South Peace News
Restrictions in the COVID-19 pandemic were top of the order as Town of Falher council spoke with Central Peace – Notley MLA Todd Loewen at its regular meeting Feb. 8.
“It’s a battle in the community and in the government,” says Loewen, who notes he disagrees with Premier Jason Kenney and other MLAs in the United Conservative Party who support a provincial plan.
“I would like to have a regional approach.”
He suggests the government reduce COVID -19 reductions in regions with fewer daily cases and deaths.
Mayor Donna Buchinski agrees.
“It would be nice to have a regional approach to COVID,” Buchinski says.
“You have to show your colleagues and move forward.”
Loewen posted his COVID-19 position on his Facebook page on the weekend before talking to council as the Smoky River region has no active COVID-19 cases.
“Lately, a huge number of my constituents and local leaders have told me that the harms of restrictions are causing irreparable harm,” Loewen states.
“You have told us that the government’s COVID response lacks balance and fairness.”
Loewen says he has a responsibility to his constituents and needs of the area he serves.
“Sometimes, that means even disagreeing with the premier,” Loewen says.
“I believe Alberta’s business owners are generous and responsible – they are responsible for their employees, families, bills, and taxes.
“They support our local non-profit organizations, our children’s sport teams, and many other organizations in our communities.”
On another issue, the MLA is committed to increase healthcare services in the local Smoky River region.
He appreciates local efforts to provide services at the Falher Medical Clinic operated by a non-profit Falher and Area Community Association for Professional Services.
Buchinski told Loewen that a nurse practitioner started Jan. 11 to provide some basic medical services.
“We want further support for the clinic,” Buchinski says.
“Is their support for rural health?”
Loewen says he would ask about funding to operate a clinic.
Buchinski notes the region is down to one physician with another in transition to start a practice.
She also asked about the status of the Municipal Sustainability Initiative [MSI] funding program.
“I’ve heard talk of MSI funding being reduced,” says Loewen, who spoke with council for 20 minutes.
“It could be cut or leave it at it is.”
Loewen advised council to wait for the budget sometime in the spring presented by Finance Minister Travis Toews, MLA for Grande Prairie – Wapiti.
Buchinski also asked if more special funding would be available to municipalities to recover lost revenue in the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Loewen did not know.
The MLA says he would help the area with funding support for flooding, flood damage and flood protection.
He says is committed to draw more funding to the region and northern parts of the province.
“The vast majority of the resources and revenue come from the north and we want to have more money in the north,” Loewen says.
“We need to have our share.
“The more money we can drag to the north, the better.”