Town & Country – April 10, 2018 NDP proposes no-go zone outside abortion clinics

Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette said that regardless of one’s position on abortion, it is a legal right that government is obligated to protect. 

“As the government, we are obligated if people are accessing a legitimate health service that they’re not being intimidated, shamed or bullied for doing so,” he said. 

“I just think it is unfortunate that we need to put this type of legislation into plat, and I have respect for diverse opinions on this issue,” Piquette added.

Membership Statement – Athabasca Coalition 4 Success – December 5, 2017

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Recently I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by the Athabasca Coalition 4 Success, and I was so impressed with what they’ve accomplished that I want to share it with members of the Assembly here today.

Madam Speaker, as a parent of a child with special needs I know from direct experience how difficult it can be to find appropriate summer care, especially in rural areas. The partners who make up the Athabasca Coalition 4 Success recognize this and have created a unique summer program in Athabasca to help youth grow.

This initiative allows community partners to work together to help children and youth attend events and activities in their community on a regular and consistent basis, to interact with their peers, develop social skills, and have the opportunity to successfully participate in community events. What’s more, they do this by leveraging existing funding streams and capacities.

Over the course of the summer children who participate have shown amazing progress in achieving developmental goals. As just one example, at the start of the program almost none of the children were able to stay with activities until they were finished, but at the end almost the entire group was able to do so.

I want to thank the many partners who made this initiative happen, including AHS, ACS, ACSS, Aspen View public schools, Athabasca county FCSS, Whispering Hills Day Care Society, and Aspen Collaborative Services.

Although we often speak of the challenges of providing services in rural areas, there are also great advantages, one of the greatest being just how interconnected everyone in smaller communities is. The groups that form the Coalition 4 Success are a perfect example of local organizations working in partnership to answer a local need, and it is a model that other communities might want to look closely at.

Thank you for your time.

Athabasca Advocate – December 5, 2017 Helping kids by their powers combined

Community services band together to help children who have special needs or behavioural problems

Athabasca’s community service organizations have banded together to help special needs children with a program like none other in the province.

The Coalition 4 Success presented to Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette about its unique program on Dec. 1 at the Athabasca County Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) building.

The Coalition 4 Success provides additional supports for children with behavioural problems or special needs during the summer months, hiring extra staff for the Whispering Hills Day Care summer care programming.

Those staff help special needs children integrate with the day care’s general programming while kids are out of school, ensuring parents have a program they can turn to for child care during the summer.

“Athabasca has a lot of community programs for students,” said local school therapist Jenifer Borgen. “But unfortunately, what we were finding was when our students have behavioural challenges, they aren’t able to successfully attend those groups.”

To meet the demand for programming that can better accommodate special needs, a variety of Athabasca organizations – including Athabasca County FCSS, Aspen Collaborative Services, Whispering Hills Day Care and Aspen View Public Schools – came together to form the Coalition 4 Success.

By pooling resources, the coalition was able to fund the new program, which has run out of Whispering Hills Day Care over the past two summers. Childcare licensing supervisor Gloria Vanderburgh said the organizations were able to work together well to create and maintain the program.

“We came to the table talking about what we can do, not what we can’t do,” Vanderburgh said.

The program assisted nine children in 2016 and six children in 2017. The additional staff work with the children to adapt programming as needed to ensure it suits the child. 

“There’s staff that can stay behind and they can plan something specific to what they want to do,” Vanderburgh said. “It provides that flexibility to children.”

According to the Coalition 4 Success, the additional support has resulted in those children being better able to form friendships and work on social skills, as well as reducing the amount of social and emotional support they require in school.

“Making sure that kids are able to take part,” said Athabasca County FCSS manager Debbie Woods. “So those kids aren’t ostracized. They’re part of the community.”

The coalition is unique in the province, although groups in Edson are exploring a similar model, according to regional manager of Aspen Collaborative Services Sandra Zesko.

The program is limited to children six to 12, the same age range for the Whispering Hills Day Care summer programming. The cost for the Coalition 4 Success program is approximately $5,000 for staffing, although Woods said that does not include lot of things provided in-kind, such as the use of the Whispering Hills Day Care facility.

Piquette complimented the program and said it might be a model that would work well elsewhere.

“This is something that if it makes sense here, it makes sense in Edson, (it) makes sense in a whole lot of other communities, especially if you’re leveraging existing funding streams,” Piquette said. “A real success story that can definitely make a big impact on the lives of children (and) their parents.”

Redwater Review – December 5, 2017 Health Minister Hoffman Tours Redwater Hospital

Alberta Minister of Health and deputy premier Sarah Hoffman toured the Redwater Health Care Centre Nov. 29.

“I love getting out to see front line health care,” said Hoffman, adding that she tours a facility about once per week. She reads numerous reports about rural health care facilities and needs to get out and see them.

Hoffman described her visit as “business as usual,” and when asked, said Redwater’s hospital is not being considered for closing. Hoffman said she came to see the Redwater hospital because Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette had extended to her the Town of Redwater’s request for her to visit.

“Colin is a strong advocate for the community,” said Hoffman.

Mayor Mel Smith said, “We knew she (Hoffman) has been touring other areas, so we put in a call to Colin Piquette.”

The Redwater hospital opened on Jan. 1, 1973.


