Towle defection could benefit proposed care centre

Seismic events on Alberta’s political and economic fronts could have a bearing on Sylvan Lake’s bid for a family care centre. On the positive side, the shocking defection to the Progressive Conservatives of nine Wildrose MLAs, including Sylvan Lake-Innisfail MLA Kerry Towle, puts a vocal champion for better urgent care options in government now.

Seismic events on Alberta’s political and economic fronts could have a bearing on Sylvan Lake’s bid for a family care centre.

On the positive side, the shocking defection to the Progressive Conservatives of nine Wildrose MLAs, including Sylvan Lake-Innisfail MLA Kerry Towle, puts a vocal champion for better urgent care options in government now.

“We’re hoping that’s good news for us,” said Susan Samson, chair of Sylvan Lake’s Urgent Care Committee.

Samson said she’s already met with Towle and suggested the MLA “stick handle this one through and we’ll all have a big win out of it.”

Samson said the committee submitted a business plan to the government last month but has yet to hear back.

“So, I think the end of January might be a reasonable time to expect the first comments. And we’re really hoping that this is going to happen now.”

If given the green light, the committee would seek out a suitable site, pull together renovation, leasing, equipment and operating budgets, as well as identify staffing.

The province previously set aside $45 million to get as many as nine care centres off the ground.

Concerning though are slumping oil prices and whether a penny-pinching government will be in a position next year to fund new health initiatives.

“We believe the money is set aside,” said Samson. “But with the falling oil prices, can the government commit to long-term, sustainable funding for this type of project that we’re proposing?

“If we don’t get that commitment, we can’t even begin to go down that road.”

Changes in Premier Jim Prentice’s government have also seen a strong supporter of the project, former health minister Fred Horne, replaced by Stephen Mandel.

The committee has not yet had an opportunity to meet with Mandel to get his views on their project.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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