I would like to wish everyone a very happy new year and look forward to 2021 bringing us all good health, happiness and success. This past holiday season was very different with families being asked to give up traditional family gatherings. Like many of you, I stayed home in Calgary and spent time with extended family and friends, remotely, over the phone and virtually. I thank you for sacrificing your traditions in order and do your part in spreading COVID-19.
With vaccinations rolling out, an increase in capital investment and our robust recovery plan, I am optimistic that this year we will be able to move forward with our livelihoods, protect the health of Albertans and see our economy get back on track.
This e-newsletter will provide you with an update on COVID-19 and the restrictions in place, our government’s vaccination roll-out, issues I have been hearing about in my office such as coal policy and what is taking place in our community.
As always, if you have questions or would like to share your feedback please reach out to my office at http://firstname.lastname@example.org.
Easing of COVID health measures – January 18, 2021
After carefully looking at the data our government will be easing restrictions for outdoor gatherings, personal services and funeral attendance effective Monday, January 18. All Albertans, businesses, organizations and service providers must continue to follow all other existing health measures.
Personal and wellness services will be allowed to open by appointment only. Funeral ceremony attendance will be increased to 20 people, with mandatory masking and two metre physical distancing with no funeral receptions being allowed. In addition, while indoor gatherings remain prohibited, up to 10 people will be allowed outdoor social gatherings.
I am happy to see that our students have returned to in-person school. Schools play a key role in supporting student learning, as well as their emotional health, mental health and overall well-being. Our data has indicated that the current school model in place is largely effective at limiting in-school transmission.
Between September and the winter break, 0.4 per cent of students and school staff tested positive for COVID-19. It is not in-school attendance, but rather community transmission that puts schools most at risk. This decision is based on the latest evidence of cases dropping in all school-age groups in December.
If we can continue to follow the guidelines and our numbers continue to decline we can slowly work on reopening our economy.
For more information on the measures in place please go here.
Expanding funding to support new businesses
I appreciate that the continuation of these measures is hard on a lot of our businesses and organizations. For those affected I remind you of our government’s Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant which has been expanded to ensure new businesses have access to the supports they need. This will apply to businesses that started operating between March 1 and October 31, 2020. New businesses can apply for the grant as of Feb. 4.
I know Albertans have had a long and difficult few months, but we have reason to be hopeful. The vaccinations arrived earlier than expected in December and as of earlier this week over 50,000 doses have been administered to our front-line health care workers, staff of long-term care facilities, home care workers and respiratory therapists. In addition it was announced this week that paramedics and emergency medical technicians are also now eligible to receive the COVID vaccine.
It is expected that by the end of January, Alberta will have the capacity to administer 50,000 doses of vaccine per week. This, however, is dependent on receiving adequate supply through the federal government. To date we’ve used more than 75 per cent of the vaccine doses received, making Alberta a national leader in vaccine administration.
Our government is working with pharmacies and we are looking to hire vaccinators to meet the need as we move forward and enter the next phase(s). Government will also soon announce further details on the delivery of vaccinations for those individuals over 75 years.
I encourage all of you, who can, to get the vaccination when it is available to you.
More information on Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution is available here.
I have been hearing from some of you in the riding about coal mining, in particular, along the Eastern Slopes of Alberta. I would like to address our government’s policy on coal below.
Resource development in Alberta has been going on for decades and one we should be proud of, it is what makes us unique. Not only has it helped to contribute to our overall economy, but Alberta is recognized as a world leader in responsible resource development. Alberta should take pride in knowing that we have a rigorous regulatory process that puts our environment and ethics first.
To continue to protect environmentally sensitive and recreational land along Alberta’s eastern slopes, Category 1 lands will remain protected from coal leasing, exploration, and development.
In working with the Federal government, we will proceed to phase out emissions from low-quality thermal coal in domestic electricity production by 2030. At the same time, the demand for high-quality metallurgical coal – a necessary component of making steel – will continue to grow and be an area of interest and investment by private industry, investment that provides jobs and economic benefits to the province and local communities. It is not a choice of the economy versus our environment, but rather a balance when looking at any new coal development project. Our history here has shown us that we can do both successfully.
With respect to the coal policy please note that all existing regulations do remain in place and are unchanged. The 1976 Coal Policy has been rescinded, but only because the rigorous regulatory regime that governs coal development through the Alberta Energy Regulator contains the same protections as the 1976 coal policy. Our government was elected to cut red tape, not environmental protections, so we removed the extraneous Policy while still ensuring full protection through the AER process. You can read the full details in the Alberta Coal Policy – guidelines.
As seen across the riding and from talking to many of you I know how important our parks are to Albertans. Our government has made it clear that parks will be protected. We also understand the need to strengthen our focus on economic recovery and revitalization, we will continue to make common-sense decisions to create certainty and flexibility for industry, while ensuring sensitive lands are protected for the current and future benefit of all Albertans.
In our community
Silver Springs Community Association AGM
Thank you to the Silver Springs Community for inviting me to attend your virtual AGM this week. It was great to participate and I look forward to connecting with the board and all members this year.
Silver Springs Community Lego Showcase
Silver Springs Community Association has put on a Lego competition for the past 14 years making this year their 15th annual event. Although this year’s competition is being done differently with just a showcase, I encourage residents of all ages in Silver Springs to participate and share your Lego creation. For more information go here.
Alex Amsterdam Scholarship and Gord Smith Memorial Scholarship Recipients
Congratulations to Grace Zhang, Shrinijay Mukherjee and Paige Boklaschuk on your scholarships.
Grace Zhang has been awarded both the Alex Amsterdam and Gord Smith Memorial scholarship for her outstanding commitment to citizenship and volunteerism in the community, and for her years of balancing both competitive dance with her education. Wishing Grace all the best with her post-secondary education at the University of B.C.
Shrinijay Mukherjee has balanced both his education with volunteering, including the hours he dedicated as an executive member with the STEM Fellowship. All the best Shrinijay with your studies at the University of Waterloo.
Paige Boklaschuk has achieved academic success with being a competitive climber representing Canada at national and international competitions. Congratulations Paige and all the best with your studies at the University of Calgary.
Congratulations to Casper Valstar
Casper Valstar has been a dedicated volunteer for the Brentwood Community Association for 40 years. He served as the 12th President and continued serving the community until this past year. Wishing Casper all the best.
Nominations open for Alberta’s highest honour
Do you know a remarkable citizen, leader or innovator in our riding? Our government is looking for nominations for individuals to be included into the Alberta Order of Excellence. Up to 10 individuals will be inducted into the Order this year in recognition of contributions to their community, the province and beyond.
Nominations must be received by February 15 to be considered for investiture this year. Information about the Order, including nomination guidelines, nomination forms and biographies of previous inductees, is available on the Alberta Order of Excellence website.
Information is also available by calling 780-449-0517.
I want your feedback. Please take a moment to answer the following question.
Do you feel the government is on the right track with the vaccine roll-out?
To answer please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/H39RGBS
Thank you to those who took time to answer the previous survey question:
In order to protect our health care capacity and those that are the most vulnerable, the Alberta government introduced further restrictions. Do you think the restrictions are:
1. Too restrictive – 36.36%
2. The right balance – 40.91%
3, Not restrictive enough – 18.18
4. Not sure – 4.55