I write to you today as I reflect on this past year which I can honestly say has been one of the toughest, as I am sure it has been for so many of you. We started 2020 with optimism that we were headed towards a prosperous year. COVID-19 hit early on and changed our lives forever.
We went from our normal daily routine which for many included heading out the door to go to work after ensuring our kids were safely dropped off at school, to creating a home office both for ourselves and our children. Family dinners, vacations and enjoying the company of others was scaled back to virtual dinners, walks through our parks and meeting up with friends outdoors while maintaining distance. We have also had to get used to wearing a mask and remembering our mask when we leave the house – it has become a part of us, like remembering your keys and wallet when going out to the store.
These measures and the restrictions that have been implemented were not made lightly. Our government recognizes the sacrifices we have all had to make this year to keep Albertans safe and healthy.
This holiday season will be different, but we must remember why it will be different. To protect our health care system and ensure that those who need access will have it, we must do our part this season; giving up the large family gatherings, meeting up with friends and traveling across the province.
We must also remember that there are some Albertans who live alone and will find this holiday hard. If you know someone – a neighbour, a senior, or a friend – make sure to reach out to them with a phone call or arrange for virtual chats to check in. This may seem like a small gesture, but it is the little things that we need to be more mindful of, especially this time of year.
I am sure most of you are looking forward to what 2021 has in store for us as we look to leave 2020 behind. I am confident 2021 will be better for Alberta. With a vaccination imminent early in the new year and Alberta’s Recovery Plan in place we are primed to take 2021 by storm. Whether it be supporting Alberta tech startups through the Alberta Enterprise Corporation or laying the groundwork for geothermal energy development, the Alberta government is continuing to create jobs, invest in infrastructure and diversify our economy.
I want to wish everyone and their families all the best this holiday season. With the strength and resilience of Albertans I look forward to 2021.As always, if you have questions or would like to share your feedback please reach out to my office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New mandatory province wide measures
Two weeks ago, the Premier implemented restrictions in hopes that our number of cases would see a decline. Unfortunately this has not happened and our numbers remain high putting further pressure on our health care system and front-line workers.
After careful consideration, Premier Kenney announced the following expanded health measures will be in effect provincewide. All Albertans, businesses, organizations and service providers must follow all new health measures. These restrictions will be in place for a minimum of four weeks.
Social gatherings – immediate
- All indoor and outdoor social gatherings – public and private – are prohibited.
- Close contacts are limited to household members only.
- Individuals who live alone will be allowed up to two close contacts for in-person visiting, with those two people remaining the same for the duration of the restriction period.
- Festivals, parades, events, concerts, exhibitions, competitions, sport and performance remain prohibited.
Masking – immediate
- The mandatory indoor public masking requirement will be extended provincewide.
- Public spaces include locations where a business or entity operates and is applicable to employees, visitors and the general public.
- Applies to all indoor workplaces and facilities outside the home.
- Farm operations are excluded.
- Rental accommodations used solely for the purposes of a private residence are excluded.
Places of worship – starting at 12:01 am, Dec. 13
- All places of worship will be limited to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy for in-person attendance.
- Virtual or online services are strongly encouraged.
- Drive-in services where individuals do not leave their vehicles and adhere to guidance will be permissible and are not subject to capacity restrictions.
- Mandatory mask mandate, physical distancing and other guidelines remain in place.
Retail – starting at 12:01 am, Dec. 13
- Retail services must reduce customer capacity to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy, with a minimum of five customers permitted.
- Curbside pickup, delivery and online services are encouraged.
- Shopping malls will be limited to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy.
Closures – starting at 12:01 am, Dec. 13
- Restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges and cafes will be closed to in-person service.
- Only takeout, curbside pickup and delivery services are permitted.
- Casinos, bingo halls, gaming entertainment centres, racing entertainment centres, horse tracks, raceways, bowling alleys, pool halls, legions, and private clubs will be closed.
- Recreational facilities – fitness centres, recreation centres, pools, spas, gyms, studios, day and overnight camps, indoor rinks and arenas – will be closed.
- Outdoor recreation is permitted, but facilities with indoor spaces except for washrooms will be closed.
- Entertainment businesses and entities – libraries, science centres, interpretive centres, museums, galleries, amusement parks and water parks – will be closed.
- Hotels may remain open but must follow restrictions – no spas, pools or in-person dining. Room services only.
- Personal and wellness services, including hair salons, nail salons, massage, tattoos, and piercing, will be closed.
Health services, including physiotherapy or acupuncture, social or protective services, shelters for vulnerable persons, emergency services, child care, and not-for-profit community kitchens or charitable kitchens will remain open for in-person attendance.
