July 9, 2020

COVID-19 Update June 26, 2020

Summer is officially here and although it may be very different from previous years and vacation plans looking a bit different, I want to encourage you to get out and enjoy all that Alberta has to offer over the summer months and connect with our provincial heritage. 

Although our province is lifting a number of COVID restrictions, it is important that everyone in our community continue to take precautions and help prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Together, we can continue to reopen our economy and the path to economic recovery. For the latest information on COVID-19, visit http://alberta.ca/covid19.
I am happy to share that more provincial historic sites have reopened as part of Alberta’s relaunch. The successful reopening of the Royal Alberta Museum and Royal Tyrrell Museum has paved the way for reopening several more provincial sites. This means that sites across the province will be open for the summer season. 

I also want to wish everyone in Calgary-Varsity a very happy Canada Day. Canada is celebrating its 153 birthday. As a nation we have seen many ups and downs over the last century and a half, but we as Canadians have a lot to be thankful for.  Canadians are strong and we have shown that we are getting through this crisis by working together.  I ask you to join me in celebrating Canada’s birthday.  You can take part in one of the many virtual celebrations taking place. Do so responsibly, connecting with other Canadians and be proud to call Canada our home.

Virtual townhall

I would like to thank those who took time out of their day to participate last Saturday on my first virtual townhall.  Although I would rather have joined you in person, I was happy to engage with you and take your questions and comments. 

There were a few questions I needed to follow up on and have had a chance to do so.  

With reference to the limit on prescription drugs, please note that pharmacists in Alberta can now give out larger quantities, up to a 100-day supply. Our priority has been to stabilize Alberta’s drug supply, so all Albertans had access to the prescription drugs they need. We are confident now is the time to relax our guidance on 30-day supply limits for certain prescription drugs. 

Regarding the question of a film industry tax credit, please note that my colleague, the Honourable Tanya Fir, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism announced back in January the new Film and Television Tax Credit program.  The program offers productions a refundable tax credit to help cover Alberta production and labour costs up to a maximum of $10 million per project.  Applications may be eligible for either a 22 per cent or 30 per cent tax credit for productions that are Alberta owned. For more information go to https://www.alberta.ca/film-television-tax-credit.aspx

I also had a question about when Environmental Monitoring would resume.  I am pleased to inform you that the temporary pausing of environmental monitoring due to the provincial public health emergency will resume on July 15, four weeks earlier than planned.

Finally, with respect to the question around safe consumption sites and support for those suffering from addictions, our government announced an additional $4 million over four years will help expand access to the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program (VODP). The Alberta Health Services program uses telehealth technology to allow Albertans to access treatment for opioid use disorder. In addition to medical support, the VODP provides clients with addiction counselling and other supports including transitional services.

In addition, The Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT) Gap Coverage program will cover the costs of medications to treat opioid use disorder for Albertans who are waiting to receive coverage through a supplementary health benefit plan. The program will cover costs for up to 120 days, during which an Albertan can apply for and receive supplementary health benefits. You can find further information at  https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/findhealth/Service.aspx?id=1000286&serviceAtFacilityID=1118505#contentStart and https://www.alberta.ca/opioid-agonist-therapy-gap-coverage-program.aspxFor those of you who were not able to join I have included the recording below. 

Townhall recording

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jsiojvngt8jhfbd/Recording.mp4?dl=0

Government update

Cutting Red Tape to Stimulate the Economy
I am happy to share that our government is continuing to act on its promise to reduce red tape for Albertans. Bill 22, the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, clears the way for businesses to operate more efficiently and freely as we prepare for the reopening of our province’s economy. Bill 22 proposes changes across six different ministries, working to promote job creation and support economic growth by removing unnecessary burdens imposed on Albertans and businesses. By addressing the red tape in our province, government will be able to free up the economy and help get Albertans back to work sooner.

Increasing Protection for Commercial Tenants
Our government is introducing additional protections for businesses to help them recover from the effects of the COVID-19 public health crisis, continuing Alberta’s leading pandemic response. Bill 23, or the Commercial Tenancies Protection Act, proposes legislation to safeguard businesses from eviction. The bill, which would also prevent landlords from raising rent and charging late fees and penalties on missed rent for the period between March 17 and August 31, will help address shortfalls in the current Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program. Small businesses are at the heart of our community, and these proposed measures will help them reopen.

Input wanted on infrastructure planning
Albertans are invited to provide input to help develop the Alberta Infrastructure Act, as well as government’s 20-Year Strategic Capital Plan.
Responses from the online survey will assist government in developing the Alberta Infrastructure Act, which will outline how government will plan for and prioritize capital spending. Input collected will also help inform development of a 20-Year Strategic Capital Plan, which will guide government’s approach to long-term planning for all types of infrastructure, including schools, universities, health, roads, and infrastructure critical to support natural resource development.
Albertans can visit http://alberta.ca until Aug. 10 to share their feedback.

Fair Deal report
Our government released the findings of Alberta’s Fair Deal Panel. More than 40,000 Albertans participated in the Fair Deal Panel engagement, providing input on ideas that could give the province a stronger role within Canada, increase control in areas of provincial jurisdiction, and advance our province’s vital economic interests.

The panel’s report to government contains 25 separate recommendations that address the frustrations that many Albertans expressed through town halls and online surveys. Recommendations addressed a wide scope of issues, including reforming the Fiscal Stabilization Program, establishing a provincial chief firearms office and holding a referendum on equalization payments.

You can find the full report and our government’s response at https://www.alberta.ca/fair-deal-panel.aspx

COVID-19 has impacted our small business economy and you can help in the recovery by shopping local. As our economy is starting to re-open I want to encourage you to support our local small businesses. 

Our government has supported small business in Alberta through a variety of measures and I want to thank those who are owners for being patient as we continue to re-open the province.  

Small and medium sized businesses are what help drive our economy and they are important in our overall economic recovery and success for a strong Alberta.  

As you are going out to shop, grab a coffee or go to a restaurant, please consider one of the many local businesses in and around our community and our province to support.  Please also consider taking the opportunity to travel Alberta this summer. You can take part in the #smallbusinesseveryday campaign. 

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