Brad Vis, MP Remarks - Lytton Town Hall Meeting, June 1, 2022
Good evening, everyone. I’m Brad Vis, MP coming to you from Ottawa tonight.
It’s a very busy time in Ottawa right now as we’re in the final stretch before Parliament wraps up.
In speaking with local business owners, many of you applied for CEBA loans and are worried about being able to make repayments. After months of advocacy, I received a welcome phone call yesterday from Harjit Sajjan, Minister of Pacific Economic Development. He agreed to funnel specific requests for CEBA loan forgiveness to relevant Ministers. He asks that specifics be sent to him. Brittany will include his office contact info in the chat and please copy our office on your requests sent to the Minister so we can follow up if necessary.
The Lytton Chamber of Commerce asked me to raise whether Pacific Economic Development Canada may consider some type of granting programing for remaining businesses in the region. While visitors are returning to the region, many businesses and community organizations are facing additional barriers given the circumstances of the last year. In the past, special funds were distributed for the 2017 Elephant Hill Fire. More recently, the Government of Canada very swiftly issued funds for impacted businesses in Ottawa after the blockades. Recognizing the uphill battle Lytton businesses face in re-starting their businesses with a heavy debt load from the pandemic and wildfire, Minister Sajjan agreed to support Lytton businesses and asks that specific requests be sent his way for consideration.
Right now, the Chamber of Commerce should provide specific requests for program funding and my staff will be willing to work with the Chamber on a formal letter. (Community Economic Development and Diversification)
As you all likely know, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair visited Lytton earlier this month to see the situation on the ground. While I had hoped for a major announcement of support to be made on site, I know his team is working with the Province to quickly expedite an interim payment as a portion of BC’s request for $416 million from the federal government for wildfire relief.
I’m encouraged the federal government had announced a new advisory panel will review the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA) program. The DFAA is an agreement between the federal government and provinces to issue funds in the event of a disaster.
For those that don’t know, Provincial governments lead disaster response and the delivery of financial assistance for disaster recovery. When disaster recovery costs at the provincial level exceed an established initial threshold, that provincial government may request post-disaster financial assistance from the federal government through the DFAA. According to the Library of Parliament, the rate of federal assistance increases as provincial spending increases past a defined threshold. Federal DFAA assistance increases to 75% of costs exceeding $6.78 per capita, and 90% of costs exceeding $16.94 per capita.
Several items in this agreement are out-dated and do not match the realities of disaster recovery in 2022: particularly, the terms for housing. For example, Alberta covers 100% of primary residence damage, while B.C. only covers 80% of eligible costs up to $300,000. While this is set by B.C. legislation made in 2005, I continue to engage the provincial and federal government to deliver rapid and flexible emergency funding accounting for the realities Lytton faces today.
Just this afternoon I had a meeting regarding Lytton with Minister Blair. He explained that he’s pushing his provincial counterparts actively to get the debris and infrastructure work done so that the federal money can be allocated.
I know the situation with Canada Post has been very frustrating and residents have had to drive all the way to Lillooet or Kamloops just to get stamps. I have been working with Canada Post to have this resolved. The goal is for the large trailer to arrive this week, operational at the end of June and will be stationed at Lytton First Nation next to their new band office. Canada Post has advised this new larger trailer will have a working retail section with stamps, packaging, etc. I’m sorry they have done such a poor job serving you.
It remains disappointing that Housing Minister Hussen will not step up and provide special housing support for Lytton. Instead, he points to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) who stands at the ready to provide support to the Village of Lytton when they are in a position to apply.
On a positive note, Fort Berens Winery and partners are hosting a #Lytton Strong fundraiser to officially kick-off in June. Funds will go towards building a recreation centre for the community. I am spreading the word where possible and am happy to share that Telus just agreed to donate $5000.
As always, my office remains open should you require assistance with re-establishing any ID lost in the fire like Passports or immigration documents, employment insurance, Canada Revenue Agency issues, etc.
Thank you to everyone working hard to restore the community. Let’s keep working together and make it happen. Thank you.