Dear Friends and Neighbours,
As we rang in 2020, most of us were looking forward to a recovering economy and new job prospects. We heard rumblings about a strange, new virus but as it was half a world away, few of us paid it much attention. By March, the reality of a global pandemic came into sharp focus and we were all faced with reconsidering how to go about our everyday lives.
Confronted with a rise in case numbers and increased pressure on the health care system in our province, Alberta’s government made the prudent decision to protect lives and livelihoods. The opposition and their leftist supporters were literally screaming at us to shut the province down. As there was little evidence to support that such a measure would be effective in controlling the spread of COVID, we chose to allow businesses to stay open in an effort to protect them from further losses and save jobs. I’m also pleased to announce that small and medium businesses can reapply for relaunch grants; even if they already received one earlier this year.
The economic impacts of the triple black swan event of a global COVID pandemic, a crash in energy prices, and a worldwide recession are still being felt today. All levels of government readjusted their budgets to address the immediate needs of Canadians while also planning for the medium-term and long-term effects of this health crisis.
While our primary focus is on protecting the health and well-being of Albertans it is incumbent upon government to also focus on ensuring our municipalities can continue to deliver programs and services to their citizens. I am happy to announce that Innisfail-Sylvan Lake will receive over $5,000,000 in Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) funding. This funding is in partnership with the federal government and will nicely compliment over $700,000 in provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding our area received earlier this fall. A breakdown for each municipality is as follows:
- Innisfail has received $799,579 from MOST and $65,372 from MSI.
- Red Deer County has received $1,983,702 from MOST and $231,458 from MSI.
- Sylvan Lake received $1,505,253 from MOST and $113,586 from MSI
- The Summer Villages at Sylvan Lake have been allotted a combined $85,312 in MOST and $39,433 from MSI.
- Bowden received $130,561 from MOST and $79,541 from MSI
- Elnora received $35,175 from MOST and $44,543 from MSI
- Delburne received $95,323 from MOST and $61,645 from MSI
- Penhold was allotted $365,786 from MOST and $118,551 from MSI.
In total, Innisfail-Sylvan Lake municipalities can use $5,754,820 to cover costs associated with COVID-19 and related revenue losses as well as fund important infrastructure projects.
Counties, towns and villages are spending their MOST funds on PPE and enhanced cleaning and supplies to ensure that they are following public health requirements. For example, the public library and the Igloo in Bowden will continue to be safe places for the public to visit and enjoy. Some areas, such as Red Deer County, are using part of this funding to ensure that Alberta’s most vulnerable populations have what they need. Municipalities will also be able to continue paying their staff and other operational bills. Supporting municipalities is crucial to our province’s commitment to decreasing the tax burden on its hard-working men and women.
As Alberta navigates its way through this pandemic, I am constantly impressed with the perseverance, innovation, and resilience shown throughout our province. This, along with our government’s commitment to attracting new investment that will spur economic growth and create more local job opportunities, will help Alberta to get back on track.
-Devin Dreeshen, MLA Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry