Jason Copping: MLA Update – June 18, 2021

Posted Under: Jason Copping

This week the spring session of the legislature wrapped up and policies were put in place to continue to protect both the lives and livelihoods of Albertans.  As COVID-19 recedes our focus must turn to recovery. Our government is poised to see our economy get back on track and we are implementing supports to help all Albertans recover.

The work you and all Albertans have done in following the health guidelines and getting your vaccines has meant that we have hit the 70 percent threshold of Albertans vaccinated and we can fully open Alberta up – just in time for summer. We can now visit with family and friends safely, support our local restaurants and small businesses and partake in summer activities, whether it be a festival, community bbq’s or travelling across Alberta.

I continue to urge you to get your vaccine, and if you can, book your second vaccine to further protect yourself and those around you. Bookings can also now be made for those who received their first dose in May.  I booked my second dose and had an appointment within days. You can also now register to be entered into a provincial lottery for the chance to win one of three $1 million draws and travel prizes.  Further details are below.

Finally, I want to wish everyone a happy Neighbours Day.  Our communities have come together, as they always do, over the past 16 months to help out fellow neighbours when needed.  I have watched not only our community associations be there during this difficult time, but neighbours helping each other through these challenging times.  Our communities are made stronger because of your efforts to be kind and to lend a helping hand. 

As always, if you have questions or would like to share your feedback please reach out to my office at http://calgary.varsity@assembly.ab.ca


COVID-19 Update

Open for summer
Today we hit a milestone with over 70 percent of Albertans 12 years and older who have received at least one vaccine. This means we are able to fully open up our province under Stage 3 on July 1st.  This will mean all restrictions lifted, including the ban on indoor social gatherings.  
Second vaccineStarting today those who received their first dose of the vaccine in May are now able to book their second dose.  This is ahead of the planned date of June 28th. I encourage you to book online or by calling 811. 

Open for summer lottery
Our government is holding a lottery for all adults over 18 who have received either their first and/or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for a chance to win one of three $1 million lotteries.

Alberta has consistently had the best vaccine rollout in the country.  Since day one, we’ve gotten the doses in the arms of Albertans as quickly as they’ve arrived into the province.

This lottery program is another incentive to get the full two-dose protection as soon as possible.

The cost of these prizes is not nearly as large as the cost of ongoing health restrictions for our economy. COVID-19 also costs our health care system a lot of money. Vaccines work. The more people that get vaccinated, the more money our health care system will save.

Albertans will only need to register for the Open for Summer Lottery once, and will be eligible for all three draws once entered.  Proof of vaccination isn’t required to enter, but the winners will need to provide proof of vaccination to receive their prize.  Registration for the first $1 million will close seven days after we hit the Stage 3 target of 70% and the first winner will be announced when Stage 3 begins.

Draw two is currently planned to take place on August 31 with registration closing on August 24 and the third draw is currently planned to take place on September 30th with registration closing on September 23.

Fully vaccinated Albertans may win a vacation package from WestJet and Air Canada
 WestJet and Air Canada are helping to encourage Albertans to get fully vaccinated by providing vacation packages and other travel prizes to those who are fully vaccinated by August 24th.

There are 40 travel-related prizes to be won, including week-long stays at all-inclusive resorts and flights across Canada and abroad.

To register for the lottery, including these travel prizes, visit the Alberta lottery.

Government updates

Alberta Security Infrastructure Program
The Government of Alberta has announced a new program to protect targets of hate-motivated crime with funding for security upgrades.  The Alberta Security Infrastructure Program will provide grants for security and technology improvements for religious and ethnic organizations and Indigenous groups that are at risk of being targeted by hate-inspired violence or vandalism.

Funding for facility infrastructure upgrades, including security and monitoring systems, will help protect both individuals and property from vandalism.  

