Submitted by Catherine McKenna, MP for Ottawa Centre
This year has been difficult for everyone in our community. As we approach the holidays, I hope that you and your family are healthy and managing as well as possible during this challenging time.
Now serving in my fifth year as the MP for Ottawa Centre, I’ve never been prouder to represent our community. The dedication and ingenuity of essential workers, healthcare professionals and first responders, volunteers, teachers, public servants, local businesses and non-profit organizations to adapt to the COVID-19 challenges has been truly inspiring. Our collective efforts will ensure we get through the pandemic safely together.
As difficult as the past months have been, I’d like to share positive news for Ottawa Centre and beyond. Invest Ottawa’s Area X.O launched the first electric Low-Speed Automated Shuttle trial of its kind in Ontario! I had the opportunity to test the shuttle at Tunney’s Pasture with Mayor Watson. These vehicles have the potential to enhance the lives of our citizens, create new market opportunities for our companies and help move us to a low carbon future.
I’m also very pleased that our government launched the new Rapid Housing Initiative — a $1 billion investment to create up to 3,000 new permanent, affordable housing units across the country. Of this, $31.9 million is allocated to Ottawa. This initiative will create more jobs; strengthen communities and provide more Canadians with a safe, affordable place to call home.
I’d also like to extend my thanks to all the small businesses in Ottawa Centre. I have spoken with many local business owners about their challenges to adapt, survive and retain employees due to the pandemic. The federal government has heard these concerns and, recently, enhanced the Canada Emergency Business Account, extended the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and introduced the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy. As well, the new Canada United Small Business Relief Fund is supporting businesses with grants of up to $5,000 to offset the costs of COVID-19 safety requirements and enhancement of their digital or e-commerce capabilities.
On an optimistic note, the federal government has signed deals to secure hundreds of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines for Canadians, which health experts predict will be ready sometime next year, contingent upon the results of the safety trials. The logistical distribution of this vaccine candidate will require some very careful cooperation. Our government is working with experts to assess which vaccines will be most effective, which will be best suited to different segments of the population and how best to distribute. Until we have a vaccine, we need to do everything we can to control the spread of COVID-19. It goes without saying that if you catch COVID-19 in the coming weeks, a vaccine won’t help you or your family.
Let’s continue to protect ourselves and each other by wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, washing our hands, staying home if we’re sick and downloading the COVID-19 alert app. Let’s be mindful of our own mental health and check in with our loved ones and neighbours. Let’s also continue to spread kindness and compassion in our community during the holidays and beyond, as we look forward to the new year with renewed hope and optimism.
Please reach out to my office if you need any assistance accessing resources or federal support programs. Call us at 613-996-5322 or email us at Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca.
I wish you the very best this holiday season and hope you can enjoy this special time of year safely with your loved ones. With everything we’ve been through this year, let’s look forward to a better year in 2021!
Thank you and happy holidays!