Jason Copping: MLA Update – June 4, 2021

Posted Under: Jason Copping

This week, Alberta reached a milestone as we began to reopen under stage one and the rollout of second doses.  Our government’s reopening plan safely eases restrictions in three stages as vaccinations go up and hospitalizations go down. Alberta has also met the targets to enter stage two on June 10, which will see further easing of provincewide restrictions. By continuing to do your part we are looking to be in stage three by early July.  

As we start to come out of COVID and turn to recovery, I will also be sharing how Alberta’s government is not only supporting businesses, but also the social supports being announced to help families and all Albertans.  You will find Government initiatives below on these supports.

I would also like to invite you to a townhall I am hosting with my colleague, the Honourable Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation on economic recovery.  Minister Schweitzer has been busy meeting with chambers and business groups over the last few months across Alberta and Canada to discuss Alberta’s economic rebound. As he continues his virtual tour, this townhall is an opportunity for you to ask him about our investment climate and Alberta’s approach to economic recovery.  Further details on the townhall are below.  

I would like to turn now to share my deepest condolences to the survivors and loved ones of the Indian residential school system.  As a father I can’t even imagine how the discovery of these 215 children has affected survivors of the residential schools and family members who lost their children.

Our government takes this very seriously and we are also committed to working through the Truth and Reconciliation report and recommendations.  Minister Wilson announced funding to find unmarked Indigenous graves, which is Action 74 of the actions called for in the report.

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 planLast week we all received the news we have been waiting for – Alberta’s reopening plan.  This week we entered Stage one and by June 10th we will enter into Stage two of our open for summer plan.  This plan provides a road map to getting back to safely getting back to normal.  

The reopening plan is based on reaching sufficient community protection from the vaccine and those with natural immunity to ensure we protect the most vulnerable and our hospital capacity without the need of significant economic and social restrictions.

Vaccine Update

Alberta’s vaccine rollout continues with more than 2.8 million doses administered to date and 64.6 per cent of Albertans aged 12 and up having received at least one dose.  This week Premier Kenney announced the rollout for Albertans to schedule their appointments for second doses.  

Government Updates

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. 
Support for students beyond the pandemic  
 The pandemic has been hard on our student population who have been impacted the last two years of school.  Alberta’s government is supporting our students with an investment of $45 million to give students in grades 1-3 the help they need to improve literacy and numeracy.  

Research indicates that early intervention with struggling readers can help students catch up by a grade level.  Without intervention, those students would continue to struggle with reading throughout their life.  Based on modeling and input from school authorities, it is anticipated that approximately an additional 15 per cent of students in grades 1-3 will need literacy and numeracy support next school year which is directly due to COVID-19 related learning disruptions.

Local school authorities will have flexibility to design programming to best meet the local needs and up to 50,000 students may benefit from this additional programming.  
Child and youth well-being review panel
 As a father I have seen first hand the impact COVID-19 has had on our youth and children.  It is important that we work to understand the full implications of the pandemic so we can ensure there are the right supports in place as we come out of it. 

An expert panel, co-chaired by MLA Matt Jones and Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz, will work with researchers, educators, health care professionals and mental health experts to look at the psychological, social, educational and physical impacts on our children and youth under the age 19.  

Preliminary research shows a majority of children and youth experienced harm to their mental health during the first wave of the pandemic.  Members of the expert panel will further contribute to research and make recommendations on how to improve the mental health and well being of our youth.

Children and youth are the next leaders of our province and we need to make sure they have the right support and tools to thrive today and in the future.  

The panel will hear from a wide array of Albertans across the province and will provide the Government with a summary of impacts this fall.
$31.9 million on capital maintenance and renewal of seniors and housing facilities 
 The Alberta Government, through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), announced $31.9 million to complete crucial repairs and upgrades to seniors and family housing throughout Alberta.  This federal funding will be invested into more than 360 infrastructure projects, providing a much needed boost to 95 local economies and will support about 180 good-paying jobs for Albertans.

In addition to these newly announced seniors and family housing projects, since February, we have announced approval of dozens of shovel-ready, short-term projects for publicly owned infrastructure that ensure immediate, tangible benefits for residents, workers, and businesses throughout Alberta.
Strategic partnership to establish Quantum City Centre of Excellence and spur economic growth
 This week, we announced an exciting partnership between the Government of Alberta, the University of Calgary and Mphasis, an information technology solutions provider specializing in cloud and cognitive services to:

– Spur economic growth and high-quality job creation within the technology sector in Alberta; will create 500 – 1000 technology jobs;

– ‘Sparkle Calgary’ by introducing experiential learning programs with Mphasis proprietary platform; and

– Establish Quantum City Centre of Excellence (CoE) to strengthen the UCalgary innovation ecosystem by creating a hub for companies focused on the commercial development of Quantum technologies.

You can find more information here.  This is a great win for the University of Calgary, our city and our province.

In our community

National Doughnut Day
 I was pleased to drop off doughnuts at Colonel Belcher, Cambridge Manor, Manor at the Village, and Carol Place today in honour of Doughnut Day! National Doughnut Day honours The Salvation Army “Lassies” who served them to soldiers during the First World War on the front lines in Europe. I look forward to enjoying a doughnut with constituents on Doughtnut Day when it is safe to do so.

Celebrate Senior’s Week – June 7-13
 Every year for one week we celebrate seniors. This year I feel we need to celebrate them in a way they have never been celebrated before. Our parents and grandparents rose to the challenge when faced with new technological ways to keep in touch with family and friends.  Sending hugs over zoom and reading stories over an ipad – all in an effort to stay connected.

I also want to thank the community members who took it upon themselves to check in with their elderly neighbours. COVID has brought our communities together in more ways than one.

Our seniors have lived through and seen a lot in their lives. We all can learn from their stories and now from their strength of living through a global pandemic.    

Next week let us all show appreciation for seniors and recognize the important contributions they make to our province.  Join me in celebrating our seniors.

Triwood Farmer’s Market
 One way to support local Alberta businesses is to shop at our local community farmer’s markets.  The Triwood Community Association has once again brought back it’s farmer’s market.  

June is Pride month
 In June, we celebrate the diversity of Alberta’s 2SLGBTQ+ communities and reinforce our commitment to ensuring our province is a safe, welcoming home for all. No matter where you come from, how you identify or whom you love, everyone has the right to feel safe in this province. We’re stronger together, so through June, consider how you can be a part of building a more welcoming, inclusive community.

I want your feedback.  Please take a moment to answer the following 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.
b/ moves to open up Alberta too fast.
c/ does not open restrictions fast enough.
d/ other – please comment

To answer please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/L7V3VWT

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

What statement best represents your views on the Jobs Now program announced this week aimed to get Albertans back to work, reducing the costs for employers to train and retrain?

a/ the program is welcome news for Alberta’s economy and unemployed Albertans.  21%
b/ the program sounds good, but I am skeptical it will create thousands of jobs.  47%
c/ not favourable of the program as it increases spending.  5%
d/ other – please comment 26%

Comments include:
Pleased to see a program that supports full time long-term employment. It would be great if unemployed people could know which employers are using the program so they know who to apply to. It would also be good if both employers and employees could lock into a second year of employment/training to assure sustainability after 1 year.

This program does not stimulate investment in clean energy. We are an energy province and yet we are very behind in energy solutions. We trail the rest of Canada. New directions are discouraged and choosing other provinces.

Not satisfied because it takes a very narrow view of “training.” It is not a replacement for the massive drop in funding by the UCP for advanced education.

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