Orr: Reducing wait times, fair deals for Alberta and other updates from the Legislature

The Alberta Legislature. Shaughn Butts / Postmedia File Photo

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More Surgeries to Reduce Wait Times

On December 10, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced the Alberta Surgical Wait-Times Initiative. Through expanding contracts with non-hospital surgical facilities, Alberta will see up to 80,000 more publicly funded surgeries. We plan to ensure wait times meet the clinical recommendation and national benchmark of six months for hip or knee replacements, and four months for cataract surgery. Our government will continue to deliver on our provinces to improve wait times by putting patients first.

Promoting Inclusive Communities

We also announced the Multiculturalism, Indigenous and Inclusion Grant. This grant revitalizes the Anti-Racism Community Grant to support a broader range of projects. Non-profits can apply to either the multiculturalism and inclusion projects stream or the Indigenous projects stream. Projects can be stand-alone initiatives, new programming or resources for training and education, capacity-building or enhancing cultural awareness. Applications for the Multiculturalism, Indigenous and Inclusion Grant will be accepted until Jan. 7, 2020.

Supporting Safe and Respectful Learning

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced a new grant of $300,000 per year over four years to support the Respect in School program. The Respect in School online training, offered in English and French, will educate teachers and other school staff, bus drivers, parent volunteers and student leaders about how they can prevent bullying, harassment and discrimination in their schools. Respect Group Inc., co-founded by Sheldon Kennedy, has certified more than 1.2 million people across Canada to recognize and prevent bullying, harassment, and other abusive situations.

Standing Up for Alberta in Ottawa

From Dec. 9-10, eight cabinet ministers joined Premier Kenney in Ottawa to meet with federal legislators and advocate for Alberta’s interests. Provincial ministers met with federal ministers, Alberta’s members of parliament, and Alberta’s senators as well as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Overall, these meetings were productive.

Our government will continue to ensure that Alberta’s voice is heard and respected by those making impactful decisions in Ottawa.

Meetings of Fair Deal Panel

On Dec. 9, Dec. 10 and Dec. 11 many attended the Fair Deal Panel’s town hall meetings in Red Deer, Calgary and Lethbridge. It was great to see so many engaged, enthusiastic Albertans eager to see our province succeed. The panel is exploring ideas that would give Alberta a bigger voice within the federation, increase our power over areas of provincial jurisdiction, and advance our vital economic interests, such as building pipelines. Future sessions are set to be held across the province. You can submit your feedback online at alberta.ca/fairdeal.

USMCA Signed

On Dec. 10, Canada, the United States and Mexico signed Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (USMCA). I am happy that the federal government was able to conclude negotiations with the United States and Mexico on a new agreement. Free trade is critically important to Alberta’s economy. Premier Kenney recently traveled to the United States and Mexico to spread the message that Alberta is open for business.

If you have any questions or concerns on this or any issue, feel free to contact my office by e-mail at Lacombe.ponoka@assembly.ab.ca, by telephone at 403 782 7725, or stop in 101, 4892 46 Street, Lacombe, T4L 2B4.

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