(Photo via MP Scott Aitchison's Facebook)
The MP for Parry Sound-Muskoka is calling for more Federal support for summer camps.
During Question Period last week, MP Scott Aitchison voiced his frustration with the Liberals regarding a lack of action being taken to help small businesses and the tourism sector.
In particular, he advocated for more support for summer camps, a staple in the Muskoka tourism industry.
According to the Canadian Camping Association, at least half of the 400 summer camps across the country – employing 70,000 people are facing bankruptcy by next year.
Aitchison says this puts specialized camps like Muskoka’s Camp Oochigeas and CNIB Lake Joe in a difficult situation.
“These are really important cultural, social, economic institutions,” Aitchison said. “I don’t know the numbers but I suspect Parry Sound-Muskoka has the highest per capita number of camps of any area of the country and a lot of them are struggling. The Canadian Camping Association is reporting that about half of them will go bankrupt by 2021.”
It’s not just summer camps feeling the crunch, as Aitchison says every day more and more seasonal shops, restaurants and hotels in the District are facing being closed forever.
Aitchison says while the Federal response has been less than ideal for these areas – at least some action is being taken to raise awareness of the issues facing summer camps.
“We’re actually launching a full-on social media campaign about saving Canadian camps. I’m engaging with a number of Liberal MPs to participate in that as well. That will help more Canadians become aware of it too. Then we’ll keep working with the various ministries to see if we can find a way to support the ones that need support.”
As far as camps are concerned, Aitchison is hopeful that not all is lost.
Following talks with the Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity, Mona Fortier – Aitchison says he’s encouraged but won’t be satisfied until he sees action taken.
“Minister Fortier and I were chatting in the hallways a little bit about some of the other programs that we may be able to help by coming together. It’s important for me to continue to raise the issue, keeping the government aware and letting them know we are not going to just go away and ignore it.”
In prior engagements on the camp matter, Aitchison says the Liberals have promised to address the issue, but nothing has been done.
He’s hopeful this time will be different.