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Immigration, foreign policy hot topics

MP Blair Wilson in favour of bringing more skilled workers to Canada

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Wilson is also in favour of extending working visas, but believes immigration provides more of a long-term answer for industries like tourism that have a shortage of workers.

Whistler Fire Chief Bruce Hall asked Wilson to look into reports that many of the radio frequencies used by emergency services were being reassigned for use in logging and mining operations. He also asked when the federal government would start to actively support the Olympics in a positive way, pointing to the delay at the federal level for an additional $55 million in funds for Games’ facilities.

"I’ve been screaming at (Industry Minister) David Emerson to come up with the $55 million, to come up with the money that VANOC needs," said Wilson, adding that VANOC has done a good job keeping cost increases down in a market where construction costs are rising up to two per cent a month.

"We are in a position where tough decisions need to be made, and where not making a decision is the same as saying ‘no’," Wilson continued. "The Conservatives are creating a committee to look into it, (but that’s too slow). Twelve months from now we’ll be two years away, and that’s not enough time to build something."

Long-time Whistler resident Joan James asked Wilson what was being done to make highways safe, given the latest derailings in the Lytton area where a dozen cars loaded with coal were dumped into the Thompson River.

"The unfortunate thing is that as more accidents occur a pattern emerges – a malfunctioning brake here, a split rail there, trains maybe going to fast – I think as things come together we will realize that it’s a comprehensive problem that requires a comprehensive solution," Wilson said.

James also asked is there was any possibility of making community learning or health programs tax deductible, similar to certification programs and post-secondary education.

Wilson said that it was difficult to change tax rules, pointing to a recent plan to reimburse families $500 for recreational sports costs. "Now we have a task force to decide what sports can qualify," said Wilson. "The problem is that tax benefits inversely benefit people making more money, so you end up in a situation where single mothers with next to no income get no benefit while a family making $200,000 with three kids gets $500, $500 and $500."

Wilson added that the biggest issue isn’t the cost of playing sports, but according to most amateur sports organizations it’s the availability of facilities like fields and arenas.

Jay Wohono, who helped to coordinate Whistler’s response to the 2004 tsunami and recent earthquakes in Indonesia, asked why only $40 million of $400 million in promised aid has been distributed.

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