Dan Albas, MP for Okanagan – Coquihalla met with members of the Similkameen community

Conservative MP seeks federal budget input from residents of the Lower Similkameen

  • Jan. 31, 2012 5:00 p.m.
Okanagan - Coquihalla MP Dan Albas met with Lower Similkameen residents on Thursday

Okanagan - Coquihalla MP Dan Albas met with Lower Similkameen residents on Thursday

Dan Albas, MP for Okanagan – Coquihalla met with members of the Similkameen community at Victory Hall on Jan. 26 to hear what Similkameen residents had to say about this year’s federal budget.

Albas explained to a small gathering that the federal Conservatives were attempting to hear from as wide a cross section of the Canadian community as they could. Thursday’s meeting at Victory Hall was a first for the MP in stepping out of his riding to try and reach members of the public who did not have a representative who was part of the ruling party.

“I was elected on a mandate to communicate with the people.” Albas told the gathering, who then put forward a short powerpoint presentation that outlined the government’s initiatives to insulate the nation from the past few years of economic turmoil.

Albas noted that the Economic Action Plan was now in phase two, introduced in   March of last year. He noted such initiatives as a hiring credit for small businesses, an increase in the guaranteed income supplement and tax relief through the children’s art tax credit as part of  the second stage of economic stimulus for the nation.

Albas admitted that the economy was still facing a number of downside risks, promising that the feds would act quickly if the economy were to be threatened by deteriorating conditions in Europe or the U.S.

“Every Minister has been given the task of finding ways to achieve a five per cent budget reduction in 2012, followed by 10 per cent in future budgets,” he said, prior to opening the floor to the audience.

Cuts to federal social services, funding for heritage sites like the Grist Mill and changes to health care were three issues of concern to one resident, who told Albas that the community could not afford to lose government funding for local social programs. He also advised Albas that the federal government had to come to terms with the fact that the current health plan was not sustainable, to which Albas advised that the government had no plans to cut transfer payments.

Albas was aware of heritage concerns in his own riding with respect to the SS Sicamous, but did not realize that the Grist Mill was in similar straits.

Concerns were also raised over federal funding of universities over trade schools, by a citizen who felt society was not benefitting to the greatest degree by having a plethora of university graduates at the expense of graduating trades and technical people.

Albas indicated that in a previous meeting that afternoon with Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer that the new mayor had shown a good understanding of issues at hand and had spoken to Albas about the need for continued infrastructure funding.

Other concerns presented to Albas centred around MP pension reform, the possibility of further budget deficits and  income tax fairness.

Former Keremeos Mayor Walter Despot, who was present at the meeting, acknowledged Albas for his efforts to engage residents of the Lower Similkameen, at the same time noting that BC Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko also made himself very accessible.

 

Albas thanked those for attending, promising to pass on the concerns he had heard to the tax minister.