A busy few weeks for me

Don Rusnak
Member of Parliament
Thunder Bay-Rainy River

It has been a very busy couple of weeks for me, both in the riding and on Parliament Hill.

On Thursday, April 7, I held an open house to celebrate the grand-opening of my Fort Frances constituency office.

I appreciate everyone’s patience as we searched to find the right space to serve our constituents.

I am pleased to have Debbra Westover-Morriseau as my Fort Frances constituency assistant, who will be in the office, located at 608 Scott St., to help community members with any concerns.

Then on Friday, April 8, Status of Women minister Patty Hajdu and I were ecstatic to host Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Thunder Bay, where he announced funding for Thunder Bay City Transit and spoke of the important role Northwestern Ontario plays in our national economy.

Later that afternoon, Prime Minister Trudeau met with indigenous leaders from the region, including Grand Chief Warren White and Chief Peter Collins of Fort William First Nation.

It was a productive meeting and great first step in building a new relationship with First Nations’ people in our area—a relationship that will benefit all Canadians.

As we returned to the House of Commons last week, Canadians were shocked and saddened by the suicide crisis in the remote Northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat.

This recent tragedy borne by the community reminds us of how important it is to work with First Nations’ and indigenous peoples across the country to address the very real challenges facing our communities.

I was honoured to speak on the subject during the emergency debate held in the House of Commons, and I am proud to say Indigenous Affairs minister Caroline Bennett and Health minister Jane Philpott are personally and directly engaged in the recent states of emergencies that have been declared.

Conversations continue with National Chief Perry Bellegarde, along with local leaders, with regard to immediate and long-term help.

Making real, lasting change requires a new fiscal relationship with First Nations—one that provides sufficient and sustained funding for First Nation communities.

This is why our government laid out a comprehensive plan of investment in the budget, which includes $8.4 billion for better schools and housing, cleaner water, and improvements for nursing stations.

These necessary improvements will create a ripple effect, boosting the local economy and general well-being of our entire riding.

As the federal government continues to implement its ambitious agenda for real change, I am proud as ever to serve the people of Thunder Bay-Rainy River.