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Valley Journal Advertiser - 2021-11-23

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Hearing concerns first-hand

POLITICS

Canada’s new minister of Rural Economic Development recently had a chance to speak with Annapolis Valley residents to hear about their concerns and opportunities for growth. Gudie Hutchings, a Corner Brook, N.L., native, visited the region Nov. 4 with KingsHants MP Kody Blois. It was one of her first stops since being named to cabinet on Oct. 26. “I want to get out and hear from people on the ground what the issues, the challenges and the opportunities are,” she said. Areas she heard during her stop in the Valley were similar to other areas and included immigration, housing, child care and internet connectivity. “The rural lens is different from a big urban centre and it’s my job now to make sure we can find the funding and find the programing ... to have an impact to help all these people and the businesses.” Blois said he always takes issues from his constituents back to cabinet and advocates for policy changes. “Having the minister be able to hear it directly, I think, is impactful,” he said. “They’re the ones that deal with the issues everyday and their perspective really matters.” Blois said many small businesses in the riding are in search of labour and the issue is compounded by the housing shortage. “Part of the challenge on the labour front is not just about workers but it’s about the ability for workers, who might not already live here, to find an opportunity to come,” he said. Hutchings met members of the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce in Kentville and visited Eden Valley Poultry in Berwick, which is in the neighbouring riding of West Nova. Hutchings said she wants to pick four or five issues she hears from residents across the country that the federal government can address. After those handful of items are addressed, she said she wants to move on to the next five. “By listening to Canadians on the ground, that’s how we will make a plan that will make a difference.”

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