Liberal candidate Reg Lukasik knows a few things about the health care system.
Lukasik, 66, has survived a plane crash that broke his legs, a car crash that left him with years of chronic pain, a heart attack and is a three-time cancer survivor.
The long-time St. Albert resident – he and his wife moved here in 1991, and they have two adult children – has bounced back from all of it.
It’s in part the Liberal stance on health care, and his knowledge of people like Liberal leader Dr. David Swann who are part of the party, that attracted him to run under the red banner.
“We’ve had a couple leaders that are doctors who care about people, who care about the problems with the health care system. I know (the problems) from the inside out. I know what wait times look like, I know what being on a wait list for cancer treatments or cancer scans feels like … I want to make life better for people,” Lukasik said.
He got involved with the Grits in the mid-1990s. He was a Conservative, he said, but between former prime minister Brian Mulroney and former premier Ralph Klein (both Progressive Conservatives), they converted him to the Liberals.
He was also impressed by former Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert MLA Colleen Soetaert’s efforts to directly help his family in the 1990s in the “darkest days” of the Klein cuts.
“I got to see what an Opposition MLA can do,” Lukasik said. “She made an immense difference in the lives of my family, and I’d like to pay that forward.”
Lukasik listed the need to adequately plan and fund the education system and the need to “clean up some of this chaos” of the health care system and make it more efficient as some of his political priorities.
Lukasik is retired now, but he had a lengthy career that has included everything from selling airplanes to an executive director position of a rehabilitation centre to researching for the Alberta government. His career has taken him through six provinces and two territories.
But mostly his work has revolved around flying and teaching, both in the air force and instructing people in how to care for those with varying levels of disabilities, like group home workers.
He spends much of his free time volunteering in roles that include everything from volunteering with canoe clubs to canvassing for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Lukasik pitched his intent to listen and act for the constituency as a reason to vote for him.
“I believe I’m a person who will listen, who will care and who will act on your behalf on a community basis and on an individual basis,” Lukasik said.