Yellowhead MP says handling COVID-19 a balancing act

·2 min read

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges in many aspects of people's lives, and juggling the changes can be hard, said Jasper’s member of Parliament.

Yellowhead MP Gerald Soroka also noted the unique challenges Jasper faces as a resort town when it came to the pandemic

"This is a very difficult time, no matter which way you go," Soroka said. "It's a challenging situation, and going out of your comfort area - your community - and visiting Jasper (for example), there's always a risk anytime you go out. It's a balance between taking precautions and following guidelines to make sure you're well protected and choosing to travel. When people go to Jasper, they know they could be encouraging people not only from Jasper but neighboring provinces, so they're more cautious."

The MP highlighted the reduction in active COVID cases for Jasper, which now sits at six active cases as of Jan. 10.

"I think it's very encouraging to see the number of cases dropping and it's probably got more to do with people following protocols, keeping themselves safe and others in the community safe,” Soroka said. "I think it's great the Alberta public has been taking safety measures to physically distance, stay at home when needed."

Soroka noted the pandemic has markedly heightened stress, anxiety and depression.

"The frustration level is incredibly high with everyone," he said. "I understand a lot of people have lost jobs and money. Even people who haven't been financially impacted are frustrated, have anxiety about the world we're living in, with social isolation. What we're living with now is not near how we've always lived."

Soroka said he follows protocol carefully. He and his partner stayed home for Christmas and New Year’s.

"For the first time in my life, I've had to cook Christmas lunch and supper," he chuckled.

As an MP, Soroka still goes to Ottawa one a month on average, down from the two or three weeks out of each month pre-COVID, while spending numerous hours participating in virtual meetings.

"I work two or three days or two days of a week at Parliament building and the rest of time out of the Ottawa office doing Zoom meetings,” he said. “The rest of the time I'm at home doing Zoom calls from my own home in Alberta, north of Evansburg.”

Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh