Rachel Blaney, member of parliament for North Island-Powell River, took part in her first virtual sitting of the new COVI committee, which is the special parliamentary committee on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Blaney was still in Ottawa when the pandemic initially shut most gatherings down and was an integral part of the first piece of emergency legislation enacted in response to COVID-19. “That day seems so long ago now, even though it’s only been a couple of months,” stated Blaney in a media release. “I remember not leaving the House of Commons until after 6 am after marathon negotiations, but that is what it took to get Canadians the first round of support.”
In the May 19 session of the committee, Blaney asked about money for businesses that do not qualify for current programs
“Every day that they have to wait, they are closer to losing everything that they have worked so hard to build,” stated Blaney.
She added that the minister responsible indicated this funding should already be available, and Blaney committed to following up with her to address the gap. She also asked the seniors minister how she plans on delivering the newly announced tax-free top-up for seniors when old age security is taxable, and when seniors can expect to see this payment?
“Unfortunately, the minister did not respond with a clear timeline for that payment,” stated Blaney.
Lastly, Blaney asked the deputy prime minister about the border and non-essential American travellers.
“Given that we’ve already seen an outbreak in a community in the riding, I felt it was really important to ask how smaller communities are being consulted in these changes to rules at the border,” stated Blaney. “I was happy to hear that the government is taking this seriously and working closely with premier John Horgan on these decisions."
The virtual sitting was a different experience for Blaney, who is used to the regular format of House of Commons questions, according to the media release.
“It’s definitely new for me, but I can see the benefits to it,” stated Blaney. “I like not having to rush questions, and it’s a refreshing change from question period to get a straight answer once in a while.”