MLA Bruce Hinkley shares good news with his constituents

By Bruce Hinkley, MLA for Wetaskiwin-Camrose.

Good news for four area organizations as their grant applications have been approved: the Camrose Ski Club ($27,000 for the biathlon range facility renovation/upgrades); Camrose and District Senior Centre Society ($35,556 for the Mirror Lake Centre facility upgrades); Wetaskiwin Composite High School ($30,000 gymnasium digital sign and sound system); and the Camrose Order of Elks ($7,282 for facility upgrades). All of these were matching grants for facility improvements or repairs.

Congratulations to our progressive communities for their efforts to be more responsible for energy consumption: Wetaskiwin City (with huge support from FortisAlberta) has replaced 1,400 streetlights with LED lights, City of Camrose unveiled its solar panel project on the recreation centre; Montana Cree Nation is utilizing the solar panels on their administration building and training community members to become installers; likewise Louis Bull Cree Nation has trained workers and installed solar panels on four of their buildings. Both Montana and Louis Bull plan to pursue the Indigenous Community Energy and Solar Programs to expand their renewable energy projects. Congratulations to everyone for their energy and environmental stewardship.

More good news for post-secondary students who will have their tuitions frozen for another year. Education is a tool for prosperity and a quality life; not a debt.

Good reviews of the Justice Ministries’ decision to add nine more Court of Queen’s Bench judges and one more Court of Appeal judge. For too long the deficit in the justice department was the mode of operation and our court backlog is unacceptable. This will facilitate quicker court appearances and decisions.

Congratulations to our progressive communities for their efforts to be more responsible for energy consumption.

The saying "negative thinkers always find difficulties with every opportunity; but positive thinkers always find opportunities with every difficulty" is particularly true with the new carbon levy. The levy is going to provide opportunities to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions; an opportunity to create jobs and grow the economy; there will be opportunities to be innovative and improve our quality of life and environmental stewardship.

The carbon levy has been in existence since 2008; so this is an opportunity to now return the money collected back to Albertans via rebates or other programs which will offset the costs of transportation and heating. There is the potential for schools, for example, to replace their lights with LEDs and put up solar panels; the energy savings will help offset new busing costs. There is an opportunity to be revenue neutral with good management. Seniors who drive less or no longer drive will be rewarded for not causing carbon dioxide emissions. Municipalities also have potential opportunities to take advantage of the programs soon to be developed by the Alberta Energy Efficiency and Climate Leadership offices to offset their levy costs. Farmers are getting exemptions when they use colour gas for farm purposes. We all will benefit from positive climate leadership action.

At this time, one month into the minimum wage increase to $12.20, it is necessary to clarify that the stereotypical minimum wage earner is NOT the teenager, working part-time, unskilled and living at home; but is in reality: 76 per cent are not teenagers; 37 per cent are 35 or older; 37 per cent are post-secondary graduates; 62 per cent are women (some of whom are single parents). Research has also shown that low income earners spend their earnings right back into the economy.

The next session of the Legislature begins Monday, Oct. 31. You can watch online at www.assembly.ab.ca.

Take care.

First published in the Wetaskiwin Times Advertiser, Wed. Oct. 26, 2016.