Busy time in the Legislature

By Maria Fitzpatrick, MLA for Lethbridge-East

It has now been a week since the beginning of the fall session, and a great deal of work has already been done.

There are several new bills being debated in the legislature.

Bill 27, Renewable Electricity Act. This is an act developed to create jobs and spur investment. Five thousand megawatts of renewable electricity is expected to be added to the system by 2030.

Clear timelines for developing renewable electricity like wind and solar and a structured bidding process to limit costs will be set through this bill.

The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) have studied systems from around the world to come up with the best possible system built in the interest of all Albertans. This is being done parallel to the coal phase-out. This will ensure the reliability of the system is maintained.

Bill 28, Public Health Amendment Act. As has been mentioned in the news release on this bill, it means a faster response to vaccine-preventable outbreaks in schools.

It has now been a week since the beginning of the fall session, and a great deal of work has already been done.

Through this bill we will increase our immunization rates to protect children from diseases like measles or whooping cough. It will educate the public on the importance of vaccinations to families in particular and the public at large.

Specifically, it will allow for the collection of student enrolment information to help identify students with incomplete immunization records; contact with parents of students who do not have complete immunization records to request the information and to explain the current policy that requires unimmunized students to stay home in the event of an outbreak and, provide information on the benefits of immunizing if needed.

Bill 24, Forest and Prairie Protection Act, supports wildfire prevention and helps protect Alberta communities. It strengthens penalties to help deter such high-risk activities as abandoning campfires or burning during fire bans. It will improve our ability to restrict activities that can cause a wildfire, like off-highway vehicle use when fire conditions are hazardous. It will improve our authority to stop actions that interfere with firefighting, including restricting drones.

This bill also designates March 1 as the official start of the fire season and clarify operational processes, roles and responsibilities.

Every amendment within this bill is supported by recommendations following reviews of the 2011 Slave Lake fire and the last two wildfire seasons.

Funding for occurrences such as wildfires or floods comes from emergency funding, not departmental funding as the opposition continues to report.

Bill 25: Oil Sands Emission Limits Act. This act is putting a limit on oilsands greenhouse emissions to an annual maximum of 100 megatonnes; this is an amount that has been recommended by environmental organizations and representatives of Alberta‘s oilsands industry. It does provide for allowances for new upgrading and co-generation. This bill provides certainty for investors and will drive innovation with producers to create new solutions for energy extraction, helping to protect jobs and create new ones. While this occurs we will be tackling emissions which will protect the health of future generations of Albertans and Canadians.

Bill 26: Ukrainian Canadian-Heritage Day Act passed with unanimous consent. This legislation recognizes the enduring and ongoing contributions of Ukrainian-Canadians to Alberta. Starting in 2017, Sept. 7 of every year will be known as Alberta‘s Ukrainian-Canadian Heritage Day.

New bills will be introduced in the Legislature throughout the fall session, scheduled to continue until Dec. 1. I will update you on these developments in my December column.

Finally, please take some time this morning, Nov. 11, to remember and pay tribute to the many Canadian veterans, those who lost their lives in service to our country and those currently serving in Canada’s Armed Forces. I will be attending the Remembrance Day services at the Lethbridge Exhibition, which start at 9:30 a.m. There is also service at the Cenotaph at city hall at noon. Please consider joining me at one of these important ceremonies.

The Lethbridge-East constituency office is located at 543 13 St. S. You are welcome to drop by to share your concerns, offer your feedback or just have a quick visit. My staff are pleased to provide walk-in service Monday through Friday 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., or by appointment. Please call 403-320-1011 or email lethbridge.east@assembly.ab.ca to set up an appointment.

First published in the Lethbridge Herald, Nov 11, 2016