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‘Historic’ health table formed to address social issues in southern Alberta

Click to play video: 'New intergovernmental table to tackle social issues, health in southern Alberta'
New intergovernmental table to tackle social issues, health in southern Alberta
WATCH: Stakeholders from provincial, municipal, and Indigenous levels of government have teamed up for what’s being called a “one-of-a-kind” partnership to tackle community challenges in southern Alberta. Eloise Therien has more on why the intergovernmental health table came to be, and the value it hopes to have in the community.

Provincial, municipal and Indigenous leadership have formed a new intergovernmental health table in an effort to address social challenges facing two southern Alberta communities.

According to Lethbridge mayor Blaine Hyggen, the partnership will strive for open conversations about “matters of importance” to both Lethbridge and the Blood Tribe.

“One area I often hear from residents on is, how are we working with local Indigenous partners to tackle the health and social issues some experience in the city,” said Hyggen.

“This is one of my most exciting announcements, I’ll be very honest. I get a little emotional because of some of the hard work that’s been done by the team that I’m involved with here today.”

Read more: Colder weather highlights ongoing needs of Lethbridge homeless population

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Hyggen will co-chair the table with Charles Weaselhead, who heads the Blood Tribe Department of Health.

Nathan Neudorf, deputy premier and MLA of Lethbridge-East, will also be at the table alongside two other pertinent provincial ministries: the ministry of mental health and addition and the ministry of seniors, community and social services.

“For the past six or seven years in Lethbridge this has been one of the top, if not the top issue of importance for many residents in Lethbridge as we handle not only the mental health and addictions part, the homeless part and all of the other parts that fall into that,” Neudorf said.

Members of the table will meet on a regular basis–at least quarterly, according to the mayor–to ensure each has a solid understanding of what the communities’ needs are and what can be done to address them.

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“I think what’s happening here today is historic,” said Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services Jeremy Nixon.

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“I do see this as a model that could be expanded out across the province as we learn more at this table.”

According to the City of Lethbridge, the formation of the health table is a result of a July 26, 2022 city council resolution which outlined the creation of a local community task force.

That resolution also asked that council write to the aforementioned ministries to address housing and homelessness through a working group.

The intergovernmental health table said it plans to engage the community during its processes. Its first official meeting was held on Tuesday.

Read more: Lethbridge organizations continue to support those recovering from addictions

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