Jason Copping: October MLA Update

Posted Under: Jason Copping

As we head into the Thanksgiving long weekend I want to reflect on what I am thankful for. Dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic over the past 18 months has been incredibly challenging for our province.  As I have watched Albertans pull together to meet this challenge, I am thankful for a number of things:

I am thankful for families who found innovative ways to support each other through online meetings and assisting children moving to/from schools.   I am thankful for the workers who have stepped up to provide critical services during the pandemic (particularly health care workers) and all employees who have changed how they work to keep themselves, their co-workers and patrons safe.  I am thankful for communities and neighbours who supported each other in many ways including grocery shopping for seniors.  I am thankful for all levels of government who have stepped up to provide supports to Albertans and Alberta businesses during these challenging times, particularly given the many Albertans who lost their jobs.  Most of all, I am thankful for the compassion and thoughtfulness of constituents who have followed the guidance of our Chief Medical Officer of Health and got vaccinated.

I urge all Albertans to continue to follow all the public health measures in place, especially during this long weekend. Be respectful of the indoor and outdoor social gathering limits and enjoy time with your family and friends.If you have questions, concerns or would like to chat, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office to schedule a phone call at calgary.varsity@assembly.ab.ca

COVID-19 Update

During the last number of weeks I heard from constituents about their concerns for additional COVID supports in schools. As the Minister of Health I was pleased to work with my colleague, the Honourable Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education to increase supports for schools. Earlier this week we were able to announce further assistance to trace cases and provide rapid testing to schools dealing with outbreaks. 

Further action to protect students, parents, teachers and staff 

To keep students learning safely in person, Alberta’s government is resuming public reporting of COVID-19 cases in schools, initiating contact notification in schools, clarifying COVID-19 outbreak definitions, providing rapid testing kits and encouraging school authorities to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination policies for adults.

Public reporting:

Public reporting of COVID-19 cases in schools will resume on Oct. 6, with Alberta Health identifying online each school with at least two COVID-19 cases.

Also effective Oct. 6, school COVID-19 outbreaks will be publicly reported when 10 or more COVID-19 cases are recorded within a 14-day period that were infectious while at school.

Starting Oct. 12, parents will also be informed if their child may have been exposed to a COVID-19 case who was infectious while at school. At this time, school authorities will support an interim process for contact notification using data supplied daily by Alberta Health Services. An updated guidance document will be provided directly to school authorities to support them through this process.

Alberta Health Services will take over the lead on contact notification in schools within the next several weeks. Once AHS-led contact notification is in place, parents will be able to check an online map to view alerts and outbreaks at schools.

At home rapid test kits:

Alberta’s government will be offering a targeted rapid testing program for kindergarten to Grade 6 schools experiencing outbreaks, as vaccines are not yet available to this age group.

Tests will initially be provided for distribution to parents and staff starting in late October, and will begin with schools that are in an outbreak status at that time with 10 or more cases of COVID-19 that were infectious while in school. The rapid testing will be voluntary and tests will be administered at home by parents as a screening tool only for students who are asymptomatic.

Proof of vaccination for staff and visitors strongly encouraged

Alberta’s government is strongly encouraging all school authorities to develop policies that require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for teachers, staff and anyone who enters a school. This does not apply to students. A school authority cannot deny students access to education due to immunization status.

Vaccine eligibility expands, milestone hit

Starting Oct. 6, Albertans age 75 and older and First Nations, Inuit and Métis people age 65 and older can begin booking for a third dose at least six months after their second dose.

Acting on the recommendations of the Alberta Advisory Committee on Immunization, Alberta is one of the first provinces in Canada to offer third doses of vaccine to these age groups. Older Albertans, along with those who are immunocompromised or in seniors supportive living, are receiving third doses because of their increased risk of hospitalization, death or other severe outcomes from COVID-19.

Health officials will continue to monitor all emerging evidence on vaccine effectiveness across Canada and around the world. You can find further information on vaccines here

New supports for businesses implementing the Restrictions Exemption Program

Our government is providing funding to help offset costs of implementing the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) and support training for workers in response to the latest public health actions. 

