MLA Ron Orr

MLA Ron Orr

Two problems that need to be addressed in 2017

COLUMN: Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr sees two challenges in Alberta: Alberta Health Services and urban bias.

Central and rural Alberta do not receive fair and equal treatment from our provincial government. This has been going on for a long time, regardless of the political party in power.

There are two reasons why.

First: There is a prevailing philosophy of government that bigger is better. They call it ‘economy of scale.’ The belief that the more centralized and top down managed anything is, the more effective and cost efficient it will be.

Everything in Alberta’s government is made to conform to this idea.

Health care is the worst offender. AHS is the largest employer in the province. Regional Health Boards were abolished for this reason. Managers proliferated. Central and rural Alberta health spending is significantly less than in urban areas.

Alberta Education believes this philosophy; so they have weakened the power of local school boards, and some in government would like to get rid of local boards all together. Curriculum is not written by classroom teachers but in glass towers in Edmonton. Small town schools get shut down. There should only be one massive school board because choice in education costs more but no consideration is given to how it benefits more.

The same philosophy reduces post-secondary education funding, denying poly-tech degree-granting status to Red Deer College believing that it is better if everyone just goes to one of the two big city universities.

The economy of scale argument is a failure. The larger and more complex the bureaucracy the less efficient the system becomes; the less human; the less adaptable; the less responsive; the less effective it is.

Witness our health care, the most expensive in the country with the worst results outside the urban megacities.

Second: The second problem of the bureaucracy is that they have a strong urban bias. It is not that they are deliberately prejudice against the non-urban areas, although that is the real life result, it is just that they are prejudice for the urban areas.

Why? Because that is where most of them live. They have no idea what goes on outside of their urban existence.

Their perspective is entirely based on municipal boundaries. So they don’t think to give equal service to the small areas. Why would they since it doesn’t affect their lives.

These two agendas “economy of scale” and an “urban bias” are the drivers of discrimination against 48 per cent of Albertans who do not live within the two large urban areas.

In a democratic society this is unjust.

This is why I continually speak up for central Alberta’s health, education, seniors care and justice in the House, in committees and with the Ministers personally.

You also must do your part, together we are stronger. Write your letters, make calls, learn how to hold an effective but peaceful rally.

Conservative and rural people must put pressure on the government or forever remain second class citizens of this great province that you all helped to build.

It is time to make our presence known and felt by those who seek to take away our rights and then ignore us.

They expect us to be lambs before coyotes. Don’t be.

I need your support to make sure government knows you are Albertans too!

If you have any questions, concerns or would like to speak to me, feel free to contact my constituency office at 403-782-7725, or e-mail at or mail at 101, 4892 46 Street, Lacombe, AB T4L 2B4.