Parliament is finally resuming on Wednesday with the Speech from the Throne, where the government will unveil its priorities and vision for the upcoming session. After debating, MPs will vote on the speech, which is considered a confidence vote — meaning parliamentarians will have to deliberate on if they support the vision the government laid out.

Constituents have reached out to me asking, “If people are at work in every industry and kids are at school, why can’t MPs respect physical distancing guidelines and be in the House of Commons?”

The last time parliament sat in its full form was on March 13.

There have been times when parliament was recalled to pass legislation on various programs that have rolled out over the past months, and I’ve been back and forth from Ottawa to participate in the limited way that was available to us.

With prorogation of Parliament this summer, all scheduled sittings and committee meetings were cancelled. As we prepare for the return of the House of Commons, MPs are waiting to see what format will be set to continue our work in Ottawa.

Our MP office is getting many calls regarding concerns about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which was made available to those who lost their jobs or were unable to work due to COVID-19. There are two challenges we are hearing from many residents right now. First, some constituents are thinking they owe money back to the government, but actually do not. They are sending money back only to find out they shouldn’t have.

The second challenge I’ve heard is that the Canada Revenue Agency is sending letters to some people saying that they were never eligible for CERB in the first place, and that they need to pay it all back.

A key issue from the onset with CERB was that there was no involvement from employers (such as with Employment Insurance, where an employer sends in an ROE), and no checks and balances were in place at the time of application.

For example, there are people who applied and met the 2019 income thresholds, only to find out now that they actually did not meet the specific employment requirements.

People in situations similar to above who have spent that money are now trying to figure out what to do. At the same time, I am hearing from employers who have followed all safety protocols, are open and functioning, but are having difficulty getting employees back to work or filling open positions.

If you are involved with a seniors group, there is a special grant being made available to local organizations to submit for federal funding for projects that support seniors.

As well, Veterans Affairs Canada’s Second World War Tribute has produced a certificate of recognition and commemorative lapel pin to recognize any living Canadian Second World War veteran. Either the veteran, or others, can apply on behalf of the veteran. For both these initiatives, contact our office at the numbers below and we’ll send you information on how to apply. Stay well.

Tracy Gray is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country. Phone: 250-470-5075. Email: tracy.gray@parl.gc.ca. Web: tracygraymp.ca.