North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold. (Contributed)

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold. (Contributed)

MP Mel Arnold: Canada needs better COVID-19 plan

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP says country lags behind allies in response, recovery

Canada needs a plan to break the COVID-19 virus’ grip on our country and lives so we can start the recovery we all want and need.

We needed a plan 14 months ago, before the first wave, and the current third wave is the result of the federal government’s failure to implement a cohesive and effective plan.

While there have been some improvements with vaccines and jobs in recent months, we are still far from the finish line and the absence of a plan has our response and recovery lagging behind those of our allies. Canada has fully vaccinated two per cent of Canadians compared to the nearly 20 per cent fully vaccinated Americans and 300,000 more Canadians are still without jobs compared to pre-COVID levels.

Every day, I hear from constituents from across the North Okanagan-Shuswap who are facing endless pandemic uncertainties and bearing the brunt of a crisis that has been underestimated and mismanaged, repeatedly.

The Trudeau government initially downplayed the risks of COVID-19, then failed to secure our borders and shipped precious personal protective equipment to China where Trudeau also rolled the dice on an ill-fated partnership for vaccine development that afforded us no vaccines. Instead, we are now at the back of the line for vaccines produced and delivered by actual allies.

Some may think this is just cynical political rhetoric, but it is not. Every day, I hear from constituents who have lost loved ones, businesses and jobs. I talk with people who don’t know when they will work again while mortgage payments and bills pile up. These are the realities I see and hear every day as my staff and I work with constituents and try to help them access the resources and support they need to get by.

For anyone doubting my account of the federal government’s response, take a few minutes and do a web search for “Auditor General report 8 pandemic.”

Throughout this crisis, my Conservative colleagues and I have been working hard to ensure the voices of Canadians are heard in Ottawa. Government’s response needs a plan focused on the needs of Canadians from coast to coast to coast, including the North Okanagan-Shuswap.

I know we will get through this, but when and how will ultimately depend on the decisions governments and Canadians make. I hope I can count on you to make the individual choices that we all need to make for us to get through this crisis, together. You can count on me to continue to fight for the federal resources and policies that you need and our communities need to get through this crisis and onto the road to recovery, together.

Mel Arnold is the Member of Parliament for the North Okanagan-Shuswap.

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