PONTIAC March 27, 2019
Pontiac Liberal MP Will Amos touted several items from the government’s recently released budget that he thinks will have a significant impact on Pontiac residents.
One of the budget items that was top of mind for Amos was the $134 million over five years for local agriculture.
Of the $134 million, $50 million will be spent on infrastructure projects that are focused on things like farmers markets and food banks that support locally grown food.
“If you’ve got a farmers market and you’re looking to invest in infrastructure to make it even better, this budget is great,” Amos said. “There has never before been support from the federal government for farmers’ markets.”
Also, Amos pointed to the $2.15 billion in compensation for Canadian dairy farmers.
“The dairy producers of Quebec and the dairy producers of Canada have all come out very positively in favour of the budget,” Amos said.
The compensation for dairy farmers will be distributed through committees that include dairy producers.
“The dairy producers of our region made their point of view very clear and I brought those back repeatedly to the finance minister, and so did other MPs,” he said.
He added that the response from the industry has been positive.
“The dairy producers of Canada and the dairy producers of Quebec are legendary with being outspoken in their criticism,” Amos said. “When they come forward with positive commentary on a budget, you know you’ve done something right.”
He also pointed to the $2.2 billion from the federal gas tax that municipalities can access.
“That’s amazing news,” Amos said. “That’s giving local decision makers more leeway to make important infrastructure decisions about our small towns.”
Amos said another budget item that can have a major impact locally is the New Horizons for Seniors program, which will dole out $100 million over the next five years. He pointed to the many projects being spearheaded by local seniors groups like the Villa James Shaw.
“These are important community infrastructure initiatives led not by our municipalities, but by our seniors themselves,” Amos said.
One of Amos’ proudest accomplishments is the $20 million for the riding of Pontiac to increase high-speed internet connectivity in the region. It’s part of a plan that the Liberals hope will see every Canadian have access to high speed internet by 2030.
In 2016, the government announced an investment of $500 million over five years.
“Now we’re talking about investing $5 billion over 10 years,” Amos said. “We needed to go way bigger, on behalf of all of rural Canada, not just Pontiac.”
It’s an issue that Amos takes a lot of pride in, especially on the heels of his introduction of a private members motion broaching the topic of rural internet accessibility.
“I have been like a dog on a bone on this issue,” he said.
With the increased budget for improvements to high speed internet access, Amos was unequivocal when asked if Pontiac can expect to get more from this fund than the $20 million it got from the $500 million fund announced in 2016.
“Yes, absolutely,” Amos said. “Absolutely it means we’re going to have more investments.”
Amos also spoke about his recent meeting with Canada’s Ambassador to the United States, David McNaughton where they discussed the tariffs imposed on Canadian softwood lumber by the U.S. government.
He said that Canada is waiting for independent arbitrators to rule on the legality of the tariffs and that the Canadian government is optimistic the ruling will be in its favour.
Amos said the tariffs result in an average cost increase of 20 per cent for Canadian producers, but specific companies pay less in some cases.
“For example, Resolute Forest Products in Maniwaki, they’re closer to eight per cent,” Amos said. “It depends on the company.”
Despite the tariffs, Amos said that the industry is relatively healthy in the grand scheme of things.
“Any of our softwood lumber producers – in Low and Maniwaki – they’re all hiring,” he added. “The labour shortage is the issue.”
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