North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney provided federal finance minister Chrystia Freeland with a list of budget priorities based on the top issues being raised by constituents in Blaney’s riding.
A media release indicated that Blaney’s letter to the minister focused on six areas that require tangible measures in the upcoming budget: connectivity, climate change, housing, child care, an aquaculture jobs transition plan, and poverty among seniors.
The release stated the pandemic has highlighted and increased the need for high-speed internet for all Canadians, which continues to be lacking in parts of the region. Blaney stated that significant investment is still needed to bring adequate speeds, as well as cellular coverage, to smaller communities.
On housing and child care, Blaney challenged the Liberal record.
“Frankly, the Liberal government has not given enough attention to addressing the housing crisis,” stated Blaney in her letter. “None of the measures announced since you were first elected in 2015 have had any impact on housing affordability in my riding.”
“Your party has a record of promising child care all the way back to 1993 and yet Liberals have failed to deliver on this promise each and every time you have been in power. I beseech you to prove me wrong and finally deliver quality, affordable child care so parents can get back to work.”
Blaney called for investments in projects and programs that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition away from fossil-fuel projects. She pointed to her recent private member’s motion: Principles for a Sustainable and Equitable Future, as a tool to inform funding priorities.
Blaney repeated her message to fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan, calling for a locally driven transition plan and resources for aquaculture workers affected by the decision to close salmon farms in the Discovery Islands, and further investments in conservation, protection and restoration of wild salmon habitats.
“It is possible to protect both jobs and wild salmon if your government adopts a transition jobs plan for workers in the aquaculture sector,” stated Blaney
Lastly, Blaney’s letter called for increases to the guaranteed income supplement (GIS) and old age security (OAS), noting that the NDP fought to achieve a one-time COVID-19 benefit of $500 for seniors, but that permanent rate increases are needed in order to lift vulnerable seniors out of poverty.