MP community office forced to move after mall tragedy

The implications of the roof collapse at the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake continue to come into focus.  Beyond the tragedy that took two lives, there are hundreds of people who are out of work as many businesses and service offices suffered setbacks from the event as well.  As you may or may not know, I had just moved my office into the mall only a month before the tragedy struck.  Like all others who worked in the mall, it would seem the office I shared with local MPP, Michael Mantha, could be lost.  This is also a loss to many of the constituents we were working with on various issues.

The move to the mall was made to combine the office of the MP with that of the MPP.  It was our desire to have a responsive office that would be able to help constituents in one space, whether their issues are federal or provincial.  That goal was being met and our staff was only just seeing how they could make the office work best for everyone involved.  Lost, however, is the entire infrastructure of the office and an unknown amount of information.

For many constituents who we were working with, this won’t be welcome news.  Right now it is impossible to say what can be recreated from the many electronic trails and what was only available in file form inside the office and, as such, is not accessible.  We are in the process of piecing together the hardware that will let us move forward and be able to resume work on those ongoing files.   Over time we hope to be in contact with all those we were assisting.   

I have arranged my constituency office to be a human interface between constituents and the federal government with a focus on services and programs.   My office assists constituents as they navigate the federal bureaucracy for things like passports, programs like employment insurance, Canada Student Loans, CPP, OAS, GIS and with intimidating departments like the Canada Revenue Agency.  That list is by no means complete and there are hundreds of incidental things that the office will do to help the community.

While the loss of the office is a set-back for my staff and the constituents we serve, it did not take us very long to get back up and running in a temporary location (10 Paris Drive, Unit #1, Elliot Lake).  We encourage anyone who has yet to be in contact with either my office or that of my provincial counterpart about their outstanding matters, to contact our offices in order to assist us in rebuilding their file.  That way we can better address the matters at hand.