Prorogued Question Period

Today I was supposed to be in Ottawa, in the House of Commons asking questions on behalf of my constituents who still have a number of outstanding concerns about the government’s pandemic response.

But the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament in order to bury the WE scandal.

By proroguing, the Prime Minister prevents MPs from raising valid concerns in the House and eliminates our ability to question ministers in the public forum that our constituents have elected us to.

Lacking a functioning Parliament, I went to social media to get answers from the government to some simple and straight-forward questions.

These issues are some of the most commons ones I hear about in Simcoe-Grey.

We need answers – and action – from this government.

I wanted to ask about these important issues today.

But instead we are prorogued for another month while the government buries the #WEscandal.

Question #1:

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has reported that only 15% of its members are using Canada’s Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program.

I think we can both agree that this is a poor result and it needs to be addressed.

The solution to fix CECRA is quite simple:

Cut out the landlords who are unable or unwilling to apply for the program and let businesses apply for the assistance directly!

Deputy Prime Minister, when will the government make this change?

Question #2:

Minister Bill Blair, this pandemic has been challenging for everyone, but for couples who do not meet the government’s definition of “family” it has been especially tough.

I have been contacted many constituents who have a partner outside of Canada and want to be re-united.

In some cases, it is as simple as couples presently having jobs in different places so they are unable to be together long enough to be considered “common law.”

In other cases, they are attending school in two different countries.

For now they visit each other when they can.

They have wedding venues booked, receipts from engagement rings, and years of photographs showing they are legit couples.

Yet your government refuses entry to the long-term partners of Canadians – even with a negative COVID-19 test and a commitment to quarantine nonetheless.

Minister Bill Blair, we are not asking for the border to fully reopen.

But when will you provide some flexibility to allow legitimate couples not presently covered under your definition of “family” to reunite?

Question #3:

Minister Maryam Monsef, this pandemic has created unprecedented demand for high-speed internet.

This puts rural Canada at a disadvantage, as high-speed internet is non-existent in many places.

In my riding of Simcoe-Grey, families have told me they park their car outside the village library to use the free Wi-Fi, which is faster than their home connection.

Others said their kids use their cell phone for school because the connection is more reliable.

Sadly, some parents have said their kids have fallen behind because their connection is too slow, or they cannot afford the overage fees.

We hope that back-to-school goes well, but if we need kids to take school online again, my constituents will face the same challenges.

What’s more frustrating for many of my constituents is that they live only kilometres from larger centres like Barrie or Vaughan yet experience internet speeds from the 1900s.

In some cases, they are so close that high-speed internet in available at the end of the road.

I know that your government has a previous commitment to connect all Canadians to high-speed internet by the year 2030.

This was a noble goal prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but I think we can now agree, Minister, that it is no longer acceptable.

It’s no longer good enough to tell rural Canadians to stay home, to work from home, and to go to school from home while suffering through antiquated internet speeds.

Minister Maryam Monsef, when will your government take action and invest in high-speed internet for rural Canada?