June 16, 2020
Although days are busy and the weeks race by, I am grateful to be working “remotely” from our beautiful city. My springs normally involve the long weekly commute to-and-from Ottawa, three weeks out of four. Now I work from home, attending Parliament by Zoom rather than Air Canada! These past months, MPs have been meeting three hours a day, four days weekly, in what is technically a hybrid “COVID19 Committee”, but in fact includes many of the key elements of regular Parliamentary Sessions. Some MPs living near Ottawa participate in person, the rest of us Zoom-in for Party Leaders’ Statements, tabling of petitions, Statements by members, Points of Order, and Question Period. I have now grown accustomed to attending our 90-minute question periods – providing 50% more opportunity to put our Prime Minister and ministers like me on the spot, compared with a regular Parliament! Virtual voting could well be the next step for democracy during a pandemic.
The rest of the day (and often evenings) fills up with preparation and meetings of Cabinet and Treasury Board (of which I am Vice President), Ministry of Digital Government work and most importantly, serving you. My constituency office is now open – by appointment for now – so don’t hesitate to call if you need our help.
In recent news, last Friday Prime Minister Trudeau announced that mandatory temperature checks will be required for all air passengers, and no-one with a fever will be allowed to board their plane, coming or going. Speaking of travel, we recently amended our Canada-US border measures to allow cross-border immediate family members to reunite, recognizing the border shutdown has kept families apart for too long. It was also announced today that the border will remain closed to non-essential travel until July 21.
For those looking for reliable information on the necessary supplies required to keep themselves or their customers safe, our government just launched the federal Supply Hub. This brings together organizations buying and/or selling personal protective equipment (PPE). The Supply Hub will connect you with federal, provincial and other resources and information about PPE availability, including consumer guidance.
In other news, Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller recently announced more support for Indigenous businesses. This included $117 million for community-owned First Nation, Métis, and Inuit businesses not eligible for existing supports, and $16 million to support the struggling Indigenous tourism sector. To reduce food waste and feed hungry Canadians, $50 million was allocated to buy and distribute farm surpluses. This adds to the $100 million already provided to address COVID-19-related food needs in April. And finally, a disability benefit of $600 to help Canadians with disabilities was announced. Once parliament votes in favour, the funds will be available.
I can’t conclude without mentioning that last week was World Ocean’s Day, and it’s imperative we protect the three incredible oceans surrounding our country’s lands. In our 2019 Platform, the Liberal Party promised to ban harmful single-use plastics by 2021, protect 25% of Canada’s land and oceans by 2025, and end open net-pen salmon aquaculture by 2025. I am thrilled that our Prime Minister has now also mandated the implementation of a “boat to plate” traceability program, to reduce sale and consumption of seafood associated with illegal, unregulated, and unreported fisheries. Although we now face other unforeseen challenges, I will continue working on your behalf to ensure these important pledges are fulfilled.
International Trails Day was also last week! One of Dirk's and my favourite weekend breaks is exploring Vancouver Quadra’s abundance of forest trails.
The Hon. Joyce Murray, P.C., M.P.
Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra
Minister of Digital Government
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