The REP Implementation Grant will soon offer a one-time payment of $2000 to Alberta small and medium-sized businesses that are eligible for and choose to implement the REP, requiring proof of vaccination, a negative test result or medical exemption. 

The application intake for the payment is anticipated to be open in the next four to six weeks. More details on the program will be shared in the coming weeks. 

The REP Training Grant will offer an additional $1 million for training to support the safety of workers when implementing the REP. Eligible industry associations across Alberta can use the REP Training Grant to develop or procure training to help workers assess and manage challenging situations that may arise during their daily work. 

Our government will also introduce legislation to protect businesses that require vaccinations for employees or implement the REP from legal challenges. 

Government update

Second phase of the Driving Back to Work grant program

Alberta’s government is strengthening the workforce by launching the second phase of the Driving Back to Work grant program.

Funding totalling $5 million in 2021-22 will provide 500 unemployed Albertans with the opportunity to obtain a Class 1 driver’s licence.

The grant program is part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan. This plan is focused on making sure workers have the skills they need to find success and a good-paying job as a professional truck driver.

Since the program was introduced in November 2020:

  • $3 million has been allocated and 300 Albertans were approved for funding.
  • 249 people completed the program and earned their Class 1 license.
  • Nearly half of that number confirmed they had a job within three months of completing the program.
  • 51 people either withdrew from the training or completed training but did not pass the Class 1 road test in the two attempts paid for through the grant.

Alberta to host the world’s first zero-carbon emissions ethylene plant
 Dow Chemical announced its plan to build the world’s first net-zero carbon emissions integrated ethylene cracker and derivatives site – which could become the largest investment in the Alberta economy in more than a decade.

If this project receives regulatory approval and a positive final investment decision, it will lead to a multibillion-dollar investment in our economy and huge job opportunities in both the construction and operating phases. This is a huge win for job creation, economic growth, and Alberta’s Economic Recovery Plan.

By choosing Alberta to host the world’s first net-zero carbon emissions ethylene plant, Dow is highlighting our growing global leadership in emissions-reducing technology like carbon capture utilization and storage, and Alberta’s open for business policies.

Our government has worked very closely with Dow since the spring of 2019 to land this huge project. This announcement is good news for both our traditional energy sector, and for diversification. Major petrochemical projects like this create long-term additional demand for Alberta natural gas, which in turn will create jobs in the exploration and service sectors. 

Link to Dow’s news releasehttps://corporate.dow.com/en-us/news/press-releases/dow-announces-plan-to-build-world-s-first-net-zero-carbon-emissi

Link to Premier Jason Kenney’s statementhttps://www.alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=801116580565B-070A-2138-2C3EFADD18DE2823

In the community

The $250 million OWN.CANCER campaign

The Government of Alberta is spending $1.4 billion on the Calgary Cancer Centre which will be the largest stand-alone cancer centre in Canada. A new fundraising campaign has been launched to achieve the goals of the new Calgary Cancer Centre located at the Foothills Campus. 

Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Cancer Foundation and the University of Calgary are partnering together with one mission — to raise $250 million in support of improved cancer research, treatment and care at the new Calgary Cancer Centre when it opens its doors in 2023.

To learn more about the Calgary Cancer Centre and this fundraiser please go to Home – OWN.CANCER (owncancer.ca).

Silver Valley Playground fundraiser
 Silver Springs Community is looking to update the Silver Valley Playground located at 204 Silver Valley Dr NW. As more families move into theneighbourhood the community is looking to rejuvenate the playground. Please consider making a donation to this project. Donations of $25 or more will be issues a tax receitp by the Calgary Parks Foundation. Donations of $1,000 or more will be recognized on our donor wall at the new playground.

Get involved/ find out more information

Brentwood’s best dressed house

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

Earlier this week I joined my colleague, the Honourable Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education to announce further action to protect students, parents, teachers and staff with rapid testing and contact tracing in our schools. Do you believe this strikes the right balance to protect our schools while keeping our students in school where they learn best?

a/ yes
b/ no
c/ not sure

To answer please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WWD3DJN

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

Earlier this week I announced three priorities to help overcome the fourth wave (see COVID update above). Do you feel these priorities will help manage the fourth wave of COVID?

a/ yes  22%
b/ no  61%
c/ not sure  17%

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