Jason Copping – MLA Update March 12, 2021

Posted Under: Jason Copping

This week I was back in Edmonton for the Spring session of the legislature.  Our government continues to protect lives and livelihoods through increased funding for health care and capital projects, and creating jobs.

I have been hearing from constituents on their frustrations with the reopening plan and I can understand your disappointment, it has been a long journey.  Our government has been tasked with the difficult balance between the wellbeing of Albertans and the economy as well as the public health emergency.

Prior to Step 2, cases and positivity rates increased slightly, and we wanted more time to assess the spread. Our government is taking a cautious approach and listening to the evidence. Over the past week, daily case counts and positivity rates have fallen to 4.17%. And it’s promising that our R-value province-wide is below 1, at 0.95. Fatalities continue to fall, and they should continue to decrease as we vaccinate seniors and vulnerable Albertans.

This data is all a positive sign and is why, earlier this week, our government updated health measures for retail, hotels and community halls, performance groups, youth sports, performance and recreation. You can find further information here. Any decision on Step 3 will be made on March 22, at the earliest. 

In this edition you will also read about updates from the legislature and government announcements, including funding for the Foothills Hospital NICU, some exciting things taking place in our community and a reminder about the townhall I will be hosting next Tuesday, March 16 in which I look forward to taking your questions.  

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

COVID-19 vaccination program
Over the past several weeks our government through AHS has continued to vaccinate critical health care workers and our senior population over the age of 75.  To date over 300,000 Albertans have been vaccinated.  If doses arrive, we’ll be to offer every Albertan 18+ a first dose by June 30.

Earlier this week, on March 10th, Phase 2 of the vaccine program began. Albertans aged 50-64 who do not have a severe chronic illness are able to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.  This vaccine has been proven to be highly effective in preventing serious illness and death in healthy adults 18-64.  

Starting on Monday, March 15, Albertans aged 65-74 can begin to book (in stages based on birth year) for the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.  Staff and residents of licensed supportive living facilities not included in Phase 1 may also book their appointment.

Please note that appointments are based on vaccine supply and more spots will be added as supply increases.  

How to book:

If you are an isolated senior or have mobility challenges please call 211 for assistance in finding a ride to your appointment. 

Second doses:
In order for all Albertans to be protected with the first dose by the end of June, our government made the decision to spread out the second doses of the vaccine to 4 months from the first vaccine, unless you received your first dose prior to March 10.  Results show that the first vaccine is at least 80 per cent effective in preventing severe illness.  The second dose ensures that you are protected for as long as possible. 

Exploring Alberta’s vaccine capacity
Alberta’s government is accepting proposals to understand and explore opportunities related to the provinces vaccine capacity as part of a long-term strategy to enhance our vaccine manufacturing capabilities. 

Alberta is home to world-renowned researchers and unique infrastructure to support the development of vaccines against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.  Through Jobs, Economy and Innovation our government is developing a Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Sector Strategy to boost the growth of the sector. 

Companies and organizations interested in submitting their proposals can apply online until March 21, 2021.  

Government updates

Creating 90,000 jobs with record capital investment
Alberta’s 2021 Capital Plan spends $20.7 billion over three years to create 90,000 jobs and protect Albertans’ livelihoods as part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan.

In addition to continued funding for projects already underway, the 2021 Capital Plan provides $825.8 million for new projects over the next three years, including critical health-care infrastructure and 14 school projects around the province. 

Increased funding to reduce surgical wait times
Alberta’s government and its health partners have launched an aggressive expansion plan to provide 55,000 more scheduled surgeries in the coming fiscal year starting April 1, on top of the normal pre-pandemic volume of 290,000 surgeries. This will eliminate the pandemic backlog of postponed surgeries, and take a first step toward the government’s goal of treating every patient within a clinically acceptable time.

Chartered surgical facilities began ramping up their surgical activity in December, especially cataract surgeries that have the largest wait-lists. As new and existing chartered surgical facilities begin working under contract with AHS this spring and throughout the year, they will complete about 90,000 surgeries each year by 2023, up from the more than 40,000 surgeries they currently perform in a year. AHS will issue requests for proposals for additional capacity for ophthalmology and orthopedic surgical services in March and May respectively.

