By VERNA MURPHY, Connect Contributor
It’s been over four months since Tany Yao became the new Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, and during a recent conversation Yao says that he feels that he is settling into the political role after getting to know many more people in the community in recent months. With a reception on the weekend, Yao hopes to meet even more people from the constituency.
“I am hoping that people come out to meet myself and Brian Jean at the Legion on Sunday. It will be a relaxed way to mingle and get to ask us both questions,” said Yao. The reception will be held on September 20 at the Legion in Waterways from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Both MLAs for the region will be in attendance and will speak to the guests around 5 p.m.
“I have been busy going to events and getting to know people, but I have also spent a lot of time reading files and finding out specific information on certain issues that are affecting our community,” said Tany in his office on Franklin Avenue.
Yao grew up in Fort McMurray, and his father was a doctor and his mother a nurse. He naturally followed them into the medical field and became a firefighter/paramedic. He worked in places like Peace River and Lac La Biche before returning to the city in 1997. He eventually became the Assistant Deputy Fire Chief. So, being elected in May brought Yao to politics for the first time in his career.
The very first issue that Yao went to the new NDP government with questions about was Highway 63.
“I found that my concern about 63 is being taken seriously, and the twinning of the highway is moving along and will not be delayed any further, which is so important for the safety of our residents. It was a long overdue project and I wanted to make sure that it was on track, so that hopefully the number of deaths will be reduced on that road,” said Yao, who was happy that it was not delayed over even worse, cancelled altogether.
One of the other huge issues that Yao campaigned about and is working on is the Long Term Care facility for Willow Square.
“The seniors issues are definitely in the forefront of things for me. The seniors shadow ministry is my responsibility within our government, so it’s something that I take very seriously, and I am a seniors’ advocate at the provincial level,” said Yao.
“The seniors issues are definitely in the forefront of things for me. The seniors shadow ministry is my responsibility within our government, so it’s something that I take very seriously, and I am a seniors’ advocate at the provincial level. The work we do on Willow Square, I am hoping, will be looked at for other developments across the province. This is not just a political issue, this is a personal issue for me, as well as for many residents from Fort McMurray,” said Yao.
Yao is currently working on a study that will bring forth suggestions on how the project should move ahead, and he hopes that he will be able to present the study later in the fall to our Mayor and council.
“It turned out to be harder to get information on this project than I had hoped, I have had to FOIP a lot of information, so it’s taking longer than I had hoped to get this study done for our local seniors,” added Yao.
Regarding his relationship with the city, Yao said that he feels that he is in sync with many of the councillors, and had a meeting right away with Mayor Blake after being elected.
“We all want what is best for Fort McMurray as far as I can see, and my perspective is that Fort McMurray contributed billions of dollars to not just Alberta, but to Canada, so we deserve to get a little more back,” said Yao, who said that he knew about lack of infrastructure, but is hearing so many stories from residents since being elected.
“We could use more money to fix municipal infrastructure and I want to help our city get what it deserves,” added Yao, and there will be another meeting with Mayor and council on September 21.
“We could use more money to fix municipal infrastructure and I want to help our city get what it deserves,” added Yao, and there will be another meeting with Mayor and council on September 21. Yao would also like to see a break on the taxation of the northern residents, but so far the idea is being rejected by the government.
While Yao is enjoying the job, he said that the first few months have been a huge learning experience for him.
“I have not had a day off since elected, and the job is much busier than I anticipated. But I am completely enjoying the work,” said Yao.
“I have not had a day off since elected, and the job is much busier than I anticipated. But I am completely enjoying the work,” said Yao. “We have many issues in our community that I would like to see addressed. I would like more resources in the schools for those with autism so their parents don’t feel like they have to move out of town. I have brought up our medivac system to the government a few times now as well.”
“The medieval issue is something true to my heart because we used, and I worked with Paul Spring over the years, and I know all the work he does to provide that service,” said Yao, who said government officials have been open to listening to his concerns on these issues.
This weekend will be a busy one for Yao, he has hopes that the community will come out to the reception on Sunday, as he feels that the more politically engaged people are, the better that he and Brian Jean can do their jobs. And on Saturday night, Yao will be a celebrity waiter for the 10th Annual Harvest of Hope at Shell Place.
“I hope that people bring boat loads of cash, because almost everyone has been touched by cancer in their lives. They have either had it, or have lost a loved one to the disease. So it’s so important to have these events to raise money, but to also raise awareness,”’ said Yao.
The celebrity waiters compete against each other as they serve the guests for donations and there is also a silent and live auction during the evening.
– Connect Weekly –