Dear friends and neighbours,
Happy Lunar New Year of the Tiger!
This yearly celebration is observed by hundreds of millions of people in countries all over the world – including our own. Food, fun, family, and festivities are its hallmarks. Though the pandemic has interfered with many time-honoured traditions, I greatly enjoyed the festivities organized by the University Neighbourhood Association on Saturday.
I write this even as truckers and protesters are flowing back into Ottawa and other connection points for another weekend of blaring horns, diesel fumes, and disruption. Fortunately, I attended Parliament virtually last week, though my Ottawa colleagues and staff have shared stories about the fear, frustration and stress local residents are experiencing. Yes – we all are tired of lockdowns, restrictions, and concern about loved ones at risk from the coronavirus. I echo the Prime Minister’s comment in his statement last week: “To the nearly 90% of truckers across the country who have gotten vaccinated, who continue working hard to keep us fed and keep our economy moving: thank you.”
We worry, and we stand in solidarity with our Ukrainian friends and families, at this time of geo-political uncertainty in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Through this challenging time, I am most grateful to be a Canadian.
February is also Black History Month.
“As a Canadian, I stand for our freedom of speech, for our right to protest peacefully and respectfully. The only way to eradicate all forms of hate in our society is to not passively stand by when it happens” wrote my good friend Liberal MP Greg Fergus. If you are on Twitter, consider watching @GregFergus’s Twitter post of his very powerful February 2nd Statement in Parliament, in which he describes what the Confederate flag means to black people like himself.
"Celebrate the past. Navigate the future." As Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), I recently stood on the re-opened and expanded Kitsilano Coast Guard Base to congratulate CCG members on the 60th Anniversary of the Canadian Coast Guard! Throughout 2022, the Coast Guard is celebrating past accomplishments and looking ahead to the continued renewal of its fleet under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. This will provide the modern vessels and equipment needed to for the important work of protecting mariners and waters, supporting science and fisheries enforcement, and serving communities on Canada’s major lakes and the East, West, and Arctic Coasts.
Supporting Canadians’ mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of many people. For two years now, we have had to deal with social disruption, loss, and worry. Half of all Canadians report that their mental health has gotten worse since the beginning of the pandemic, with increased feelings of stress, sadness, and loneliness all too common. Our government gets it, which is why Dr. Carolyn Bennett PC MP was recently appointed Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.
It’s more important than ever to break down the stigma of mental health and share resources that can make a difference, so check out our website Wellness Together Canada and its companion app PocketWell. They aim to give as many Canadians as possible access to supports and services to improve their mental health.
Seeking Your Input into Budget 2022
Canada has seen a remarkable recovery from the pandemic-induced, steepest recession in two generations! Pre-pandemic job numbers have more than recovered, our debt-to-GDP ratio is declining, and economic growth is among the highest in the G-7 nations. Our next Budget seeks to build on this success, while aiming to make life more affordable. Across the country, virtual pre-budget consultations will be held throughout February.
In Vancouver Quadra, look for an invitation from me in the next week to join in on our very own consultation. Meanwhile, and before February 25, 2022, visit LetsTalkBudget2022.ca.
Lower Cell Phone Bills
Canadians pay some of the highest cell phone bills in the world. Some will remember the 2019 election promise our government made, to help reduce your cell phone costs by 25%.
I am happy to let you know our plan is working: 10 days ago, the federal Industry Minister, François-Philippe Champagne, announced that we have met our price-reduction target three months ahead of schedule! According to newly published data, prices for all tracked mid-range plans have decreased by 25% compared to benchmark prices collected in early 2020.
In case you missed it:
- Canada Performing Arts Workers Resilience Fund - Artist unions, guilds, foundations, Indigenous organizations, and others representing workers in live performance occupations have until March 4th to apply for non-taxable support funding for their members. The purpose of the fund is to help those experiencing economic hardship; and/or provide guidance and professional development in areas such as financial management, mental health and well-being, and career transition.
I can’t end without a mention and a “good luck!” wish for all of Canada’s amazing athletes. Our men’s soccer team is in a strong position to qualify for the World Cup Games in 2022 – wow! And among many Team Canada successes so far, our dynamic women’s hockey team just won another pivotal game at the Beijing Olympics!
- Regulations to reduce methane gas emissions from landfills will help reduce GHG emissions to meet Canada’s climate targets. Your ideas and input into Environment Minister Steven Guilbault’s consultations on creating a “circular economy” – by capturing and using methane – are welcomed.
Wishing you strength, resilience and courage in the Year of the Tiger.
The Hon. Joyce Murray, P.C., M.P.
Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra