Pontiac Member of Parliament expense claims

A recent report on Member of Parliament expenditures highlighted that Pontiac Liberal MP Will Amos has some of the highest single hospitality expenditures out of all 338 Members of Parliament. (http://nationalpost.com/news/politics/larry-potter-and-the-139364-timbits-a-year-in-mp-entertainment-expenses/wcm/de0e3f99-c0f0-44dc-bd8e-44cbee51a914)

Large dollar claims aside, Mr. Amos has also made smaller expense claims that I would consider unbecoming.

Buried online is one such claim for $6.70, at an Ottawa coffee shop near Parliament Hill.

Amos expense

The act of making an expense claim requires unseen administration to accomplish.

An MP’s local staff are required to fill-out paperwork and submit it to the House of Commons.

Public servants that make up the administration staff there are then required to do a significant amount of paperwork in claims processing.

Currently, Members of Parliament earn a $172,700 annual base salary. They earn an even higher salary if they are appointed to additional Parliamentary roles.

MPs are allowed to expenses items related to their jobs, and legitimate expense claims should not be thought ill of.

When the staff of Mr. Amos must devote time to processing coffee expense claims for $6.70, it takes away from their time capably serving our region.

This type of claim, and several others made by Mr. Amos, are items that one would think could come out of his own pocket.

I respectfully encourage Mr. Amos to be mindful of his expenses going forward, and to always consider the taxpayer first.

Advertisements

Hospital Bound

hospital
Image taken from Google Maps

As I write this I am preparing to head in for surgery tomorrow at our hospital in Shawville, to patch up a hernia that’s been causing me some grief for a while.

Each time I am at our hospital I’m reminded as to how fortunate we are to have the good people that work there looking after us.

The Pontiac community has banded together and met with some success in our fight against attempts to impose nonsensical parking fees on our rural population. We must not let up.

It is an understatement to say that a lot has happened here recently, with many people having contributed in a multitude of ways to combat the flooding that occurred here recently.

The region showed, as it always does, community spirit at a level that is rarely seen elsewhere today.

I want to re-iterate how important rural hospitals are in maintaining this sense of community spirit.

The CISSSO blanket policy on hospital parking does not take into account how different rural communities are compared to their urban counterparts. The CISSSO pay-to-park scheme will pull money from our communities needlessly, and likely won’t even be able to pay for its own administration.

Why should we penalize our population, healthcare workers and the taxpayer for nothing??

I see attempts to divide our community with talk of enforcing parking fees for workers only.  The senseless nickel and diming of our health care workers with parking fees, when rural hospitals are surrounded by free parking, is akin at an attack on them.

An attack on our health care workers is an attack on all of us.

Let’s keep up the fight against CISSSO – contact them today and let them know you support rural health care and rural health care workers.

All for one, and one for all.

Benjamin Woodman

 

Contact CISSSO:

commissairesauxplaintes@ssss.gouv.qc.ca

Contact Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette:

ministre@msss.gouv.qc.ca

 

Sample Email Text (French text will come at some point I promise):

“I support rural health care, and rural health care workers. The pay-for-parking scheme that is planned for the Shawville hospital, and already implemented in other rural areas, will not improve our local health care; it will only take more money from the pockets of health care workers and local residents.

Rural communities such as those within the Pontiac often are overlooked in favor of urban areas, or lumped in on decisions that are city-centric. All elected officials from all levels of Government and all political parties need to work together to fix this.

Will you support rural health care and end the pay-to-park scheme for rural hospitals?

Grateful to hear your response.”

Sincerely,

xxx

 

NOTE – include the following with your email:

Name

Address

Phone number

A complaint form – http://cisss-outaouais.gouv.qc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/FORMULAIRE-DE-PLAINTE_R%C3%89GIONAL_ANGLO_10ao%C3%BBt16.pdf

PLEASE SHARE – Help fight CISSSO’s attack on rural health care

The Shawville Hospital is located in a rural area, surrounded by free street parking, and the implementation of a paid parking system for the hospital has received tremendous opposition from municipal and provincial leaders, political parties, and the public at large. CISSSO is now issuing warning tickets to hospital employees who are parking onsite. Employees will be required to pay for parking before the general population does.

Warning ticket issued to a hospital worker

Some keen-eyed Pontiac Voice members noticed that tickets were being issued to health care workers in Shawville today.

This is unacceptable. We need to stand up for our  hospital employees. Take 2 short minutes to email CISSSO and tell them what you think about their plans to charge rural hospital workers and visitors for parking.

