A big fan of improvements in rural health care throughout the province sang party praises for dollars allotted to his home constituency, May 27.

The UCP’s Andrew Boitchenko said the locals aren’t shy about reminding him of a need for upgrades at their hospitals.

Boitchenko spoke of funding of more than $1.65 million over three years to hospitals in Drayton Valley-Devon, west of Edmonton. “I know that my constituents will be happy to hear about this important investment the government is making,” he said.

Devon General Hospital is receiving $872,000 for upgrades. The hospital features acute- and long-term care, along with 24-hour emergency, home-care and public health services. Also on-site are diagnostic imaging and lab services.

Further west, the Drayton Valley Hospital and Care Centre houses 34 acute- and 50 long-term care beds, with medical services provided by 14 physicians on staff. It’s receiving $792,000 under capital maintenance renewal funding.

A “vital facility,” the hospital has a 24-hour emergency department and offers diabetes education, dialysis service and operating room service. It’s home to a community cancer centre, too.

Boitchenko said he and his government “remain committed to ensuring that my constituents and all Albertans have easy access to the health care services that they need.”


A unique treatment centre in Strathcona County earned a moment in the legislature spotlight May 27, when two UCP members used Sexual Violence Awareness Month to do exactly what the name suggests: talk about sexual violence.

“Sexual violence can be shattering for young survivors and leave long-lasting scars, including an inability to trust those around them,” said Angela Pitt, the member for Airdrie-East.

Added Searle Turton, children and family services minister: “Abuse of any kind, but especially sexual abuse, is unacceptable and even more reprehensible when it targets children and youth, and our government will not stand idly by.”

The Little Warriors Be Brave Ranch in Strathcona County is receiving $5 million over three years to help young survivors of sexual abuse address their mental, emotional and physical well-being in a safe environment, said Turton, the member for Spruce Grove-Stony Plain. Services at the ranch mean survivors thrive as well as heal, he said.

Pitt said nearly half of Alberta’s residents experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetimes. One in three experience sexual abuse while they’re under the age of 18.

The ranch — its full name is the Little Warriors Be Brave Ranch by Ray LaBonte and Family — bills itself as a specialized, trauma-informed, evidence-based treatment centre. Its focus is boys and girls aged 8-12 and girls aged 13-17 and their families. An initial visit of 26 days and three more of 12 days each are spread across one year, and children receive outpatient care when they are not there.

The one-of-a-kind operation in Canada offers young survivors “a safe haven and the time they need to process emotions in a camplike setting,” said Turton.

Pitt said sexual abuse is particularly complex in today’s technology and social media environment. “It’s up to every Albertan to keep children and youth safe.”

Added Turton: “I encourage all Albertans to learn how to recognize the signs of abuse and neglect and how to report concerns about a child’s well-being. If you see something that worries you, please don’t wait; report your concerns.”

He pointed Albertans to the child intervention provincial intake line, call 1-800-638-0715, and to for online resources.


Legislative assembly members raised a metaphorical glass to Alberta’s distilling and brewing industries on May 27, pointing out the work of three ministries to keep the drinks coming.

Shane Getson, the UCP member for Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland near Edmonton, got the convivial conversation flowing with comments born of a constituency success story.

“Everyone here has heard me call my constituency God’s country and for good reason. This area is full of innovative and hard-working people and thriving industries,” said Getson.

One company reflecting the get-it-done spirit is Anohka Distillery, whose origin story starts with the recognition that grain, farmers, clean water, peat and an industrial complex are a recipe for success. Two years later the company’s whisky won a world’s best award for a new make in London, England.

R.J. Sigurdson, the agriculture minister, said such recognition is a testament to Alberta’s distillery skills and high-quality commodities. The province supports results-driven agriculture and the development of new barley varieties for domestic and international markets.

 “World-class whiskies begin with world-class grains,” said Sigurdson, the UCP member for Highwood.

