Qualicum Beach Farmers Market

It felt good to be back at the wonderful Qualicum Beach Farmers Market on Saturday for last minute shopping before heading back to Ottawa. Now in its twenty-seventh year, this is one of many outstanding farmers market in Courtenay-Alberni and I try to make the rounds to each one each year. Please support our local growers and producers, it's important to our local economies and food security. Thanks to market manager Laurie Elves and president Cheryl Reist and the entire board and all the vendors who show up every Saturday Morning from 8:30am to noon to make this market happen. As they say: As the "Eat Fresh. Buy Local. Be Healthy." 

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Annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon in Parksville

Thanks to SOS Chair Paul Ruffell, Executive Director Susana Newton and the board, staff and volunteers for inviting me to attend their annual volunteer luncheon in Parksville. My office works hard with SOS to help get seniors the benefits to which they are entitled. Susanna told us: "Since last June MP Gord Johns office and the SOS have helped seniors in need receive $130,000 in pension benefits owed to them." The society of Organized Services is a volunteer-based non-profit organization dedicated to meeting the needs and improving the lives of Oceanside residents. It was established in 1968 and its thrift shop draws thousands of customers from all over Vancouver Island and beyond each month. The revenues from the Shop along with community fundraising and government support flow to important community programs and services. Its more than 200 volunteers contribute their time and labour which would cost more than 1$ million annually if SOS was a for-profit enterprise. If you can volunteer for the success of our community, whether it's just one hour or several hours every week/month, give SOS a call at 250-248-2093 ext. 230 or email [email protected]. They would love to have you as a member of the family! 

National Day of Mourning in Port Alberni

Today, I was honoured to join workers gathered in Port Alberni in the territory of the Nuu-chah-nulth people to commemorate the National Day of Mourning and remember workers who have lost their lives, been injured or are living with physical or mental health disabilities due to work-related incidents. 

Tremendous progress has been made over many decades by the labour union movement in this province but there is much work still to do. There were 175 work-related deaths in our province in 2023 and we send our condolences to the families, loved ones and fellow workers of those who have been lost. More than half of these tragic deaths were due to occupational diseases including 48 caused by asbestos exposure, a disgrace in this era. 

In Port Alberni, the Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences continues to make progress towards supporting the return-to-work for workers injured on the job. Statistics show that only %1 of workers injured in the workplace return to work if they don't return to work within 12 months of being injured. This stat needs to change . I call on the federal government to continue its support for PCU-WHS.

Thanks to Ron Corbeil and United Steelworkers United Local 1-1937, BC Federation of Labour, the Business Council of British Columbia and WorkSafeBC for today's commemoration and, importantly, their call to action. Let us renew our commitment to stand with workers and redouble our efforts to ensure safe working conditions for all. Without workers, there is no care, no growth, no profit. We must do everything we an to ensure their safety.

 

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 29 Mount Arrowsmith- Veterans appreciation luncheon

Thank you to the board, staff and volunteers of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 49 Mount Arrowsmith in Parksville for such a warm welcome to the veterans appreciation luncheon on Sunday. it was nice to visit with old friends and veterans like three-year past-president Don Levesque, his wife Gwen and their daughter Dawn along with many familiar faces from my years of visiting this outstanding Legion for ceremonies and celebrations. Don has served Canada in in Suez, East Germany, and Cypress and, in his words, has "done every job there is to do” for the Arrowsmith Branch. Thanks to all the veterans and currently serving members of the military for their kind words on Sunday. At the same time, I was reminded of the work that Parliament needs to do, including the repurposing of Crown lands for military housing and better access to mental health supports to tackle operational stress injuries faced by members. Also, the backlog in disability claims for veterans continues and yet there is nothing in last week’s federal budget to identify whether all temporary staff will be retained permanently to help finally address this issue. I will be raising this again during the budget debate.

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