Work from home – starting at 12:01 am, Dec. 13
- Mandatory work from home measures will be implemented unless the employer determines that work requires a physical presence for operational effectiveness.
Closures – ongoing from Nov. 27
- Entertainment businesses and entities – community halls and centres, indoor children’s play centres and indoor playgrounds, theatres, auditoriums, concert halls, and community theatres, nightclubs, banquet halls and conference centres, indoor and outdoor festivals, concerts with the exception of drive-in events, tradeshows, and sporting events or competitions, remain closed.
For more information go here.
With the Pfizer vaccine approved through Health Canada Alberta will receive the first 3,900 doses of the vaccine next week and be distributed to critical health-care workers. Immunization of seniors and other groups such as staff at long-term care and designated supportive living facilities is anticipated to begin in early 2021.
To support this ongoing work, the Alberta government has appointed a new COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force. Chaired by the deputy minister of Municipal Affairs, retired Lt.-Gen. Paul Wynnyk, the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force will build on the steps that Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services have already taken to prepare for the delivery of a vaccine.
Phase 1 vaccinations will include long-term care and designated supported living residents, staff in those facilities, on reserve First Nations individuals over age 65, seniors aged 75 and older, and health care workers.
Phase 2 is expected to begin by April 2021 and will again be targeted to prioritized populations. Phase 3 will involve rolling out vaccinations to the general Alberta population, anticipated to start by fall 2021.
For further information please go here.
Historic support for Alberta small businesses
To support Alberta’s small businesses as they adapt to the realities of the ongoing public health crisis, the Alberta government is expanding and increasing the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant. With a new lower threshold and increased grant amount, up to 15,000 more businesses may be eligible for funding.
The benefit will be tripling from $5,000 to $15,000 and reducing the revenue-loss threshold from 40 per cent to 30 per cent.
You can find more information here.
The fall legislative session has now ended and although our priority throughout has been on the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring Albertans are healthy and safe we did have a productive session by continuing to cut red tape, invest in Alberta and recover Alberta’s economy.
Investing in Calgary through the Municipal Stimulus Program
Alberta’s government is investing $153 million in shovel-ready infrastructure projects in Calgary and creating good-paying jobs for Calgarians through our Municipal Stimulus Program (MSP).
Recognizing physician assistants as regulated health care professionals
Regulating the profession means that physician assistants will adhere to standards for competency, safety and ethics like other regulated health professionals in the province. It ensures they are accountable for the care they provide and the public is protected.
For more information click here.
New Civil Society Fund – applications open
Civil society plays a critical role in the well-being of Albertans and contributes significantly to Alberta’s economy. The $20-million fund will help leverage the existing strengths of civil society organizations to better address social problems and improve supports. The fund will provide $20 million over three years, with $7 million budgeted for 2020-21 to support civil society’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
More information on eligible projects and how to submit a funding application can be found here.
Seeking input on Alberta Trails and Recreation
Albertans are invited to share ideas about outdoor recreation and trails in the province. Input will help shape future policy and legislation for Crown land, including parks and public lands that support recreation for generations to come. The engagement includes an online public survey, targeted discussions with key stakeholders and consultation with Indigenous Peoples.
I encourage you to participate in this survey which closes on January 15, 2021
In our community
Supporting local businesses
Calgary-Varsity has certainly grown over this last year, especially University District. I would like to welcome the new local businesses that have recently opened and remind you that when you are shopping please consider shopping local and supporting our Alberta businesses and entrepreneurs. It is never easy opening a new business, but to do so during a pandemic is commendable.
Save-on-Foods – Thank you to all the employees and management at Save-on-Foods for ensuring safety protocols are in place so the residents in the area can safely get the basic essentials they need.
Pet Planet – 25 years ago, Pet Planet opened its first store in Calgary. As Pet Planet continues to grow across North America I want to congratulate the owners and employees on this milestone and many more to come.
Curious Hair and Denim & Smith – Congratulations to the owners who have continued to build their business in Calgary. It is your entrepreneurial spirit that gives Alberta hope for a positive future.
Market Wines – This is the second location in Calgary for Market Wines and I am happy the owners chose University District to mark their new location.
I want your feedback. Please take a moment to answer the following question.
In order to protect our health care capacity and those that are the most vulnerable, the Alberta government introduced further restrictions. Do you think the restrictions are:
1. Too restrictive
2. The right balance
3, Not restrictive enough
4. Not sure
To answer go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TD9MMW7
Thank you to those who took the time to answer the last survey question: Given the recent restrictions announced this week and new measures to slow down the spread of COVID-19, do you think the government hit the right balance?
Yes – 27%
No – 57%
Not sure – 16%