Feel free to CC Quebec’s Health Care Minister; I have added his email address below as well. Just copy and paste both addresses into your email field! Below is a sample text you can copy and paste as your email text as well.

CISSSO:

commissairesauxplaintes@ssss.gouv.qc.ca

Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette:

ministre@msss.gouv.qc.ca

Sample Email Text:

“I support rural health care, and rural health care workers. The pay-for-parking scheme that is planned for the Shawville hospital, and already implemented in other rural areas, will not improve our local health care; it will only take more money from the pockets of health care workers and local residents.

Rural communities such as those within the Pontiac often are overlooked in favor of urban areas, or lumped in on decisions that are city-centric. All elected officials from all levels of Government and all political parties need to work together to fix this.

Will you support rural health care and end the pay-to-park scheme for rural hospitals?

Grateful to hear your response.

Sincerely,

XXXX”

Write anything you want of course; this is only a sample! Please do be respectful.

Can we get 1000 email messages sent to CISSSO? Pontiac Voice has almost 3000 members.  If 1/3 people who see this send an email to CISSSO, we will be sending them a lot of reading material!

Comment on this post in Pontiac Voice or below after you send your email so we can keep a tally!

Health care workers help us when we’re at our most vulnerable. Let’s return the favour.

No more public transit credit

The federal Liberal Government recently released a budget that, as expected, continues to add never-ending debt and deficits to Canada’s bottom line.

However, I am extremely surprised to see that the Liberal budget has also raised taxes on the middle-class and simultaneously hurt the environment by eliminating a tax credit for public transit users. Public transit will now be more expensive for every regular user in the country. Some users will no longer see a cost-benefit to taking public transit, and this will ultimately contribute to more cars on the road, leading to increased urban traffic jams and greater emissions.

It is unbecoming for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to accept private transport from a billionaire friend, to a free vacation in the Bahamas. For Trudeau to now turn around and add to the day-to-day transportation costs of regular Canadians is petty and distasteful.

I’m certain Justin Trudeau will offer a half-hearted explanation when questioned on these actions. Actions of course, speak louder than words, but in the Pontiac we don’t seem to receive much of either from the Liberal Government.

I would like to see the public transit credit restored.

 

CISSSO visits Pontiac

333333333
 Over 120 people attended a public meeting on health care in the Pontiac

March 20th saw representatives of the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO) descend upon Pontiac for a public meeting on health care. Over 120 people attended the meeting, which featured strong representation from municipal leaders, health care professionals, and union representatives.

The pay-to-park scheme that was tentatively set to be implemented at the Shawville Hospital on April 1 of this year was discussed in depth. For a number of months Pontiac Voice – a community Facebook group nearing 3000 members – has fought the needless implementation of this scheme.The Shawville Hospital is located in a rural area, surrounded by free street parking, and the implementation of a paid system has received tremendous opposition from municipal and provincial leaders, political parties, and the public at large.

People will not pay for something they can obtain for free, and hospital patients will simply park further away – potentially at their own risk – to avoid these fees. Unlike in urban areas, paid-parking will not even be able to pay for itself here.

Pontiac Voice has achieved results. We were successful in pushing back the implementation date for paid-parking to April 1st of this year.  Due to our pressure, CISSSO just announced the possibility of a deal to be worked out between municipalities that surround the Shawville Hospital, where we would see the costs of parking paid for by our municipalities as opposed to hospital visitors.

22222222

The implementation of paid-parking at the Shawville Hospital for the general population now appears to be on hold pending discussion. Hospital employees would still be forced to pay for their own parking, and are still set to begin paying as of April 1.

This tentative arrangement is not an ideal solution for several reasons. Primarily, the costs of parking will still have to be paid for by the local community. Municipal budgets are stretched thin as it is, and there is little wiggle-room for the taxpayer in today’s economy. Pontiac faces serious economic challenges, and burdening our population with additional fees and taxes must be avoided at all cost.

Additionally, I’ve stayed overnight at the Shawville Hospital. Healthcare workers have difficult jobs, not solely because they occasionally have to deal with the likes of me, but because in addition to their medical work they also act as counselors to those who are grieving. They are social workers, keeping the fabric of our lives together when we are vulnerable – we must return the favour.

I commend our municipal leaders for thinking outside the box and for working on our behalf. The most significant aspect of CISSSO willing to negotiate with municipalities is that it means we have gotten noticed. We must continue to make our voice heard now more than ever.

1111

Many medical facilities within the federal boundaries of the Pontiac are rural in nature, and several already charge for parking. Email CISSSO at commissairesauxplaintes@ssss.gouv.qc.ca and tell them you support rural health care and rural health care workers: NO to paid-parking at rural hospitals!

