By Lethbridge Herald on October 26, 2018.
I have a routine every spring and fall. When it’s time to change the clocks, that’s my signal to do a few other things, too: I check the batteries in my smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, I rotate the food in my emergency preparedness kit, check the date on my fire extinguisher, and I change my furnace filter. There’s just something about the time change that helps me remember these other small chores. Daylight Saving Time is ending Sunday Nov. 4, and we’ll soon head in to whatever winter has in store for us.
There’s one more thing most of us can do to get ready for winter, and that’s to get our flu vaccinations. Public vaccination clinics opened Oct. 15, and this year it’s easier than ever to get your flu shot. There have been clinics at Park Place mall and Lethbridge Seniors Citizens Organization, regular clinics at Exhibition Park, and many local pharmacies are offering drop-in services to people five years and older. We often talk about “the flu” as though it’s a harmless illness that just leaves you tired and sniffly for a few days. For vulnerable people, though, such as young children, seniors, pregnant people and people with chronic health conditions, influenza can be deadly. Last year there were over 9,000 confirmed cases of influenza, and 92 deaths. While I certainly don’t want to be sick myself, I also don’t want to be responsible for making someone else sick. The more people who get the vaccine, the safer we make our community.
Earlier this month the government announced that we are increasing Legal Aid Alberta’s funding by $70 million over the next four years. Legal Aid Alberta manages the province’s legal aid program, which ensures that all Albertans have access to legal representation. We know that in order for our justice system to work for everyone, people should have fair access, regardless of their income. Increasing funding helps to ensure justice is timely, and court delays and backlogs are minimized. We are not talking about just a few affected people — last year over 60,000 Albertans accessed legal aid. That’s why we have increased legal aid funding by 72 per cent since 2015. A fair and accessible justice system needs stable and predictable funding.
The Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers was presented this month, and I was thrilled to see a community member from Lethbridge on the list. Congratulations to Alex Hann for winning this prestigious award. Alex has been a tireless fundraiser for the Coaldale library and hospital, and has served with Rotary, the U of L Senate, and the Lethbridge Regional Police Commission for many years. Thank you for your time and passion, Alex, and thank you for inspiring others to give of their time as well.
Congratulations also to high-school student Dylan Taylor, who has been chosen to serve on the Minister’s Youth Council, which advises the Minister of Education on educational issues. Dylan is a French Immersion student with a passion for the arts, who volunteers at the Chinook Regional Hospital, sits on student council, and works a part-time job. That’s busy enough for several people! I am glad to know that the Minister of Education will benefit from his perspective, and I fully expect to see him winning medals like the one above in a couple of decades.
Finally, as you may have heard, cannabis is now legal in Canada. If you plan to consume cannabis, though, you need to know the laws in Alberta. You must be 18-plus, you can only purchase from licensed stores or through the government’s website, edibles are not yet legal, and it is illegal to drive high. There are more rules, and you can learn about them at aglc.ca/cannabis.
The next session of legislature begins on Oct. 29 and runs until sometime in December. You can watch online Monday-Thursday at assemblyonline.assembly.ab.ca. You can contact my constituency office at 403-329-4644, or Lethbridge.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shannon Phillips is the NDP MLA for Lethbridge West. Her column appears monthly.