Sherwood Park MLA Update for January
By Annie McKitrick, MLA for Sherwood Park.
Sherwood Park lost a dedicated community builder and supporter of public education when Tony Sykora, trustee for the Elk Island Catholic Schools board died on Jan. 1, after a brief illness. His public service will long be remembered in Alberta through his work with the Alberta Catholic School Trustee Association and his work with Municipal Affairs. My condolences to his family, his fellow trustees, and his friends.
Members of the Legislative Assembly have different ways of advocating for the issues that constituents raise and to bring their concerns, suggestions and advice to the attention of ministers. As a Caucus, we have a number of committees where we discuss policy issues and share the feedback we hear from constituents. We also contact staff in ministers’ offices and alert them to the wide range of suggestions and concerns we hear from residents. Sometimes, ministry staff will call the resident directly to discuss the concerns and other times, the concerns may make their way through government to incorporate in discussions when policies, regulations or laws are been revised. Examples of issues that have been brought to my attention and for which I have discussed within our caucus or with ministry offices include: the need for more affordable housing, rent supplement for housing co-ops, access to specific health and Alberta Works programs, revision to the Municipal Government Act, fentanyl/opioid programs, seniors benefits, long-term care, election act revision, and more. There are many opportunities, formal or informal, to ensure that the voices of constituents are heard.
The role of an MLA is also to ensure that residents are fully aware of government programs that will benefit them and changes in policies and regulations that may affect them. This flow of information is a two-way dialogue with constituents, and I can be counted on to transmit your concerns and keep you abreast of government initiatives that impact you. Another way that an MLA supports constituents is by listening to ideas that people would like to see happen in the community, and to facilitate meetings of people with similar ideas and interests. For example, a number of constituents have approached me with their interest in exploring environmental sustainability and how to benefit from the climate change initiatives. In response, we will be having an initial meeting in February. Please let my office know if you are interested in joining this group and we will add your name to the list of participants.
As the government prepares for budget 2017-2018, the minister of finance and the premier are holding two tele-town halls on Jan. 30 and 31. These are still challenging economic times and they would like to hear from Albertans about their priorities and ideas on how to best meet their needs without increasing costs or affecting front-line services. You can also go to www.alberta.ca/budget-consultations.aspx to provide your input.
The role of an MLA is also to ensure that residents are fully aware of government programs that will benefit them and changes in policies and regulations that may affect them.
On Jan. 20 at 7 p.m., a special event to honour Herb Belcourt will be held at Festival Place. Dr. Belcourt will receive the Aboriginal Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with the Metis community and youth. My sincere congratulations for this achievement and for dedicated service to the community.
It is only one more month until the Canadian Birkebeiner that is held every year in Strathcona County. This is an historical cross-country skiing event. For more on the history of the Birkie and to register, go to canadianbirkie.com. I look forward to seeing many residents on Feb. 11 at the finish line!
Annie McKitrick is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Sherwood Park Constituency. If you have any questions or comments about this column or any other provincial government issues, she would like to hear from you. Please contact McKitrick’s constituency office at 780-417-4747 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
First published in the Sherwood Park News, Jan. 16, 2017.