Special to TideChange

North-Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney is anticipating a busy schedules of debates on bills before parliament, she told journalists on Friday, September 14th.

It has been a hard summer for forest fires, even in this riding, she commented, with Zeballos most impacted. She thanked the many people who had arrived in the village to help out, and praised the strong sense of community.

During the summer, Blaney also talked to seniors and remains convinced that a national pharmacare program is necessary to ensure that everyone gets the medication they need. She reiterated that the time for endless consultations was past when a report from the government itself states that a national program would save $4 billion a year.

Blaney also remains concerned about affordable housing, or the lack of it, across Canada, and stated her concern to a recent NDP caucus meeting in Burnaby. Too many Canadians, she said, are not able to find any and this has an effect on the economy. She also expressed concerns about the economic challenges in rural communities, some of which do not even have adequate cellular service.

Trade, she says, will be top of the agenda for debate when the House begins sitting soon. NAFTA is of ongoing concern, especially to the dairy industry in Canada, and Blaney says she has heard from a number of dairy farms. The current supply management system is important to Canada because it involves no subsidies – but it also provides stability for both producers and consumers. The Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement is also scheduled for debate. Meanwhile, US tariffs imposed on Catalyst Paper have been overturned, one bright spot in an otherwise gloomy round of negotiations, Blaney commented.

Also on the House agenda will be Bill C81, which will encourage a barrier-free Canada for disabled people. Blaney said she spent some time in a wheelchair to test out the local accessibility and it was instructive. She also commented that veterans and others with service dogs are finding it difficult to find places to live that will accept their companions. These are just two of the issues which the Bill must address. That said, she said she is disappointed in it as it currently stands because it offers no target or timelines.

As a final comment, Blaney reminded Canadians that the War Amps Champs program is celebrating its 100th year, and deserves to be recognized for the wonderful work it has done to help people who have lost limbs.