NDP party leader makes campaign stop in Slave Lake

NDP Lesser Slave Lake candidate Danielle Larivee, left, says some closing comments at an NDP meeting on seniors issues at the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre on April 12. NDP leader Rachel Notley, right, was in town that day to speak and answer questions about issues. The meeting was part of the campaign trail for both candidates who are running in the May 29 election.

Pearl Lorentzen
For South Peace News

The Alberta provincial election is warming up!

So far, the Lesser Slave Lake riding is a two-party race between Danielle Larivee (NDP) and Scott Sinclair (UCP). Both have been campaigning for a while, but in April, the party leaders are also getting into the battle for the local vote.

On April 12, the NDP leader Rachel Notley joined Larivee in Slave Lake. Later in the month, UCP leader Danielle Smith will also be in Slave Lake alongside Scott Sinclair.

Notley and Larivee held a lunch at the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre to discuss seniors issues with local people. Many were from Slave Lake, but there were also people from Wabasca and other areas.

Notley and Larivee were part of the first NDP government in Alberta in 2015. Notley was premier, Larivee held cabinet positions.

At the beginning of her speech, Notley said that Larivee is “such an amazing candidate” and was “one of those members of the cabinet that we relied on. She’s very hard-working. She’s very smart. She doesn’t skate over the problems … I’m very excited that she’s running again.”

Notley spoke about the NDP platform as it related to seniors issues.

“Seniors in Alberta deserve better,” she said.

Notley claimed the UCP had cut spending to various services which impacted seniors or changed eligibility for services which impacted seniors these included seniors benefits, drug coverage, increased fees for drivers medicals for seniors, and healthcare in general.

Healthcare has a disproportionate impact on seniors, she said, because they are more likely to use the services.

She also firmly stood behind the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP).

“It is your pension,” she said. “Albertans are deeply opposed to UCP playing with CPP.”

Notley came out firmly in support of healthcare workers and the public healthcare system.

The government needs to “treat them with the respect they deserve,” she said.

Also, that no one should ever have to pay to see a family doctor.

The NDP affordable housing plan includes sections on both seniors and Indigenous communities.

Cost of living was another issue Notley brought up.

“We need to act to keep cost under control.”

A provincial government can only do so much, she added, but some of these are capping utility costs, auto insurance, and tuition.

“These are things the government can control,” she said.

Notley finished her speech saying, “we will ensure we do a better job to support seniors.”

In the question and answer period, people asked about policing.

The NDP would not create a provincial police force, said Notley. It supports keeping the RCMP, because a change would be very expensive and Albertans do not want to change.

“Just having more police officers is not the answer,” said Notley.

The NDP is also looking into more integrated police service which would include social workers, psychologists, and getting to the root cause of crime.

Another question had to do with support to travel from rural communities to the city for medical specialists. Notley said that when the NDP were in office, they had been working with Greyhound to try and work out a solution, but Greyhound went out of business.

However, she wasn’t sure what NDP’s current plan was on this issue.

“I don’t have the answer,” said Notley. “It’s a really important issue.”

Another was that having a tenant support worker was a really good thing and saved money, but that it had been cut most places. Finally, that more flexibility in giving points for employment would be useful.

The NDP housing plan includes more affordable housing units and more eligibility for rental supports, said Notley.

Other questions had to do with highway pavement on Hwy. 88, keeping doctors in rural communities, and ambulances.

The provincial election is May 29.

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