This week Alberta celebrated its 115th anniversary. Like so many of you I am proud to call Alberta home. We are rich in people, resources and culture. Over the years, we have seen hard times and this year has been no exception, but Albertans do what we do best – we will work together and emerge stronger.
Last week, Minister Toews provided an economic update to Albertans. With the COVID-19 pandemic, economic downturn and the collapse in oil prices we are faced with a historic deficit of $24.2 billion. This deficit is in large part due to the government doing what we had to – supporting all Albertans.
This deficit however, will mean that we are driving up our interest payments. It is also a reminder that now more than ever government has to be as efficient as possible to limit the impact on future generations.
As we weather the immediate effects of COVID-19 in our community, our government is introducing programs that will strengthen the economy in the long run – Alberta’s Recovery Plan. This plan will create jobs, build infrastructure and help diversify our economy.
By working together, we will get through these challenging times.
Have a safe and happy Labour Day long weekend
As we head into the last long weekend of the summer I am sure many of you are heading out to camp, visit a park or catch up with family and friends. I remind you to continue to follow and practice the health guidelines set out by our Chief Medical Officer of Health. We must all remain vigilant to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Access to cancer therapy program
Calgary-Varsity is home to two top hospitals in Alberta – Foothills Campus, home to the Tom Baker Cancer Clinic and the Alberta Children’s Hospital. I am pleased to see that our government is investing $15-million to a provincial cancer therapy program for Albertans with specific types of leukemia and lymphoma.
Partnering with the Alberta Cancer Foundation the funding will be used to conduct a clinical trial – with CAR T-cells manufactured within Alberta.
The funding will also pay for nursing staff, training and education for health care workers, patient education and psychosocial support, lab and diagnostic imaging, and follow up care. Treatment using CAR T-cells manufactured in the U.S. is expected to begin by winter 2020 at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, with Alberta Children’s Hospital to follow.
You can find more information here.
More continuing care spaces across Alberta
Our government is creating hundreds of new spaces for seniors and vulnerable people under an innovative plan to expand continuing care.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) is seeking proposals from new and existing continuing care operators to add publicly funded spaces without additional capital funding. This initiative builds on the Affordable Supportive Living Initiative (ASLI) and targets communities across the province with the most pressing need for new spaces.
This is the first step in a larger plan to expand continuing care and ensure communities most in need get support to open new spaces. Budget 2020 includes $164 million over three years to increase the number of continuing care spaces available across the province through the current EOI and further initiatives.
September is Recovery Month – Supporting addiction recovery
Alberta’s government is declaring September as Recovery Month to support Albertans in addiction recovery, recognizing that these individuals lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.
If you are struggling with addiction, please reach out for help. The Addiction Helpline is a 24-7, confidential, toll-free service that provides support, information and referral to services. Call 1-866-332-2322.
In our community
Brentwood tops Avenue Magazine’s Best Community, 2020
Congratulations to Brentwood for being named Calgary’s top community to live in for a second consecutive year. In addition to access to parks, malls and family run businesses, it is the volunteers and residents who contribute to making your community outstanding.
I was pleased to attend the Brentwood Community Association’s AGM this week and congratulate them in person.
I was pleased to join my colleagues, including Minister Aheer, on the raising of the Pride flag here in Calgary. Marking its 30th year it has become one of the fastest growing Pride festivals in Canada. Wishing the LGBTQ2S+ community all the best.
Equal Voice – Daughters of the Vote Program
As a father to daughters I know how important it is that there is equal opportunity for them to succeed in whatever aspirations are ahead. This is why I am supportive of the Equal Voice organization. Equal Voice is a multi-partisan organization that is dedicated to supporting and electing more women in politics.
In 2017, Daughters of the Vote was an initiative to mark the 100th anniversary of some women getting the right to vote in Canada. Equal Voice is now accepting applications for their 2021 edition of this program. I call on you to ensure that there is equal voice across Canada. If you know someone who may be interested in this program pass this information along.
National Convenience Week
Did you know that August 31-September 4th marks National Convenience Week? Convenience store owners and employees have continued to work diligently, providing essential retail services on the front lines through the COVID pandemic. It was great to stop by and thank owner, Hossein of Motherland Taste in Parkdale, for all his hard work.
As the Minister of Labour and Immigration it is great to see new businesses such as this open, especially during a pandemic. Congratulations Hossein and all the best.
I want your feedback. Please take a moment to answer the following question.
The Alberta deficit is $24.2 billion, which includes over $14 billion to support Albertans through COVID-19. Do you think the government has invested:
a/ too much
b/ not enough
To answer go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QHDTPM3
Thank you to those who took the time to answer the last survey question:
Government has invested nearly $200 million in mental health supports since spring 2019, including $53 million to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Given these investments, how would you rate the Alberta government’s overall funding to support mental health and addictions?
64.28 per cent of respondents felt our government has done good or excellent on investing in mental health supports.