Grande Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton was among the 20 attendees at a recent Alberta Mid-Sized Cities Mayor’s Caucus meeting in Calgary.
Clayton says discussions were plentiful and it was another productive meeting.
“We talked about updating ourselves on our advocacy priorities and we recently had a strategic planning session in Grande Prairie. We had an opportunity in Calgary to listen to six of the candidates running for the vacant leadership position in the United Conservative Party.”
After they had their strategic planning priorities session in Grande Prairie, the leaders have begun honing in on what’s next. The three priorities are capital funding, community safety and wellness, and health care.
“We had an opportunity to pose questions to the leadership candidates around those topics. All of the candidates recognize that there are needs and concerns with Alberta Health Services. Especially in municipalities like ours where we see an increased need on a daily basis. Councils across the province are hearing from their communities on what changes need to be made to the system,” she explains.
“At a local level, there are needs and there are discussions happening around what we can do to not only attract but retain general practitioners. The current regional hospital is not fully operational and AHS is doing a lot of recruitment, however, we’re also losing some doctors. We try to work daily with AHS to see what we can do to help.”
Clayton feels that something that could help is training local people at local municipalities.
“At a Polytechnic in for example Red Deer or Grande Prairie, if you train them locally they typically stay locally. There are more conversations ongoing about how we could make that happen,” she says.
Emergency Medical Services is a concern as well, not just in Grande Prairie.
“EMS staff and the ambulances themselves get pulled into the big cities through a callout. It then becomes hard for the workers and ambulances to get back to the municipalities that they are from. There’s a provincial EMS group working to find solutions. This will remain a priority for mid-sized city mayors,” she says.
The group is very specific and hones in on the needs of mid-sized cities. The leaders represent 35 provincial constituencies and more than 1,000,000 people. The next Mid-Sized Mayors Caucus meeting will take place in Airdrie in September.