2024 welcome from Rob Oliphant

Rob Oliphant, MP, Don Valley West
Rob Oliphant, MP, Don Valley West

As we begin 2024, I want to take this opportunity to offer my very best wishes for a safe, healthy and prosperous new year to all Leasiders and other residents of Don Valley West.

The closing months of 2023 were difficult for millions around the world. Over the holidays, I heard continuing concerns about the plight of Ukrainians, bravely fighting Russia’s illegal aggression on their soil, about civil war in Sudan which has displaced millions of people and, of course, about the on-going war in the Middle East after the horrendous attack by Hamas on Israel and Israelis. Those latest concerns are strongly expressed on all sides and, as we appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire in the region, we also call for calm and civility in Canada in the face of mounting antisemitism and Islamophobia.

While Canada remains a safe and peaceful country, many are facing hardships here as well. Ranking perhaps highest among the concerns I heard as I met with friends and neighbours in the riding was the issue of affordability. High grocery costs, the high cost of housing, high telecommunications costs, high interest rates and other factors are causing financial stress among families, young people and seniors in our community.

While there are many opinions about what is causing these higher costs, Canada and Canadians are not alone in facing these challenges. Most analysts agree the current economic picture in Canada, one which is shared by all Western economies, has been shaped by three significant factors which have never occurred simultaneously: a global pandemic in 2020 which impacted all of Canada’s major trading partners; Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine in 2022; and the increasingly deleterious effects of climate change. Although climate change has been a factor for many years and has caused severe and extreme weather, the other two factors were not foreseen.

Our federal government is attempting to address the issue of affordability on several fronts. It needs to be recognized that over one million more Canadians are employed today than before the pandemic. Our economy continues to be very strong.

To address those who are benefiting less from this economic strength, we have enacted effective policies to reduce poverty across Canada, including continuing to increase the Canada Child Benefit, raising Old Age Security payments to those seniors who need it most, introducing enhancements to the Canada Pension Plan, and the Climate Change Rebate. All these measures have lifted hundreds of thousands of Canadians, including children, out of poverty.

But we know that more needs to be done. That is why, as a government, we decided to tackle the affordability issue immediately upon returning to Ottawa. On December 15, 2023 our government passed Bill C-56, the Affordable Housing and Grocery Act, to reduce the costs of construction of new purpose-built affordable rental housing. The removal of the GST on new construction of rental complexes is a significant move to lower the costs of construction specifically for rental units. Additionally, the legislation will provide new funding to the Competition Bureau as well as additional powers. A stronger Competition Bureau will ensure that sectors of our economy, including the grocery sector, are more competitive, fairer and more responsive to the price challenges faced by so many Canadians.

There are many other measures being taken to provide more housing options for Canadians while ensuring that Canada continues to grow, be competitive and remain the best place in the world to live. For more information about our National Housing Strategy, our programs to reduce poverty and our promotion of economic well-being in Canada I invite to visit my website www.roboliphant.ca.

I wish you all a happy 2024.

The Hon. Rob Oliphant, P.C., M.P. Don Valley West.