The call for grant applications will begin this fall with more information coming in the near future.
Recommendations released from Alberta Anti-Racism Advisory Council
The Alberta Anti-Racism Advisory Council has provided the Government of Alberta with its recommendations on how to address racism in our province. The recommendations were based on four priority areas:

  • a government that reflects Alberta
  • preventing and responding to hate crimes and hate incidents
  • teaching respect for each other; and
  • valuing skills and experiences in the workplace

Our government has started to work on a number of anti-racism initiatives including:

  • establishing a hate crime liaison and a Hate Crimes Coordination Unit
  • banning the practice of carding
  • enacting the Fair Registrations Practices Act and creating the Fairness for Newcomers Office; and
  • developing an inclusive communications policy for government

You can review the council’s full recommendations here.

Workshop on Stop Racism & Discrimination at the Workplace
 This week I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop on “Stop Racism & Discrimination at the Workplace.” As the Minister of Labour and Immigration I spoke to what our government is doing such as the initiatives above and what work is still needed to be done on diversity and inclusion in the workplace and across Alberta. 

Getting people back to work and supporting a diverse workforce strengthens our economy and improves our quality of life.  Many under-represented groups such as newcomers and Indigenous people still face racism, discrimination and other barriers to employment.

Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant extended
 Alberta small and medium businesses make up more than 99 per cent of all businesses and nearly 55 per cent of all employment in Alberta’s economy.  Alberta’s government has recognized the impact COVID has had on these organizations and as such extended the application intake for the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant to the end of June.  This extension will provide organizations with the opportunity to apply for additional COVID relief funding.  

Since the program began last year there have been over 40,000 organizations who have received some form of payment from SMERG and approximately $530 million has been paid out.  

As we begin to reopen over the next few weeks I ask that you consider supporting the many businesses we have in Calgary-Varsity and across the province. 

Economic recovery townhall

I was pleased to host my colleague, the Honourable Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation, last week to speak to our government’s plans for economic recovery and to take your questions on our economy. Thank you to those who were able to participate.

If you missed the townhall and would like to listen please find the live recording here.

In our community

University of Calgary – Distinguished Business Leader
The Distinguished Business Leader’s Award Gala, presented by the Haskayne School of Business, the Calgary Chamber, and the Calgary Foundation was last night and I would like to congratulate and recognize Dr. Chen Fong as this year’s 2021 Distinguished Business Leader.  Dr. Fong has made so many contributions to local and global business communities. 

Garden Days 2021
Garden Days are this week. In Calgary-Varsity, we have our very own botanical gardens in Silver Springs. These beautiful gardens require an immense amount of upkeep – and we are so fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers who are willing to maintain them. Thank you to all the volunteers who pour their time and energy into the botanical gardens and for making our community even more welcoming! I look forward visiting them in person again soon. 

Vecova CEO Joan Lee set to retire
 I want to extend my sincerest best wishes to Joan Lee, CEO of Vecova, on her retirement at the end of this month. Joan has dedicated her 43 year career to the not for profit sector and has been a true leader.  The work and commitment she has provided to not only Vecova, but the disability sectors has been impactful and long-lasting.  

Vecova is a key community partner in Calgary-Varsity and for all of Calgary.  Again congratulations to Joan on a successful career and all the best for your retirement. 

Neighbour Day 2021

This Neighbour Day I encourage you to enjoy the community you live in and reach out safely to your neighbours.  I look forward to next year when we can once again come together at our community associations and celebrate.

I want your feedback.  Please take a moment to answer the following question.

Given the Vaccine lottery information above do you think the lottery is a good way to incentivize Albertans to get their COVID-19 vaccine?

a/ Yes
b/ No
c/ Not sure

To answer please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/28TQWZQ

Thank you to those who took time to answer the previous survey question:

Given the government’s open for summer plan highlighted above, do you believe the reopening plan:

a/ strikes the right balance gradually reducing restrictions, given higher vaccinations and lower hospitalizations.   26.67%
b/ moves to open up Alberta too fast.  33.33%
c/ does not open restrictions fast enough.  26.67%
d/ other – please comment  13.33%

Comments include:

  • With new highly contagious variants now here, we need everyone to have 2nd dose plus 2 weeks before opening things up, including Stampede.
  • Open now. Remove all restrictions. Talking with business associates, government needs to remove the shackles of lockdowns. Sadly many small to medium size businesses have closed forever.
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