MP calling for break on federal taxes to help Canadians

Axe taxes for fiscal relief

Statistics Canada's most recent data reveals inflation remains high and serves as a stark reminder of the cost-of-living and affordability crisis facing Canadian households.

I’ll outline some solutions the Conservative party has recently put forward to address taxes, which are some of the causes of inflation and higher prices.

We have to remember inflation is compounding or adding on top of the previous year. With the current inflation rate (as of October) at 3.1%, this is calculated on top October 2022, which was 6.9% (over 2021 numbers). Therefore, you can see how quickly this directly increases costs on essential expenses such as food, gas and heating placing incredible strains on families.

A resident from Kelowna reached out to my office to share his shock and anger about his most recent gas bill, where the carbon tax was nearly 1.5 times higher than the cost of gas itself.

With the federal government introducing its second carbon tax this year through fuel regulations, and still pushing forward on continuing to raise carbon taxes every year, residents will only continue to feel the financial pain with little positive environmental gain.

The most recent report from the Parliamentary Environment Commissioner showed the federal government is on track to miss its stated 2030 emissions reduction targets. I’ve stated many times that carbon taxes are a tax plan, not an environmental plan and we are seeing the results of this carbon tax regime.

Despite eight years of government announcements and promises, the fiscal landscape remains turbulent, hitting families with less money at the end of the month due to soaring inflation, generational high interest rates and increasing taxes.

Here are just a few common-sense solutions the Conservatives recently put forth to help bring down inflation and prices affecting pocketbooks through tax reductions.

First, we brought forward a motion to pause the federal carbon tax on all types of home heating. That was in response to the government’s announced temporary carbon tax pause on only home heating oil for three years until after the next federal election when they will increase it again.

The government tax pause won’t apply to 97% of Canadian home heating systems, including almost everyone in Kelowna-Lake Country. Unfortunately, our motion was defeated in the House of Commons.

Second, we put forward Private Members Bill C-234, which would broaden the carbon tax exemption for farmers and in turn work to bring down food inflation. The legislation is currently in the Senate and is being held up by Senators appointed by the current prime minister. We’ve heard government Ministers have called Senators, trying to convince them to shut the bill down and the environment minister has stated there will be no more carbon tax “carveouts.”

Finally, Conservatives introduced Bill C-358, which aims to remove the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from the carbon tax. I seconded that bill.

Currently, in Canada, the carbon tax is subject to the GST, which is effectively a tax on a tax. I often receive home heating bill screenshots, emailed to me from local residents, questioning this practice and showing how much taxes are part of the bill.

These common-sense Conservative solutions are receiving roadblocks either in the House of Commons or the Senate, which will only prolong inflation and higher prices and the financial strain for people.

I will continue to work hard to advocate for our local residents and with my Conservative colleagues for all Canadians so we can bring home affordability and lower prices.

If you need assistance with federal programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected].

Tracy Gray is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


Rising interest rates making it harder for homeowners to pay mortgages

Mortgages in crisis

Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem recently provided a stark message to Canadians—the federal government's current and projected spending is not helping the bank's efforts to bring down high inflation and high interest rates.

This position has significant implications for our economy, particularly with mortgages. As Macklem explained: “It’s going to be easier to get inflation down if monetary and fiscal policy are rowing in the same direction”.

The implications of that affirmation are substantial, raising questions about the viability of the current government's economic path, which directly affects the ability of Canadians to secure affordable mortgages and, for many, keep their homes.

In its effort to combat inflation, the Bank of Canada has increased interest rates 10 times in just 19 months, which has raised many mortgage holders’ payments. Since 2015, monthly mortgage payments have increased by 150% for a typical family home.

I recently sent out a mortgage survey to all households across our community and the responses are just starting to come in. So far, the vast majority of responses received from those who have mortgages indicate it has become more difficult and expensive to pay off their mortgages. Some say their mortgages have become so unaffordable, they may lose their homes.

In 2015, the prime minister promised to boost the availability of affordable housing in Canada. However, since then, rents, mortgage payments and the down payment required to buy a home have all doubled. Before 2015, it took 25 years to pay off a mortgage. It now takes 25 years to save for a down payment.

