Hello High Country News readers! Well, the Legislature is back in session and it is very strange. In the Throne Speech, the Government talked a lot about getting tough with BC over their obstruction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. This is the same Government that mocked Opposition Leader Jason Kenney for proposing this during the last session, claiming he was engaging in “Trump-Like” tactics. Now they are basically taking the approach we have been championing for months. All we can say is if the Government has finally come to realize that sitting by while their fellow NDP members try to kill the pipeline with endless delays is a bad idea, good for them for finally coming to their senses. We have many more common-sense policies that the Government is welcome to steal.
Another weird note. As this is written the Budget is set to be released. The Finance Minister has indicated that their “balanced budget” plan assumes the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Line 3 project into the USA will be built according to their forecasts, oil prices will follow their forecasts, etc. Perhaps he forgot to take off his virtual reality headset since this is looking like a virtual reality budget. You know, you can make whatever forecast you like but when budgeting you should never assume that your most optimistic scenarios will come true. They raised personal taxes. Revenues went down. They raised corporate taxes. Revenues went down. Their last budget forecasts aren’t working out too well for them so please take the new ones with several tablespoons of salt.
Emergency response is in crisis. Regularly, there are no ambulances available in Calgary so they are pulling in ambulances from areas like High River or even further afield (Pincher Creek if you can believe it), leaving those areas without the capacity to respond. Recently, there were no ambulances available in Calgary for 25 minutes. If you are experiencing heart failure, a 25 minute response time basically means you are dead. There are many reasons for this situation but a big one is our ambulances need paramedics in them and too often the paramedics are sitting in the hospital with patients that haven’t been admitted so the ambulance is parked and unavailable. Our paramedics are a dedicated bunch who work way above and beyond to try to serve us but they are reaching the limit. The Government’s endless litany of blame on the previous Government has to stop. It is time to stop blaming and start solving.
We are still waiting to see if the Government will change the regulations preventing expert third party services from rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned or injured large species like bears, wolves, and elk. Let’s hope they do the right thing and reward the tireless advocacy of people like Lisa Dahlseide of the Cochrane Ecological Institute.
In closing, you may have heard of WINS, the Women In Need Society of Calgary. For 25+ years they have used their thrift stores to fund counselling, referral, job search, and other services for, you guessed it, women in need. Whether they are recent immigrants, fleeing domestic violence, or simply victims of a bad economy WINS has helped hundreds of women and their families get back on their feet. This is a “hand-up, not hand-out” service at its best! Due to rising costs, decreasing donations, and reduced sales (understandable given the economy and the relentless cost increases brought in by the Government), and a 70%+ increase in demand since 2014 there is a real risk that they will have to cut back or even stop operating this vital service. If you are able, please visit womeninneed.net and donate.
As always, we love to hear from you.
Leela Sharon Aheer
MLA for Chestermere – Rocky View