Posted on Mar 5, 2018

March 2018 Update

I've had a busy few weeks and I want to apologize first off for not being very active this past while. I had cataract surgery mid-February so was unable to see clearly for a bit! (great excuse for missing emails!) Recovering well now, though, and quite amazed that after wearing glasses since age 10 I no longer have to. The technology is amazing, and I want to thank our wonderful health care system for the excellent care I received throughout.

There are a number of issues that have been building in my constituency, and I wanted to address a few of them and let you know what I've been doing. First, of course, is the caribou.

CARIBOU

As you may know, our government is trying to conform to the Federal Government's Species at Risk Legislation, which demands that we submit a caribou range plan which sets aside 65% undisturbed caribou habitat. If we don't comply with the legislation, the Federal government can impose their own. Even worse, if environmental groups don't like the plan we submit, they can go to court and get a judgement. This has happened already in southern Alberta and is something we want to avoid.

The moment I learned about this, I spoke with the Environment Ministry and the Premier to let them know of our concerns in the north. Our Premier grew up in Fairview and considers herself a northern girl, so she's very aware of the potential negative consequences to us. She and Minister Phillips assured me that we will do our utmost to find a good balance that will satisfy this legislation without harming our economy in the north.

I've met with forestry, oil and gas, First Nations, AAMDC, NWSAR, NADC, and many, many individual constituents on the issue, and I've also been able to connect with colleagues in other provinces and in Ottawa to discuss the caribou range plan. I've even met with CPAWS. It's essential to hear all perspectives and voices, and I've been active in doing so.

The government is currently holding open sessions and collecting feedback on a proposed range plan, so I'd encourage all of you to add your comments. We really need your input. At the end of the day, though, I'm confident we will find a good balance. We are NOT going to turn the north into a park! There are areas in the north that I believe we can leave undisturbed without harming the economy, but the wellbeing of our people and our livelihood will always come first. Ultimately this is about finding ways to co-exist with our environment without destroying it!

AIR AMBULANCE

I continue to monitor this situation. As you may be aware, I've met with the Health Minister, AHS, the town and county, and all the air service providers in the region in attempts to help facilitate a good solution. There are many components to this story that still need to be worked out, but at the end of the day the Minister of Health has promised that air ambulance will remain in Peace River and not be interrupted.

HEALTH CARE

The crisis in High Level (and to a lesser degree in Peace River) has been top of my mind for months. I've met with the Health Minister and AHS. They are reviewing our staffing situation and looking for better ways to manage things. This is particularly true of Mental Health.

ADDICTIONS AND THE OPIOID CRISIS

This is a primary concern for me. I'm working on my private member's bill and have the support of the Health Ministry in bringing forth legislation that will hopefully make access to treatment easier.

THE ECONOMY

Good news!! Our economy is finally moving upward. Jobs are increasing and Alberta is on track to lead the nation in economic recovery. In Peace River we are going to see lots of activity with the new bridge, and this will help spur activity all along the Mackenzie Highway. The constituency of Peace River had the highest investment in the province last year when it came to roads infrastructure, so we are finally catching up!