For those of us who travel along the Alaska Highway on a regular basis, we know that the South Taylor Hill section of the highway has been in need of an upgrade for quite some time.
That is why I was so proud to recently announce $26 million in joint federal/provincial funding to expand and upgrade this section of Highway 97. This funding, $10.75 million of which will come from the federal government’s Building Canada Fund, will go towards widening the highway at the base of South Taylor Hill to four lanes, south from Taylor Bridge for two kilometres. Improvements will also be made to ensure truckers have a safe place to put on chains in the winter months and the slopes of the highway will be contoured to enhance slope stability.
These improvements will no doubt make travelling along this stretch of the highway safer for residents and tourist and more efficient for industrial traffic. The project will go to tender in Fall 2013, with construction beginning in Spring 2014, and is scheduled to be completed by Fall 2015.
In other news, I am pleased to report that eligible health care practitioners in our region can now apply for partial student loan forgiveness. As part of our Economic Action Plan, our Government introduced this new initiative that will embrace partial Canada Student Loan forgiveness for family doctors, nurse practitioners and nurses who work in underserved rural or remote communities.
More specifically, family doctors and residents in family medicine who begin working in a designated community will be eligible for loan forgiveness of up to $8,000 per year (to a maximum of $40,000). Under similar requirements, nurse practitioners and nurses will be eligible for forgiveness of up to $4,000 per year (to a maximum of $20,000). With these benefits now available, I encourage health care practitioners throughout our region to visitwww.canlearn.ca to see if they may be eligible for this important program.
Something else that has been in the news lately that I would like to address is our Canadian Armed Forces and the issue of danger pay.
As a member of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, I’m proud of our strong record of supporting the Canadian Armed Forces and our Veterans.
After an arms-length committee made the decision to cut danger pay, our Government intervened to restore the compensation for soldiers currently deployed. In addition, after learning that some soldiers received more danger pay than they should have because of an administrative error, Defence Minister Peter MacKay directed his department to take measures to ensure that these individuals would not have to repay these funds.
Our Conservative Government will to take the appropriate action to ensure our men and women in uniform have the support they deserve both in the field and when they arrive home.
And finally, in Ottawa, I had the opportunity to take part in the Annual Police/Conservative MP Charity Hockey Game in Ottawa. The event raised $2,000 to support the Robert Warner Memorial Fund. It was a great night for a great cause!