Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Seniors in the M.D. of Smoky River can rest easy after a substantial investment into its transportation program by the Alberta government.
The provincial government contributed an initial $1.1 million investment in transportation options for seniors in Edson, Fox Creek, Oyen, Sundre and the M.D. of Smoky River, helping to improve seniors’ access to medical care, groceries, and to help them connect with community and government services.
“With investment from the Government of Alberta, and working collaboratively with the Ministry of Seniors, Community and Social Services, Healthy Aging Alberta is offering funding to support the delivery of community-based assisted transportation services for older adults and persons with mobility issues living in rural Alberta,” says Family and Community Support Services director Crystal Tremblay.
“These funds will help us to increase our trips made available to our seniors.”
The M.D. of Smoky River was successful in its application to the Province, receiving $286,933. Funds that will help FCSS facilitate the program and to hire a new employee for the duration of the three-year program.
“A large portion of the money will be used to hire a part-time coordinator,” says Tremblay. “We’re hoping to increase ridership by working with medical facilities in our region, and to also increase the number of trips we’re doing. We want to be doing one trip to Grande Prairie, one trip to Peace River, and two through Smoky River Region.”
The three-year project will help FCSS and their partners (inclusive of all municipalities in the region) deliver innovative and accessible transportation to seniors and individuals with mobility issues in the community.
“It is important for seniors to live independently in their communities for as long as possible,” Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services Jason Nixon says.
“This funding will strengthen transportation in rural communities, providing seniors with easier access to health care, grocery stores, socialization and so much more,” he adds.
In early 2024, the program will be opened up to other municipalities, community-based organizations, and FCSS offices to submit expressions of interest to be part of the next project phase. These details will be available on the Healthy Aging Alberta website.
“We are very fortunate to get this money,” says Tremblay.
“We are super-excited to work with other communities to offer more services to people in our region.”