By Cole Parkinson
Alta Newspaper Group – Vauxhall
Cardson-Siksika MLA Joseph Schow wants to ensure constituents the United Conservative government is doing everything they can to help Albertans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
From the World Health Organization situation report on March 24, globally there have been 372,757 confirmed cases and 16,231 deaths while Canada has 1,432 cases and 20 deaths. According to alberta.ca, there have been 358 cases confirmed in Alberta.
“I want to assure Albertans that we take this crisis incredibly seriously and our priorities are simple. First, ensure the health and safety of Albertans. Second, support their financial stability. And third, support the economy,” stated Schow in a video released on his official Facebook page on March 18.“We’re taking incredible measures to make sure that we have all of the resources geared toward supporting our front line workers who are doing incredible work every single day to help slow down the spread of the virus so they are not being overwhelmed.”
One of the first steps taken was to shut down Kindergarten-Grade 12 schools, universities and colleges on March 17.
“That includes declaring a state of public health emergency. In doing so, we have cancelled classes from K-12 and university. We have closed down churches and restaurants and bars. We have also asked people not to meet in groups larger than 50 which unfortunately (for) constituents (that means) things like weddings and funerals,” continued Schow.
With a shut down of all schools in the province, Schow also stated the government realizes the burden that places on families with young children. On top of that, with many businesses closing their doors to prevent the further spread, he highlighted some of the UCP’s plans in terms of helping Albertans on the financial side.
“In addition to that, we understand that people have financial stresses put upon them. This morning (March 18), the federal government introduced a $27 billion stimulus package and last night at 1 a.m., we (United Conservatives) passed our $57 billion budget to make sure government continues to operate after April 1.”
“But, sometimes financial pressures go beyond what we planned for which is why we committed another $60 million for support of our municipalities, our seniors and our non-profits so they can continue on with their essential work,” he said. “Furthermore, we have pledged another $50 million towards those who are self-isolating. We recognize there are financial pressures on many people and we don’t want them to have to make the difficult decision between going to work and potentially infecting other people with the virus if they’re sick or staying at home and doing the right thing. So we are working out a plan that we can distribute this money to those that are self-isolating and there will be more information on that to come.”
Utility payments have also been highlighted by the provincial government.
In an effort to help Albertans who may not be able to make their payments, they are putting a 90-day hold on that.
“Furthermore, heating and keeping the lights on in your home shouldn’t have to be a difficult choice you have to make so that is why we are going to defer payments on utilities of natural gas and electricity for 90 days. We are asking municipalities to do the same thing for water,” stated Schow.
Student loans are also being held off on as well as corporate income tax.
“In addition to that, we are also differing student loan payments interest-free for six months. So many people are in the workforce who recently graduated from university and they are feeling the pressures of student loans and at the time of having a new job, the office or where they are working may have been closed or their job is temporarily suspended or they may have been let go. These are unfortunate times and we want to make sure that they are not feeling the pressure of paying back student loans when there are so many other things that need their attention at the moment,” said Schow. “ATB will be suspending loan payments incorporations in Alberta. We are also suspending the collection of corporate income tax.”
For Alberta farmers and ranchers, Farm Credit Canada has contributed $5 billion to help.
To speak once again to constituents, Schow preached to continue to practice all guidelines that have been laid out in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“This is a difficult time for Alberta. We must understand that it is on us to do everything we can to slow down the spread of this virus. That includes things like social distancing, continually washing your hands and practising good general hygiene practices. We also recognize the government can do so much and the rest falls upon us as everyday citizens so please do what’s right. Stay home if you are feeling sick and having flu-like symptoms but also don’t neglect, if you are feeling well, your neighbours. Don’t neglect your friends and your family. Albertans are strong, resilient people. We come together and we support each other. Our government is doing everything we can to support you and we ask you to do what you can to support your neighbours, your families and your friends,” he said. “I’m honoured to be your representative for Cardston-Siksika. I work tirelessly for you every day and while my office is currently closed, we are still taking and answering emails, phone calls and other messages to ensure the work that we do here, the work you hired me to do in April of last year continues on uninterrupted. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to my office at email@example.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. In the meantime, I will continually keep you updated on any breaking information you need to know so you feel you are being informed on the last information coming out from the government and anything regarding this pandemic we are currently facing.”
To keep up to date with MLA Schow, you can visit his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/josephschowuc