Alberta Minister of Health and deputy premier Sarah Hoffman posed for a picture with Redwater mayor Mel Smith and some members of council before she toured the Redwater Health Care Centre Nov. 29. In the photo are councillors Joanne Williams (Front L-R) and Connie Butcher, Hoffman, and Smith with coun. Dave McRae (Back L-R), Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette and coun. Les Dorosh. Story on front page.


Athabasca Advocate – October 31, 2017

Hannah Lawson

$3.1M EMS station complete in Wabasca; New four-bay station something the community “has been waiting a long time for”


Emergency Medical Services personnel in Wabasca/Desmarais are now operating out of a brand new $3.1-million station, completed this fall.

Dignitaries and community members gathered at the new four-bay station Oct. 12 for the centre’s grand opening.

“It’s going to have a positive impact,” said Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette in an interview. “What’s happened is previous to this, they had the one ambulance stationed out of the (healthcare centre) and the other one was stationed in another part of town.”

The new EMS station is right next to the Wabasca/Desmarais Healthcare Centre, and features “modern, comfortable lodgings” for EMS crews and a conference room.

Alberta Health minister Sarah Hoffman said in an AHS press release the facility’s completion “shows our commitment to providing high quality healthcare” in the province.

“The new station is something we know the community has been waiting a long time for. We are listening to their concerns as we work to make life better for families in Wabasca-Desmarais,” she said.

Marian Wolitski, who served on the Lesser Slake Lake Health Advisory Council until about three months ago, said members have “harped on” getting the new facility for years.

“I brought it up that it was required because they didn’t really have any place for the ambulance, and the staff really didn’t have any place to stay,” he said. “They stayed right in the hospital, in the rooms there.”

The former government did approve the project, but Wolitski said it was delayed for three years.

“When the new government came in they promised they would get it done, and they started construction last fall,” he said.

“It actually was a need, it wasn’t one of our wants. They had one ambulance staying outside. Of course in the winter that’s not the best, because you have to have the vehicle running 24 hours and seven days a week,” Wolitski said. “That created a few extra problems, if it stalled or anything like that, you’d have frozen drugs which they’d have to remove or replace them.”

Freed up space in the healthcare centre formerly used by EMS personnel is now being used to create a permanent area for occupational therapy and physiotherapy services, along with staff training, according to the EMS press release.

The project was funded through the Government of Alberta‘s Infrastructure Maintenance program. Local EMS staff have been operating out of the centre since the beginning of October.

Athabasca Advocate – October 31, 2017

Hannah Lawson

Health minister visits Athabasca; Alberta Health minister tours Athabasca Auxiliary Association’s nearly complete $7,157 family room project



Alberta Deputy Premier and Health Minister Sarah Hoffman visited Athabasca Oct. 26 to speak with local councils and tour the Athabasca Healthcare Centre.

“One of the things I’m really excited about is seeing in northern communities, outside of Edmonton and Calgary particularly, you have a real opportunity to see the commitment that community members have for their facilities,” Hoffman said in an interview.

Hoffman visited the Athabasca Healthcare Centre Auxiliary Association’s latest almost-complete project, a former smoke room transformed into a family room.

Heather Wallach, past auxiliary president, said the family room has been a “catch-all” room until the auxiliary decided to make it into a family room any folks with terminally ill family members checked in at the healthcare centre.

“AHS (Alberta Health Services) probably would not have funded that, and you know, you feel that these things are important,” she said. “If family is living away and have to spend time with a loved one there, and want to be at their side, kind of thing, that’s why we did that.”

Renovations to the family room included installing up-to-code furniture, including a love seat that pulls out for overnight visits, appliances, and the last step is blinds for privacy.

In total, the family room project will cost $7,157.

This year the Alberta Healthcare Auxiliaries Association celebrates 70 years of volunteer efforts to the Alberta Healthcare System. According to a 2016 auxiliary fact sheet, there are 1,110 volunteers across the province that have fundraised $1,441,375, and have contributed 158,442 recorded volunteer hours donated in work to healthcare facilities.

Hoffman said she was also glad to see the wall of remembrance of projects completed by the local auxiliary association, and seeing every person who has lived and passed on named on the centre’s walls.

“It’s great to see these kinds of projects, and the auxiliary definitely has a long list of accomplishments. It’s nice to be able to see some of them first hand.”

Hoffman added the Alberta Government recently invested in $1.5 million into the Athabasca Healthcare Centre for maintenance and upkeep.

“While it isn’t necessarily the sexy projects we cut ribbons for, getting two new hot water boilers and a new chiller, and doing work on the roof, making sure it’s a safe place for patients to be, families to visit and staff to work… that’s an important investment in local community, and the skilled tradespeople that do those installs as well,” Hoffman said.

Members of the media were not invited to Hoffman’s meeting with Athabasca County and Town of Athabasca councils.

Athabasca Gutsy Walk – June 4, 2017

I’d like to thank the organizers for inviting me to be a part of the Gutsy Walk and all the volunteers that made it possible.  It was a privilege to attend such a well-organized and fun event.
I hope that there can be a better understanding of these diseases and that better treatments are found. Congratulations on raising over seven thousand dollars!

“This event speaks to the community spirit here in Athabasca. ”
-MLA Colin Piquette