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Affordability, housing top for Tri-Cities' MPs as House resumes

The Tri-Cities' two MPs, Ron McKinnon and Bonita Zarrillo, are back at work after the winter break. Here's what they're pressing for in the next parliamentary sitting.
MPs McKinnon and Zarrillo
MP Ron McKinnon (Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam) and MP Bonita Zarrillo (Port Moody–Coquitlam).

The Tri-Cities’ two members of parliament are back in the House of Commons today, Jan. 29, after the winter break to push for their and their parties’ priorities.

NDP MP Bonita Zarrillo (Port Moody–Coquitlam) and Liberal backbencher Ron McKinnon (Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam) say affordability and housing are top of mind.

Speaking with the Tri-City News from Ottawa this morning, Zarrillo said the NDP caucus, which met last week in Edmonton, plans to push for actionable measures.

Finding affordable rental housing in the Tri-Cities is difficult, she said, as a result of decisions made by the Liberal and, previously, Conservative governments.

Zarrillo said she’s currently working with the housing minister to identify where local affordable housing, such as co-ops, can be retained with federal investment.

“There are lots of opportunities in the Tri-Cities,” she said, noting the federally created Garden Court and Tri-Branch co-operatives on Packard Avenue, outside of her constituency, of which Coquitlam recently pitched in $5.8 million; the province is set to grant $50.5 million.

Zarrillo met with the federal minister on that file because “the Liberals were doing nothing on that … A lot of seniors are very worried about losing their housing there.”

Of the Liberals’ priorities for the next parliamentary sitting, McKinnon wrote today: “We continue to advance solutions for Canadians: affordability and housing, in particular.”

Zarrillo said she'll also press for better environmental standards, pointing to the recent air quality bulletin about a Burnaby refinery incident that generated calls to her office.

“I know this is an area that people are anxious about,” she said.

“It’s time, really, to get serious about making these corporations burning fossil fuels pay. It’s incredible that they’re still getting subsidies. I will continue to push and hold them accountable, for our health.”

As for the new federal dental care plan that came into effect last month and the NDP sought, Zarrillo said she’ll be making sure her eligible constituents apply.

The Canadian Dental Care Plan is aimed at low- and middle-income residents — with a household income of under $90,000 and without private insurance.

In recent discussions with voters, Zarrillo said she spoke with a mother who took her kids to the dentist for their first time.

“It’s an amazing program.”

And she added she’ll continue to champion better wages and working conditions for women, especially those employed in long-term care homes and child care centres.

Women, she said, “took a chance on the Liberal government really working for them and it has not done that. Women are underpaid and under-represented.”

She added, “The Conservatives don’t even mention women in their economic platform. They’ve made massive cuts to women’s shelters and programs for women fleeing abuse.”

Meanwhile, a memorial will be held in the House of Commons today to pay tribute to the late NDP leader Ed Broadbent, who died on Jan. 11, 2024.