The Mayor used his State of the City Address to announce plans to make Edmonton “Canada’s Health City.” A strategy involving the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, Telus and the post secondary institutions has been put together. The goal is to make it so any bright ideas that come from the lab, can be turned into money making and job creating companies, here.
“We’ll market Edmonton as a health and innovation city and as the best place to bring new health ideas to life quickly.”
He opened his speech holding his speech holding something called an iTClamp, a medical device that doesn’t look too different from a hair clip, invented to stop bleeding by a military based doctor from Edmonton. Dr. Dennis Filips is a surgeon with the Canadian Forces that did three tours of Afghanistan, created the clip that does the same job of sutures in a pinch. Iveson’s point is, that iTClamp is now being developed in San Antonio, Texas.
“There is world leading research happening here,” Iveson later told reporters. “What we need to make sure is that when it gets commercialized it also gets commercialized here and creates companies that last into the future, creates a stronger eco-system of people familiar with the process of growing those companies from small incubated start-ups to mid-sized real companies that are out there selling products into the world. That’s been the missing piece, that scaling from small to mid and that’s where we need to put a lot of emphasis.”
While Iveson said the concept has post secondary institutions on side, his office is still selling Alberta Health Services on the idea. “AHS has been part of the discussions, they’re aware of this work. It’s a very large organization but certainly the province at the top from the political level is looking for economic diversification and growth opportunities and also looking for cost containment strategies in health care and we think we can help them with both of those.”
Iveson got his largest round of applause when he brought up the subject of the E.I. changes that have not made a difference in Edmonton. He said the problem is our diverse economy, and said it is a challenge to have an out of work pipe-fitter some how get retrained to become a public servant, a nod to that part of Edmonton’s government and health care economy that has skewed the unemployment numbers.
“We do have, still reasonably strong economic activity in the core of our city but that is distorting the regional average,” he said.
Edmonton-Centre MP Randy Boissonneault, the parliamentary secretary to the Heritage Minister said the math on who qualifies for extended E.I. coverage and who doesn’t is being looked at constantly. He admits the situation has gotten slightly worse since it was first raised a month ago.
The math of it is, any region that sees it’s unemployment rise by two percent over its normal baseline, for three consecutive months, qualifies for the extended benefits. “It was over 1.4 the last time I saw numbers so we’re watching it carefully,” he said.
At the Liberal retreat in Kananaskis, Federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi announced that Alberta is getting $347.2 million for transit, and $196.7 million for water and sewer projects, out of the dormant $700 million that was left over from the previous government. “With construction season upon us and coming and with all of the stimulus coming in, I’m hoping to see unemployment numbers go down and people get back to work,” Boissonneault said.