South Peace News
Local government and community leaders heard the vision of United Conservative Party leadership candidate Travis Toews when he spoke in High Prairie on Aug. 24.
“I am here to make a difference for rural Albertans,” says Toews, MLA for Grande Prairie – Wapiti and former finance minister.
The leader of the party will also become the provincial premier.
Improved health care, agriculture and energy and federal government relations were the top of his agenda as he spoke to about 25 over the noon hour.
“We are willing to invest in more rural health care,” Toews says.
“Our healthcare system is failing, mostly in rural rural areas.”
“We lack physicians, nurses and surgeons; it’s concerning me.”
He suggests Alberta Health Services be examined to improve the governance.
“We need deep structural reform at AHS,” Toews says.
“AHS has a highly centralized decision-making model and it needs to be decentralized.”
He suggests decisions could be make by local authorities.
To increase physicians in northern and rural regions, he says the qualifying process must improve.
“If elected UCP leader (and premier), I would work with the Alberta Medical Association and AHS to ensure Albertans with a medical degree from an accredited university outside the country get a residency or internship in Alberta,” Toews says.
He would also be committed to allow foreign-trained physicians and medical professionals to start working in Alberta than the current months-long process.
Agriculture and energy are other top priorities for the farmer from the Beaverlodge area.
“When it comes to agriculture and energy, Alberta has to lead in Canada,” Toews says.
“We have to defend agriculture and energy.
And that include dealing with federal government regulations, he notes.
“We will reduce regulatory burden on agriculture,” Toews says.
“We need to add more value to agriculture.”
He says Alberta needs to be treated better by the federal government.
“How does Alberta get a fair deal?” Toews says.
Alberta needs to take more control of its programs that are being impeded by the federal government.
“I’m a believer an Alberta pension plan,” Toews says.
When asked about the government’s proposal for a provincial police service, he believes it would improve service.
“I believe this is a good opportunity for the province,” Toews says.
“We could see rural crime reduction.
Despite most municipalities opposed to the proposal, concerned by rising costs, he still believes it will be a benefit.
“I am willing to work with municipalities to land on the right answer,” Toews says.
He also assured municipalities that, as premier, he would ensure ample capital funding as the Municipal Sustain- ability Initiative (MSI) becomes the Local Government Fiscal Framework program in 2024.
“Funding should grow as the economy grows,” Toews says.
“We have to ensure rural municipalities have adequate funding for infrastructure.”
The winner for the leadership race is scheduled to be announced Oct. 6.
Other candidates in the UCP leadership race include:
-Central Peace – Notley MLA Todd Loewen, who became an Independent MLA after he was ousted from the UCP caucus May 13, 2021.
-Former Wildrose Party leader and current Fort McMurray – Lac La Biche MLA Brian Jean.
-Former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith.
-Chestermere – Strathmore MLA Leela Aheer, former minister of culture, multiculturalism and the status of women.
-Calgary – Shaw MLA Rebecca Schulz, former minister of children’s services.
-Calgary North East MLA Rajan Sawhney, former minister of community and social services and former minister of transportation.