Copeland: Invest in Health Care

The mayor urges the Province to make Cold Lake Hospital the regional health care hub for the Lakeland area.

Mayor of Cold Lake, Craig Copeland, says it’s time for the Province to pay attention to the needs of Northeastern Alberta. After having a look through the Provincial Budget, the mayor says he would have liked to see more investment in the region and believes there are a few areas of great need; including designating a regional health centre.

Regional Health Centre

For a number of years, Cold Lake has been lobbying the Government to make the City the central area for health care, explains Copeland, “for our area, the Cold Lake Hospital needs to be the regional hospital. I would like to see someday the Province step in and make the Cold Lake Hospital the regional health centre for our area.” Copeland explains a regional health centre is common in the province, though non-existent in the Lakeland, “a lot of the big cities have a regional centre, whether your Lethbridge, Red Deer Medicine Hat or Grande Prairie; we need something like that. We need to identify a location that’s going to be the regional hospital. With our population growing as much as it is and our location, at the end of the highway, it makes a lot of sense to have the Province start looking at the capital investment into the hospital and increase the level of service.”

“We’ve discussed it over the years with the bureaucrats at AHS (Alberta Health Services). It’s going to be something that we’re going to have to get the attention of the Government.” Mayor Copeland says it’s long overdue, “it’s kinda fractured over here in the Lakeland, we need to solidify a location that’s going to be the centre of excellence; I think Cold Lake makes a lot of sense.”

MSI Funding

“Overall, the City of Cold Lake won’t be impacted a lot,” Mayor Copeland says the Province is continuing with the MSI funding for 2017. Since the City didn’t include those funds in its budget Council will have to sit down and discuss options for the money. “What we’ll do is bring it back [to the table]. It’ll be so easy to pick a project.” There are many options such as, moving to an existing project so the City does not have to take on as much debt or perhaps using it to help fund non-profits. “It was the right thing to do, in the fall when we did the Budget, not to include the MSI funding; because it was an unknown. Now that we know that it’s there and once we know what the amount is we can execute something.”

User Groups & Non-Profits 

“What we’re seeing lately, from the last couple Council meetings, is more and more user groups and agencies are coming to the City of Cold Lake for funding. That is a concern,” from the most recent Council meeting, on March 14th, there was one delegation from Grande Parlour requesting $75,000 and four requests for funding decisions made (Dr. Maragaret Savage Crisis Centre, Hearts for Healthcare Gala, Cold Lake Victim Services, and 2017 Apega Science Olympics). The mayor says these types of requests are more frequent than not, lately.”When we did the budget, we did a really tight budget to try to not have any increases. We really went through the operating budget really tight.”

“It’s concerning that there’s more soft-services groups that are coming to Council. We’re going to have to really review where we’re going to pull this money from to help some of the requests that we’re getting.” The possibility of using some of the MSI funds towards assisting these groups is there, but not a decision the Mayor or Council have deliberated yet, “whether or not we’re considered a Council that’s pretty giving to organizations, we’re seeing more and more groups coming forward looking for money. It speaks to the tough times right now.”  Council must weigh all the factors, “we have to be careful that there’s not too much burden on the tax payers in Cold Lake. It’s pretty tough out there, there’s still a lot of unemployed people out there.”

Taxes

 

“I’m glad we didn’t see any increase taxes for the tax payers. Our business community has been hit pretty hard with increases to minimum wage, carbon levy and corporate taxes. It’s good to see there’s no significant policy changes that would result in increase cost to doing business in Alberta,” Mayor Copeland says the business sector needs to take a rest, “to determine how bad the carbon levy is going to impact everybody that’s doing business in Alberta.”

Waterline

Copeland acknowledges the major investment the Province is putting in the waterline from the city to Bonnyville, “we weren’t surprised with that announcement.” Also not surprising to the mayor was the government’s continued investment in schools and infrastructure. However, the mayor was hoping for some money to be put into twinning Highway 28, “I think Highway 28 may have a little bit of money allocated for putting money into surveying.”

 

“I didn’t see anything in the Provincial Budget that’s going to result in anything,” other than the Transportation Innovation Grant the City received from the Province there will not be a significant investment to Cold Lake. “That’s going towards the busing program.”