United with one voice we are impossible to ignore.

Here’s something you might not have known about Pierre Lemieux

Tldr: Pierre Lemieux is a pretty good guy

20170213_191649

I’ll begin this short story by pre-emptively stating that I’m not supporting or backing any candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) Leadership Race. My goal is fostering party unity, and I want to ensure that Pontiac residents have ample opportunity to decide whom they want as the next CPC leader. Under the Trudeau Government, Pontiac residents are facing indefinite deficits, and higher taxes. The Conservative Party of Canada is the only party positioned to bring our finances back into order, and our next leader will be the best bet to challenge the Trudeau Liberals in 2019’s election.

Pierre Lemieux is one of many candidates vying for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. For a number of years he represented the riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell (GPR) as its Member of Parliament. I met Pierre in passing over the course of my time spent working on Parliament Hill and saw him frequently in the Government lobby before Question Periods and at functions – usually military in nature. Pierre is one of two CPC leadership candidates with military experience, along with Erin O’Toole.

I was a candidate in the last general election. Pierre’s riding is not that far from the Pontiac, and in pre-writ stages of the campaign I was invited to stop by an event there for a networking and discussion opportunity. It was a well-attended event with live music and good food, with the key-note speaker being then-Minister of Canadian Heritage Shelly Glover.

Over the course of the 2015 election campaign I ran into Pierre a few more times at events with the Prime Minister, and also at media outlets for interviews; it was common to see other candidates at media offices that were interviewing a multitude of regional candidates. Given my status as a Canadian Armed Forces Reservist and Pierre’s military experience, he was easy to relate to.

Of course, the 2015 election came and went, and brought with it a new Government. I didn’t win in Pontiac. Nobody likes losing, and losing in politics makes you feel as if you have let down the people that invested so much into you. I took some time off; we’d been campaigning for a few years by that point and I needed to recharge. I turned off my emails for a bit.

Several weeks after the election Pierre tracked down my phone number and called me up. We commiserated over the campaign and Pierre told me that as he’d been going through a postmortem, he had come across a digital photo of my family and I from the networking event in GPR.

Pierre called because wanted to know what my mailing address was. He had already had the photo printed out so he could send it to me.

The little things matter, and after an election marked by a change in Government the little things can sometimes be put aside as we all adjust. Taking the time to touch base with me personally and provide a nice, hard-copy photo is something that not only meant a lot to me, but said a lot about the character of Pierre Lemieux.

The photo, which is normally hanging on my wall, is pictured above. Many thanks Pierre, and best of luck with your campaign.

First CISSSO concession

untitled

Click here to see CISSSO’s response to Pontiac Voice

As many are aware, the CISSSO Board of Directors has decided that the Shawville hospital must impose parking fees on visitors and workers in order to be standard with city hospitals. This pay-to-park scheme is to be implemented in the near future, despite the hospital being located in a rural area that offers free parking everywhere and anywhere.

In addition to nickle-and-diming Pontiac residents and healthcare workers with their parking scheme, CISSSO has decided to further punish our region by shuttering the Pavillon du Parc facility located in Shawville. This decision, as reported by local media, is going to force some patients and families apart from one another by necessitating patients move outside of our region to a new facility! It would seem that there is a need right here, right now, for these services– services that CISSSO feels should be prioritized for the other areas it administers. I intend to visit this insensitive decision a great deal more in the future.

Rural areas are increasingly facing economic challenges compared to their urban cousins, and recent decisions taken by CISSSO only serve to further squeeze a population that is already being squeezed by taxation and industry changes.

However, I am optimistic with what lies ahead.

After forcing local residents to travel to their Gatineau Office on January 27th, CISSSO offered some token half-answers to a number of questions relating to paid-parking at the Shawville hospital. CISSSO also saw first-hand (possibly for the first time) actual people who were being affected by the decisions they were taking.

Following this meeting, which was attended by local residents and union reps, CISSSO is now pushing back the implementation of their paid-parking scheme by one month. This is a small, but significant measure that buys us time to further explore avenues to deal with the unfair treatment we are receiving. More significant is that this concession should serve as notice for us to redouble our efforts! We’ve achieved something we can build upon, and more people are joining our cause.

It is inspiring to see members of Pontiac Voice and the community at large work together towards correcting this injustice. Community pressure has met with some success already and we must continue this fight.

My First Date with CISSSO

16298430_1834808303457300_2121339014851752384_n

I apologize for the delay in posting; it wasn’t because I was on Cloud 9 after my evening spent with CISSSO last week. Rather, I had Army afterwards on Thursday night and was on Father duty all weekend. Reference last Thursday’s meeting with CISSSO, I want to offer my impressions. Ultimately, while I wasn’t impressed by my first date with CISSSO, it looks like I’ll be going back for more.

