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Alberta election Day 11: Seniors prescription drugs, forestry and wood construction announcements

WATCH ABOVE: Global News' Emily Mertz has been doing more fact checking on issues in Alberta's election campaign. This week, she looked at the NDP record on health care.

On Day 11 of the Alberta election campaign, a few of the leaders made announcements in the Edmonton region.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley made an announcement about prescription drug coverage for seniors and Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel announced his plan to boost Alberta’s forestry industry.

READ MORE:  How, when, where to vote

The Freedom Conservative Party also announced it would create an Alberta Charter of Rights and Responsibilities as part of a new Constitution of Alberta that would include rights to firearms, property and self-defense.

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney did not have any events, but the party was set to hold an event highlighting the NDP’s spending promises.

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan was in Calgary, making an anti-poverty policy announcement and door-knocking in his riding.

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READ MORE: Alberta Election Fact Check: Did surgery wait times increase under NDP?

Where the leaders are Friday on the campaign trail:

NDP Leader Rachel Notley

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley is promising that, if re-elected, her government would cover all prescription drug costs for middle- and low-income seniors.

Notley says it’s wrong that some seniors are forced to choose between filling their prescriptions or buying necessities.

Seniors making less than $75,000 a year would be covered.

Right now, anyone over 65 pays one-third of the cost, and Notley says that adds up quickly with multiple prescriptions.

It’s expected the plan would cost an added $110 million a year.

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley making an election promise on seniors prescription drug coverage in Sherwood Park, Alta. on Friday, March 29, 2019.
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley making an election promise on seniors prescription drug coverage in Sherwood Park, Alta. on Friday, March 29, 2019. Cam Cook, Global News

Notley says the changes will benefit 80 per cent of seniors and save them about $200 a year each.

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She notes her government has helped seniors in other ways: adding more than 2,100 long-term care and dementia beds, and increasing the seniors benefit.

“Seniors built this province and they shouldn’t have to choose between paying to fill their prescriptions or paying to fill their fridge,” Notley said Friday in a news release.

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“We are funding drug coverage for low- and middle-income seniors because we know that people are healthier when they take their prescription medication.”

Watch below: Highlights from Day 11 of the 2019 Alberta election campaign.

Alberta election campaign: Day 11
Alberta election campaign: Day 11

Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel

Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel announced his plan to boost Alberta’s forestry industry by changing the building code to allow for taller wood buildings, creating a technological research institute and investing in exports.

Mandel said technology and engineering advances now allow for taller wood buildings, such Brock Commons: the 18-storey mass timber student residence constructed on the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver.

The Alberta Party says a mass timber structure requires 80 per cent less energy to produce and requires 85 per cent less carbon to build, compared to a concrete and steel structure. By building Brock Commons using wood instead of concrete, there was a carbon reduction equivalent to taking 500 cars off the road.

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“By changing how we build we can lead the charge to reduce carbon emissions and unlock a billion dollars of economic growth for our province,” Mandel said.

READ MORE: Canada stands tall in wood-based high-rise construction

If elected, the Alberta Party would amend the Alberta Building Code to allow for tall wood buildings and mandate that all municipalities allow for their construction, and encourage advanced wood products be used more often in provincially-funded projects like schools and municipal buildings.

The party said it would also work with post-secondary institutions on new training programs surrounding tall wood building construction.

“We should be building more of our great towns and cities with sustainably grown and harvested Alberta lumber,” Mandel said. “And we should be using cutting-edge research to find new and creative uses for our resources.”

The Alberta Party would also create an Alberta Forestry Technology and Research Institute (AFTRI) with $50 million in funding from Alberta Innovates. The AFTRI’s mandate would be to perform research and provide seed funding to industry-led projects.

The Alberta Party would also work with industry to develop a new export program to sell more raw and advanced forestry products abroad.

The party predicts this multi-pronged approach would result in a boost to Alberta’s forestry industry, by increasing annual economic contribution from $7 billion to $8 billion, creating 6,000 new jobs and generating over $100 million in new revenues for the government.

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Freedom Conservative Party Leader Derek Fildebrandt

Freedom Conservative Party Leader Derek Fildebrandt announced Friday that, if elected, his party would create an Alberta Charter of Rights and Responsibilities as part of a new Constitution of Alberta that would include rights to firearms, property and self-defense.

The plan follows similar measures taken by Quebec’s provincial government.

“All we demand is the same treatment for Alberta as any other province has, including Quebec,” Fildebrandt said. “Quebec has taken a lot of independence into its own hands away from the federal government, and they do so without even having to pay for it themselves. Alberta wants the same independence but we don’t want the money from Ottawa.”

The charter would also include free speech and the right to self-determination, and would strike down what Fildebrandt calls “nanny-state laws.”

According to Fildebrandt, his party would abolish predatory radar locations, repeal flavoured tobacco bans, expand the Sikh helmet exemption to any Albertan, as well as allow for the reasonable consumption of alcohol in public spaces like parks — as part of his strategy to fight so-called nanny-state laws.

“Most laws are designed to restrict what people do, but a constitution is designed to restrict what a government can do,” Fildebrandt said. “We have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms nationally, and it does a lot to protect people, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough in protecting the right to reasonable firearm ownership, for free-speech, for the right to self-defense and the right to property.”

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If elected, the FCP also vowed to take control of the administration and application of the Firearms Act from the federal government, and appoint a Chief Firearms Officer to oversee the process.

The party’s plan would also see the replacement of the RCMP in Alberta with a provincial police force.

Fildebrandt said the party would take a broad process to develop a constitution for Alberta, with consultations with Albertans.

The provincial constitution would be ratified by a province-wide referendum, according to Fildebrandt.

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan was in Calgary where he unveiled the party’s plan to ensure all Albertans earn a basic income.

“Too many Albertans are trapped in a cycle of poverty. Alberta Liberals will free them with our plan for a basic income,” Khan said. “We will give these Albertans freedom and dignity. This is not a handout. Our plan is a hand up.”

Khan said his party would consult with Albertans and independent experts before launching a basic income pilot project for low-income couples or individuals.

A basic income is a payment to eligible people that ensures a minimum income level, regardless of employment status.

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“A basic income is a set payment, often minus 50 per cent of any earned income,” Khan said. “It ensures a minimum income level regardless of employment status.”

READ MORE: $200M class-action lawsuit filed over cancellation of Ontario basic income pilot project

The party said a basic income would improve health and education outcomes, while reducing crime. The cost of basic income would be offset by savings in health care, social services and justice, the party said.

Khan also did some door knocking in the riding of Calgary-Mountain View, where he is running against NDP Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley, the Alberta Party’s Angela Kokott — a former journalist at Global Calgary and 770 CHQR — and UCP candiate Jeremy Wong, an ordained minister.

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney didn’t hold any scheduled announcements Friday, however the party held a news conference in Edmonton, calling on the NDP to reveal how they plan to pay for big-ticket spending promises they are making during the campaign for the April 16 Alberta election.

Jason Nixon, the UCP’s house leader, says Notley needs to explain which taxes she would increase to keep her promise to balance the budget by 2023.

READ MORE: UCP calls on Rachel Notley to come clean on Alberta election spending promises

Corus Alberta coverage

— With files from The Canadian Press

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