Perth-Wellington MP looks back on 2021 challenges and what’s next in 2022

Perth Wellington Conservative MP John Nater. (Photo submitted)

Perth-Wellington MP, John Nater, says 2021 was another challenging year.

He says it was especially hard for businesses of all sizes in his region that had to deal with the numerous hurdles that COVID-19 brought once again.

“Obviously the tourism sector, hospitality, restaurants, food service, they’ve all been hit so hard. So it’s been a challenging year working with businesses, especially small ones, to try to get them the support they need and try to provide as much support and hope as possible that 2022 will be a better year.”

Nater says the federal election this fall once again allowed him to hear from voters on numerous issues that they wanted addressed, and he heard a pretty common theme from his constituents this year.

“The cost of living, the cost of housing, affordable and attainable housing, and rural broadband. So those are just a few of the things I heard a lot at the door, and I’ve already been advocating for these issues at the federal level, getting in contact with the new ministers and pushing for what we need to see happen from a rural perspective on so many of these issues.”

Additionally, Nater says on top of those issues, next year will also be about getting ready to renew the Agricultural Framework agreement for farmers which expires in 2023. Regarding the affordable housing issue, Nater notes in his riding there’s low unemployment, but loads of unfilled jobs, and addressing the housing issue contributes massively to that. He says he wants to see a more rural lens on some of the affordable housing funding programs.

“What we saw happen the past couple of years with the rapid housing strategy and the national housing strategy, is that none of those funds came to Perth or Wellington County. It all went to larger urban centres, and the rural communities, like Listowel, which recently put in an application, simply didn’t get the funding. What I want to see and what many of my colleagues want to see, and what we’ll be pushing for, is a rural lens. That unique expectation that rural communities are different than large urban centres. So, working with the government to try to get that rural lens.”

Nater adds it’s great that there are new transportation options locally like Perth County Connects and Ride Well in Wellington, but that’s only solving a small part of the problem. He does note that there are some local projects underway that are hoping to get some of that funding.

“I know in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been talking to a number of organizations that are eager to build this type of housing, and there’s some positive news coming out of that. I think we’re going to see some progress on that with the great partnership being spearheaded by the United Way and other partners.”

Heading into next year, Nater also says there are a few positive things to look forward to related to infrastructure.

“Whether it’s water and wastewater, whether it’s road and bridges or community projects, there’s a lot of exciting things happening in 2022. I think everyone is hoping for a good construction season in 2022 so we can see some of these projects get up off the ground. Some of them have started this year and are expected to be finished next year, so I think it’s an exciting time.”