North Island – Powell River MP Rachel Blaney’s Town Hall tour of the North Island officially came to a close at the Port Hardy Senior’s Centre on Thursday, May 26.
Blaney had previously visited Port McNeill and Port Alice on May 24 and Sointula and Alert Bay on May 25 to discuss the many different issues that effect seniors in the North Island communities on a daily basis.
Via an in-depth powerpoint presentation, Blaney spoke on topics such as senior’s health care needs not being met, down island transportation issues, lack of suitable and cost efficient housing, seniors having to live in poverty, and the right to affordable medication, all of which evoked many thought-provoking questions and statements from the community members in attendance.
During the question and answer period, Blaney listened, empathized, and then responded to every single question regarding the top-priority issues for seniors, all the while urging those in attendance to write letters and send in petitions.
“The squeaky wheel really does get the grease,” said Blaney, adding she always recommends for people to send correspondence to her so she can ensure their voices are heard in Parliament. “Letters are important. They’re powerful, they help us create that dialogue and they let me know what’s happening. It helps immensely when there’s letters and petitions, and I will make sure that people’s voices are heard when I’m in Ottawa.”
Overall, Blaney found touring the North Island “amazing. It’s a huge area and it was great to get to see so much of it.” She really appreciated “how the people reached out to me. It’s very meaningful to get to listen to so many people’s responses and questions. I really want to represent the people I serve well.”
Throughout the entire Town Hall tour, the main issues that were consistently brought up were “accessibility of services and accessibility of online forms,” said Blaney. “We also heard a lot about affordable housing and assisted care living issues. One of the things we know for sure across this country is that poverty is increasing. All levels of government need to respect those who are working and serving this country and it starts with this discussion. We need affordable housing, we need assisted care living. How do we make that work? All levels of government need to work together on this, because there’s some serious discussion that has to happen on the issue.”
Port Hardy Councillor Pat Corbett-Labatt was also in attendance and she thought the final tour stop “went really well. I was very impressed with Rachel coming here and doing all these community meetings. Her commitment to her constituents and her honesty was great. She’s willing to fight for us.”
Corbett-Labatt t added she was most happy Blaney “brought up living arrangements for seniors who can’t live in their own home, such as assisted care living or other kinds of living arrangements. It’s a real issue for the Town of Port Hardy.”