Hello Chestermere! It’s been a busy time in the Legislature! Last week we continued to bring up some very important issues around Chestermere -Rocky View schools. MLA Angela Pitt from Airdrie did a Member’s Statement this week on the need for schools in our respective areas, and we will continue to pressure this government to do the right thing. We need 2-3 schools per year, and there are 8 critical schools that need to be built right away. At this point we only have one K-9 school on the unfunded list, and even if the build started tomorrow, we would not have the school until 2020. I will keep pushing for clarity as to when this school will be built as we are site-ready.
You may have read about a young boy with autism who was berated for not having what the teacher deemed as an appropriate snack. This behavior is unacceptable, and the Minister needs to be clear with his approach on curriculum around nutrition, and more importantly around the sensitivities of our special needs kids and their food requirements. The amount of stress a child with autism experiences around food with respect to aversions, texture, smell and taste is intense. What is this government doing to support teachers to be able to help our special needs kids, so that they are not punished for things out of their control? Special needs aside, how can they even contemplate punishing children for bringing the snacks their parents pack for them? It blows my mind that this is an issue. Let’s use our common sense and lead with kindness and compassion as we look at how to deal with our children. Parents know best.
This Government is fond of alternative facts, and divisive politics. This is their byline. The government does not seem to understand that the best way to create new and great jobs is to make sure the economy is strong, with a budget that supports the drive to bring in new businesses and corporations or in other words: to be open for business. A strong private sector pays for the public services we need. With 100,000 jobless and EI running out the number of our fellow Albertans on social assistance is skyrocketing to all- time highs with “no sign of levelling off” according to the University of Calgary. The Government can no longer blame low oil prices. Policy matters, and we have seen some detrimental policy indeed! We need to focus on the weak economy by providing an environment that attracts business, and attracts prosperity. You may call me cynical because I believe in wage freezes, and attrition to reduce management numbers, but everyone needs to tighten their belts, and the government needs to lead by example. Let’s take a trip 25 years down memory lane. In 1992 the Government under Don Getty was facing a rapidly rising deficit after an oil price shock. Their budget plan: freeze public sector wages and hiring and, get this, reduce taxes on Albertans and businesses! They knew they had to tighten their belts and make Alberta an attractive place to live and do business. Not our current Government. Freezing wages is not going to destroy families, but raising taxes and attacking the economy will. The government keeps saying that their strategy is working. I would like to see how. Interest rates are at all time lows, and the government keeps spending and spending with no thought of the future and the inevitable rise in interest rates. Worst of all, businesses know they cannot trust this Government. They see no end to tax increases, so why invest here? Uncertainty is a job killer!
The accusation you will hear fairly consistently from the Government is that our frustration over the deficit and the budget is “fear mongering”. I guess mortgaging our children’s future has no legitimacy with the present socialist Government. The excuse the Government uses is that our debt is far lower than other provinces. Is the goal of this Government then to equalize our debt to the worst of other jurisdictions because we happen to have less debt presently? We are running per-capita deficits double Ontario at their worst and they are proud of it?
The government has been indicating that the labour laws are going to be modernized. This is legislation that could potentially give unions more power. We have been asking a lot of questions around, as Paul Hartzheim of the Edmonton Journal put it – the “rights of workers to cast a secret ballot when deciding if a workplace should unionize.” Workers who may feel intimidated by union organizers need the protection of a secret ballot. I would like an explanation as to how strengthening unions is good for a shell-shocked province that has a government that is attacking investment, making it difficult for the job creators, and is creating uncertainty.
This past weekend saw the celebrations of Easter, the festival of Vaisakhi for our Sikh friends, and the middle of Passover for our Jewish friends. Happy Easter!, Happy Vaisakhi!, Happy Passover! I trust nobody’s waistline suffered too much from all the delicious meals that accompany honouring your faith. The diversity of our cultures and faiths enriches us all. I enjoyed meeting many of you at the 7TH Annual United Way Easter Egg Hunt and as always, we love to hear from you.