MP REPORT: Responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 global pandemic

Alistair MacGregor is the NDP Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford

By Alistair MacGregor

Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford

With the threat of COVID-19 sweeping the globe, and 37 confirmed cases on Vancouver Island at the time of writing, there is much uncertainty and anxiety being felt within our communities. I wanted to take this opportunity to not only share some of what we have learned from other countries dealing with the pandemic and best advice from public health officials about how to “flatten the curve” on its spread, but also the measures my colleagues and I have asked the federal government to take to ease the economic burden on working people and families during this difficult time.

According to the World Health Organization, the new coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2 by its scientific name, is a respiratory virus transmitted primarily through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets from the nose. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, headache and high fever – all similar to common influenza. It can take between two to 10 days to develop symptoms. If you or someone you know has these symptoms, please first check with the BC COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool at https://covid19.thrive.health and follow the advice by the BC Ministry of Health.

Practicing social distancing during this time will be vitally important to stemming the spread of the virus. Wherever possible, refrain from leaving the home and avoid large gatherings until health officials advise otherwise. This will be a crucial component to ensuring those most at risk – our seniors and those with compromised immune systems – are not put in harm’s way.

In these uncertain times, Canadians need their federal government to step up and meet evolving needs. The NDP was pleased to see announcements by the Government of Canada the week of March 16 responding to recommendations we had made, including: suspending the collection of monthly payments for the Canada Student Loan Program without penalty or additional interest, extending the tax filing and payment deadlines to the Canada Revenue Agency, extending income supports to all Canadians, and ensuring increased funding for Indigenous communities.

This crisis has shown us just how many Canadians struggle every day to pay the bills, how many are working without benefits, and how thin parts of our social safety net really are. We will need to find permanent solutions to these systemic problems so that everyone can enjoy an adequate standard of living. My New Democrat colleagues and I will focus on these challenges in the months ahead. We will also be pushing for a wider deferral on payments like rent, loans and utilities, and a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions in these uncertain financial times.

I encourage all residents to take the necessary precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, while avoiding panic. Essential staples have been flying off of grocery store shelves across the country due to bulk panic-buying and hoarding. We have to remember that we are all in this together.

Although my constituency offices are currently closed for public walk-ins, my staff and I continue to be available by phone and e-mail to help with any federal issues, especially for programs and services to help against economic hardship during this difficult time. Stay safe and healthy, and please take care of one another.

Alistair MacGregor is the Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, and the NDP Critic for Agriculture and Agri-Food, Rural Economic Development, and Deputy Critic for Justice

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Colwood eyes upgrades to recreation area near Lookout Lake Dam

Upgrades to dam estimated to be complete before end of year

Eight people arrested on Pandora Avenue after enforcement order issued

Those living in homeless camps were given until May 20 to move indoors

When crisis hits: How West Shore RCMP has dealt with the pandemic

More front-line officers on road in mobile offices

Victoria society purchases addiction recovery home after year of fundraising

Umbrella Society’s Foundation House is a second stage house for men in active recovery

Victoria dealer sells Batmobile replica at Arizona auction

Tim Quocksister sells Batmobile replica for $165,000 US at auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for all Canadians, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

B.C. residents can now reserve a provincial campsite for a stay starting June 1

Campsite reservations will only be available to British Columbians

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Cullen commission into money laundering in British Columbia resumes today

Inquiry was called amid growing concern that illegal cash was helping fuel real estate, luxury car and gambling

Bike shops busier than ever, but owners worry about stock supply issues

Uptick in cyclists brings new challenges for shops

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Most Read