By Quay Evano
Alberta Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman met up with Filipino Community Leaders in Calgary in late February to discuss different issues that affect the Filipino community in the province and how the present government can help with these issues. The conversation revolved around supporting the health of seniors, children, and families.
Minister Hoffman said, “We’re working to build new health care supports and programs that are culturally sensitive and respectful. No child should be denied free and proper healthcare in Alberta. In terms of elder abuse, it is absolutely unacceptable and I know any time you talk about abuse, and often with family’s abuse, it brings up so many different emotions and concerns. Ensuring there are safe phone numbers for people to call. We don’t want “Hi, I’m from the government, we are here to barge in someone’s house,” but for people to report and to be able to ask for help. I’ve talked to people who say “My children have threatened to take my grandchildren away and that’s emotional abuse, right?” And then of course the physical and economic that happens as well. We have literature that we can probably use some help getting translated in Tagalog and finding ways to make sure that is in community spaces where it can be helpful. Maybe, that’s something I can work with the leadership in this room so that we can get that out so that people know what’s available to them.”
The discussion also touched on the good news of Alberta’s economic growth. Alberta has experienced one of the deepest and biggest oil and gas economic downturns since the 1930s with thousands of Albertans losing their jobs. But according to Hoffman, “lately the economy of Alberta is leading the country with a GDP growth of 4.5 percent and the deficit dropping by 1.4 billion dollars.” She said the growth was driven by the oil prices getting more stable and foreign businessmen investing in the country. “So, definitely now that the price of oil is looking to be a bit more stable than it was a year or two ago, and it’s on the uptake as opposed to be being in the depths. This is good news for investors, who are looking to invest in Alberta. We’ve seen Japanese investment arrive recently and a number of private investors from around the world. We want to ensure that Alberta continues to be that place of opportunity and the big piece for us is to be able to say and show that our pipeline to the West Coast is moving forward. So, the Premier Rachel Notley is not backing down on that. We’ve got our approvals from the NAB. We are looking for the Federal government pushing this project. We know it is in the national interest. And any legal attempts by BC government to stop it need to be addressed because this is a project that we know is more sustainable, it is better for the environment than transporting on trains and other methods and we want to ensure that we all have the opportunity to benefit from the prosperity of Alberta,” Hoffman reaffirmed.
The Alberta government also did a three-and-a-half to four percent increase in health and education budget among other initiatives to provide stability, which resulted in the economygetting stronger with ninety-thousand jobs created in 2017,
This good news was widely welcomed by the Filipino community in Calgary as Filipinos were among the thousands who got laid off in the past four years.
Jay Zapata of Migrante Alberta said, “Magiging maganda at beneficial sa mga kababayan nating Filipino lalo na dito sa Alberta particular sa Calgary kasi maraming na lay-off from the oil and gas services, so I think yung news ni Minister Hoffman is magiging magandang balita para sa mga Pilipino na magkakaroon ulit ng maganda at stable na trabaho lalo na sa oil and gas industry.”
Philippine Consul General for Alberta and Saskatchewan Julius Torres hopes that the economic growth of Alberta will continue to grow and hopes Filipinos will play a major role in making it happen. “We are very happy to note that Alberta’s economy is going up. I have to think that the Filipino migrants and the temporary foreign workers have played a big role in that increase because as you know Alberta is a top destination for Filipino migrants and Filipino temporary foreign workers. Hopefully this growth can translate into more and better jobs for Filipinos and of course we are happy to note that the Filipinos are getting their act together so they can present a solid community and they can work for their own benefits and welfare,” Consul General Torres said.
The economic growth has been seen in all sectors with the manufacturing, export and oil gas industries bouncing back on their feet.