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20/20 Hindsight from Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan

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From Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan

2020 YEAR END REPORT ON LOCAL PRIORITIES

Dear Friends,

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve, and try to do so in accountable ways. Notwithstanding COVID, there is some encouraging, good news to report on pressing, local priorities for our community in 2020.

During the last election, two prominent needs consistently shared by members of our community were firstly, a lack of funding for the Red Deer Regional Hospital and secondly, harms to families and businesses relating to crime and homelessness, particularly with a hollowing out of our downtown. I am pleased to report significant progress on both of those needs.

  1. Red Deer Regional Hospital

In Budget 2020, the Government announced a $100 million investment in our Hospital. The Premier said this was Phase I. This has been a long-standing need in our community and it is exciting to see our government lead and provide real and substantial commitment to our Hospital.

So, what is the current status? Currently, the Business Plan for this investment is being developed. Working in partnership with frontline professionals in our Hospital and other key stakeholders, the Plan is prioritizing needs and seeking innovative, cost effective solutions with a focus in maximizing positive health outcomes for Central Albertans. Minister LaGrange and I, along with our municipal leaders, meet monthly with AHS Zone leadership to receive accountability update reports.

A focus of the Plan is on developing additional capacities outside of our Hospital for less complex health care needs so there is growing capacities in our Hospital for more complex needs. As that capacity is developed, there is an opportunity to add services to our Hospital in order of our most pressing needs.

While COVID did cause a delay, the Plan will be completed in the new year and construction commenced.

  1. Supports for Addictions and Homelessness

This Government is focused on supporting individuals seeking to improve their lives, including freedom from addictions, while respecting families and businesses in our community.

This year a new “Recovery Community”, where individuals will receive treatment and support to become free from addictions was announced for Central Alberta. In addition, drug court services were also announced allowing individuals committing drug related property crimes an alternate path of restitution, community service and addiction treatment. These services will begin in the new year.

Budget 2020 also announced an integrated homeless shelter for Red Deer. We are in on-going meetings with service providers and community stakeholders as this service is in development. This new shelter service must facilitate a course correction and culture change – supporting individuals working to become free of addictions and destructive lifestyles to themselves and to our community as a whole.

This shelter should be a place of hope where individuals receive support and opportunities to work towards moving out of shelter and towards self-reliance. This shelter needs to be an accountable service, not only to the individuals it serves, but also as a good neighbor to families and businesses in our community.

  1. Looking Ahead into 2021

COVID and its destructive tide of lockdowns, orders and restrictions will recede in the New Year. 2021 will see the work on these local priorities progress which will bless our community in the years to come.

Ending on a personal note, as the father of two young adult sons and a teenage daughter, I have a great desire to see improved opportunities for the rising generation.

An intentional education, whether formal or informal, on the job or in the class, allows our children to move towards self-reliance.

A strong economy allows our children to apply their effort and unique talent, augmented by their own intentional education, to provide goods and services for the public benefit, while blessing themselves and their own families with increased opportunities to seek happiness as they individually see fit.

As social gathering restrictions abate in the New Year, I look forward to meeting and to serving together, including with our children and young adults where I once was, in our local primary schools and at Red Deer College.

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Alberta

Province announces next step to revamped health care system

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Setting the foundation for a refocused health system

Proposed legislation would support the refocusing of Alberta’s health care system to ensure Albertans get the care they need when and where they need it.

On Nov. 8, 2023, Alberta’s government announced plans for a refocused health care system to ensure patients are receiving the care they need, when and where they need it. To achieve this, Alberta’s government will be creating four new organizations, one for each priority health services sector: acute care, primary care, continuing care and mental health and addiction.

If passed, the Health Statutes Amendment Act would enable the government to take the necessary next steps to refocus the province’s health care system. The legislation would ensure Albertans have a system that works for them by prioritizing their need to find a primary care provider, receive urgent care without long waits, have access to the best continuing care options and obtain excellent mental health and addiction treatment.

