Okanagan. These groups are providing insight and perspective that is useful as I bring forth their concerns and ideas into policy discussions and recommendations within the Official Opposition.
A question that I get asked often is why parliamentary committees are important, and what work they do. The government voted to shut down full Parliament until late September, and most committees are also not active and sitting. This is really unfortunate as the work committees do is valuable, including commissioning studies, bringing in experts to testify, and preparing and tabling reports to the government. Fortunately, I sit on the Industry, Science, and Technology Committee, one of the few which have been allowed to meet virtually.
With conversations turning to contact tracing as a way of informing health officials and the public about infections, it was timely hearing from a Google Canada representative at the Industry committee. Through my questioning, he provided interesting information about how Google tracks user movements through mobile devices, depending on the settings someone has set on their phones. We also had the Privacy Commissioner attend who laid out recommendations their department has made to the government on strengthening our Privacy Laws. We just started a study on the Canada Investment Act. There are concerns with international state-owned enterprises taking advantage of the pandemic situation, so it is a timely topic.
Additionally, in a COVID-19 committee meeting, I asked the government to restart the work on breaking down interprovincial trade barriers that they put on hold due to the crisis. I believe it is imperative to help stimulate our economy, and one way, is the ability to move goods and labour interprovincially throughout Canada without barriers.
I have been proactively reaching out to many individuals and businesses as the government announces policy or program changes. Some of the topics I have gone back and updated constituents on include reunification with family members from the US, the opening of the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), addition of prohibited firearms to the government’s prohibited list, and amendments to other programs. Therefore, I appreciate you continuing to reach out as it helps me know what is important to you and allows me to follow up when necessary. One underlying issue I hear about a lot is the anxiety around uncertainty for what the future will hold, the unknown makes it difficult to plan personally and professionally.
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