Justice, health and social infrastructure are priorities for Red Deer in the 2020 provincial budget

Need more crown prosecutors, province-wide needle distribution protocol and debris strategy, residential treatment and increased affordable housing in Red Deer

RED DEER – With the speech from the throne and provincial budget anticipated Feb. 25, Red Deer City Council and administration will listen closely for some key items around justice, health, social and general municipal infrastructure.

The City of Red Deer is specifically looking for commitment and investment in crown prosecutors for Red Deer, a 24/7 permanent shelter and hospital expansion, as well as a commitment to maintain Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding, which was reduced in 2019 impacting The City’s overall capital plan going forward.

“This provincial budget is unlike any other as we continue working to respond to critical social and economic challenges that we hope will be provincially prioritized,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “Investment in a 24/7 permanent shelter and funding for Red Deer Regional Hospital expansion are critical needs that must be addressed for the health and wellbeing of our city as a whole. An investment in justice, especially additional crown prosecutors for Red Deer, is also a top priority to strengthen the court’s ability to uphold charges and obtain justice for victims of crime.”

In addition, The City of Red Deer continues to be concerned about potential downloading of provincial responsibilities to municipalities resulting in potential local tax impacts.

“The impacts of provincial downloading can be significant, especially at a time when many citizens are already feeling the pressures of difficult economic times. While we support the provincial government’s efforts in furthering financial sustainability and efficiency, we are working locally to maintain service and program delivery that responds to the economic and social challenges we face today as a city, and as a province,” said Veer.

As part of the priorities highlighted at the city council meeting Feb. 21, the City of Red Deer noted its commitment to community safety and crime reduction with a continued focus on advocacy for additional crown prosecutors, as well as a need for a province-wide needle distribution protocol and debris strategy, residential treatment and increased affordable housing in Red Deer.

“It is our responsibility, as local government, to build a safe community while providing stability to businesses and residents in our city, especially in times of economic volatility,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “Earlier this year, Red Deer City Council approved the 2020 budget based on the best information we have right now, and it is our hope that this provincial budget reflects and acknowledges the needs of our citizens and our community at a time when we are working to maintain services and infrastructure for 2020 and beyond.”

The speech from the throne will take place on Tuesday, February 25 with the provincial budget on Thursday, February 27. Upon the release of the 2020 provincial budget, the administration will conduct an in-depth review to fully understand its impact on Red Deer and its citizens.

City of Red Deer photo