Urgent care was but one of the many issues brought forward by a group of eight Central Albertans mayors during a meeting on Friday with Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean.
Jean spoke with mayors from Sylvan Lake, Red Deer, Red Deer County, Bowden, Innisfail, Elnora, Delburne and Penhold. Wildrose MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, Don MacIntyre was also present for the meeting adding he was eager to hear from the mayors, all of whom were within his constituency, with the exception of the Mayor of Red Deer, Tara Veer.
Jean stated at a press event following the meeting how he felt healthcare was a hot topic amongst attendees. He added how he had heard that an urgent care facility in Sylvan Lake could help to alleviate the stress being felt at the Red Deer Regional Hospital.
“Of course this urgent care facility makes sense – it’s a no brainer,” said Jean. “I heard loud and clearly from every single public figure here today that what they want more than anything is communication and transparency.”
According to Jean, a main concern of the mayors lay in not knowing when they could expect funding for infrastructure projects.
“Whether it’s urgent care, which is obviously very necessary here, or the roads and bridges,” said Jean, adding how he had heard one county project is awaiting $80million for bridge repairs.
He added it is important to have constant communication between all levels of government and all levels of politicians. Jean stated many municipalities are patiently awaiting Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, Brian Mason’s ‘Infrastructure Sunshine List’ – a detailed capital projects report that will shed light on where funding will go.
Mason stated he had hoped to release the report before the end of the Legislative Assembly’s fall session, but so far no report has been posted.
“We all share the same bosses and that is the people of Alberta,” said Jean. “I would have hoped that there would be a change in strategy from the current NDP government but there doesn’t appear to be so that’s why MLA MacIntyre and I will be continuously reminding the ministers and the premier.”
MLA MacIntyre added he enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the mayors of so many of the municipalities within his constituency at once.
“When the government isn’t listening to you, then that’s when we really become your voice,” said MacIntyre. “I think they really appreciated hearing that and we really heard them start to open up about what concerned them.”
The Municipal Government Act (MGA) was mentioned by Macintyre as being a main concern of the mayors.
“They’ve been trying to get some word from Edmonton about where it is going – they are also very concerned about linear taxation and that model,” addedMacintyre. “They’ve been trying to get some sort of word from the government and again they’ve been getting non-answers and avoidance – when that happens people start to get very nervous.”
Being a resident of Sylvan Lake himself, the issue of urgent care was one that also resonated with MacIntyre after the meeting.
“The Red Deer Regional Hospital is a huge issue – they are facing significant pressure, wait times are growing because it serves such a huge region. Sylvan Lake urgent care ties directly into that,” said MacIntyre adding that both Mayor Veer and Mayor Sean McIntyre spoke to Jean about how an urgent care facility in Sylvan Lake could ease the situation in Red Deer. “You can’t forget that Sylvan gets over 900,000 tourists a year and they get hurt too.”