It will be six years this May since I opened my joint Summerland constituency office with Penticton MLA Dan Ashton.
At the time this was one of, if not the only, joint constituency offices in Canada shared by a federal MP and provincial MLA or MPP.
So rare of an occurrence, that CPAC, the Parliamentary affairs cable channel, flew out from Ottawa to cover the opening.
From my perspective a shared office made sense.
Often there may be confusion as to what level of government; federal or provincial, is providing a service that a citizen may be having difficulty with.
It also makes sense from a cost saving perspective as fixed costs and resources can be shared.
As I have stated many times while there may be three levels of government in Canada, there is only one taxpayer.
After six years in operation the office remains a success.
Citizens of Summerland can have a one stop shop to make inquiries on provincial or federal concerns as well as meet with their local MP or MLA without having to travel to a nearby community.
Unfortunately, despite the success of increased service and the savings of a shared office, the idea has not caught on in other regions across Canada.
Fortunately, as of this week, that is about to change.
By the time you read this week’s report I will have announced the opening of my second shared constituency office, this time with Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield.
This shared office will be located at the existing office of Renee Merrifield located at #102, 2121 Ethel Street, in Kelowna.
With this new location the citizens of Kelowna, who fall within my riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, will now have a much closer location to access their MP and federal services they may be having challenges with accessing.
For those not familiar with how constituency offices operate, due to privacy, citizens must sign a written consent form that allows an MLA or MP to make inquiries on your behalf.
All personal information shared with a constituency office is protected and is not subject to Freedom of Information laws.
I should also add that constituency offices are strictly non-partisan.
The dedicated staff are there to assist you free of any political considerations or obligations whatsoever.
My question this week:
Do you think there should be more emphasis on shared service delivery between different levels of government?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.