Employment, industry at the forefront

By Annie McKitrick, MLA for Sherwood Park.

Alberta's population has increased by more than 20 per cent in the last eight years. As a result, the provincial constituency boundaries need to be reviewed prior to the next provincial election. Provincial law directs the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission to review the existing boundaries and names for the 87 electoral constituencies and report to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta by Oct. 31.

Households will have received a card inviting them to participate in the review by attending a public hearing or submitting a written submission at abebc.ca. If you are interested in knowing the current boundaries of the Sherwood Park riding, information can be found at the Alberta Electoral Division Maps webpage, www.elections.ab.ca/resources/maps/.

Employment Labour Minister Christina Gray recently announced the 2017 Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP). This program provides funding to eligible Alberta employers to hire summer students. Employers receive a $7/hour wage subsidy to provide students with work experience from May to September.

STEP has been slightly changed this year to better support students and ensure as many employers as possible can participate. Minor administrative changes will also improve the application process, making it simpler for employers to hire multiple students under the program.

I strongly encourage Sherwood Park organizations and businesses to apply for this program. Last summer, I had the pleasure of visiting many of the organizations who received STEP funding and was fortunate to meet the students and their employers. Summer jobs provide students with valuable opportunities to explore their interests, develop their skills, and gain valuable work experience while earning an income. Employers interested in hiring a student for 2017 must submit their application before the Feb. 24 deadline. Application forms are available online at AlbertaCanada.com/STEP.

Recent cases in the news have shone a spotlight on issues and challenges within the child intervention system. The government is committed to creating a child protection and intervention system that serves the needs of Alberta children and families, and is accountable for the protection of children.

On Jan. 19, Premier Rachel Notley shuffled the cabinet to create a new Children’s Services ministry and appointed the Honorable Danielle Larivee as the Minister of Children’s Services. Minister Larivee says her first priority on this portfolio is to move forward with the work of the child intervention review panel. Her goal is to find solutions that can be put into place.

Replacing Minister Larivee, Leduc-Beaumont MLA Shaye Anderson has been appointed as the new Minister of Municipal Affairs. Minister Anderson co-sponsored the Modernized Municipal Governance Act with Minister Larivee and will be able to seamlessly continue the work on this important legislation.

This is great news for Strathcona County as the projected investments in the Industrial Heartland will mean 6,000 jobs for the region and approximately $9 billion in capital investment.

Also on Jan. 19, the Industrial Heartland hosted its annual Stakeholder Luncheon, which brings together more than 600 leaders in business, industry, and government to hear from industry experts across the continent, speaking about trends in the energy sector. Overall, the tone was confident and optimistic.

The chair of Alberta‘s Industrial Heartland Association, Ed Gibbons, said: "When you consider the energy sector projects that have recently taken a step forward, you can’t help but feel that momentum is building and investors are taking note." This is great news for Strathcona County as the projected investments in the Industrial Heartland will mean 6,000 jobs for the region and approximately $9 billion in capital investment.

Last Sunday, Jan. 22, the Strathcona County Diversity Committee hosted a multi-faith and multicultural event at the community centre that was a great success. There were exhibits from many different local churches and cultural groups in a welcoming atmosphere of fellowship and camaraderie. Especially popular were the henna station and the beautiful saris available for people to try on.

Happy Chinese New Year to Sherwood Park residents. This year is the Year of the Rooster. Celebrating Chinese New Year has been part of my life since I was a child. I lived in Asia and have since lived in several communities with deep Chinese roots. I wish you all a year of health and good fortune.

Annie McKitrick is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Sherwood Park Constituency. If you have any questions or comments about this column or any other provincial government issues, she would like to hear from you. Please contact McKitrick’s constituency office at 780-417-4747 or by e-mail: sherwood.park@assembly.ab.ca.

First published in the Sherwood Park News, Jan. 30, 2017.