You can find further information here

Continuing to lead on emissions reduction
The experience and expertise of Alberta’s energy sector will guide a new federal-provincial working group exploring ways to reduce emissions, diversify the economy and create jobs.

The working group will consist of officials from the governments of Alberta and Canada and will be advised by representatives from key Alberta industries and other experts.

The group will specifically explore opportunities with carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) technology, and how Alberta can lead the way in setting up Canada to be a global leader in emissions-reducing technology.

Alberta-Canada CCUS Working Group members include policy experts from:

  • Alberta Energy
  • Alberta Environment and Parks
  • Alberta Jobs, Economy and Innovation
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

You’re invited

Please join me on Tuesday, March 16th, 2021 for a virtual townhall.  I will providing you with an update on Budget 2021 and how our government is further protecting lives and livelihoods during spring session of the legislature.

Please feel free to reach out to my office at 403-216-5436 or calgary.varsity@assembly.ab.ca to register.  You can also join the live townhall below.

Join live townhall

Funding for Foothills Neonatal ICU

I was pleased to join my colleagues, Minister Shandro and Minister Panda to announce a $23 million expansion to the neonatal ICU at Calgary’s Foothills hospital that will support fragile newborns and growing families in southern Alberta. 

This funding, plus a significant contribution from the Calgary Health Foundation will add 19 beds to the Foothills NICU.  The Foothills NICU  is one of the busiest in the county, admitting three to four newborns every day with acute medical needs. 

Vecova Electronic Recycling Fundraiser

Vecova held an electronic recycling fundraising event last weekend and I was happy to drop off some old electronics I had to contribute to this event.
STEM Big Data Challenge WinnersEvery year the STEM Fellowship hosts the national High School Big Data Day – an event in which top students from across Canada showcase their data science projects in front of a panel of experts. This year, students used data science to explore Equity and Equality in Education, and how to address barriers to it in present systems.

The program is organized under the patronage of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and in partnership with Let’s Talk Science, Canadian Science Publishing, and Digital Science. Due to the support of our sponsors, our Big Data Challenge program is equally available to all the students around the country, regardless of socioeconomic or geographic barriers.

I would like to congratulate all the winners and in particular those students from  Westmount Charter School here in Calgary-Varsity. Congratulations to:

  • Allan Cao, Ziyan Li, Sarah Zuo, Orchee Haque, Sophie Hoyer, Stephanie Huynh, Sraddha Uppili, Raymond Ma, Rachel Dietrich, Ruby Miller and Tenzin Dhonyoe for winning the CCUNESCO Scholarly Communication Awards.
  • Samuel Lu, Evan Skrukwa and Shahryar Wasif for winning the Let’s Talk Science Analytics Talent Awards.

University of Calgary Students’ Union 2021 General ElectionI would like to recognize all the students who put their names forward for this year’s Students’ Union general election.  Congratulations to President-elect, Nicole Schmidt, for capturing 76 per cent of the vote.  I want to thank current president, Frank Finley, for your contribution to the SU over the last year, especially as you have had to navigate throughout a very challenging time with COVID.  

I would also like to congratulate acclaimed executives Renzo Pereyra (VP Academic), Marley Gillies (VP External), Mickail Hendi (VP Operations & Finance), and Assad Ali Bik (VP Student Life) who make up the 79th SU executive team.

I look forward to meeting with you and working with you for the 2021 year.

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

With over 300,000 vaccinations administered to date are you encouraged by the Government of Alberta’s vaccination rollout plan?

a/ Yes
b/ No
c/ Not sure

To answer please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/73PVYDL

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

Budget 2021 includes funding to support health care and job creation, and a deficit of $18.2 billion.  What statement best describes how you feel about budget 2021?

a/ This budget spends too much?  30.77%
b/ This budget is not spending enough?  23.08%
c/ This budget strikes the right balance?  46.15%

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