Physical distancing matters!
It’s still important as we re-open to stay 2 metres away from people outside your cohort. If you are more than a metre away from someone with COVID-19, you are five times less likely to get an infection than someone who is closer, and the risk is even lower when that distance is two metres. The overwhelming majority of Albertans are following instructions from public health officials and taking precautions to protect the most at-risk among us. We must remember that we are all in this together and we need to continue to practice physical distancing.
As our province continues reopening, our government will ensure supports are in place to help struggling Albertans and create good jobs. To date, our government has provided some $14 billion in support – more than any other province, on a relative basis – including:
- More than half a billion dollars in additional funding for our health-care system.
- Support for long-term care homes, and those who work in them.
- Emergency isolation payments, so sick workers could stay at home.
- Up to $200 million in small business relaunch grants for those who had to close.
- Support for homeless shelters, women’s shelters and food banks.
- More than $50 million in COVID-related mental health support for those struggling to cope.
- 40 million free masks to help control the spread.
- Funding to help day care operators reopen.
- Deferrals on utility bills, education property taxes, student loans and government fees.
- Access to credit for struggling employers.
- Policies to protect both renters and commercial tenants.
Safe return to school
Our government has been working with the School Boards, school authorities and our Chief Medical Officer on a comprehensive plan for students to return to learning in classrooms across Alberta at the beginning of the new school year.
Under scenario 1, schools will implement a number of public health measures, which include frequent cleaning of surfaces, placing hand sanitizers at school entrances and classrooms, grouping students in cohorts, and planning the school day to allow for physical distancing, which could include staggering start times for classes, recesses and lunches. Additional public health measures may be established prior to September on the advice of the chief medical officer of health in consultation with the education system.
Our government has also provided school boards an additional $250 million to support accelerated capital maintenance and renewal projects, as part of the more than $10 billion infrastructure spending announced in the Alberta Recovery Plan.
This funding supports infrastructure enhancements that will help in a COVID-19 learning environment. Seventy-nine school projects totaling $15 million are moving forward with this primary purpose, including upgrades for enhanced hygiene such as hands-free sinks, automatic flush toilets, touchless soap and paper towel dispensers, automatic doors and water bottle filling stations to replace water fountains.To support parents and students with what to expect in the new school year, government has developed a re-entry toolkit. This toolkit includes videos for students explaining some of the health measures, a guide for parents, frequently asked questions, school posters, a self-screening questionnaire in multiple languages, and links to health guidelines.
The toolkit can be found at https://www.alberta.ca/k-to-12-school-re-entry-2020-21-school-year.aspx
Safe restart agreement
After weeks of negotiations, all 13 provinces and territories have reached an agreement with the federal government on a Safe Restart Agreement. This agreement will help our economy take the next steps to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 as we continue to keep Albertans safe and healthy.
This agreement addresses several areas of the economy and public health needs for the next several months and is valued at $19 billion. This will include funding for testing, PPE for front-line workers, child care, mental health, and protecting the most vulnerable, including our seniors. In addition this will include new funding for sick leave pay and funding help offset some of the lost operating revenue facing municipalities.
Continuing care facility restricted access changes
On July 23rd changes at continuing care facilities shifted from ‘restricted access’ to ‘safe access.’ This means that:
- Each resident can designate two support people who will be able to visit indoors for as long and as often as they wish, as long as they coordinate with the facility.
- Depending on the resident’s health, outdoor visits will be allowed with up to four other visitors, no longer requiring the presence of a designated support person.
- In some circumstances, when it is safe, these other visitors may also be able to meet indoors, if a facility has a designated indoor visiting space as part of their local visitor plan.
- Government is also setting out the possibility that some facilities can be less restrictive if their residents collectively agree to accept more risk.
Investing in jobs and innovation
Government is investing in 20 new projects that have the potential to reduce a combined one million tonnes of emissions by 2030 through Emissions Reduction Alberta’s (ERA) Natural Gas Challenge.
Alberta’s government is providing $58 million through ERA to support this opportunity to create more than 750 jobs in the natural gas sector.
Funding recipients include a project that uses artificial intelligence to locate and measure methane emissions, and a project to produce renewable natural gas from biogas at an agricultural facility that will be the first of its kind in Alberta.
A complete list of the successful Natural Gas Challenge can be found at https://eralberta.ca/apply-for-funding/natural-gas-challenge-unlocking-innovation-across-albertas-value-chain/
Creating jobs in Alberta’s technology sector
Effective Jan. 1, 2021, Alberta’s government is introducing the Innovation Employment Grant (IEG). This program will promote economic growth and job creation by supporting small and medium-sized businesses that invest in research and development (R&D).The Innovation Employment Grant will be worth up to 20 per cent of qualifying R&D expenditures. Details include:
- An eight per cent payment on a corporation’s base level of R&D spending, providing stable support for all small and medium-sized firms undertaking R&D.
- A 20 per cent incremental payment on increasing R&D spending – an approach that is unique within Canada.
In our community
Alberta Huatuo Health Society
COVID-19 has been extremely hard on everyone, including the mental health and well being of so many. Organizations have stepped up during these past few months to help those in need. I want to thank the Alberta Huatuo Health Society for the work they have been and continue to do for Albertans who are dealing with mental stress.
The information you are providing to Albertans on how to use self-acupressure, herb teas, baduanjin exercises and diet therapy to mitigate and/or prevent the mental and behavioural health issues, such as mild-depression, anxiety, panic disorders, and insomnia is to be commended.
I am pleased that your society has received a grant through the Community Grant Funding Program to assist your organization as you expand and continue to meet the needs of Albertans.
Botanical Gardens of Silver Springs
Did you know that Silver Springs is home to a very unique botanical gardens? Started in 2006 by a number of dedicated volunteers, the botanical gardens has blossomed into 3200 square feet and is open year round for all to enjoy. These gardens are situated within a Birthplace Forest. There are over fourteen unique and individual gardens and are all accessible by connecting walking paths of mulch leading throughout the entire area.
The Botanical Gardens of Silver Springs is a not-for-profit organization with many opportunities to donate and contribute to the garden. I was pleased to participate in their Brick Fundraiser – a program where for $100 (charitable donation) you can have a custom engraved brick on the “walk of fame”.
If you would like to participate please go to https://www.bgss.ca/donations and click on the attached word document for the letter and application form with instructions on how to donate and what to engrave on the brick.
want your feedback. Please take a moment to answer the following question.
How would you rate the Alberta Government’s overall handling of the COVID-19 response?
f. Very Poor
To answer go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6VLDPGV