Posted on Mar 1, 2016

March 2016 Constituency Newsletter

Throughout my term I have spoken to many seniors in our community who have shared their concerns regarding housing, transportation, finance and staying engaged in one’s community. I am happy that as MLA for Calgary-Bow I can bring these concerns to the Alberta Legislature and to the Ministry of Seniors.

  Currently in Alberta there are 515,000 senior citizens which makes up about 12 per cent of the population. By 2030 that number will have doubled to over 1 million people. As this population grows, so does the need for support and services that will help to maintain a healthy quality of life. This month I would like to highlight some of the programs and services this government provides that tackle these issues.

Through the Alberta Seniors Benefit program, the province provides over $27 million in financial assistance to about 150,000 lower income seniors; roughly 30% of the seniors in Alberta today. This is supplemental to funds provided by the federal government like Old Age Security, and the Canada Pension Plan.

   The Seniors Property Tax Deferral Program allows eligible senior homeowners to defer all or a part of their property taxes through a low-interest home equity loan with the Alberta Government. This helps keep seniors in their homes while relieving financial stress.

  An exciting new “toolkit” Initiative for the “Implementation of Alternative Transportation for Seniors” has been undertaken by this government. In partnership with the University of Alberta’s Medically At-Risk Driver (MARD) Centre. This initiative provides affordable accessible transportation that helps seniors stay active and continue to live in their communities, and close to family and friends. The toolkit will be available as a web-based resource, and I also had a hardcopy delivered to my office for those that are interested.

From June 6th-12th the province celebrates Seniors Week, which is an opportunity for Albertans to celebrate the seniors in their lives and the many contributions they have made to our province. This year marks the 30th anniversary of this initiative and I encourage you to reach out and connect with the seniors in your community.

  This past month I had the privilege of joining the Bowness Seniors Centre in celebrating 50 years of service in the community. Once again I would like to thank them and congratulate them on their tireless effort to enrich the lives of our community elders. The Bowness Seniors’ Centre can be described as a leading organization in the support of seniors in Bowness.  This is because they consistently provide more than just basic care, they provide a safe place to build a peer group, and create friendships.  It is very rewarding to spend time chatting with people who use this facility as a social hub and listening to them share their stories of Calgary Bow.

  I have also been working closely with great organizations such as Carya, and The Way In Network which make up a collaboration of four agencies. These great organizations provide outreach to vulnerable older adults and their families who live in the north, west, and central areas of Calgary. Their contact information is: 403- SENIORS (403 736-4677). Or click the button below to visit their website.

There have been so many special opportunities to connect with our community over this past month. On February 8th, all over the world people celebrated the beginning of a new year. There were plenty of events and ceremonies to attend, with dancing and offerings. I learned a lot about the Chinese zodiac and what the animals and their associated element represent. 2016 is the year of the "Fire Monkey".

I also met with Mr. Barry Heck, president and CEO of Winsport. A not-for-profit organization, with a vested interest in building an active and healthy community all over the city. In talking with people all around Calgary-Bow I began to see just how important this facility is to our riding. Barry was kind enough to tour the various facilities with me. I know that so many in our community value and utilize our park. I feel blessed to have such an important and valuable community facility like Winsport in my riding. The park offers activities year round, with lessons and programs for all age groups. I will include their website information below.

One of the unique relationships that Winsport has with Calgary-Bow is with the National Sports School. This CBE School is located within the park and school Trustee Joy Bowen-Eyre joined me in a tour and meeting with Principal Ken Weipert, Vice Principal Rob Jewan. What’s really unique about this school is that it provides the flexibility and encouragement to students for them to pursue their athletic and academic needs. Did you know that 10% of the Canada's athletes who performed in the last Olympic games had connections to the National Sport School.

As many of you know, I am an advocate for women's rights and whenever I can I like to participate in educational events and promote equality.

  I was so honored to be invited to speak at the "Women, Business and Law 2016: GETTING TO EQUAL" event which is part of a larger initiative put forward by the World Bank. This was a fantastic opportunity to speak with peers and to speak on behalf of Minister McLean, Status of Women on our own governments work to help women in this province. Equality truly benefits everyone.

  I was also invited to sit on the "Unbitten Tongues" Panel put on by The Women In Leadership Initiative, and the Department of Status of Women. I had a great discussion around the ways women can contribute to the advancement, transform, and lead the conversation in the work place but also in all aspects of our lives. I was joined by three other inspiring panelists, Dana DiTomaso, Shari Graydon, and Miranda Jimmy. I found that the conversation didn't end at the panel as a received questions and comments and stories in the weeks after from women who attended the event.

  On Valentines day this year I attended and spoke at the 8th Annual Valentines Day Women's Memorial March. Thank you to the organizers for putting together this important and moving ceremony. Our government is in full support on the national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The lives of Indigenous Women and Girls must be Valued, and respected. We marched together. I was joined by MLA Biran Malkinson, MLA Michael Connolly, MLA Karen McPherson, MLA Graham D. Sucha and MLA Anam Kazim.

  One of the best things about being MLA for Calgary-Bow is the opportunity to celebrate the positive things that happen in the lives of the people here in our community. I would like to close this month's newsletter with two such moments.

Because of their age and out of respect for their privacy I will omit their names.

  On February 16th I met with the two young men who showed exceptional courage in an emergency. Their friend became instantly paralyzed in a freak tobogganing accident. With quick thinking the two boys called 911 and put their first aid training into action, stabilizing their friend from further spinal injury. I met the boys and their parents at their school and presented them with scrolls and Alberta Crest pins on behalf of the provincial government. This was definitely one of the highlights of my month! These two young men are assets to our community and have bright futures ahead of them!

  Throughout the month of February, thirty vendors from across the city competed to bring Calgary the very best hot chocolate. The people of Calgary voted and it was our very own Light Cellar out of Bowness who won! I recently had a tour of their little shop on Bowness road and tried a cup of this now famous hot chocolate. The Light Cellar offers the community cooking classes that promote optimal health. The little store offers unique foods like medicinal mushrooms, herbs and algae. And for the super adventurist types, dried insects and insect flours! I think the photo below helps express how they felt about their win!

  As always, my doors are always open. I invite you to call or email us and let us know if you have any questions or concerns that we might be able to help with. I am here to listen, learn and work hard on your behalf. I am so proud to be the MLA for Calgary-Bow!