For the Lakeside Leader
Steps to create jobs, enhance health care and build the economy and pipelines were top priorities at an all-candidates forum April 3 in High Prairie.
All four Lesser Slave Lake candidates in the provincial election took part in the forum.
Incumbent MLA Danielle Larivee of the New Democratic Party faces United Conservative Party candidate Pat Rehn, Alberta Party candidate Vincent Rain and Suzette Powder of the Alberta Independence Party.
About 130 people attended the forum hosted at the Gordon Buchanan Recreation Centre.
Candidates supported more funding to build tourism in the local region.
“If elected, I will push for getting more funding to invest in tourism,” Rehn said. “We need a healthy private sector to support long-term tourism.”
Candidates responded to questions from the audience.
“We have a lot of work to do to build tourism infrastructure,” Larivee said. “Tourism is something we want to work on to highlight this wonderful place.”
Candidates want more health care services and physicians and professionals.
That includes more to address mental health.
“We need to work with healthcare professionals,” Rain said. “We have to know what they want in our rural communities.”
Recruiting has been a challenge for the local area, Larivee said.
“In rural Alberta, it’s very hard to recruit physicians,” Larivee said. “We work with the Rural Physician Action Plan and College of Physicians and other professionals to recruit to rural Alberta.”
The UCP candidate said that party has a priority to recruit.
“We need to get them into rural communities and have stability in rural areas,” Rehn said.
The party also wants to review the structure of upper management and funnel more funding to frontline workers.
“Our wait times are longer and our costs are higher,” Rehn said.
Powder said Alberta would have more funding for health care when the province separates from the rest of Canada.
During her opening remarks, she admitted her party’s focus.
“My party is a separation party,” Powder said. “Albertans deserve better government, government that listens to the people.”
Powder said the only way to have a sustainable provincial is to have an independent government.
Rain said his main focus is to help people understand Indigenous rights to help the province progress.
UCP and NDP candidates promoted their party platforms to create jobs.
“Our job-creation plan needs to happen to get the economy going,” Rehn said.
Larivee said the NDP’s diversification program creates jobs.
“We are working hard to develop our economy,” Larivee said.
Rehn added that a lower corporate tax would attract new business, jobs and add revenue.
“We need an active bustling private sector to employ more nurses and doctors,” Rehn said.
All candidates support the oil and energy industry.
They also agreed more needs to be done to fight racism. The forum was hosted by the High Prairie and Area Chamber of Commerce.
Election day in Alberta is April 16.
Advance polls are open April 9-13.