Dear constituents of Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon,
As I continue to receive an abundance of your correspondence, I thought I would address some of the most popular questions I’ve been receiving.
What’s up with all these travel restrictions?
Last week was the one-year anniversary since the very first COVID-19 case landed in Canada. By now, Canadians expect the government to have a clear plan on travel restrictions. The impact of these restrictions is not limited to vacationers but has great consequences for families who live abroad, businesses who travel internationally, and especially airline and airport workers.
The latest changes for international flights include:
• A suspension of all flights by major Canadian airlines to all Caribbean destinations and Mexico until April 30, 2021;
• International flights will arrive at only four of our major airports (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal), and this includes private and charter flights;
• Proof of a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test result;
• Mandatory PCR test to be taken upon arrival; and,
• A mandatory quarantine in an approved hotel for 3 days while awaiting test results at your own expense (up to $2,000). If a traveler tests negative, they can quarantine at home for the remainder of the 14-day period, under strict rules. If a traveler tests positive, they must quarantine in a federal facility.
Lockdowns and restrictions were put in place to buy governments time to get permanent solutions like vaccines, rapid testing, variant testing capacity, and therapeutics – these tools all now exist. The problem is Justin Trudeau hasn’t succeeded in bringing them to widespread use in Canada. We need to be using these tools to reduce quarantine times, like our allies around the world are doing.
I personally reached out to the Minister of Transportation for clarification, as many residents in our riding travel to the United States for school and work. While he stipulated that the new restrictions apply to non-essential travel, he explained that clarification on the definition of essential and non-essential travel is forthcoming. Typical of this Government, an announcement is made without detail, causing further confusion, disruption, and unnecessary stress.
At this point, what I do know is that the current travel restrictions cannot be sustained. People are being forced into quarantine at federal government sites, infringing on their personal liberties. Folks are having to fork out hundreds and thousands of dollars on COVID-19 tests and hotel stays. You have lots of questions. I’ll keep fighting to get you the straight answers you deserve.
What are you doing right now, Brad?
As Ontario continues its lockdown, political parties reached an agreement to extend the hybrid sittings of Parliament until the end of June. This means I will be going to Ottawa approximately one week per month and conducting most of my parliamentary business in Mission, BC.
While I absolutely prefer being in Ottawa every sitting week, I will continue to ask hard questions about how Ottawa is spending your money and the consequences of those decisions. Here is one recent clip where I call out the Liberals for their blatant lack of transparency, which you can also find on my Facebook page.
What are you focusing on this parliamentary session?
My focus will be on finalizing my first draft of a new national housing policy. Since last fall, I have been meeting with stakeholders across Canada to find answers to some of these basic questions:
1. What can the federal government do better for first time homebuyers?
2. What new reporting requirements can the federal government enact to prevent money laundering and tax evasion?
3. How can the federal government incentivize the construction of affordable rental units across Canada?
4. How can housing be part of Canada’s economic recovery?
As I’ve shared with many of you, I am concerned that young people today will be the first generation in Canada’s history to be worse off than their parents. I see it as my responsibility as a younger MP (I’m 36) to focus on affordability, to ensure that young people who grew up in Agassiz, Mission, or Abbotsford can start their careers and thrive in their hometowns!
If you have specific housing policy suggestions, I look forward to hearing your ideas!
When will the lockdown end, and why can’t you stop it, Brad?
Let’s be clear – as an Opposition MP, I don’t have the power to stop the lockdowns myself or to make those decisions. Day after day, Conservative MPs have been asking why this federal Liberal government keeps screwing up on vaccine procurement and rapid testing. We are dealing with a federal government that refuses to be transparent with MPs or the Canadian public, and that offers no clear answers on vaccines, lockdowns – or anything else.
I hear your concerns loud and clear, and I share them as well. We are living in an anxious, confusing, and frustrating moment in time. Almost a year out from the start of this crisis, we have learned some pretty hard lessons. Clearly, the federal government could have done a better job by acting swiftly to protect our economy and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the earliest days.
