South Peace News
Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn is supportint Danielle Smith in the leadership race for the United Conservative Party [UCP].
Smith presented her platform on a tour of townhall meetings of Rehn’s riding Aug. 4.
She spoke to about 60 people in High Prairie and Wabasca and about 150 in Slave Lake, Rehn says.
The former Wildrose Party leader pledged to restructure the health- care system when she addressed issues in High Prairie.
“I don’t trust Alberta Health Services anymore,” says Smith as the crowd erupted into loud applause.
The winner of the leadership race will become the premier after UCP members vote Oct. 6.
Considered a top contender by recent opinion polls, Smith says she would return health decisions to local authorities since many rural communities have suffered because of decisions by the AHS superboard.
“Do not take local services out of local control,” Smith says.
“People have said we need to bring back local authority.
“We can make those changes so you can get services when you need them.”
Residents in the region told Smith they want more local services in the new High Prairie Health Complex that opened in 2017.
They are also concerned about some doctors being denied hospital privileges, lack of support from the AHS, and challenges from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta to help recruit physicians to the region.
As premier, Smith says she would address those issues.
“You should get all the services you need here,” Smith says.
“You’re just too remote for people to go to Edmonton for appointments.
“This is terrible medical care.
“Let’s get rid of the College of Physicians and Surgeons.”
If elected, she pledges to order an audit of all 106 hospitals in the province as a step to improve and add services in each facility.
She outlined her overall commitment, if elected.
“We will free Alberta from Ottawa’s control,” Smith says.
“We will protect the rights and freedoms of all Albertans.
“We will unleash our economic potential and restore the Alberta Advantage.”
Smith is committed to boost the economy in the north and enhance broadband service.
“Issues in the north are very different than what they are in the south,” Smith says.
“I’ve been talking about a northern corridor to create new trade partners and build strong investment.
“You could become a strong economic growth region.”
For that to happen, communities needs a strong foundation.
“If you want rural communities to grow, you have to have the right infrastructure,” she says.
“We would be able to build highways, pipelines and broadband, bring clean water to First Nations, and become the economic hub of western Canada.
“You can attract families and workers.”
Living in High River, Smith says she loves coming to the north.
Other candidates in the UCP leadership race include:
-Central Peace – Notley MLA Todd Loewen, who became an Independent MLA after he was ousted from the UCP caucus May 13, 2021.
-Grande Prairie – Wapiti MLA and former finance minister Travis Toews.
-Former Wildrose Party leader and current Fort McMurray – Lac La Biche MLA Brian Jean.
-Chestermere – Strathmore MLA Leela Aheer, former minister of culture, multiculturalism and the status of women.
-Calgary – Shaw MLA Rebecca Schulz, former minister of children’s services.
-Calgary North East MLA Rajan Sawhney, former minister of community and social services and former minister of transportation.