MP pushes for new hospital petition
Town council voices concern over TFW changes
Westlock-St. Paul MP Brian Storseth voiced his belief that the community needs to lobby for a new hospital facility, while speaking to Town of St. Paul council at last week’s regular council meeting, June 24.
Storseth visited town council to discuss a number of priorities and plans for the community and among the priorities was a petition for the construction of a new hospital in town.
“We have been dealing with the hospital and healthcare facilities. There’s been a study going on for the new hospital in town, and we need to put the word out,” said Storseth, adding, “We need to talk about this. If we want St. Paul to be the cornerstone of the Lakeland area, we need one of the best facilities.”
Storseth said it was important to take advantage of opportunities for such a plan when they come up.
“I believe a new hospital in St. Paul is imperative to support our growing community. The original portion of the St. Therese Hospital in St. Paul is over 50 years old and is unable to meet current health standards,” said Storseth in an email to the Journal, last week.
He said he has started a petition because of the need for the facility, which would include the necessary tools to support “an excellent frontline staff,” so they can provide the best care for the community.
Storseth also discussed the Temporary Foreign Workers Program town council last week. Coun. Dwight Wiebe started the discussion on the program.
“With the announcement of the TFW program which came out, correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like a cookie-cutter approach to the country,” said Weibe. “I say that because there are definitely jurisdictions that don’t need foreign workers … but here in Alberta, wow, we have some anxieties for foreign workers.”
Wiebe asked if there was a way to readjust the program’s criteria and qualifications, for certain jurisdictions with unique employment needs. Storseth asked the other members of council what they thought on the matter.
“We need them,” said Coun. Don Padlesky. “We just got back from Fort McMurray and it affects everyone. Talk to the majority of business owners and they really rely on those people. They’re having a tough time finding people to work.”
Coun. Judy Bogdan said, “They’re beneficial to our communities. I want to see something on the community level for better integration. These issues of bullying and abuse of foreign workers by sponsors have been prevalent.”
Mayor Glenn Andersen also weighed in on the issue.
“I see people working, I see business owners finally having enough staff to run businesses with the program here. We’re different than other places across Canada,” he said.
Storseth described the progress with the TFW program as an important battle for northeastern Alberta, noting it is important to dispel any myths about the program.
He explained the general plan for larger businesses is to see a decrease in the number of foreign workers being employed. An exemption to the plan is in place for small businesses staffed by 10 people or less.
“There is no way you can justify the program in areas with high unemployment, but in areas like ours, I’m pushing for an exemption, working with the minister,” said Storseth.
He added, “There are a lot of things to discuss, we don’t see this as a done deal.”