Spring session underway at Alberta Legislature

By Annie McKitrick, MLA for Sherwood Park.

This week, the Legislative Assembly began the third session of the 29th Assembly. I have copies of the Throne Speech in my office; please feel free to contact me if you would like a copy.

The first bill introduced in this Session was the Act to Reduce School Fees. As I write this column, we are debating this bill in the Assembly. This bill follows a commitment made during the 2015 campaign to reduce the burden of school fees on Alberta families. The bill will create a new school fee regulation, will eliminate school boards’ ability to charge two specific types of school fees - instructional, supplies or material fees, and busing fees for eligible students travelling to their designated school. The Ministry of Education will be working with school boards, including the Elk Island Public and Catholic School boards and the Conseil Francophone Centre-Nord, to implement this bill, should it pass in the Assembly. It is my hope this initiative helps many families manage their household budget and reduce anxiety at the start of each new school year.

The recent Speech from the Throne reminds us, "We are an open and inclusive society, built on enduring values - compassion, hard work and justice, and Albertans come from every part of the globe."

Last Saturday, as a lead-up to International Women’s Day (March 8), the Strathcona County Chapter of the Canadian Federation University Women (CFUW) held a Pink Tea to raise funds for A Safe Place, the local shelter for abused women and their children. A Pink Tea was historically an essential forum for women to organize and strategize about the pursuit of women’s rights. Thank you, CFUW, for your leadership in helping women in this community, and to the Strathcona Shelter Society for your care of women and children fleeing domestic abuse.

I would like to encourage all residents of Sherwood Park to register for the new Residential No Charge Energy Saving Program. Other programs will help residents with retail products, such as insulation, appliances, thermostats etc. Information on these programs can be found at: www.efficiencyalberta.ca.

A group of residents have come together to explore environmental issues in Strathcona County and maximize opportunities to access government initiatives. If you are interested in joining the Strathcona Environment Committee, I would be happy to forward your contact information to this group.

Our Baha’i and Persian communities will be celebrating Nowruz (their New Year) on March 21. On that day, we also recognize the International Day for the Elimination for Racial Discrimination. I encourage you to read up about the significance of both days.

The recent Speech from the Throne reminds us, "We are an open and inclusive society, built on enduring values - compassion, hard work and justice, and Albertans come from every part of the globe."

Budget Day is March 16. Everyone can follow the speech by going to www.assembly.ab.ca at 3 p.m., or by listening to their local radio station. I look forward to discussing the budget with residents over the next few weeks.

First published in the Sherwood Park News, March 10, 2017.