MP for Yorkton—Melville Cathay Wagantall Sierra D’Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

MP for Yorkton-Melville Cathay Wagantall shares the concerns she has been hearing from people in her riding based on the policies the federal government has passed, and introduced, so far in 2023.

What are some of the highlights you think the federal government has accomplished so far in the year?

Well they’ve definitely accomplished some things, I’m not sure I would say what they’re accomplishing is the best for Canada, and for Canadians on a number of fronts, but the first that I think is a highlight and I hear a lot about in my riding is the passing of the $10 a day child care and early learning funding.

That raised a lot of hope and we certainly do need a lot more care for children of working parents.

The challenge with it is we didn’t really get an opportunity to make significant improvements that we would’ve liked to seen, the biggest one being that they have made it clear that the focus is on public, and not for profit entities, that would be receiving the funding.

They’ve made it clear small businesses can apply, but they’re not a priority which to some degree I understand. When you go into business your goal is to run a good business and be able to make a profit without having to have a lot of tax payer dollars funneled into your business.

But of course what you don’t want is to be in a situation where the business can’t be as successful as it should be. The part I think is really unfair is that the $10 a day funding is not available to them.

Now, every province can make up their own minds about how they use the funding they receive from the federal government, but the challenge with this whole bill is we debated it literally weeks before it came out, but the money had already been established, the structure had already been established, and the funding had already been released to the provinces, with certain criteria.

It was done completely backwards in that way, and of course our push was all forms of daycare should be made available to parents to give them the best choice possible for their circumstances.

What I’ve heard locally in the riding is the $10 a day is wonderful, but it’s only applying to people who already have spaces. There aren’t enough workers yet and not enough spaces so at the moment it’s basically supporting individuals who have a space in daycare, but they’re getting it at a far lower rate which means more money in their pockets and in a lot of circumstances is good, but the challenge I’m hearing is that it isn’t all inclusive.

They say it is inclusive, well it isn’t because if you’re part time or you work shift work you don’t qualify for the $10 a day. You have to be needing a full time position in a daycare during their normal working hours, and the difference with the small (daycare) businesses is they tend to work out of their home and are far more flexible and available.

I’m hearing from people where the husband and the wife, both partners are shift workers, and it’s very difficult for them. They still have to pay significantly more for their child care.

In my heart and mind, what I said in the House of Commons is if it’s going to take time—there is no question this will take time—we’ve committed to maintaining the funding that the Liberals have put into place, but we want to make it better. We brought in amendments and they would not accept any of them.

The challenge for these people who are part time employees, or who are not working your normal hours, are really struggling with the fact they’re left out and, quite often they are the ones that need it the most. They tend to be the lower income folks too, it’s backwards in my mind in the way it should have been done.

When it comes to small businesses in Canada most of these are run by women and they are run really well. Now this has basically made it harder for them to be in business because they’re competing at an unfair level.

Were there any other highlights or challenges the federal government has done that’s relevant to your riding?

To my riding not as specifically, but definitely Saskatchewan because there’s a real push for industry in regard to moving forward with battery operated vehicles.

As an example, the lithium plant that was being built in the Saskatoon area was very encouraging and the prime minister had been there, then weeks after they actually shelved it for the time being because it wasn’t possible for them, they said, to create a business model where they could be successful.

The challenge for Canada right now is we are competing on a world stage where China is just undercutting everything. An industry isn’t going to come in and compete with that.

Volkswagen in Ontario is an example of the battery factory which sounds wonderful, but the funding the government was putting towards that actually made it an unfair playing field for other manufacturers. Stellantis has pulled back and said they’re not going to continue moving forward unless they get the same type of support that Volkswagen has received.

It’s a very messy environment right now in that regard, and what we’ve seen is our oil and gas industry, with this new Bill-C50 they’ve changed to Sustainable Jobs, is the intent to shut down the oil and gas industry as quickly as possible and move to sustainable jobs.

What they’re not seeing is the incredible impact that it’s going to have on jobs. You can’t just transition all of these people over. Our oil and gas industry are the highest investors and have the most advancements in alternative energy. It’s in their best interest to be engaged in all of that innovation.

It’s kind of cutting off an area we still need and not just for the country with the high GDP they give us, but for the fact they are part of that transition that’s taking place. That’s a difficulty with that side of things as well, we just see not the most efficient way of moving forward on so many of these things.

The thing I hear most about is the carbon tax and the clean fuel standard, a second tax being added on July 1. I’m hearing a great deal about that because it impacts every level of production, transport, and purchase. Canadians are struggling with that.

As well as the dental for families who are low income. I understand the rationale behind that and the question there is how much is it costing and what is the most effective way to do that.

I understand they’re trying to help communities out, the frustrating thing to me is how did we get here in the first place?

It would be great if we had, rather than a high debt load as a nation, the ability to spend more wisely and have those improvements for low income families without it being a situation where everyone is in dire strains, as far as higher taxes, higher costs with inflation and everything like that which is taking place right now.

What are some of your priorities for the next six months as MP?

There’s some issues around Bills C-11 and C-18 which deals with shutting down individuals’ freedoms through social media platforms, and specifically the impact C-18 is going to have on our media.

The argument of the government is newspaper publishers are struggling because these large social media networks and websites are profiting by publishing their content, but Jen Gerson—who is the co-founder of The Line and an independent journalist—said this isn’t true. That in fact the value proposition lands in the opposite direction.

That’s what I’m hearing too, publishers are the ones who benefit when a user posts a link to your content. It’s not that they’re making money on your content, they’re actually pushing more traffic towards your content. Of course the advertising is how they make their money as well.

It’s an interesting thing because all of this money being put towards the media with the C-18 bill, 75 per cent of it is going to the big companies like Rogers, CBC, CTV and so on, only 25 per cent is left for the smaller papers.

In my riding I try to put as many ads in, but we brought this to their attention because they keep saying it’s about the smaller papers and that we need community, and we’re asking ‘where have you been?’ Because since they came into power they cut all federal government advertising in any local papers.

That’s a big issue to us, and I know here in Saskatchewan Steve Nixon—he’s the executive director of Saskatchewan Weekly Newspapers Association (SWNA)—he said they only have about four publications out of 56 in Saskatchewan that can access that type of funding.

A lot of our papers now in rural Canada have one journalist handling four communities. It’s not an easy environment to get that community news out, but we think that’s really important in rural Canada that we maintain that.

Even as far as the big media in Saskatchewan, I understand CTV is moving everything to Regina except a couple of hours a day coming out of Saskatoon.

We’re concerned about them shutting down that availability to Canadian content, and the other Bill C-11, is all about getting more Canadian content.

What we fear from them is through the CRTC—this applies in this circumstance too—that they deem who is deserving of exposure.

With what’s been happening with Beijing, election interference, and all of these issues going on, Canadians are hypersensitive to the fact they feel like the government is in an overreach position to control of what they can see and have exposure to, and choose to post, all of these things.

Those are the things I’m hearing the most about, outside of the challenges with our farmers and our cattle.

By Sierra D’Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 11, 2023 at 08:41

This item reprinted with permission from   Moosomin World-Spectator   Moosomin, Saskatchewant

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