We increasingly see stories across British Columbia about people returning to the rental market because they can't afford their mortgages. A recent Edward Jones Canada survey stated, "Canadians are stuck in a chaotic whirlwind of personal financial stress”.

Many indicators show the extent to which people are struggling. Those include reports of increases in mortgage defaults, forced sales and high-interest alternative lending for those who no longer meet mortgage stress tests but desperately want to keep their homes.

All of this is made worse by a housing crisis that is failing to add new homes. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, housing starts are dropping nationwide, including 26% down in B.C. and 33% down in Kelowna since last year.

I speak to many people involved in construction who say the cost of debt financing due to high interest rates, increasing costs for materials and supplies due to inflation and cost increases with the continuing low Canadian dollar is making it more difficult to go forward with projects.

Macklem did affirm that by focusing on the inflationary consequences of its spending decisions, the federal government would significantly contribute to reducing inflation and the need for high interest rates, providing a way out of our worsening mortgage crisis.


This Remembrance Day, I hope everyone in Kelowna-Lake Country will join me in taking a moment to recognize those who bravely served Canada in times of war, conflict and peace.

We do this to honour and pay tribute to Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice defending democracy and human rights around the world.

Kelowna’s City Park features the multi-partner community service memorial project, the Field of Crosses. I hope everyone who is able takes the opportunity to honour those fallen soldiers and purchases a poppy, which helps support local veterans and their families.

You can view my Remembrance Day video tribute on my social media platforms as I paid respect at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

Lest we forget.

If you need assistance with federal programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected].

Tracy Gray is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

MP concerned about government censorship online

New rules for podcasters

After Bill C-11 recently passed, the Canada Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced its plans to bring in a new registry for social media and online podcasts.

Under the new regulations, podcasts and streaming companies would be required to register with the federal government by Nov. 28. Warnings were raised about online censorship, government overreach and individual liberties during debates on Bill C-11 in the House of Commons and the Senate. The government continually stated Bill C-11 wouldn't infringe on individual posts or online content.

It's crucial for Canadians to receive answers and transparency from both the telecommunications regulator, the CRTC, and the heritage minister.

Conservatives brought forward two motions recently at the Heritage Committee to scrutinize the impact and implications of the new proposed podcast registry restrictions and regulations. We aimed to provide a platform for concerned Canadians and content creators to voice their concerns and seek clarity on the federal government's intentions.

Despite growing unease among Canadians, the federal Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois chose not to study this issue.

The concern is that these CRTC measures will control what Canadians can access, see and express online. The potential for government interference in the content Canadians can access is a significant concern, as it could compromise the principle of "net neutrality," which includes open access to information for what you search and see online.

Conservatives warned C-11 will restrict what Canadians may view and listen to and it will negatively impact digital producers by limiting their success and ability to reach a Canadian and a worldwide audience. Canadian talent and creative content will no longer be successful based on what Canadians want to see. Instead, viewers will only see it if it meets the criteria set by Ottawa bureaucrats at the CRTC.

Canadians deserve a choice in what they watch and listen to online, free from undue government influence. The official Opposition's call for a more transparent and consultative process was made when this legislation was proposed and debated. Now, as we see the implementation of the C-11 through CRTC regulation where the oversights of online podcasts was not something analyzed and has come as a surprise to many.

I will continue opposing federal government overreach that is harming how Canadians access what they search and see online. We only have to see what has already occurred with (Meta’s) removal of Canadian news articles from (Facebook and Instagram) search results and from the inability to copy links to news articles on the social media platforms due to another restrictive piece of legislation, the government’s Bill C-18. Canadians are now left with having to screenshot headlines rather than attaching full article links that no one can click on and see (the full article).

(Conservatives) will continue to press for answers about the regulations being put forth by the CRTC based on legislation from the government. This includes bringing forth concerns and seeking clarity on regulations such as those being proposed for podcast creators.

If you need assistance with federal programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected].