“We are taking another step toward improving health care by updating legislation and enabling the governance and oversight required to refocus the health system. The critical improvements to transparency and accountability will help support the successful refocusing of the health care system to one that is responsive, effective and reflects the needs and priorities of Albertans today and for future generations.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health

The Health Statutes Amendment Act will enable the transition from one regional health authority, Alberta Health Services, to an integrated system of four sector-based provincial health agencies including primary care, acute care, continuing care and mental health and addiction. The agencies will be responsible for delivering integrated health services, ensuring Albertans receive timely access to care, regardless of where they live.

The Health Statutes Amendment Act establishes roles for an oversight minister and sector minister. The Minister of Health will take on the role of oversight minister, responsible for setting the strategic direction of the overall health system. A sector minister will be responsible for a specific health services sector. For example, the sector minister for Recovery Alberta is the Minister of Mental Health and Addiction. On the recommendation of the oversight minister, additional health service sectors may be established and designate a minister responsible for that newly created sector.

Enhanced government oversight will help Alberta’s government to better direct resources to the front lines where they are needed the most, improve patient care overall and support health care professionals.

“Mental health and addiction have been growing issues within our society and need to be prioritized within our health care system. Amid an addiction crisis, a refocused health system will allow for mental health and addiction services to get the attention, oversight and focus they need. Recovery Alberta would allow for improved mental health and addiction care across the province as an important part of an integrated health system.”

Dan Williams, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction

“Refocusing Alberta’s healthcare system is a crucial step towards ensuring that we can deliver a framework that prioritizes accessibility, accountability, and patient-centered care. By streamlining operations, improving oversight and fostering collaboration, we are setting a strong foundation for a healthcare system that is better equipped to address the diverse needs of each of our communities.”

Jason Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services

The legislation will enable the minister of health to transfer employees or classes of employees from AHS to the new sector-based organizations, once established. During the transition period, AHS will be enabled to continue operating as a regional health authority. Employee transfers will be seamless, maintaining existing bargaining relationships and collective agreements. This will ensure stability for the workforce, unions and government as the health system refocus is implemented. There will be no job losses for staff who transition into the new organizations.

Amendments to be made to existing legislation

The Health Statutes Amendment Act includes amendments to the Regional Health Authorities Act and the Health Information Act, which have not been updated since the 1990s.

As part of these amendments, the name of the Regional Health Authorities Act will change to the Provincial Health Agencies Act. The amended Provincial Health Agencies Act will remove outdated references to allow the transition from a single regional health authority to a unified, sector-specific provincial health system. This will clarify the scope and accountabilities of provincial health agencies and health service providers going forward.

The amendments will also place responsibility on the provincial health agencies for operational planning and oversight of clinical service delivery across the province. This will enable provincial health agencies to set priorities in the provision of health service delivery. The agencies will also be tasked with sharing information and collaborating closely to support seamless patient care as the transition to the refocused health care system takes place.

Alberta’s government is committed to ensuring that patient information continues to remain safe and secure through this transition. Amendments to the Health Information Act will be introduced to support the new health system refocus and to support the establishment of the Canadian Centre of Recovery Excellence. These amendments will allow the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction, the four new provincial health agencies, the Health Quality Council of Alberta and Canadian Centre of Recovery Excellence to have the authority to use health information for health system purposes.

If passed, the Health Statutes Amendment Act will enable Recovery Alberta, the mental health and addiction provincial health agency, to begin operating in the summer of 2024. The primary care, acute care and continuing care provincial health agencies are expected to be established in the fall.

