Our riding is known in the province as one with the poorest demographic. While that is not a uniform assessment, there are areas that are continuously used as the site for social housing and for social services for the most vulnerable. While we are a generous and helpful group of communities, our yards are full, so to speak. And, there is no indication from the current government, or from city council, that this will change.
I do not accept that position. The millions of dollars in revitalization money given for Alberta Avenue and for Chinatown are wasted if the problems of homelessness and addictions are not dealt with effectively. As Edmonton’s most recent homelessness count demonstrates, the number of people experiencing homelessness is on the rise, despite the efforts of current government. And, the vast majority of those experiencing homelessness find themselves in our riding. The renewed work on upgrading LRT stations and the millions the province has given for these project is wasted if people still see these areas as dangerous.
As our riding’s MLA, I will advocate and push for this to truly change. The Alberta Party has made some of the most robust plans to eliminate poverty in our province. So well organized by one of the Alberta Party’s sitting MLAs, Karen McPherson, that the current government are claiming it as one of their own.
I will push for the proper distribution of social services throughout urban areas, and not concentrated in one neighbourhood as they presently are under the NDP government. I will adamantly insist on the distribution of social housing into several areas of our urban environments, not just in Highlands-Norwood like they are today. Extra land around schools will be reserved for such housing, something the city of Calgary has adopted on its own accord. I will actively work on legislation that allows for the development of more housing options, and better integration from developers, such as micro-house communities.
And, most importantly, the Alberta Party will work to strengthen the support for mental illness and addictions, abuse, and medical services throughout the province, in regional centres and in rural communities, so that people who would otherwise be homeless in Edmonton do not have to leave their communities to seek assistance. With our economic strategies, we aim to make viable economic options available throughout the province, thereby removing the pressure on our larger urban centres to deal with huge influxes of vulnerable people. I will advocate for higher wages for people who are directly involved working with people experiencing homelessness and addictions so that they have a salary befitting the work they do. We will implement a plan to hire several hundred more such people, allowing for the help to reach those most difficult to house and in the rural communities, and taking much pressure off of the current professionals. And, yes, we would be looking at other options for housing, aside from the lengthy and costly current model of building new facilities that house only a fraction of those in need.
As our Highlands-Norwood MLA, I am the one who will make the revitalization of our riding a reality, improving its safety, its business viability, and helping its poorest residents in the most meaningful and effective ways.