Jason Copping: MLA Update – May 21, 2021

Posted Under: Jason Copping

As you know, two weeks ago, we announced more restrictions in order to stop the spike. I am encouraged though to see our case numbers declining.  This is in large part due to the restrictions that have been in place and Albertans stepping up once again to do the right thing and follow the guidelines.  For this I want to thank you.

This week we also hit a milestone with just over 50 per cent of Albertans receiving at least one vaccine.  Our reopening plan is contingent on not only our case numbers, but the number of Albertans who have received their COVID vaccine.  I urge you to continue to talk to your friends and neighbours about getting vaccinated.  The sooner we get Albertans vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to normal.

Although we are making progress, still need to remain vigilant. This week we saw our ICU capacity hit a historical high.  The majority of the ICU beds are filled with patients who have COVID and we are also seeing a record number of patients needing ventilators.  Our hospitalization capacity is why we must continue to follow the public health measures in place, not only for the health of Albertans, but for those health care workers who have been working throughout the pandemic.  

In this e-newsletter you will also hear more about an initative I have been working on as Minister of Labour and Immigration with the Jobs Now program, supports for businesses accessing COVID tests, further economic recovery in Calgary and what is happening in our community.

As we head into the May long weekend, the first long weekend of the “summer,” please be safe and continue to follow the public health measures whether you are staying close to home or heading to one of our provincial camp sites.

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

Return to school
 I want to thank the parents, teachers and students who took the last few weeks to go to at home school so we could address the operational challenges caused by rising cases of COVID across the province.  I know this has not been easy on anyone.  Earlier this week Minister LaGrange announced that K-12 students will be returning to the classrooms across the province, except for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo which will continue to do at home school for another week.

The robust health protocols will continue at school and rapid screening testing will be expanded as another preventative layer against the spread of COVID.   

Our school year is just about completed and this is great news that our students can return to in person learning for the remainder of the year.

Interactive Vaccine Map
 Albertans are now able to use an online map to see vaccine uptake in their communities. Building on Alberta’s commitment to provide robust information to Albertans related to COVID-19 in our province, a new online map will break down vaccine coverage by local geographic area.

Albertans are able to view the following information for their communities by age group:

  • percentage of individuals who have received at least one dose
  • percentage of individuals fully immunized
  • total number of doses that have been administered

Further information on how to book your vaccine can be found here

Government Updates

Jobs Now – historic investment to create jobs 
 As part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan I was pleased to announce the Jobs Now program. This is a historic $370 million investment which will hire and train new employees creating more than 22,000 long term permanent jobs. 

In partnership with the federal government, Alberta is contributing $185M to help private and non-profit businesses support much-needed jobs for unemployed and underemployed Albertans across the province and help Alberta’s economy recover.

Under this program, employers will get a grant that covers 25 per cent of the employee’s salary or training costs for a 52-week period to a maximum of up to $25,000 per employee. Employers who hire people with disabilities will get a grant that covers 37.5 per cent of the employee’s salary or training costs, up to a maximum of $37,500 per employee.

The program will have periods when employers can apply and periods when applications are closed. This will allow government to gather feedback from employers, evaluate the program, and make improvements if needed.

With support from the Alberta Jobs Now program, businesses can afford to train workers for the skills the business needs to be successful, and Albertans have an opportunity to gain new skills and find good-paying jobs.

Employers will be able to apply at alberta.ca/jobsnow.

One-of-a-kind partnership with Alberta Chamber of Commerce

Alberta is the first province in Western Canada to offer rapid antigen testing kits to all chambers of commerce provincewide to help identify pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic cases and isolate them early.

This program allows Alberta businesses to work directly with local chamber staff. Interested businesses and not-for-profit organizations can apply to receive rapid testing kits directly from their local chamber of commerce.

Any participating businesses or organizations are responsible for ensuring that anyone administering the test is adequately trained. To assist with this, Alberta has made training resources available online.

In addition, businesses will need to report back to their local chamber weekly about the number of tests performed and how many had a positive result and how many were confirmed by PCR testing. This information will be shared with Alberta Health.

Breathing new life into Calgary’s downtown coreDowntown Calgary has been struggling since the latter half of 2014 when energy prices collapsed. As such, Minister Schweitzer and MLA Milliken are chairing a downtown Calgary working group that will develop solutions to create jobs and reduce the vacancies in downtown Calgary.

The CORE Working Group will also be looking at existing, such as that recently voted upon by Calgary City Council, to see whether they are viable. The working group will submit a report by September 30, 2021.

Members of the working group include:

  • Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation (co-chair)
  • Nicholas Milliken, MLA for Calgary-Currie (co-chair)
  • Desiree Bombenon, vice-chair, Calgary Chamber Board of Directors
  • John Brown, dean, University of Calgary School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape
  • Greg Guatto, president & CEO, Aspen Properties
  • Abed Itani, CEO, Cidex Developments
  • Martina Jileckova, CEO, Horizon Housing
  • Patricia Jones, president & CEO, Calgary Homeless Foundation
  • Adam Legge, president, Business Council of Alberta
  • Andrew Mosker, president & CEO, National Music Centre
  • Bobbie Racette, founder & CEO, Virtual Gurus
  • Terry Rock, president & CEO, Platform Calgary

Have your say to improve Fish Creek Provincial Park
 Alberta’s government is asking for public input to help finalize Fish Creek Provincial Park’s trails master plan.

The trails plan will help improve the connectivity and safety of and accessibility to the single track granular and paved paths in Fish Creek while ensuring the protection of the park’s critical habitat and important cultural and historical features. Albertans can share their feedback on the draft plan in an online survey until June 14.

The Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society, Calgary Mountain Bike Alliance, Venturers, Calgary Cycle – Pure and the City of Calgary helped Environment and Parks develop the draft trails plan. The department is targeting summer 2021 to finalize the plan, once public input is incorporated from the engagement.

In Our Community

University Heights Farm Stand
To those living in the University Heights Community and looking for fresh produce, check out the Farm Stand.  The community association has partnered with Breoxburn Farms to have a stand in the community on Thursdays.  The farm stand will be in the parking lot of the Foothills Mennonite Church from 10 am – 1 pm every Thursday throughtout the summer.  

National Innovation Week
This week was Canadian Innovation Week! I’d like to highlight the excellent work our very own University of Calgary is doing to contribute to Canadian innovation. Alberta has always been a hub of innovation and I always appreciate hearing the ideas and entrepreneurial spirit of Albertans. Kudos to all Canadians finding new ways we can be better this week and all year long!

International Museum Day
Did you know this week we celebrated International Museum Day! I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the Nickle Galleries, right here in Calgary-Varsity. Inside the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL) at the University of Calgary, the Nickle Galleries showcases the work of artists and curators near and far. TFDL is also home to the Glenbow Library and Archives, preserving important aspects of Western Canada’s history. Head to Nickle Galleries – YouTube check out what the Nickle has been up to over the past few months.”

I want your feedback.  Please take a moment to answer the following 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
b/ the program sounds good, but I am skeptical it will create thousands of jobs
c/ not favourable of the program as it increases spending
d/ other – please comment

To answer please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/37MBWFV

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

With the new restrictions announced this week, do you think these restrictions:

a/ don’t go far enough  33.33%
b/ are the right balance to stop the spike  42.86%
c/ go too far  23.81%

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