Many people in Halifax West worry about how they will pay for their children’s education, take care of their parents as they age, and remain financially secure when they retire. My priority in the House of Commons is working to help find ways to support families in my riding and keep our economy strong.
As Official Opposition Critic for Public Works and Government Services, I have been working in Parliament to hold the government accountable for wasteful spending – including $1 billion wasted on the G8 and G20 summits for fake lakes and glow sticks; the $16 billion untendered F-35 fighter jet purchase; and billions to build U.S. style prisons for unreported crime.
I believe that instead of borrowing money to give $6 billion in tax cuts to rich corporations, the Government of Canada should be investing in health care, family care and pension reform. We should restore programs like ecoEnergy Retro-fit homes, which has proven to help create jobs. And the Community Access Program, which trains individuals and small businesses to use new technologies.
I’d like to hear from you about what your priorities are. Please give me a call, send me an e-mail, or fill out the questionnaire at the back of the newsletter that was sent out by mail to all residents.
When I was first elected, I began a series of “Let’s Talk” meetings. One of the things I hoped to do as an elected representative was to reduce people’s cynicism about politics. I think one of the best ways to do that is to stay connected with people and listen to what they have to say about the issues that matter in our community.
With such a large area to represent, I needed to find a way to keep in touch with my constituents. That’s why I decided to have regular public meetings in community halls throughout Halifax West.
Let’s Talk meetings have been a valuable tool for me to get feedback from constituents about federal issues and to get to know new constituents. I truly appreciate those who have taken the time to attend these meetings.
I’m happy to report that I will be having my 100th Let’s Talk this spring. In addition to an open discussion, Let’s Talk #100 will be a celebration of our community’s commitment to working together to make Halifax West a great place to live. Please visit my website, www.geoffregan.ca for details about the next Let’s Talk meeting.
On January 23rd, Marguerite O’Connor celebrated her 90th birthday. I was honoured to be included in this celebration.
If you have an important milestone coming up, I would be pleased to send a congratulatory certificate. Please contact my constituency office at 426-2217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your voice in the House of Commons
As your Member of Parliament, it is my duty and my pleasure to raise the issues you care about in the House of Commons. Here are two local issues that I recently spoke about in the House.
Community Access Program Centres
Mr. Speaker, staff at community access program centres face an uncertain future. They are waiting to find out if the Conservative government will fund the program beyond March 31 and if they will still have a job.
These dedicated employees provide Internet access for rural and remote areas, assistance in accessing online services for seniors, and computer training for individuals and small businesses.
Despite repeated requests, the Conservative government will not say if it will continue to fund these C@P centres or if it plans to abandon this essential service.
These people deserve an answer now.
Terence Bay Lighthouse
Mr. Speaker, the Terence Bay Lighthouse Society has been recognized for its community spirit and dedication to preserving local heritage. The Terence Bay Lighthouse, built in 1903, is an important landmark.
Unfortunately, maintaining this iconic historic structure is not a priority for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Battered by the sea and rain and neglected by the Conservatives, the lighthouse was in a dismal state. It was left to members of the society to repair this landmark when the Conservative government abandoned it.
I hope this will be an example to the minister that maintaining our lighthouses is a priority for people in our coastal communities.
Know your rights as a taxpayer
The Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman was created to promote professional service and the fair treatment of tax-payers by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
The Taxpayers’ Ombudsman is mandated to review taxpayers’ service complaints, identify and investigate emerging and systemic issues related to the CRA’s service to Canadians, and to uphold the service rights found in The Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
You have rights as a taxpayer and you should know about them. To learn about your rights and how to file a complaint if you feel they are not being respected, visit www.oto-boc.gc.ca.
Taxpayers’ Ombudsman Contact Information
Address: 724 – 50 O’Connor Street
Ottawa, ON K1P 6L2
If you have questions or concerns about your dealings with the CRA, I am happy to help. Contact my constituency office at 426-2217.
Newcomers need our support
With a declining population, Nova Scotia needs immigrants to help keep our economy growing. But before new immigrants can put their skills to work and fill labour shortages, they need federal government support to help them settle in their new community.
Unfortunately, the Conservative government recently cut $53 million in funding from vital settlement services. Deeper cuts are expected in future years. There are several organizations in Halifax West doing great work to help newcomers establish themselves through language training, job search and family counseling. They are now losing financial support from the federal government. Organizations like Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services (ISIS) have had their budgets cut at the very same time as the province is trying to attract new immigrants and there is sure to be even greater need for their services in the near future.
As the representative for one of the most diverse areas in Atlantic Canada, I am very concerned about the impact of these cuts. I will continue to work with my colleagues to urge the Conservative government to reinvest in helping newcomers fully contribute to the Canadian economy and Canadian society.
The new Canada Games Centre is a slam dunk!
In January, the new Canada Games Centre officially opened its doors. It was met with an enthusiastic reception from the community.
After a lot of hard work from people in Halifax West, I was thrilled to see the incredible result. As a proponent for community recreation and physical activity, I have been a passionate supporter of the Canada Games Centre, like so many who live in our area. All three levels of government contributed to this project, with the federal government providing $12 million. In addition to hosting artistic gymnastics, synchronized swimming and badminton for the largest sporting event ever to be held in Nova Scotia, the Games Centre will provide much-needed facilities for sport and recreation in our neighbourhood.
