MP for Cariboo-Prince George Todd Doherty. File photo

MP for Cariboo-Prince George Todd Doherty. File photo

OPINION: Canada’s best days are yet to come

There is light at the end of this dark tunnel

The final days of 2020 are upon us and I know most of you, like me, are anxious to close the chapter on what has been a year like no other.

As Canadians welcomed the start of a new decade last January, we learned through media reports of a rapidly spreading and increasingly deadly novel coronavirus.

In Ottawa, parliamentarians began questioning the Government on their plan to protect the health and safety of Canadians. I personally raised concerns on the security of passengers travelling through Canadian airports as early as January 27.

Unfortunately, the Liberals dismissed our concerns. It became apparent that they did not take the virus seriously in the early days, when it mattered the most.

Weeks passed and it became obvious that temporarily banning travel from certain countries would be a significant step towards mitigating the spread of this virus in Canada. Once again, our concerns were not only dismissed, but denounced as “fear mongering.”

By mid-March, the World Health Organization had declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. Canadians were told to stay home, isolate and those abroad were instructed to return to Canada immediately. Schools were closed and businesses were ordered to shut down. Major league sports suspended their seasons. Concerts and events with large crowds were cancelled to comply with new physical distancing protocols.

Here in Cariboo-Prince George, that meant the cancellation of the Williams Lake Stampede, Billy Barker Days, the BC Northern Exhibition and the Vanderhoof Fall Fair – events that are all key economic drivers for our communities.

While the House of Commons suspended regular sittings, my constituency office remained open. As new federal benefits to assist out of work Canadians rolled out, we did our best to help constituents navigate these programs.

Sadly, despite our best efforts, we know that assistance came too little, too late for some. For many others who did not qualify for federal relief, health and safety protocols saw the closure of their businesses.

Like the wildfires of 2017 and 2018, 2020 also delivered a weather-related sucker punch in the form of wide-spread catastrophic flooding that stranded farms, residents and washed away critical infrastructure.

From the earliest days of the pandemic up to and including right now, our office received an overwhelming number of messages, phone calls and emails from Canadians stranded abroad in all corners of the world. Their stories were horrifying and heartbreaking. Through the chaos, we have been able to help repatriate hundreds of constituents back to our beautiful region.

Since the coronavirus crisis began, my Conservative colleagues and I worked with the Government in good faith to protect Canadians and deliver better results. Conservatives fought for and secured changes to the wage subsidy program (including an increase from 10 per cent to 75 per cent) to help more Canadians keep their jobs.

We secured changes to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to help more small businesses keep their doors open; and we advocated for an increase to the Canada Child Benefit to help families who have been hit hard by this pandemic, which the Liberals finally agreed to in their Fall Economic Statement.

In September, I was named Special Advisor on Mental Health and Wellness to our new Conservative Leader, Erin O’Toole. Given that recent studies have shown Canada’s pre-existing mental health crisis has significantly worsened because of the pandemic, this new role was of crucial importance.

Sadly, with increased isolation and anxiety, we have watched alcohol and substance abuse also increase. Reports of domestic violence have gone up and more Canadians are experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings. In my new role, I was able to work with national mental health stakeholders and my parliamentary colleagues to bring the 9-8-8 National Suicide Hotline initiative to the forefront here in Canada. It was a great day for Canadians when just two weeks ago, my motion to bring 9-8-8 to Canada passed with the unanimous consent of parliament. In the months ahead, we will continue working to ensure the timely implementation of this system.

READ MORE: Cariboo-Prince George MP’s suicide prevention hotline motion passes unanimously

As we chart a course for recovery, critical to our planning, is developing sound mental health policy.

While this year has been a mostly downhill rollercoaster, it has given us all an opportunity to reflect on what is truly important in life: family. In May, we moved my father in-law Stan into our home for palliative care. While it has been hard to watch someone you love and respect move towards their final days, we are blessed to have been able to spend this time with him.

Each day brings more stories of his years spent logging, living in the Cariboo and the friends he met along the way.

As you may know, I was so proud to be able to welcome my first granddaughter into this world just last month.

I was not aware that it was possible for my heart to swell with so much love. Baby Ren Kathleen was born Nov. 30. She has stolen our hearts and has made this Christmas so very special.

To the families and friends of our region, I wish you the very best this holiday season can bring; please be safe.

I believe there is light at the end of this dark tunnel and Canada’s best days are yet to come. I hope to see you all in person in the new year.

Merry Christmas and God Bless.

Todd Doherty is the MP for Cariboo-Prince George. Black Press Media asked him to submit a year-end column for our readers.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC OpinionsCariboo

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson told city council Tuesday, Jan. 19, there have been no further cases of COVID-19 amongst the staff at Cariboo Memorial Hospital than the 10 nurses and two doctors who are off work.  (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Cariboo Chilcotin MLA expects health authority to declare COVID-19 cluster for region

Lorne Doerkson updates Williams Lake city council at committee of the whole meeting

(Tribune file photo)
Marie Sharpe and Nesika elementary latest schools to have COVID-19 exposures

School District 27 superintendent acknowledges hard work of Interior Health staff

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb gives a COVID-19 update through a Facebook post Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Facebook image)
Williams Lake mayor urges residents to follow protocols as city awaits COVID-19 numbers

Isolation ‘means not leaving your home or other accommodations’: Mayor Walt Cobb

Williams Lake is beginning to freeze over and with temperatures expected to remain below zero beginning Tuesday evening the ice may get thick enough for residents to recreate. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake could freeze enough for outdoor recreation activities

Overnight lows anticipated to dip below -13C beginning Wednesday

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

A new video from NCCIH and BC Northern Health titled ‘Healing in Pandemic Times: Indigenous Peoples, Stigma and COVID-19’ was animated by Joanne Gervais. (Photo Provided By: NCCIH Archives)
VIDEO: Stigma against Indigenous people is a ‘social sickness’

A new short animated video is aiming to educate the public on the stigmatization

Most Read