(Editor’s note: In June, Google also said it planned to remove links to news articles for searches in Canada in response to Bill C-18 but as of Thursday, they were still available.)

Tracy Gray is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


Suggestion for dealing with housing situation in Canada

Canada's housing crisis

The high cost of housing and mortgage payments remains a big concern for residents in Kelowna-Lake Country, particularly young people, new families and seniors.

This is sadly not surprising, considering the startling statistics on the worsening state of Canada's housing crisis.

Any argument that Canada’s housing crisis is primarily globally affected can easily be refuted. The OECD reported Canada has the greatest difference between wages and housing prices in the G7. Housing prices just across the border in the U.S. are half what they are in Canada. Vancouver and Toronto are in the top 10 most expensive housing price markets in the world.

The average asking monthly rental for a one-bedroom apartment in Kelowna is $2,121, and for a two-bedroom apartment it is $2,876. Rentals.ca's National Rent Rankings now list Kelowna as Canada's ninth most expensive rental market, ahead of Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax.

The Association of Interior Realtors’ September 2023 data shows the benchmark price of a single-family home in the Central Okanagan is now $1,006,300, while a townhouse has a benchmark price of $762,000.

We also see concerning signs in Canada's mortgage market, with recent stories of B.C. residents returning to renting because they're unable to manage the impact of decades-high interest rates increasing payments unsustainably.

The Governor of the Bank of Canada and the Parliamentary Budget Officer outlined the impact of the federal government's tax and spending policies, which have kept inflation high and the benchmark interest rate held at 5%.

Canadians are not seeing the benefit from the government's billions in spending even when they say it's being put towards tackling our housing crisis.

I recently questioned the new Liberal housing minister at a parliamentary committee. I asked him, considering the rising rate of homelessness, what date he estimates the government's multi-billion-dollar Housing Accelerator Program would cause homelessness rates to decrease.

Unfortunately, he was unable to answer. That was not surprising considering the Auditor General of Canada reported the federal government doesn't know if any of its initiatives to reduce chronic homelessness are working.

Conservative MPs in the House of Commons are looking to act now. The Leader of the Opposition, Pierre Poilievre, recently proposed a Private Member Bill, the Building Homes Not Bureaucracy Act which would require cities to build more homes and speed up the rate at which they build homes every year to meet higher housing targets.

The act provides a 100% GST rebate on new residential rental property where the average rent payable is below market rate. It requires the housing minister to report on the inventory of federal buildings and land suitable for housing construction and to propose a plan to sell at least 15% and to place these properties on the market within 18 months.

The Building Homes Not Bureaucracy Act would ensure Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) executives only receive bonuses if housing targets are met and applications for new construction are approved within 60 days.

At the same committee meeting I mentioned, Conservative MPs pressed the housing minister on how the CMHC could justify paying nearly $27 million in executive bonuses in 2022, considering housing is so unaffordable to many and the CMHC is clearly not meeting its mandate.

These are common-sense solutions to help alleviate the housing crisis in Canada. Some of the hardest hit are Canadian young adults, where nine out of 10 say they have given up on home ownership.

This isn’t what previous generations experienced while building a life and family.

If you need assistance with federal programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected].

Tracy Gray os the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tracy Gray, Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, is her party's critic for Employment, Future Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

She is a member of the national caucus committee’s credit union caucus, wine caucus, and aviation caucus.

Gray, who has won the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award, worked for 27 years in the B.C. beverage industry.

She founded and owned Discover Wines VQA Wine Stores, which included the No. 1 wine store in B.C. for 13 years. She has been involved in small businesses in different sectors — financing, importing, oil and gas services and a technology start-up — and is among the “100 New Woman Pioneers in B.C."

Gray was a Kelowna city councillor for the 2014 term, sat on the Passenger Transportation Board from 2010-2012 and was elected to the board of Prospera Credit Union for 10 years.

In addition, she served on the boards of the Okanagan Film Commission, Clubhouse Childcare Society, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan Regional Library and was chairwoman of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

She volunteers extensively in the community and welcomes connecting with residents.

She can be reached at 250-470-5075, and [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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