Hello Chestermere-Strathmore! A very blessed Easter, Vaisakhi, and Passover to you this past and upcoming week. I know that it has been very difficult to be separated from friends and families this past little while, and we will be in this situation for some time. If we are to follow the COVID-19 modelling that has been presented, the peak of the virus will not hit us until the middle to the end of May, so our new normal will continue to be the way we function for the next little while. We in the legislature are continuing to represent you and are passing not only necessary legislation related to our crisis, but also legislation around important issues such as human trafficking. As you know we campaigned on implementing a nine-point action plan to protect at-risk individuals from this despicable and reprehensible crime. We will combat human trafficking by adopting the Palermo Protocol definition of human trafficking that specifically targets sex trafficking with directed legislation. The Palermo Protocol protects all victims, survivors and persons affected by trafficking, not just those who can prove that they have been forced. We are all a part of this solution, and we intend to create a task force that will bring together all agencies, police, and community groups to share information. We all need to know and understand what human trafficking looks like, and we need to ensure that all people know their rights in Canada, especially new Canadians. We need to make sure that our judges, prosecutors, nurses, doctors, first responders and police have the training they need, and we need to have better data as this crime is well hidden. Federal Bill C-452, criminalizing human trafficking, needs to come into force as soon as possible, as well as an awareness day on February 22. This crime is a violation of human rights, and collectively we need to work to toughen legislation to protect victims and survivors. Human trafficking exploits every age, sexuality, race, religion, ethnicity, and gender. We need to empower our police officers to be able to act quickly and rescue those who are being held or threatened from their traffickers. We want the survivors to be able to sue their traffickers and to help empower them to take back their lives. Let’s end this predatory behavior for the sake of everyone.
Finally, I would like to chat with you about charitable giving. So many of you are doing so much to help out our communities, and we want to help. Our government will encourage Albertans to donate through matching contributions up to 2 million dollars that we have reprofiled to help with those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will be joining up with associations like the United Way to help get dollars into the hands of organizations that are helping on the ground with our vulnerable populations. Our charities and non- profits are struggling to fill gaps created by the increased and changing demand for services, and we can help the generosity of Albertans by matching those donations to these incredible organizations. In closing, please see www.alberta.ca for the latest information on how to protect yourself, your family, and your fellow Albertans. Please shop local, and please contact me at Chestermere.Strathmore@assembly.ab.ca or call 403-962-0126. I love to hear from you.