Alberta Jobs Plan something to be proud of

Written by Bruce Hinkley, MLA for Wetaskiwin-Camrose. First published in Wetaskiwin Times Advertiser on June 29, 2016.

Behind the celebrations, here are some actions we have accomplished during the last sitting which will come to benefit all Albertans.

We passed private members bills helping in the fight against fentanyl and increasing awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder.

We made further progress by taking action to end predatory lending practices, reforming Agencies, Boards and Commissions (you may have read how millions of dollars have been saved by ending some boards and in one case suspending all the board members after a condemning Audit report), starting of consultations on the Municipal Government Act and the Farm Safety Enhancement Act. We have re-wrote essential services legislation to comply with the Supreme Court and modernized securities rules to harmonize them with national standards. We also acted to ensure the independence of environmental monitoring, took action to regulate ride-for-hire companies like Uber and at the request of Indigenous communities, repealed Bill 22.

Our government also put forward a motion to the House on Medical Assistance in Dying. Outside of Quebec, Alberta is the only province where all legislators have the opportunity to provide feedback on this deeply personal issue.

The wildfires in Fort McMurray have dominated much attention and focus. Premier Notley lead with calmness and purpose. Let me also say that our province’s public servants stepped up and did the job that was expected of them in a very difficult time. On behalf of our caucus, I thank them again for their hard work and selfless dedication.

When Albertans elected our government a little over a year ago, they chose change. And although much work remains, I am very proud of the progress we are making delivering on our commitments. Two accomplishments stand out: the Alberta Jobs Plan and the decisive action we are taking to confront - at long last - the threat climate change poses to our province and our world.

The Climate Leadership and Alberta Jobs plans are two bedrock initiatives of our government that go to the heart of the kind of Alberta we all want for our families and communities.

Let me start with climate change. For far too long, past governments chose the path of denial and delay…it got us nowhere. Alberta was vilified internationally - our products remained landlocked and more dangerous pollution was pumped into our air. Meanwhile nothing was done to diversify our economy. Today, there is a broad consensus among and across the political spectrum - including thoughtful conservatives - that climate change is real and that we must step up and deal with it.

The Climate Change Leadership Plan our government announced last fall and the legislation introduced this spring powerfully reflects the importance Albertans place on this issue. Industry, First Nations, environmental and community leaders are standing together with one shared aim: to take Alberta‘s place as a world leader in the low-carbon future that is coming.

I am very proud of the Climate Leadership Plan. It is the single most important step any government in Canada has taken to address climate change. And for Albertans it will make a big difference in their lives. The carbon levy will be re-invested into our economy - and six in ten Albertans will receive a rebate.

The Climate Leadership Plan means our air will be cleaner because we are phasing out coal (Scotland shut their last coal fired generator last week). Our commutes will be shorter because we are investing in new green infrastructure like public transit. Plus our children will have more opportunities because we are growing renewables, advancing new technologies, and getting more value and jobs from our resources - the kind of good jobs our kids need to build their futures here at home.

Supporting and creating jobs was the centerpiece of the budget - the Alberta Jobs Plan - that our government tabled in April builds on our province’s greatest strength - our people. Faced with collapse in world oil prices, the plan rejects deep cuts that would only make a tough economy worse. Because we do not deal with unemployment by throwing more people out of work. You do not give people the skills they need to succeed by slashing budgets for education and making it harder to go to university and college.

The Alberta Jobs Plan supports families with a new child benefit - a ground-breaking initiative to fight poverty and ensure that families get the support they need. In all 380,000 children will benefit.

The Alberta Jobs Plan supports business and entrepreneurs with a small business tax cut, access to new capital, and tax credits to help diversify our economy. The Alberta Jobs Plan diversifies our economy through initiatives like the Petrochemical Diversification Fund that will create thousands of new jobs by getting more value out of our resources. And the Alberta Jobs Plan invests in schools, hospitals, roads and transit putting Albertans to work today and laying the groundwork for economic recovery.

The Climate Leadership and Alberta Jobs plans are two bedrock initiatives of our government that go to the heart of the kind of Alberta we all want for our families and communities. We share common hopes and dreams for Alberta: an Alberta where every child gets a good start in life and has the opportunity to realize their dreams, an Alberta where our air and water are clean and we are doing our part to address climate change, an Alberta where working people are respected and listened to, an Alberta that looks out for all its citizens, and a more prosperous and more caring Alberta that looks to the future with hope and optimism.

I am very proud of the work we accomplished in the past legislative session - more in four months than was done in the previous six years. Over the summer, we will stay hard at work reaching out to Albertans, delivering forward-looking, progressive government that focuses on what matters. Enjoy our birthday party and may your summer travels be safe and enjoyable.