Canada's NDP

NDP

December 19th, 2020

Checkpoints, Zoom calls and parental guilt made 2020 a year like no other for MPs

Politicians saw the line between work and home vanish as they struggled to help constituents in trouble

The COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on so many Canadians this year through job losses, business closures and forced separations from family and friends as various restrictions were brought in to slow the spread of the virus.

Those challenges were felt also by the federal politicians who tried to serve their constituents remotely, and who had to self-isolate each and every time they returned home from Ottawa.

"I have to say, this is probably the hardest year of my elected career," said Conservative MP Todd Doherty, who represents Cariboo-Prince George in northern British Columbia.

He joined Green MP Jenica Atwin and New Democrat MP Matthew Green on CBC's The House recently to discuss the past year and what's it's been like dealing with both the personal and public burdens imposed by the pandemic.

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The 'last resort'

Green represents Hamilton Centre, where poverty and social service delivery present challenges at the best of times. The pandemic made those challenges much more daunting.

"This is a deep, deep social pressure," the NDP MP said. "And then, of course, probably the most haunting calls I could get outside of self-harm would be ... people facing imminent eviction, people calling about how they're going to be able to put food on their tables. "When they're calling our office, they're calling us as a last resort."

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Green said that while the hybrid sittings this fall allowed for a better work-life balance, it also blurred the line between home and office.

"And of course, this is what people all around the world are facing," he said, adding that the parliamentary system is "not set up for young parents." But the arrangement had its compensations. "I can assure you that that we had to really be resilient," he said. "And it's also true that I found time in this, you know, in these isolated moments to really have joy with my son in ways that I might not have appreciated in the in the hustle and bustle of a regular parliamentary session."

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This article originally appeared on cbc.ca and was written by Chris Hall. You can read this article in its entirety by clicking this link.