Meanwhile, the advanced education minister cast her comments upon a two-year diploma program at Olds College for developing craft beverages and operating breweries. Students at the college, located between Calgary and Red Deer, embark on a hands-on educational journey in sensory evaluation, beverage chemistry and other areas, said Rajan Sawhney, the member for Calgary-North West.

Students see their beer through to brewing and even test marketing in a school store, said Sawhney.

Dale Nally, red tape reduction minister, dropped a few more Alberta distilling and brewing names, noting that Eau Claire, Alberta Distillers Ltd., Troubled Monk and others also compete internationally and often win.

Nally, the member for Morinville-St. Albert, said he’s hosting an industry roundtable this summer to discuss things like markup and red tape reduction.

“We recognize that the work is not done and there’s lots more to do,” he said. “Our brewers and distillers have lots to say, and we’re going to listen.”


Recognition of 100 years of the Royal Canadian Air Force as a distinct military element will fly high in Cold Lake’s annual air show, July 20 and 21.

“I can’t wait for this amazing event this summer,” said Scott Cyr, the UCP member for Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul.

The celebration “showcases not just my beautiful constituency but our world-renowned air force, that continues to ensure the safety of Canadians from coast to coast to coast,” Cyr said in a statement to the legislative assembly May 28.

Taking part in one of the country’s largest military shows, skilled pilots from around the world will amaze an audience expected to top 27,000, said Cyr. Aircraft demonstrations and acrobatics, family-friendly events and a visit from the premier are part of the schedule.

The show will include – plug your ears – a “highly anticipated” demonstration flight of an F-35A Lightning II, producing some 43,000 lb. of thrust and a top speed of perhaps 1,930 km/h. That’s faster than the speed of sound, so the sky will go boom.

Tickets and more information are available at The community is about 300 km or three hours and 20 minutes by car northeast of Edmonton.

The constituency is home to 4 Wing Cold Lake, the busiest fighter base in Canada. The base provides general purpose, multi-role, combat-capable forces to support domestic and international service.


In one of her final tilts as the Official Opposition leader, Rachel Notley took aim May 28 at the premier for pushing through legislation in a way Danielle Smith used to criticize.

Smith is “ramming through multiple pieces of legislation with little or no consultation,” said Notley. Moves to end debate were arbitrary and came after “barely half” the time allotted by past governments.

 “What happened to everything this premier claimed to Albertans that she believed in?”

Smith responded that her government reached out to find ways to increase time for debate. “Unfortunately they (the NDP) have refused.”

She said the UCP suggested approaches like compressed waiting times between readings, a move that would have removed “four hours of sitting around.”

Not relevant, Notley shot back. The member for Edmonton-Strathcona said that the premier shutdown debate at least 10 times in four days. When Notley and the NDP were in power, the governing side used closure four times in four years.

“And when we did, it was after 10 times the amount of debate this government has allowed on devastating laws that Albertans do not want,” said Notley.

But Smith, the member for Brooks-Medicine Hat, said the NDP have shown no interest in offering amendments and improving the laws at issue. “We’ve offered more debate time; they’ve refused. We have created night sittings to give more debate time. I would encourage the members opposite to be constructive in the debate, and we’ll be able to make sure that the bills get their input.”

Four contentious bills passed third and final reading over the last days of the spring sitting, May 28 and 29.

Three have been criticized as overreaches of provincial power into the workings of municipalities and other institutions – Bill 18, the Provincial Priorities Act; Bill 20, the Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act 2024; and Bill 21, the Emergency Statutes Amendment Act 2024.

The fourth – which the NDP calls a misdirection of dollars from filling health staffing shortages – is Bill 22, the Health Statutes Amendment Act 2024. It enables the restructuring of a single health care agency into four agencies. The UCP says these separate pillars will allow better focus health care and the use of resources and expertise.

By George Lee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 07, 2024 at 15:06

This item reprinted with permission from   Fort Macleod Gazette   Fort Macleod, Alberta

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