Report from Parliament Hill:
Fighting for Our Community
Eric Melillo - MP, Kenora Riding
The Kenora riding has been uniquely impacted by this pandemic, and I am fighting to ensure we aren’t left behind.
Our region is facing distinct challenges related to our geography, particularly our proximity to the United States and the remoteness of many of our communities.
For instance, the lack of reliable broadband in rural and remote areas is swiftly becoming a crisis in the era of COVID-19. As a result of this public health crisis, Canadians are being asked to work from home as much as possible, and education, healthcare, mental health, financial and legal services moving increasingly online.
The Conservative Party has proposed practical solutions to provide internet service to rural and remote communities. I recently wrote to Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains urging the government to implement these measures as soon as possible, and to empower local communities to innovate.
Our region’s supply chains, especially in our northernmost areas, are also particularly vulnerable at this time. Northern air carriers are essential for transporting goods and services to remote regions of Ontario, but they’ve been hit hard by COVID-19. As a result, many of these airlines are struggling to meet the needs of the communities they serve, with some temporarily limiting or suspending service to certain areas.
Last week, I contacted Transport Minister Marc Garneau urging him to consult with these airlines to determine what supports the government can provide.
Finally, many of our local businesses – including tourism operators and outfitters, restaurants, and retail shops – are heavily reliant on visitors from outside the riding, and may not fully recover until borders re-open and regular travel resumes. For many business owners in the Kenora riding, the current supports offered by the government are simply not enough.
Since this crisis began, I’ve been advocating for improvements to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to help more businesses qualify. I’ve also been working with local tourism operators to call for federal grants to help them survive this crisis.
Relatedly, I am glad that Bill C-20: An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures is working its way through Parliament. Bill C-20 amends the wage subsidy to allow a broader range of employers to qualify and provide additional support to those hardest-hit, as well as enabling a one-time payment for Canadians with disabilities. The Bill passed through the House of Commons last week; as of Friday, July 24th, it still has to pass through the Senate.
I am happy to work with Members of all Parties and levels of government to get results for our riding.
As always, if there is anything my office can assist you with, or a cause you would like me to take up in Ottawa, please do not hesitate to contact me by phone at 807-468-2170 or by email at [email protected].
Member of Parliament - Kenora riding