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Cost of living and inflation the big story of 2022, according to North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney

Confidence and Supply agreement helped NDP move legislation through, will continue in 2023
North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney (left) in Gallipoli, Turkey in September, 2022. Photo courtesy Facebook/Rachel Blaney

Though there has been some meaningful progress on reducing the cost of living for Canadians, North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney says there is still more work to be done.

Whether that was the restoration of pension benefits for seniors after the Guaranteed Income Supplement claw back was reversed, the doubling of the GST rebates, or a $500 renter rebate for low-income Canadians or the new national dental care program, the one-time tax payment from corporations that profited during the pandemic, Blaney and her party have been using their confidence and supply agreement, which occurred in March, to get legislation through that she says would have not even been on the table without it.

“It’s very clear to me that it is not an NDP government,” she said. “I think we would do things a lot differently. But in terms of where we are and our position as a 25 member caucus. I think we’re we’re pushing the government pretty hard to do things that they wouldn’t have done.”

“These are some of the things that we’ve been able, successfully, to push the government to do and they certainly just would not have done it if we weren’t there,” she said. “We won’t get everything we want because we are not in government, but you know as an opposition person you can decide to complain and yell at the government.

“What we’ve decided to do more fulsomely is to push them to do things that we think will make the life of Canadians better and we’re being successful,” she said.

Despite a busy year in 2022, the cost of living and inflation were the main drivers for Blaney. Part of the reason is that rising costs relate back to so many other topics — health care, housing, industry, veterans affairs, seniors (Blaney is the NDP critic for Veterans Affairs and Seniors) — and focusing on reducing those costs for Canadians in the coming year.

“I’ve done some travelling this year to other countries and and a lot of them are really struggling with inflation as well. So we’re not alone, but it doesn’t mean that it is any less concerning,” she said. “What we’re going to keep doing is listening to people and trying to get resources where it’s going to make the most sense.”

Housing is one of those areas, she said. One of her goals is to push for more governmental involvement in housing.

“Since 1992, the federal government has stepped out of housing and we can see the result right now,” she said. “There’s just not enough housing. There’s definitely not enough affordable housing people cannot lose their housing because if they do there is no where else for them to go … the B.C. government has stepped up but they don’t have a meaningful federal partner.”

Though the cost of living is a general topic that affects most Canadians, Blaney has her eye on issues that are felt a lot closer to home as well. In particular health care, and holding the government to account for funding health care.

“Right now Alert Bay for the next two weeks will not have an emergency room available. Some months and in Port Hardy they have seen hardly a night go by without being shut down and the communities in that region are very concerned about their safety and their health care,” she said. “We need to see support there for staff and of course make sure that we have good recruitment plans so that we have enough people to staff those resources because we don’t want people to fall too far behind.”

Aquaculture is also not far from Blaney’s mind, and she voiced her frustration with the lack of direction from the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans.

“I think that this farming needs to be out of the waters; be land-based,” she said. “We’ve been asking the minister to be clear about what the plan is how that will move forward and how she will be working with our communities and the workers to make sure that there’s some support moving forward.”

The next year will also see Blaney working on green transitions for other industries, including pushing the government to stop subsidies for domestic oil and gas companies.

Looking back over the last year, one of Blaney’s highlights was her experience in Vimy Ridge where she was able to lay a wreath commemorating the soliders who died there in the first world war.

“That was a very humbling moment for me to be able to recognize all of those tremendous soldiers that represented Canada so well,” she said, adding that it was important to “see in other countries how much they honor and respect that sacrifice.”

Blaney is looking forward to spending time with family over the holidays and playing board games before returning to Ottawa in the new year.

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