Alberta election panel discusses issues facing families

Alberta families are watching this provincial election campaign closely for many reasons. With an eye on platforms surrounding health care, education, child care and seniors, there is no shortage of issues on the table that impacts them.

Ahead of Alberta’s 2019 election, Dallas Flexhaug sat down with a panel of experts to discuss those issues in depth.

When it comes to child care, Liz Elliot with Families That Work says it’s simply too expensive and families need help.

“The average cost of child care in Alberta is $11,000 per child per year. That is significant at this point,” Elliot said.

Elliot wants to see a tax credit to help families financially with child care. She has also called on the provincial parties to boost before and after-school care so it’s reasonable for families that have parents with careers.

Anita Turna with the Alberta Association of Child Care Operators echoes that, saying both affordability and accessibility need to improve.

“It makes it difficult for parents, specifically women to get into the workforce and start their careers, or continue their careers,” Turna said.

When it comes to education, Ellen Pervical with Calgary’s Child magazine says what she is hearing most from families is that they want fixes for high class sizes, but not to the detriment of other services.

“We know teachers are front line. They have the trust of their students and almost always the parents. It’s a safe place for students to go if they are having problems, but the teachers aren’t always equipped and trained to handle all the problems,” Pervical said.

“We would like to see earlier mental health screening. We would like to support our older students that maybe didn’t do so well in high school and have realized now that they want to go back and finish their education. We would like to see that accessible for them and affordable for them because often that’s prohibitive.”

On the topic of health care, Dr. Ted Jablonski said it all boils down to primary care.

“If you have good efficiency in primary care, you have healthier families across the board,” Jablonski said.

“I think it’s not being talked about much this election, because it’s not that sexy to talk about putting more money into primary care. But that’s really where the essence of it is. If you have a strong backbone, a strong foundation, everything else follows from that.”

Jablonski says seniors can be more protected with better primary care too.

“We have to take care of our seniors in our community. The notion of just having more and more long-term care beds or more and more facilities is only a solution for a certain segment of the population which can’t be managed in the community.”

When asked what she wants voters to think about when they head to the polls on April 16, Turna said they should “focus on what party is representing what their family needs the most.”

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