Laurel Collins (Courtesy of Laurel Collins)

Laurel Collins (Courtesy of Laurel Collins)

MP REPORT: Challenging year coming to a close

Victoria MP reflects on fight to provide relief from stresses of COVID-19

Laurel Collins

Member of Parliament for Victoria

This time of year is often a time to reflect on the past 12 months, and to look forward at what we want for the year to come. 2020 has been difficult, and the holidays are extra challenging this year. For some, this is because we cannot travel to see our loved ones, or because of the financial stresses of COVID-19, or because isolation has taken a toll on mental health and well-being. Now, more than ever, it is important for us to follow public health recommendations, to connect with the people in our lives in safe ways, and to work together to bend the curve.

Since COVID-19 hit, my office has received a flood of calls and emails. My team and I have been working tirelessly, advocating for people who have lost their jobs, who are worried about their businesses going under, or who are trying to keep a roof over their heads. We have also heard many stories about how our community has come together to care for one another. I have so much appreciation for all the frontline workers, nurses, grocery clerks, and everyday people who are working hard to provide needed services while keeping our community safe.

As a first-term MP, this year has been unlike anything I could have expected. It has been both challenging and it has given me the opportunity to support and fight for people in our community during these extraordinarily difficult times.

Over this past year, I am proud to have worked alongside my New Democrat colleagues to significantly improve federal COVID responses. Our willingness to negotiate, along with our refusal to support deeply flawed programs, resulted in meaningful improvements and made a difference for Canadians. Just a few examples include that we successfully pushed for the $2,000 CERB, we increased the wage subsidy from 10 per cent to 75 per cent, and we got a historic win by securing paid sick leave. We are continuing to fight to help the people who have fallen through the cracks, including many seniors, people with disabilities, recent graduates, and small businesses who did not qualify for supports.

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As we look forward into 2021, with the initial arrival of vaccines, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. And, while it may be many months away, we can start to imagine an end to the pandemic and start planning for the recovery.

The recovery needs to include taking profit out of long-term care and implementing national care standards, but also head-to-toe universal health care, including pharmacare, dental care, and mental health care. We need to address economic inequality with a wealth tax on the super-rich, a national childcare program, and a guaranteed livable income. And, we cannot forget that we are also facing the opioid crisis, the housing crisis, and the climate emergency. As the NDP critic for environment and climate change, I have been pushing for bold climate action and accountability, for green jobs in the low-carbon economy, and for a just and sustainable recovery.

It is an honour to be your member of Parliament in Victoria, and I want to thank everyone in our region for your ongoing commitment to keeping our community safe.

Laurel Collins is the member of Parliament for Victoria.