Thank you to everyone who helped to make the Games Centre a fantastic place for our families to stay active and have fun.
Bill C-428—Old Age Security Pension
I have received many calls and e-mails concerning Bill C-428, an act to amend the Old Age Security Act. I want to clarify the details of the bill and to update you as to my position on this Bill.
I DO NOT support Bill C-428. The Liberal Party DOES NOT support Bill C-428.
Bill C-428 seeks to reduce the residency requirement for entitlement to a monthly Old Age Security pension from 10 years to three years. Old Age Security benefits would continue to reflect the length of time a person has resided in Canada and therefore, long-time residents would be compensated on a scale that reflects their considerable contribution while in the workforce.
Having said that, I should point out several facts. First, the Liberal party is currently examining the subject of retirement income and national pension reform and Bill C-428 is NOT part of that review. Judy Sgro, Official Opposition Critic for Seniors and Pensions, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and members of our caucus have also indicated they do not support Bill C-428.
Hundreds of private members bills are submitted in each session of Parliament and only 30-40 are given consideration by means of an MP lottery. As the sponsor of Bill C-428 is currently not on the list for consideration of private members business, C-428 will not even be debated any time in the foreseeable future.
I believe we need to provide more adequate support to seniors, but Bill C-428 will not help us to achieve that goal.
Local businesses working to be eco-friendly
Many businesses in Halifax West are helping their clients make good choices for the environment and using best business practices to reduce their company’s impact on the planet. I recently met with representatives from two companies that are proving you can make a profit and a difference too.
LED Roadway Lighting is a rapidly growing company with bright ideas about how we can light our streets and properties using less energy and less money.
7th Estate Public Relations Group is reducing its carbon footprint by purchasing clean energy and recycling.
I’d love to hear what your business is doing to be eco-friendly.
Caregivers need care too
Canadian families want the option of caring for a loved one who has fallen ill – whether it’s an aging parent or grandparent, a young child, or a spouse – at home. I know there are many people in Halifax West who are struggling to balance work with caring for a loved one or taking time off from their jobs to care for a sick family member.
Approximately 2.7 million Canadians provide care for seniors. Family caregivers are responsible for 80 percent of Canada’s homecare services, providing over $9 billion in unpaid care each year. Canadian families are all too familiar with the pressures of caring for sick or aging family members at home. Providing family care leads to unexpected out-of-pocket expenses, and often results in lost income from work absences in order to provide care.
Despite their value to our economy, our health, our families and our communities, the important work done by family caregivers has gone largely unrecognized. I believe family caregivers need to be cared for too. That is why we in the Official Opposition have proposed the Family Care Plan.
Designed to make caring for an aging or ill family member as easy as possible, the plan proposes a new six-month Family Care Employment Insurance benefit so that more Canadians can care for gravely ill family members at home without having to quit their jobs.
This benefit would feature:
– Longer benefits — support for up to six months.
– Expanded access — more flexible requirements for a doctors certificate.
– Flexible sharing of benefits — the 6 months worth of benefits can be spread out over 52 weeks, and family members can share the 6 months to provide care.
The new Family Care EI Benefit would cost $250 million per year and would help an estimated 30,000 family caregivers, without increasing EI premiums.
The plan’s second element — a new monthly Family Care Tax Benefit — is modeled on the existing Child Tax Benefit. Designed to help low-and middle-income family caregivers who provide essential care to a family member at home, the benefit will give family caregivers up to $1,350 per year — tax free — depending on income. It would be available to all families with incomes under $106,000 per year.
The new Family Care Tax Benefit would help an estimated 600,000 family caregivers each year at an annual cost of $750 million.
As our population ages, the impact on productivity is one part of the challenge Canada must address. Helping caregivers reconcile work and care will help meet that challenge.
Purple Day : Raising awareness about epilepsy
On March 26th, people around the world wear purple to help raise awareness about epilepsy.
In 2008, Cassidy Megan, a young girl from Halifax West, founded Purple Day. Cassidy lives with epilepsy and she wanted to let other kids with epilepsy know that they aren’t alone. I congratulate Cassidy on this amazing accomplishment.
I have introduced a private members bill, Bill C-430, to officially declare March 26th Purple Day in Canada so that all Canadians can be part of Cassidy’s cause.
What does a Member of Parliament do?
One of my favourite things about being an M.P. is occasionally speaking to students about the job of a Member of Parliament and the role of the Canadian Government. I believe it is very important for all of us to understand how our democracy works so that we are better able to participate.
If you’d like me to come and speak to your class, please contact me at 426-2217 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
How to Contact Geoff
222-1496 Bedford Highway
Bedford, NS B4A 1E5
Tel: (902) 426-2217
Fax: (902) 426-8339
Parliament Hill Office
Room 645, Confederation Bldg
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Tel.: (613) 996-3085
Fax: (613) 996-6988
Find Geoff on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/pages/Geoff-Regan
Follow Me on Twitter: twitter.com/geoffregan