These are challenging times in our Province. In fact these are challenging times locally as well. You can hardly pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV and not see evidence of the challenges we face. Oil prices have plummeted. Countless companies have been scaling back operations and many people are losing their jobs. At the same time, our province is growing by tens of thousands of people a year, and we live smack dab in the middle of one of the fastest growing communities and regions in Alberta.
So, what do we do as a government? What is the responsible path forward?
I know one thing for certain. We absolutely must continue to maintain and build priority infrastructure, and at the top of the list has to be schools. I’ve been pushing hard for Chestermere and area to make sure we are getting the schools built that we need. We were fortunate to open a new K-8 school this year. Already over capacity, our school community pushed for modulars, and we have been promised they will be in place for the next school year. This is good news.
I’m happy that our Government is committing to moving forward despite challenging economic times with the most aggressive school build in Canadian history. That bodes well for us here. Rocky View Schools has another K-9 school for Chestermere at number three on its priority list. We simply have to continue building schools. We have a ton of young families in this community, and also in Langdon, and rest assured I’ll do all I can to make sure our Government knows how fast we are growing so we get the schools we need for our kids.
I’m happy that the Premier has visited us twice in the last month or so, and the Finance Minister was also by to speak with local business leaders. They know about the growth pressures we face.
One of the things I spoke to the Finance Minister about is our need for roads and highway infrastructure. If we are going to grow by the numbers our city council has planned, we are going to need another highway interchange to support the traffic. These are expensive and the first step will be to get on the provinces three year capital plan. I have made the case to Alberta Transportation officials and my next move will be to bring the Transportation Minister here so I can show him first hand some of our pressure points.
And while our Government has committed to building the infrastructure we need, it’s important to rein in spending in a balanced and measured way. We are holding the line on health care spending for three years until we are more in line with the per capita national average. Front line services are being protected. We are protecting the jobs of our teachers, and nurses and doctors and concentrating on reducing administration costs while absorbing population growth and inflation increases.
I wrote at the start of this column that these are challenging times for our Province, and they are. Times like these call for a steady hand on the wheel in Government just as they do in our homes and businesses.
We’ll get through this period and prosper, like we always do. It’s the Alberta way.