Quick facts

  • Consequential amendments are changes made to existing legislation due to new legislation being passed. These amendments are necessary to ensure legislative alignment with the proposed amendments to the Regional Health Authorities Act.
    • To support the Regional Health Authorities Act amendments and ensure alignment, 43 other acts are being consequentially amended – for example, to replace references to “regional health authority” with “provincial health agency” where necessary.
  • AHS will remain a key provider of health services, and in fall 2024 will transition to focusing on the provision of acute care services.
  • Alberta’s government introduced the Canadian Centre of Recovery Excellence Act which, if passed, will establish the Canadian Centre of Recovery Excellence (CoRE) as a public agency that would support the Government of Alberta, including Mental Health and Addiction, and Recovery Alberta in advancing the Alberta Recovery Model.

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Alberta

Expansion planned for Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing at Red Deer Polytechnic

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Investing in innovation at Red Deer Polytechnic

Alberta’s government is expanding student capacity and creating a modern learning environment at Red Deer Polytechnic that will help graduates succeed in the economy of tomorrow.

To support emerging opportunities for students, Alberta’s government will invest $12.9 million to expand the Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing Technology Access Centre (CIM-TAC) at Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP). CIM-TAC is an applied research and innovation centre that gives companies access to state-of-the-art prototyping and manufacturing equipment, along with a multi-disciplinary team with the expertise to turn brilliant ideas into market-ready products.

As Alberta’s economy grows and diversifies, job creators will increasingly seek employees with the skills required to work in advanced manufacturing.

Construction will begin in early 2025 and will increase the centre’s applied research, education and training capacity. The expanded CIM-TAC will grow to provide work-integrated learning opportunities for an estimated 450 post-secondary students and training through workshops and events to an additional 2,000 students annually by 2030. Additionally, more than 500 junior and senior high school students will take part in dual credit programs at the CIM-TAC.

“Investing in this expansion of CIM-TAC will give students at RDP access to cutting-edge technology and skills to succeed in the economy of tomorrow. The strategic investments we’re making in Budget 2024 are part of a forward-looking path to support the goals of our post-secondary institutions, grow Alberta’s economy and create jobs.”

Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Advanced Education

“The expansion will allow Alberta-based manufacturers across multiple sectors to have greater ability to develop, test and scale their ideas. Students will be engaged at the forefront of made-in-Alberta technologies and manufacturing solutions.This investment will help meet high demand from entrepreneurs and industry for applied research and will take the facility beyond its current capabilities to become an advanced technology training and hands-on learning centre.”

Nate Horner, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance

“This expansion project will build on the CIM-TAC’s 15 years of success and leverage the centre’s industry partnerships and manufacturing expertise to provide even more capacity for applied research, as well as education, training and work-integrated learning opportunities for students. We thank the Government of Alberta for this investment that will benefit not only RDP students and researchers, but also the entire central Alberta region and its critical industries like health care, agriculture, energy and construction.”

Stuart Cullum, president, Red Deer Polytechnic

“Manufacturing and advanced manufacturing are driving job-creation, economic growth and made-in-Alberta solutions that improve the lives of people around the world and right here at home. The funding to expand RDP’s CIM-TAC is an investment that will allow Alberta companies greater access to the tools, technology and next generation of skilled talent that will allow our industry to solve real-world challenges, develop better products and ultimately increase productivity.”

Darryl Short, CEO, Karma Machining and Manufacturing, and president, Karma Medical Products  

Quick facts

  • The expansion of CIM-TAC at RDP will support a variety of sectors through advanced manufacturing capabilities, including energy innovation, transportation, aviation and agriculture. The centre will also support RDP’s future expansion into more medical device manufacturing and health-care innovations to support both patients and providers.
  • RDP’s expansion of the CIM-TAC will grow the facility’s footprint from 15,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet.
  • The CIM-TAC currently houses $7.6 million of advanced manufacturing equipment.
  • In 2022, RDP attracted more than $2 million in applied research investment. RDP also completed 64 projects for 57 companies and participated in more than 1,300 engagements with industry partners.
  • Since the CIM-TAC’s inception in 2009, RDP has supported more than 300 industry partners (including repeat clients).
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