Earlier this month, the government introduced new CERB-style benefits for Canadians not eligible for Employment Insurance.

The new “Canada Recovery Benefit” is for the self-employed or those not eligible for EI and cannot resume work;

The new “Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit” is for those ill or who must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19;

And the new “Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit” is for those unable to work because they are caring for a child, dependent or family member because schools or daycares are closed due to COVID-19.

Benefits are in effect until Sept. 25, 2021. There is far too much to include (a 37-page bill) in this column, so please reach out if you need assistance accessing these benefits.

We’ve known about the expiration of existing government programs for months, and we could have properly scrutinized options and heard from people over the summer —however the Trudeau government instead decided to shut down parliament through prorogation to escape difficult political circumstances.

Once the bill was tabled, the Official Opposition proposed we work over the weekend to properly review and debate the legislation to get it right. We also proposed a committee study. This would have allowed more accountability, with ministers having to answer detailed questions, and allowed affected stakeholders and citizens to bring their voices and ideas forth.

Bill amendments often come out of detailed committee work. However, our proposal was voted down, and there were only 4.5 hours of debate and a forced vote on this over $50-billion legislation.

On Oct. 9, the government made changes to the Commercial Rent Assistance Program, taking our recommendations into account and allowing tenants to directly apply.

This program for businesses, charities and non-profits, is available on a sliding scale.

The government also announced expansion of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy until June 2021 and a top up to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA).

For those already eligible for CEBA, a further $20,000 loan will now be available, of which $10,000 would be forgivable if paid back by Dec. 31, 2022. We are awaiting the details of these programs to see if they need to come to Parliament to be voted on.

While in Ottawa, it was an honour to stand up for Kelowna-Lake Country many times with either statements, questions, or at debate. Here are some of the pressing issues I highlighted:

— How the lack of COVID-19 rapid testing in Canada, which exists in other developed countries, has affected our residents and businesses with forced shutdowns

— Mortgage deferrals coming due

— The ongoing closure of a section of the Okanagan Rail Trail which involves an Addition to Reserve to be completed by the federal government

— Ongoing softwood lumber job losses due to government inaction and the U.S. appeal of a ruling by the World Trade Organization

— Pressing the government to work on a trade deal with the United Kingdom

— The need for wage subsidy clarity so businesses can plan ahead

How the Commercial Rent Assistance program is still not working for many businesses

— Supporting Bill C-3, the “Judges Act and the Criminal Code” first introduced by former Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, which will require judges to participate in continuing sexual assault law education and training

— The lack of substance in the Speech from the Throne

— The government not planting one tree from a promise they made to plant two billion trees

Tracy Gray is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-

Lake Country. Phone: 250-470-5075.

Email: tracy.gray@parl.gc.ca. Web: tracygraymp.ca.