By Lethbridge Herald on January 2, 2024.
Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – firstname.lastname@example.org
Reflecting on a year that saw her retain her position as Lethbridge West MLA representing the New Democratic Party, Shannon Phillips says it is an honour to do so for the third term in a row.
“It was a very large campaign. I think we deepened our relationships, friendships and networks all across the city because hundreds and hundreds of people worked on the Lethbridge East and West campaigns and it can only be positive as we go forward,” said Phillips.
She said people in the community keep her well informed on what is actually happening here, what people are worried about and what their priorities are, even down to the level of neighbourhood issues.
And those are positive outcomes from the May election campaign, Phillips says.
On a not-so-positive note about 2023, Phillips talks about the fact that when she was reflecting on 2022, she mentioned the health care crisis Lethbridge was experiencing then and how it continued through 2023.
“We still have that healthcare crisis. It may even be worse. The government will try to spin and lie to people all they like, but you can still not find a family physician if you need a doctor. There’s still no doctors taking new patients in Lethbridge. We still have a shortage of many specialists, we still have people in Lethbridge driving up the highway to Calgary at great time and expense because there is a lack of healthcare here in southern Alberta,” said Phillips.
She said healthcare in Alberta was not always this way – not until the United Conservative Party created a crisis in healthcare starting in 2019, which still exists.
“Secondly, we have a provincial government that did not run on gambling with our CPP. They lied to us during the election campaign, they hid their plans and just a few weeks after the election they busted out with an $8 million propaganda campaign to sell us on a plan to take us out of the CPP,” said Phillips.
She said in Lethbridge and across the province people have been reaching out to their MLAs to oppose that plan, and nowhere has that been more the case than in Lethbridge with people reaching out to her because they know they will be heard by their local MLA.
“And it just so happens also to be my critic file. So we will continue to listen to people in this city and beyond about this. We will have in-person town halls happening all throughout southern Alberta in January and folks should go to albertasfuture.ca for more details on that,” said Phillips.
She said the NDP will keep fighting until the government actually abandons their plan to take Alberta out of the CPP.
“We will not stop, and the good news is the vast majority of Albertans agree with us. At some level it’s almost political malpractice for the government to continue to push ahead with this plan, but they seem to be willing to do that despite the message that it sends to people when they say hands off our CPP and they just continue,” said Phillips.
She says another issue Albertans are facing is affordability. She says that even though she is aware that the government cannot do everything, what they are able to do is not being done.
“We need to make sure that people’s costs are kept in check in ways that the province can. That is to say electricity, utility bills and insurance, school fees, those kinds of things. People are falling behind, people can’t catch a break,” said Phillips.
She says the government brags about the good times in the economy, but the reality is that Albertans are not feeling it, they are feeling like they are stretched thin everywhere they turn, and they just can’t seem to get ahead.
“People aren’t asking for much, they’re asking the government to take care of a decently functioning healthcare, education and social services system, fill the potholes if you will, and use what we have in terms of our control over post-secondary education, jobs, the economy, that’s all within the provincial government to make life a little better for people,” said Phillips.
She says this approach will help Albertans raise a family, pay their bills and have a little bit leftover to maybe go on a vacation every once in a while.
“That’s falling more and more out of reach for people, and it shouldn’t be. We are a wealthy place, we should take care of people first,” said Phillips.
She says another issue that continues to burden Albertans is a lack of affordable housing at every level, from social housing to the housing supply in general, including the private sector.
“The government has done nothing on this, and people’s rents are going up. We are seeing a lot more homelessness, and this is an area where the provincial government does have some responsibilities and they can’t do everything, but the responsibilities that they’ve been given to uphold are not doing, so I think we need to hold them to account on that, and get on with it and build more housing,” said Phillips.