The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything about our lives. From whom we see to how we work, shop and learn, every single one of us has been impacted in one way, shape or form. That is why Alberta’s government has taken action to protect the lives and livelihoods of Albertans as they continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Early in the pandemic, we recognized that social distancing guidelines and financial stress could have adverse effects on the mental health and wellbeing of Albertans. That is why we made a $53 million investment in mental health and addiction supports to make sure Albertans who were in crisis would get the help they need.
We also took action to protect Alberta’s most vulnerable, including those living in congregate living facilities. In May 2020, Alberta taxpayers invested more than $170 million in funding to help keep residents and staff in long-term care, designated supportive living facilities and seniors’ lodges safe. Knowing that seniors are at high risk from COVID-19, this funding helped us continue to protect our most vulnerable and allowed for facilities to enhance staffing and purchase additional PPE and cleaning supplies.
As part of Step 1 of Alberta’s four-step framework to ease restrictions, we are taking a cautious approach as we look to ease restrictions impacting the day-to-day lives of Albertans. All the activities still have associated guidelines to ensure the safety and well being of Albertans, and we continue to monitor data to ensure that any steps we take to reduce restrictions on Albertans continue to protect their lives. While vaccines offer some hope of a return to normal, ongoing delivery delays from the federal government mean reasonable public health restrictions must remain in place. That is why Alberta’s government has continued to take steps to protect the livelihoods of Albertans.
We recently announced the Enhanced COVID Business Benefit, a new program that provides financial relief to those businesses whose bottom lines have been most affected by public health measures. Providing additional support to our small businesses means Alberta’s job creators can continue to pay their employees, so they in turn can continue to support their families. We have also provided income support for people unable to work while they self-isolate, and provided support for daycares and day homes so childcare is not a barrier for those who are still able to work.
Applications for the Critical Worker Benefit also recently opened on Feb. 17. This benefit was launched to recognize hundreds of thousands of critical workers who continue to support and provide services to Albertans during this pandemic, and workers in health care, social services, education and in some parts of the private sector are eligible to receive this one-time payment.
We have also made significant investments in infrastructure projects. Accelerated schools, roads and other construction projects have helped us get more Albertans back to work while also moving ahead on important projects for communities across the province.
While life has changed significantly over the past year, Alberta’s government continues to work hard to support you every single day. As the pandemic continues and we move forward on vaccinations, we will continue to do everything we can to protect both your lives and your livelihoods.
For more information on how Alberta’s government is protecting the lives and livelihoods of Albertans, we encourage you to visit livesandlivelihoods.alberta.ca.
— Mark Smith, MLA for Drayton Valley – Devon
I can be reached at the main constituency office in Drayton Valley at 1-800-542-7307 toll-free Monday to Friday, the Devon constituency office at 780-987-3666 Wednesdays and Thursdays or emailed at email@example.com anytime.