On Thursday 26 Jan 17th, I, along with other members of Pontiac Voice, attended a quasi-public meeting with CISSSO – the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais – with the aim of airing our grievances with CISSSO publicly. The Pontiac Voice committee members put a lot of work into making sure we were set up proper despite some of the hoops CISCSO made us jump through.

As you’re probably aware if you’re reading this, the CISSSO Board of Directors, appointed by the provincial Quebec government, has decided that the Shawville hospital must impose parking fees on visitors and workers in order to be standard with city hospitals. This, despite the hospital being located in a rural town that offers free parking, well, everywhere.

In addition to nickle-and-diming Pontiac residents and healthcare workers with this parking scheme, CISSSO has decided to further punish our region by shuttering the Pavillion du Parc facility located in Shawville. I will have much more writing on this travesty in the near future.

Getting back to last Thursday, I want to offer my congratulations to all that made the trip to Gatineau for the meeting, and in particular, I want to commend the Pontiac Voice committee members that organized questions to the board.There was a journalist from the Journal du Pontiac, as well as The Equiy, present for the show – good on them for showing up. CBC was present and probably other media outlets. Unions were very well represented and it was fantastic to see them get behind the Pontiac. There was political representation from one party several parties present, but I’m trying to keep politics out of this for now so I won’t spend too much time on them yet.

16388371_1834808266790637_2748452150854743977_n

My sense was that a lot of people affiliated with CISSSO, at least those seated around the table at the front, were nervous about our presence. No doubt the presence of the unions added to what I perceived were feelings of apprehension on CISSSO’s end. Overt politeness combined with nobody wanting to look me in the eye when I asked my questions, combined with the way the event itself was structured make me think that everybody was a little uneasy about being called out on the parking situation. As they should have been.

Prior to going into the meeting room we have to register to ask questions by making sure our names and contact info were written on a piece of paper at the entrance. It was very bizarre; a number of people were crowded into a tiny hallway waiting to get into the room, which we weren’t allowed into until the Board had presumably debated on how to best handle us.

We had zero time for discussion with board members once we were actually let into the room. Adding to the oddities of the evening, we were only given a few minutes each to ask our questions and there was zero effort made to offer us any immediate answers. Talk about not knowing your files. My initial thought was to bully the Board into at least responding to some of my questions, but given the severely limited time we had, I halted. I worried that the Board would try to justify shutting the whole thing down by saying I had used up all of the allotted time, and that I would have prevented the Union and others from being able to speak.

So, with no answers to our questions given to us on Thursday we are to be followed up with in due course. All in all, the question session with no answers we were allocated felt like a get-them-in-quick-get-them-out-quick affair. They couldn’t have held this in the Pontiac? For shame.

16387216_1834808343457296_9026521044656655332_n

I put a number of items in writing to CISSSO’s media relations person Friday morning, and I had hoped to have responses by end of day Friday in order to catch the local media cycle for this week. Ultimately I was told, politely, that CISSSO needs more time to gather up some of the info I require. Once I have some concrete responses, I will put together a doozy of an article. Stay tuned.

****Update: found a story featuring some CISSSO comments on parking maintenance costs here.

UPDATED w/interview: Shawville Hospital “Pay-to-Park” Scheme

ch01-a1d50

UPDATED-Interview with CHIP FM here.

We only visit hospitals when we’re at our most vulnerable, emotionally and physically. Apparently, the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais (CISSSO) believes that this vulnerability should extend to the wallets of Pontiac residents. The CISSSO Board of Directors, appointed by the provincial Quebec government, has decided that the Shawville hospital must impose parking fees on visitors and workers in order to be standard with city hospitals.

This blanket pay-for-parking scheme ordered by the board members of the CISSSO does not take into account that Shawville is a rural community, with free parking surrounding the hospital area and in town. This ridiculous decision to charge the Pontiac for parking will entail that patients, health care workers & visitors will now park offsite from the hospital to avoid paying these fees; essentially forcing the elderly, the injured, and nurses working 12-hour shifts to walk greater distances at their own risk to get to the hospital. Residential areas will be impacted as well.

I’ve benefited from the service provided by the health care workers at the Shawville hospital and forcing nurses and admin staff to now pay more than $2400 dollars (annually) to park onsite, when we’re surrounded by free parking, just seems petty. If forcing health-care workers to pay is petty, then forcing patients and visitors is an abject travesty. Shawville, unlike urban areas with health-care centers, does not have a public transportation option readily available to those who must visit or work at the hospital.

