By Cole Parkinson
With three months down in 2021, Cardston-Siksika MLA Joseph Schow says the game plan for the rest of the year is similar to years past.
As the provincial government continues to deal with COVID-19, Schow says he plans to get out and hear from constituents with additional safety measures in place.
“You can expect more of the same — great people doing great things. For me, as your representative, you can continue to expect me to stand up and support what Cardston-Siksika is asking. I’ve been out knocking on doors and talking to constituents and making sure they are being supported and their voices are being heard. Of course, we’re taking all of the proper safety precautions and making sure they are in place. I’m just grateful to be their representative and grateful they put their trust in me with their votes. We’ll continue to earn that trust every day,” stated Schow.
In terms of what constituents are bringing forward, he says questions around vaccines and the COVID-19 pandemic continue to dominate the conversation.
While vaccines continue to trickle into Alberta, Schow says the UCP will continue to support Albertans during this rough time.
“They’re really asking about the future. You know ‘what’s on the horizon for the province’ and ‘what is the province doing?’ They’ve shared their concerns about everything going on in the province, and rightfully so. As a father of three, I have kids who want to go out and be with their friends. I would love nothing more than to go visit my brothers, my sister and my parents but it’s just not in the cards at this moment,” explained Schow.
“I hear things like that, and I know it’s hard, it’s so hard but I know in speaking with these people, they say ‘we also understand.’ Without a vaccine coming through, which I am very disappointed with the federal government that they have botched this roll-out, frankly. It has hurt our ability to get this province relaunched faster but I know we have an incredible minister (Doug Schwitzer) who has a relaunch plan. There’s a lot of investment in this budget and that’s part of his plan, and we’re looking forward to that,” continued Schow.
One thing he has heard residents in Cardston-Siksika say is how happy they are with the provincial government’s ability to adapt during the pandemic.
“When talking to constituents, they are happy, that unlike other provinces, we have not locked everybody down. That’s a term they have been using but not us because it’s not the right term for Alberta. We have over 99 per cent of businesses that have been opened recently and our four-step plan to relaunch and get people back to somewhat normal is an effective plan. Certainly, my constituents have asked me about that and they’ve shared concerns about certain portions but they understand it goes back to vaccinations and making sure if we do the right things now, we will be able to get back on track sooner than later. But they’re also happy. If you look at other provinces, you have churches closed, or curfews or stores closed down. We haven’t done that as a province. We have recognized we can’t move on without supporting the economy.”
A sticking point in getting Alberta back on track in a quick matter falls on the federal government says Schow.
With vaccines rolling out slower than anticipated, he says they should have been better prepared in getting them secured for Canadians.
“I’m very disappointed. I could go on for a while but I think the bottom line is I am very disappointed,” he said. “I think we could be doing so much better in this country in terms of getting back on track from this virus if only we had the vaccine coming in at a much faster pace. We’re just not, and frankly, I think that’s a failure of leadership on behalf of the prime minister. It’s very frustrating that my constituents are not able to do certain things they could do in the past. We were leading the country in vaccine roll-out as a province, and that was a real source of pride for us and for me as a member of the United Conservative caucus. We were leading the vaccine roll-out and all of a sudden the pause button has been hit. Not because of anything we had done, but because there is just no more vaccines.”