Premier Jim Prentice said he’s heard loud and clear Sylvan Lake’s need for enhanced health care access.
Mayor Sean McIntyre brought up the issue with Prentice during his brief visit to Sylvan Lake with MLA Kerry Towle last Wednesday.
Prentice said while he wasn’t prepared to provide any insight into the fate of the town’s pursuit of enhanced health care, the issue remains very much on his radar.
“Kerry has talked to me about that, and she made it very clear coming here that that was the first and most important message I would hear, and it’s message received,” he said. “I’m not in a position today to respond, but I hear what you’re saying.”
McIntyre told Prentice urgent care was an “uncontested” top priority for the town, and urged his support.
“We understand you’re not here to make any spending announcements … but what we’re hoping for and asking for is your support for that project to make sure that our 13,000-plus residents and over 20,000 regional residents have access to quality health care,” said McIntyre.
Prentice and Towle spent about an hour speaking with a small crowd of constituents at Pier 7 before heading to Innisfail for a similar meeting.
Prentice said the province’s current “serious financial circumstance” means increased government spending won’t happen any time soon. But he assured that doesn’t mean necessary capital facilities will be ignored.
“We need to get health care costs under control in the province, but we also know that there are communities that are not being well served that have growing populations, and we’re focused on how we deal with those communities and what their needs are,” he said. “Kerry’s been an outspoken advocate in terms of what needs to be done in Sylvan Lake, and I’m and aware of it and we’re looking at it.”
Prentice also used made use of his time in Sylvan Lake to endorse Towle in her bid for the PC nomination in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.
“You have one of the best, most effective MLAs in the province, who has one of the brightest futures of anybody in the legislative assembly,” he said. “She has a good heart and she’s passionate about people … and that’s really important right now, because we’re going through what’s going to be a rough patch for us as a province, and what I need as Premier at my side are people that care about their communities and who are passionate about public services … and Kerry is exactly that kind of a person.
“She’s in politics for the right reason.”
Towle said she’s enjoying working alongside Prentice, and is excited to be part of his team “going forward into a challenging time.”
“We needed strong, measured leadership, and I think that we are seeing that in Premier Jim Prentice,” she said. “I am happy and excited to be on a team that is going to bring stability to Alberta.”
On Monday, Sylvan Lake town council along with members of the town’s Urgent Care Committee met with provincial Health Minister Stephen Mandel in Sylvan Lake. McIntyre described that meeting as “very encouraging,” and acknowledged Mandel’s recognition of the town’s need for enhanced health care access.