Redford praised for school projects

Flooding, the bitumen bubble and a zero per cent increase in operating expenses highlighted Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s speech to Central Albertans.

Flooding, the bitumen bubble and a zero per cent increase in operating expenses highlighted Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s speech to Central Albertans.

But when asked about the recent release of information showing a steady decrease in the number of patients admitted to the Red Deer Regional Hospital within eight hours, down to 29 per cent in 2013, Redford deferred to Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne.

“I am concerned about Red Deer, there is a trend to longer wait times in the hospital,” said Horne. “Alberta Health Services is looking at the reasons.

“I can tell you in general the reasons we see first of all are growth as a province. Many of them arrive without access to a family doctor or to another primary health care provider so we do see a lot of people seek treatment in emergency departments.”

Horne focused on providing an appropriate option for people in primary health care so they don’t have to visit the emergency department.

“That said I can tell you Alberta has one of the best track records in Canada meeting the eight-hour target for admission,” said Horne. “I’ve asked AHS to look at the situation specifically in Red Deer and see what more we can do.”

Redford was in Red Deer Thursday talking at the Central Alberta Progressive Conservative Association Premier’s Dinner.

She said Albertans wanted her government to change responsibly, get a handle on spending, save money and invest in infrastructure.

The best reaction she received from the crowd of more than 300 was when she talked about the new schools coming to Central Alberta.

She said the schools in Red Deer will be able to service about 1,100 new students, along with other school construction projects in Penhold, Blackfalds and throughout Central Alberta.

Reford said the province had expected 11,000 kids to join the public school system this year in September, twice that amount, 22,000, enrolled.

“We’re going to invest in schools for those kids,” said Redford, adding they have already started work on 50 new schools and 70 school renovations.

She said she was happy that the Central Alberta Cancer Centre in Red Deer is set to open later this year, which she said will reduce radiation treatment wait times.

She also said that once the new centre is complete, the old one will become part of the hospital.

Redford outlined the government’s legislated formula that will grow the heritage trust fund to about $24 billion over the next three years.

“The reason we have been success as a province is that when you make the right long-term plans you can continue to invest in the infrastructure so you can reduce wait times; you can continue to have that savings plan; you can invest in health, research and innovation and you can continue to operate the services people need,” said Redford.

“It is possible to achieve all of those. We have great confidence that is what Albertans want to do.”

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com