Letter: Infrastructure funding committed

Budget 2018

On Feb. 27, our government tabled Budget 2018. It recognizes that it is Canadians who make our economy strong and lays out our plan to deliver more prosperity and equality for all Canadians.

In (Lack of infrastructure funding disappoints) published on March 1, Mayor Tara Veer expressed concern about Budget 2018’s reallocation of infrastructure funds to later years. I want to assure readers that all of the infrastructure funding committed through Budgets 2016 and 2017 will continue to be delivered to communities right across the country.

Projects are already underway. However, the flow of federal funds generally only occurs when a project is complete. Budget 2018 simply provides an updated forecast of when we expect to receive and reimburse those claims. Any funding allocated in a given year that does not flow in that year is reprofiled to ensure that it remains available to those projects.

Since taking office, I have approved more than 4,100 projects across Canada. In Red Deer this includes the purchase of seventeen new compressed natural gas buses that are providing residents with a more reliable and sustainable option to move around the city, while lowering fuel costs for the municipality. Federal funding is also supporting local projects that improve transit accessibility.

Our government committed to investing $186 billion in the infrastructure that Canadian communities want and need. This funding focuses on public transit, green infrastructure, community, culture and recreation infrastructure, and investments in rural and northern communities. In short, we’re investing in making our communities great places to call home.

By making smart investments like these, we are helping Canadian municipalities to build strong foundations for economic growth and create middle-class jobs while developing inclusive communities where everyone has access to opportunities they need to thrive.

Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Hospital needs

We are blessed with doctors who care about the patients of Central Alberta that they serve and are demanding better services and tools in order to do their job. This has been a disappointing time for doctors, staff and patients, who are referred to the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. The hospital suffers from overcrowding, long emergency and surgery wait times in Alberta. Regardless that Central Albertans have (an estimated) 60 per cent higher chance of death or permanent disability after suffering a heart attack. Neither AHS or the provincial government consider a heart catheterization lab an urgent problem.

Health-care infrastructure funding is a political partisan game that all provincial governments play in order to win votes. The unfortunate part of this game is that many areas are underserved because they have less voting power or a lack of allies within the governing bodies. Central Alberta is the only zone with no minister within the NDP caucus and it has received the least funding. Regardless of the record keeping done by Alberta Health Services that point to the huge deficits in our hospital and area, they have chosen to give the money to the larger centres with more services and better outcomes. The taxpayers of Central Alberta continually see their dollars go to Edmonton and Calgary and then must pay to access them. No more partisanship from Alberta Health Services and the provincial government. We must hold them accountable for fair and transparent funding. What the doctors began, we must continue. Keep writing your MLAs.

Marylou Speelman, Red Deer

Safe consumption site

I have been following the growing concerns itemized in the Advocate around the increasing tragedy of our current opioid situation. Red Deer seems to, indeed, have a very serious problem developing, no doubt about it. The farsighted workers at the Turning Point operation have been well aware of this, and have been getting plans in place to act on it.

However, there seems to be some foot-dragging on the part of city council in this matter. I see lots of “concern”, “frustration” etc. – plenty of handwringing and waiting for the province to do something – but very little in the way of action. It is my understanding the associate minister for health has been consulted. That needs to be pushed further. However, there appears to be a desire to have the safe consumption site at the hospital. Why?

I can think of many reasons for not doing that – not the least being that the hospital (or its parking lot as proposed) are already in near-emergency overload already, without that site being added to that mix. If Turning Point can deal efficiently with this situation, why can city council not back them up by designating a site where the problem actually arises – e.g. downtown?

Of course the “NIMBY” effect kicked in immediately, even though those downtown businesses complain constantly about their problems with “street people,” etc. Is everyone sitting on their hands waiting for the province to do the work? How did Lethbridge manage to get its safe site up and running already? I am sure it has just as much of a problem as Red Deer.

Could it be that its council simply recognized what needed doing, and then went ahead and did it? Maybe our nice councillors are a little too nice. We elected them to do what is necessary for the good of Red Deer. A safe consumption site, inevitable in this day and age, is very necessary and everyone knows it. Just get on with it. The majority of Red Deerians will be behind you.

Bonnie Denhaan, Red Deer

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