• James Armstrong

Local Liberal open house highlights federal government services


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Federal Liberal Member of Parliament Peter Schiefke (center) chatted with constituents from across the riding on Saturday afternoon including Hudson Town Councillors Natalie Best (left) and Nicole Durand (right).

An open house hosted by Federal Member of Parliament for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Peter Schiefke and his team attracted attention from across the riding on Saturday January 23 marking the inauguration of their headquarters at 223 Avenue Saint-Charles in Vaudreuil-Dorion. It also provided an opportunity to interview the recently elected parliamentarian.

“I really wanted everyone in our riding to know where to come to receive the services offered by the Federal Government and understand the services the government offers,” said Schiefke. For example, the Child Care Benefits package will reportedly become a more progressive model with families in higher income benefits receiving less and lower income earners receiving more. “If you are making over $217,000 per year you will no longer be provided with the benefit you were receiving before,” he said.

On the subject of the pending federal budget, Schiefke said a public consultation will be held in the riding Monday, February 8, with the meeting location to be announced shortly. “This is different from our town hall meetings in that I’ll be asking people what they would like to see included in the budget,” said Schiefke.

Recently appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister for Youth, Schiefke said the well-being of Canadian youth is of particular concern to this government. “We will be creating the first ever Youth Advisory Council to the Prime Minister to provide youth with a voice,” he said, adding Canada has never had this kind council before.

The number of summer jobs for youth funded by the Federal government will be doubled from 20,000 to 40,000. The government plans to spend $1.3 billion over the next three years to help companies with less than 50 employees offset the cost of hiring a person less than 25 years of age. Not-for-profit organizations and charities would receive summer youth employees at no cost. Employers have to apply for the program. Schiefke said he and his office would be working to make sure that the jobs are equally distributed throughout the municipalities of the region.

The Liberal election promise to stimulate economic growth with $120 billion pledged over 10 years for municipal infrastructure development is high on the list of Schiefke’s priorities for the riding. “The one thing that is really important to me is to meet with the mayors of all the (Vaudreuil-Soulanges) municipalities and talk about how we can work together,” he said. His message to the mayors is, “Come and talk to me about it and let’s get the submissions in.” He said areas of funding would cover sustainable “green” environmental plans, social programs, and transportation.

Schiefke pointed to the current slump in the value of the Canadian dollar and the price of oil as indicating the need for diversified foreign investment in Canada. He indicated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent speech in Davos, Switzerland promoting the innovativeness and diversity of opportunities for investment in Canada. “Many people would say that the mistake of the previous government was economically putting all of our eggs in one basket,” Schiefke added.

Regarding the ongoing issues surrounding the transportation of petroleum products particularly through pipelines and the possible effects on the environment and the economy, Schiefke said, “The plan hasn’t changed. We have a government in place that wants to overhaul the environmental assessment process so that it takes into consideration the wants, needs, and desires of municipalities, First Nations residents, community groups and citizens.” He said meetings with various government ministers and officials would be taking place over the next few weeks.

Schiefke introduced the four members of his local riding office team, Legislative Assistant Martin Crevier, Special Assistant Patricia Dota, Political Attaché Rami Khoriaty and Communications Director & Constituency Liaison Jennifer Frezza. He said 80 per cent of the work done in the local office has to do with immigration services. In addition, they are also involved in services for senior citizens, youth, and families provided by the federal government.

Keeping to a tight schedule, Schiefke was off to Ottawa Saturday evening where he delivered his first speech to the House of Commons Monday, January 25.

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