MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.

Travelling around the riding these past several days has been a breath of fresh summer air. At Canada Day festivities in Pouce Coupe and Fort St. John, and as I?ve met with councils and constituents, I?ve had many engaging conversations about a vast range of issues. Over the course of these discussions, I realized there are a few recurring news items I should share with all constituents.

First, area residents and businesses welcomed the early arrival of Tax Freedom Day in Canada. Calculated by the Fraser Institute, this day indicates when Canadians start working for themselves and stop paying taxes to various levels of government. And, the annual benchmark arrived four days earlier this year.

According to the Fraser Institute, Tax Freedom Day?s early arrival came thanks to tax relief measures provided by our Conservative Government through our 17 months in office. Specifically, the GST reduction, the Child Tax Credit and changes to the spousal/dependent tax deduction were all contributing factors.

As I?ve driven through the riding, I?ve seen many farmers out in their fields and was struck by the contrast in conditions from a year ago. While we could benefit from an increase in temperature, after last year?s devastating drought, I am thankful there is adequate moisture so far for this year?s crops. Our producers need the relief.

And speaking of relief, the deadline to apply to the Livestock Drought Assistance Program (LDAP) has been extended to July 31st. The LDAP is a $7.5-million federal-provincial initiative providing area livestock owners with financial assistance to mitigate the impact of the 2006 drought, which was most severe in the Peace region. Our Conservative Government is investing $4.5-million in direct payments to livestock producers to help offset the costs of purchasing and hauling feed, and/or water for breeding livestock. For more information, call 1-800-667-8567.

Many constituents have also been sharing their summer holiday plans with me. Those heading to the United States on vacation welcomed news that the U.S. Government has extended the deadline by which Canadians must have a passport to cross into the U.S. by land or sea.

Our Conservative Government has been working tirelessly with the U.S. Government to minimize the negative impact of the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) on Canadian travellers. Instead of the previous January 2008 deadline, Canadians will not require a passport to enter the U.S. by land or sea until the summer of 2008 (the exact date has not yet been determined). Please note that all Canadians currently travelling BY AIR to the U.S. must have a valid passport.

And while passport applications continue to pour into the Passport Office, the measures our Government has taken to address the backlog are proving effective. If you have not yet submitted your passport application, I strongly encourage you to do so now.

The Service Canada Centres in Prince George and Grande Prairie, Alberta are now accepting passport applications. Or, you can always bring your application to my office. Call 1-800-661-1183 for more information.

No matter what your plans this summer, I hope these coming weeks are safe and enjoyable for you and your family.