By Lisa Gervais
Q: How has COVID drastically changed your work life this year?
A: COVID-19 certainly impacted the way I would have normally interacted with the riding. In the early days, as you might recall, everything was shut down. We were still answering phone calls but there were no meetings or events. Then, little by little, we all started to adapt. Zoom became a thing and meetings started picking up, virtual events were being held, selfdistancing was the norm and by September it was busy as usual. With local federal government resources being partially shut down in the first half of the pandemic, my office in Lindsay was very busy helping constituents with issues, particularly around CEWS and CERB.
Q: What do you think COVID has revealed about your riding … share one positive thing and one negative thing.
A: Without a doubt, the resilience, indominable community spirit and resolve of the people of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock was certainly the bright spot of the year. Front-line workers in the service industry, medical professionals, teachers, parents, charities, not for profits, service groups, everyone really stepped up and helped those suffering during the pandemic. In terms of the negative piece, of course we know that the pandemic has shifted many of us more quickly to adapting to online schooling and meetings, which has only served to exasperate an already present issue of the need for reliable, affordable, highspeed internet in many parts of the riding. Internationally, this pandemic has shown us how countries around the world are treating their elderly in long-term care. Countries such as Spain, Italy, and even right across our own country. We all need to do better.
Q: What have you been able to accomplish, in your portfolio, and on behalf of constituents. What have you been unable to do?
A: At the beginning of the pandemic, I was still the Shadow Minister for CrownIndigenous Relations. In that role I was particularly concerned with the impact of COVID on remote Indigenous communities and spent some time with my Parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the House working on solutions. As the pandemic progressed, I really pushed hard for a plan for the recovery of those Indigenous communities and businesses hit hard by COVID-19. Economic Reconciliation was and is still a high priority for me. In September, I was appointed to the role as Shadow Minister for Families, Children and Social Development. Recently, I have been working hard to find a solution for childcare and to help charities whose fundraising efforts have been severely tested by the pandemic. Right here in the riding, from the very start, my staff and I have made ourselves available via all sorts of different mediums to ensure all of the constituents and business owners who needed help navigating the rapidly evolving situation could have access to the resources they needed. In terms of what I have not been able to do, that is hold vital services, like our seniors seminars that helped get valuable information to our seniors across the riding. My Capital Experience Program is also something that due to the pandemic I wasn’t able to host this year. I also missed out on many of the community events, as we all did. I hope as we move forward, and move past the pandemic, that I will be able to bring back these very informative events, and be back out into the community.
Q: What are you most proud of in the past year. What do you wish you could take back/do differently?
A: This question ties very easily into the same answer from the last question, of course the work I do on behalf of residents in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock would be what I continue to be most proud of. I am so proud of raising the profile of the elected Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en ensuring that they had a voice at the table with the government. I would add that I am also proud of the new outreach methods and expanding the way we engage people differently. Such as with my podcast, The Blueprint, which highlights the work of my colleagues in Ottawa and across Canada. Lastly, my Conservative colleagues and I also worked with the chambers of commerce and businesses across our riding to hear their needs and feedback on the government’s pandemic response. This allowed us to fight for and secure changes to the wage subsidy program (including an increase from 10 to 75 per cent) to help more Canadians keep their jobs during this pandemic.
Q: What do you think 2021 has in store for HKLB?
A: I have faith that the people of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock can weather any storm. I expect that we will get through 2021 and put the pandemic behind us. It is my earnest hope that the lessons we have learned from 2020 will be put to good use in Canada and will make us a stronger, more unified, and resilient country.
The Interview with MPP Laurie Scott will be in our Jan. 7 edition