Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)

2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns wants to see the country “build back better” after the difficult year that was 2020.

The NDP MP says that 2020 was the most difficult year of his career so far. The novel coronavirus pandemic was declared back in mid-March 2020, as cases of community transmission were confirmed across the country. Now, almost a year later, the pandemic is still in effect and Johns is still advocating for his riding in parliament.

During the fall session in 2020 (Sept. 1 to Dec. 31), Johns made more parliamentary interventions than any other B.C. Member of Parliament, speaking more than 300 times according to Open Parliament data.

“That’s something that I’m particularly proud of, because it means that we’re able to get our message from Courtenay-Alberni on record and pressure the government on issues that are not just affecting us here in our riding, but across Canada,” said Johns.

READ MORE: MPs urge support for small-scale Island distilleries after feds give sanitizer contracts to big firms

As the NDP critic for Small Business and Economic Development, many of these interventions were to speak on behalf of small business owners looking for relief in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic—pushing the federal government to increase the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) from $1,000 to $2,000, and pushing the government’s emergency wage subsidy from a 10 percent subsidy to 75 percent.

“We’ve been able to leverage ourselves in a minority position to get the government to work with us to deliver help for people,” said Johns. “I’m particularly proud of being able to pressure the government to fix some of that rollout, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. There’s still a lot of people that have been left behind. Our focus [at the federal level] is and always has been on getting more help to more people and quickly. That’s where I put my energy.”

In 2021, Johns says homelessness, mental health and addictions issues are some of his top priorities. He is currently working with Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Josie Osborne and the City of Port Alberni on an application for a rapid housing initiative that will create permanent affordable housing for vulnerable people in the region.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the launch of this rapid housing initiative in 2020, which will invest $1 billion to create 3,000 new housing units across the country.

“It’s a drop in the bucket,” said Johns. “We want to make sure that we get a piece of that action and that the federal government starts to invest in homelessness, especially in Port Alberni where we’re seeing lives lost weekly. We’re going to pressure the government to roll out a federal strategy where they’re looking at creating a safe supply, decriminalization, changing the stigma of those suffering with addiction and come up with a treatment and recovery plan for those individuals that have fallen victim to opioid disorder.”

Johns also hopes to get more support for a potential floating dry-dock project in Port Alberni, which has been in the works for three years. The Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA) has been trying to secure government funding to build the project, which is anticipated to create “hundreds” of primary and secondary shipbuilding and metal fabrication jobs.

READ MORE: Port Alberni Port Authority marine cluster continues to grow

Other issues on Johns’ plate include climate action and tackling systemic racism.

“We’re seeing incremental changes,” said Johns. “Our riding’s having a huge influence on policy in Ottawa.”

READ MORE: Jagmeet Singh calls for ‘systemic change’ for policing during Port Alberni visit

Most of all, Johns wants to ensure that the federal government comes out with a strong recovery plan for COVID-19.

“A strong recovery plan that includes a better health-care system,” said Johns. “That includes better long-term care, affordable childcare. Better care of seniors. It’s been a challenging year, to say the least, and I’m so lucky that we’ve got some great individuals and leaders throughout our riding that have been able to give me ideas or share with me the gaps, from small business owners to individuals. This year’s going to be a really important year as we recover.”

Johns uses the phrase “building back better” to describe the changes that have to take place in order for Canadians to recover from the biggest economic and health crisis seen in generations.

“We want to make sure that we don’t go back to the old normal because it doesn’t work for most Canadians, especially people in our riding,” said Johns. “We want to come back with a new normal where people have a better life and we’re looking after each other.

“The challenges have been extremely difficult and I applaud everybody for doing their part to flatten the curve, to help each other, to lift each other up to support local businesses through this time and to share their challenges with me, so that I can go to bat for them in Ottawa.”



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Comox Valleyfederal governmentParksvillePORT ALBERNIucluelet

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

Just Posted

Arzeena Hamir, working her booth at the Comox Valley Farmers Market. LUSH Valley was recognized last month as a partner of the year by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. Photo by Bill Jorgensen
LUSH Valley recognized for collaboration with Comox Valley Farmers’ Market

They won Partner of the Year award by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets

Chelsea Harry was last seen Feb. 21. Photo via Comox Valley RCMP
Comox Valley RCMP seeking help locating a missing woman

Missing person last seen in Courtenay on Feb. 21

A Coast Range Cannabis store has been approved for the Crown Isle Shopping Centre in Courtenay. Photo submitted
Courtenay council approves seventh cannabis retailer

Coast Range Cannabis to open second store in the Comox Valley

A map of the Village Forest Lands near Cumberland. Image, Village of Cumberland
Cumberland adopts forest management direction statement

Less detailed than full plan, documents sets out decision-making for village-owned land

Gp Vanier in Courtenay. Circa 2018. Photo courtesy Comox Valley Schools
Another COVID exposure alert for Vanier Secondary in Courtenay

Island Health has sent another exposure alert to parents of students attending… Continue reading

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

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

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Initiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

This was the scene outside North Saanich’s Parkland Secondary School after an attempted but unsuccessful break-and-enter into the school torched an ATM inside of it. Sidney/North Saanich RCMP did not make any arrests and currently lack suspects as the investigation continues. Members of the public who may have witnessed something or possess other information can contact police at (250) 656-3931 or to Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. (Submitted)
Money to burn: burglars torch North Saanich high school ATM

Police dogs searched the exterior and interior of the school after early morning break-and-enter

The first of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance air craft is capable of staying aloft for eight to 10 hours for a variety of missions up and down the B.C. coast. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
New plane will double DFO’s surveillance capacity in B.C.

The Dash-8 will fly out of Campbell River for enforcement, conservation missions

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read