MLA Andrew Boitchenko says there are several areas he is planning to work on in the coming year.

Boitchenko was sworn in as MLA for the area at the end of May this year. He says he’s been going steady since then, putting in extended working hours.

However, since having a stroke last October, he has been trying to work on creating a better work-life balance. He says he now tries to prioritize his health by getting five to six hours of sleep each night.

Despite his health challenges, Boitchenko says he still plans to work hard for his constituents. He is the Parliamentary Secretary to Indigenous Relations, he sits on the Standing Committee for the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund, sits on the Building Communities Cabinet Policy Committee, and sits on the Standing Committee on Families and Communities.

“I have sent out emails asking what are the priorities for each county and town in my constituency,” says Boitchenko.

He says once he has the lists from the different communities, he plans to start scheduling meetings with the appropriate ministers. 

“I think that my strength is relationship building,” he says, “and keeping that in mind, it’s easier for me to bring ministers out here.”

Boitchenko says he’s arranged to have Dan Williams, the Minister of Mental Health and Addiction, come to meet with the community foundation. He has also set meetings with Jason Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community, and Social Services, and Searle Turton, the Minister of Children and Family Services.

“We just want to make sure we support our homelessness situation here,” he says.

Right now, he says the province is working on building rehabilitation centres as well as mental health clinics, and detox centres.

Boitchenko says the province will also try to make citizens more aware of the possible addictions to certain prescribed medication. He says they are pushing the pharmaceutical companies to indicate the addictiveness level of the medication on the label.

“Some of them have five, six, seven times higher addiction levels than heroin,” he says.

Currently, pharmaceutical companies do not have to advertise that number, but the government will be working to create legislation that would make those labels a requirement.

The province is also looking at restructuring for Alberta Health Services. Boitchenko says Alberta is the most expensive province, but the least productive, having some of the longest waiting times in the country.

He says he spoke to one constituent who told him that her consultation with a specialist is 36 to 48 months away. 

Boitchenko says there several bills passed in 2023 to help protect Albertans from increased income tax rates, strengthening Alberta’s case against those responsible for the current opioid crisis, creating consistent, clear lines of authority when it comes to health decisions made by the government in regards to a public health crisis, and giving Albertans an advantage in hiring tech workers.

By Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jan 04, 2024 at 15:13

This item reprinted with permission from   Free Press   Drayton Valley, Alberta

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