Make no mistake – this pay-for-parking scheme will not improve our local health care; it will only take more money from the pockets of health care workers and local residents.

Rural communities such as the Pontiac often are overlooked in favor of urban areas, or lumped in on decisions that are city-centric. All elected officials from all levels of Government, all political parties, local residents and Quebec health care worker unions need to work together to fix this.

This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a common-sense issue. In my opinion, this is also an issue that is worth picking a fight over. Paid-parking at the Shawville hospital is a decision that should be suspended immediately pending public consultation, and rescinded prior to the March implementation date.

Further reading on this issue:

Gatineau imposes paid parking on Pontiac Community Hospital | Pontiac Journal

http://www.pontiacjournal.com/news/gatineau-imposes-paid-parking-pontiac-community-hospital

Mayors disappointed at CISSS de l’Outaouais restructuring in Shawville

http://www.chipfm.com/web2/news.php?extend.4968

Des tarifs décriés dans le Pontiac

http://www.lapresse.ca/le-droit/actualites/sante/201701/05/01-5056971-des-tarifs-decries-dans-le-pontiac.php

A Facebook group was created that has attracted more than 1500 residents – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1699300137047057/  .

Photo above obtained here.

Liberal MP won’t hold electoral reform consultations until AFTER Parliamentary deadline

untitled2
This throws doubt on the legitimacy of the consultation process

French message below : le message en français suit

Electoral reform consultations are finally set to happen in Pontiac, QC. Shockingly, the local Liberal Member of Parliament has scheduled consultations no less than ten days PAST the deadline set for MPs to report back to Parliament.  This means that every resident in the Pontiac is left without a voice in this matter. Thus, regardless of your thoughts on electoral reform or political stripe, your position simply doesn’t matter and will not be taken into account by the Liberal government.

As it stands now, the local candidate with the most votes in a federal riding is the one who wins an election. The governing Liberal Party has indicated a desire to unilaterally change this system, potentially to a format that would be more advantageous to keeping themselves in power.

While I do not think our voting system should be changed, I firmly believe that everybody should have the opportunity to vote on any potential changes if they occur.

In lieu of giving residents the right to vote, the Federal Liberals have promised a series of consultations on this issue, with MPs required to report back to the Parliamentary committee on electoral reform by October 14th. After months of local pressure due to Liberal inaction, the best our local MP could do was book consultation dates that occur after a deadline set by his own Government.

Scheduling dates to occur after a parliamentary deadline denies Pontiac residents to ever have a say on this very important issue, and confirms that these consultations are a sham process.

We all deserve better.

 

**********************************

 

Les consultations sur la réforme électorale commenceront bientôt dans le Pontiac. Malheureusement notre député libéral a cédulé les consultations dans notre region pas moins de dix jours après la date limite fixée pour les députés de faire rapport au Parlement. Donc, tous les résidents du Pontiac sont laissé sans voix dans cette affaire. Peu importe votre opinion sur la réforme électorale ou allégeance politique, votre position n’a tout simplement pas d’importance et ne sera pas prise en compte par le gouvernement libéral.

Selon notre système électoral actuel, le candidat local avec le plus de votes dans une circonscription fédérale est celui qui gagne une élection. Le Parti libéral au pouvoir a manifesté le désir de modifier unilatéralement ce système pour le remplacer par un système qui serait potentiellement plus avantageux pour eux.

À mon avis, le système électoral ne devrait pas être modifié. Par contre, je crois fermement que tout le monde devrait avoir la possibilité de voter sur des changements à notre système électoral.

Au lieu de donner aux résidents le droit de vote, les libéraux fédéraux ont promis une série de consultations et demandés aux députés de faire rapport au comité parlementaire sur la réforme électorale avant la date limite du 14 octobre.

En cédulant les consultations après la date de tombée pour soumettre le rapport au Parlement, notre député dérobe chaque Pontissois de son droit de parole sur cet important enjeux. Cela confirme que ces consultations ne sont qu’un exercice de relations publiques.

Les résidents du Pontiac méritent mieux

 

 

Sources:

Pontiac event dates

https://www.canada.ca/en/campaign/electoral-reform/participate-in-canadian-federal-electoral-reform-consultations/attend-a-canadian-federal-electoral-reform-event.html

https://wamos.liberal.ca/en/

 

October 14th deadline

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/monsef-electoral-reform-update-1.3765180

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/09/16/consultations-on-new-voting-system-move-into-high-gear-consensus-elusive-so-far_n_12041366.html