By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
We asked Little Bow MLA candidates in the upcoming Alberta Election May 5 a few questions. Here are responses from Liberal candidate Helen McMenamin.
*What do you and/or the party believe to be the three most pressing issues in the Little Bow riding? What are some solutions?
“Education, including early childhood education and day care, health care including seniors’ well-being and municipal infrastructure. All issues Liberals have thought through and worked out solutions,” said McMenamin.
“We will hire 1,500 teachers and support staff, build, staff and supply schools on the priority list. We will increase funding for early childhood education and day care. Where possible, schools will be built as community hubs where public health, seniors, sports and arts facilities are available close to home. Kitchens will provide for breakfast and nutritious cooked lunches to alleviate malnourishment and help learning. Increased FCSS funding will provide for non-classroom education in social and personal skills development. We must invest in our future generations,” she added.
McMenamin added the Liberals will provide beds for long-term, sub-acute and hospice care — as well as higher levels of home care and other supports such as property tax grants and etc. to allow those who need to receive that more appropriate care outside acute care hospitals — at or closer to home. This will free up beds for people, McMenamin added, who need hospital services and shorten surgery and ER wait times.
“We will also invest in injury prevention and chronic disease prevention and control including mental health issues to diminish pain, suffering and loss of earning potential to the individual. Injuries and inadequately treated chronic disease are enormously costly to the health system. For example, diabetes control with blood testing strips, needles and etc. Until recently covered by government, costs $65 to $100 a month, but the cost of treating the consequences of poorly controlled diabetes is enormous and crippling,” she noted.
“We will legislate to allow municipalities to develop their own funding models. We will also provide a population-based fund for all communities.”
*How can you and/or the party deliver the issues of your constituents to the Alberta legislature better and more efficiently with solutions and feedback to voters? Do you believe there is a disconnect between voters and elected politicians?
“Listen to constituents by holding ‘office days’ in every community in the riding. Studying the issues raised, reporting back to the communities affected by a particular issue and discussing solutions with them and in the legislature. Perhaps, I’ll be able to help communities within and outside the riding and will be able to learn from one another and find solutions. If necessary, I’ll bring up anything that blocks progress towards solutions,” said McMenamin.
*Why should voters vote for you? Not, why voters should vote for the party.
“I’m interested in everything, in everybody’s challenges and dreams. If there are obstacles, things that cause the issues I want to help remove them,” she said.
“I will listen to constituents, research the issue and do my best to resolve the issue — not only for that person but for others in the same situation. That’s the great privilege of being a member of the legislature — the ability to make things better for many people, not just for one person at a time. I am energetic and tenacious — some might say stubborn — in my pursuit of solutions to problems,” she added.
*What innovative ideas do you and/or the party have in order for Alberta to have a variety of revenue sources, so the province doesn’t rely mostly on the gas and oil and agricultural industries?
“Education. Elimination of taxes for companies earning under $500,000 a year. This will allow the entrepreneurs, the dreamers among us, to grow and develop companies in any field to have more flexibility in their early development.”
*Where do you and/or the party stand on taxes? A provincial sales tax? Albertans paying health care premiums? Are there too many cuts to seniors’ programs and care?
“Yes, there are too many cuts to seniors’ programs and care. Seniors deserve to live in comfort and dignity — the way we treat the least able reflects on all of us as citizens,” she said.
“Progressive personal income tax, with most Albertans paying a slightly lower rate than the present 10 per cent. The ‘one per centers’ would pay 15 per cent on the part of their income over $250,000.”
“We would reassign the unused portion of the Carbon Capture and Storage funding — $760 million — the other $1.24 million has been handed to energy companies, as what Mr. Prentice calls ‘a science experiment.’”
“We would collect unpaid corporate taxes of $800,000,” she noted.
“Corporate profits over $500,000 would be taxed at 12 per cent.”
McMenamin believes Alberta has much more to offer corporations than the lowest tax rates. Nigeria, she explained, has a corporate tax rate of zero and it’s a very rich country but few of us would want to live there.
“The Alberta Advantage is not about being the cheapest tax regime. Running a successful province, like running a successful business, is about figuring out your strengths and making the most of them. Being cheapest is one such strategy but it’s not always the best for anybody but the shareholders. Alberta has geographic advantages — not always ideal but good. We have good transportation infrastructure and legal frameworks. Albertans are great employees — smart, well-educated and open to new ideas. Some areas may beat us in some ways but we have some pretty big advantages and it’s a poor salesman who always wants to sell by being the cheapest,” said McMenamin.
*What ideas do you and/or the party have on fixing rural health care throughout the province, especially in Little Bow, including ambulance and urgent care centres? What are your thoughts on infrastructure and education funding in the province?
“Provide care and support, as well as better public health services close to home or at home. Use medical staff to the full extent of their practice — such as paramedics and LPNs can supplement care, clinic staff can ensure everybody listed at a clinic is offered appointments, such as mammograms to keep up-to-date with health checks. Encourage innovative projects — such as doctors on salary,” she said.
“I sit on the Health Advisory Council for Oldman River, part of Alberta Health Services South Zone and we have been able to bring issues to AHS and resolve, or move towards solutions for some issues with AHS. I recommend and would personally use this and parallel HAC for the north part of the constituency to resolve issues. We were particularly successful with ambulance issues in extreme southern Alberta,” she added.