Report From Parliament Hill:
Eric Melillo - MP, Kenora Riding
I hope everyone had a safe and Happy Halloween!
This past week has been a busy one, with multiple Committee meetings, productive conversations with stakeholders, and an educational visit to Alberta to meet with officials and learn about the energy industry.
Standing up for Northern Ontario businesses
At the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee (INAN) on Tuesday, I questioned Northern Affairs Shadow Minister Dan Vandal about the impact of COVID-19 on Northern Ontario businesses.
I told the Minister that his government’s rigid criteria for COVID-19 benefits disqualified many Northern Ontario businesses, and asked whether seasonal and tourism businesses were consulted or even considered when the criteria were designed.
The Minister seemed to acknowledge that his government’s programs were not enough to sustain the tourism sector and said that consultations are currently ongoing.
I also asked why the government was so slow to fix flaws in their programs.
The Conservative Party spent all spring and summer raising alarms about technicalities that prevented many businesses from accessing federal supports, including tax-exempt Indigenous businesses and small businesses using personal bank accounts. I also took every opportunity to tell the government that their programs were not working for businesses in Northern Ontario, particularly our tourism industry.
Many of these problems had simple fixes, but the government dragged their feet, and reforms came months later or not at all.
Minister Vandal admitted that the Liberal government’s handling of COVID-19 is “still not perfect,” and that there are still gaps to be fixed.
I appreciate the Minister’s frankness on this – I only wish that the Liberal government had been more open to feedback when these programs were being rolled out, so we could have helped more Canadians get support.
Going forward, the government needs to consult with Canadians to ensure no one else falls through the cracks. They also need to listen to the Opposition when we speak up for our constituents and propose solutions to problems.
Broadband Motion Passed
I was very happy that the INAN Committee unanimously passed my motion calling for government investments in rural and Northern internet. The lack of reliable internet is a crisis throughout Northern and rural Canada, and immediate action is needed to ensure access for all.
Studying Canada’s Energy Industry
Later in the week, I travelled to Edmonton and Fort McMurray for a tour of the oilsands and to meet with Alberta Minister of Infrastructure Prasad Panda. I appreciated learning more about Canada’s energy industry and its contribution to our economy.
Honouring our Veterans
As we prepare to mark Indigenous Veterans Day on November 8th and Remembrance Day on the 11th, I would like to thank everyone who has served Canada in the Armed Forces. Your selfless courage should be an example to all Canadians, and we will strive to remember your sacrifices and honour your legacies.
Working for You
As always, if there is anything my office can assist you with, or if you would like to arrange a meeting, please call me at 807-468-2170 (Kenora) or 807-223-2182 (Dryden) or contact me by email at [email protected].
Member of Parliament – Kenora riding