I want to give a shout-out to all the youth in our riding, particularly those in high school who are now facing a second year without the opportunity to participate in another season of basketball, rugby, and other activities. These are opportunities lost forever. The camaraderie, the competition, the community – all of it lost to COVID-19. I really feel sorry for your loss.
The constant cycle of closures, lockdowns, and restrictions on everyday life cannot go on much longer. Everyone’s patience is wearing thinly. Many of the lockdown measures across British Columbia are the result of actions taken by the provincial government and public health officials, and they must realize that time is running out to find a sustainable solution and give you clarity.
After all, why is it that congregants of churches and temples in Abbotsford cannot gather in prayer, lest they be charged, yet bars and restaurants remain open? I’m with you; I’m looking for clearer answers from government, too.
What’s the federal government spending on all these COVID-19 programs?
After all the Trudeau Liberals claim to have done, we know that they've racked up hundreds of billions of dollars in debt, yet a precise figure eludes us still. This federal government is the first in Canadian history not to have presented a budget this far into its mandate. What a shameful record!
As millions of Canadians get left behind by Justin Trudeau’s continued incompetence during this pandemic, his federal Liberal government has failed to put forward a plan to get us back to normal. Canada’s unemployment rate sits at 8.8 percent. More than a million Canadians are directly affected by the COVID-19 economic effects, with hundreds of thousands of people who are working less than half their usual hours. This is despite Justin Trudeau spending more money than any other country in the OECD.
Heck, I remember when the knock against Justin Trudeau was his flippant assertion that ‘budgets balance themselves.’ I’m certain that no Canadian signed up for a federal government that wouldn’t put up a budget at all! Despite our Party’s best efforts to get clear answers for Canadians, and almost 16 months after the last election, there’s still no budget to be found from Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland.
What’s going on in Parliament?
This week, MPs are debating the Standing Orders and procedures of the House on Monday, in an anticipated sitting provided for in Standing Order 51. This will allow Members to have some input on the rules and procedures that govern the daily operation of the House of Commons.
The federal Liberal government has allotted time for debate on its Fall Economic Statement and its newly proposed changes to the Elections Act. Both Government Bills are at Second Reading in the House. The Liberals’ Economic Statement does, among other things, levy a new Netflix, Amazon and AirBnB tax. Our Leader, Erin O’Toole, has criticized the Liberals’ FES as a “stealth budget” that presents “no plan” for economic recovery during what has been “a record period without a [federal] budget.” Conservatives recognize the magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis and that rebuilding from it will take bold decisions, determination, grit, and perseverance – but most importantly, it will take a real plan to chart our course forward.
Bill C-19, which would implement temporary changes to federal elections to adapt to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, is a clear signal that the federal Liberals are gunning for an election.
On Thursday, our Party will set the daily agenda during our first Opposition Day of this year, which will be to establish a new committee on Canada-USA relations. It is our hope that we will use this parliamentary tool to clearly outline our vision for Canada’s integrated economy with the USA – our largest and most significant ally and economic partner.
Next Week will be a Constituency Week. I will be spending time in Lillooet, Ashcroft, and Cache Creek, as well as taking meetings in Mission, Abbotsford, and Agassiz.
In the HUMA Committee, we are in the middle of our study on urban, rural, and northern Indigenous housing. So far, we have received four written briefs and heard from 30 different witnesses over the course of seven meetings. The HUMA Committee will be kept busy in the coming months, too, as we are about to set out on a study of the Rapid Housing Initiative, the federal government’s billion-dollar Band-Aid to provide 3,000 housing units between by March. Stay tuned!
Lastly, if you’re still reading this, thank you for making your way to the end. Serving you is the honour of my life. As always, I look forward to your continued comments, criticisms, and suggestions.
Brad Vis, MP