Editorial – We need a piece of the pie

Chris Clegg

We should not begrudge our friends at the other end of the lake [Slave Lake] for lobbying to secure better health services.

Whether you live in Slave Lake, High Prairie, McLennan, Donnelly, Falher or Peace River, it is up to local politicians to lobby the best they can for services.

It is why news from Slave Lake two weeks ago should send warning bells to High Prairie.

As reported in the Slave Lake Lakeside Leader June 30, a group wants to bring chemotherapy treatment to Slave Lake. Chemo treatment was once available at the hospital in Slave Lake and a recently-organized group wants to make it happen again. Called the ‘Chemo For Slave Lake’ project, it launched recently on social media, inviting people to rally to the cause.

Its vision should be of immense concern to High Prairie: “To establish a cancer community centre in Slave Lake to serve as a hub for local and neighbouring patients to receive chemotherapy treatment close to home.”

The problem is, the High Prairie region lobbied successfully to the Alberta government to allow space in the newly-constructed High Prairie Health Complex for chemo treatment. To date, no plans for chemo treatment have been announced.

Now, we have a very real competitor, and whether we like or not, Slave Lake is a competitor. A very worthy adversary.

The Slave Lake group has received the support of the local Rotary Club and is asking support from “people from Athabasca to High Prairie to Red Earth Creek and Wabasca. . .”

Can’t High Prairie also lobby by asking for support from the local Legion and Royal Purple Elks, not to mention the good citizens of Atikameg, Gift Lake, Kapawe’no, Peavine, Sucker Creek, East Prairie, and Driftpile?

There is only so much money in the provincial budget for a government that is broke. Due to the close proximity of the two towns, the harsh reality is the government will fund chemo centres in Slave Lake and High Prairie as soon as pigs fly.

Now is the time for local politicians and the High Prairie and District Community Health Foundation to step up the lobby. Chew Premier Jason Kenney’s ear off. Yell and scream in Health Minister Tyler Shandro’s ear until it flops in a breeze. Whatever it takes, get it done!

After the recent news broke, High Prairie and Area Chamber of Commerce president Barry Shawkawi voiced concerns to the government.

High Prairie is all too aware Slave Lake received a dialysis clinic despite local efforts over 30 years ago to start raising money. Somehow, over those many decades, Slave Lake swooped in and received the service. Credit to them!

The question now arises: is the High Prairie region going to sit back and let this happen again? Or at the very least, go down kicking and screaming?

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