This week our government had to make the difficult decision to impose more restrictions and move back in the COVID plan from Step 2 to Step 1 to combat the rising case numbers of both COVID and the variants. This decision was not made lightly. I recognize that there is a lot of fatigue around COVID and this past year has been hard on every Albertan and on our economy.
Moving back to Step 1 of the COVID plan is a balanced approach to protecting the lives of Albertans and managing our economy. We’ve always said that we will keep an eye on our metrics – both leading and lagging – and take whatever action was necessary. The reality is that with the rising cases (over 1,400 new cases yesterday) and not enough Albertans vaccinated, without further restrictions our hospital system and Albertans are at risk. To protect both, we need to bend the curve to give us the time to vaccinate Albertans, particularly those who remain vulnerable.
In dealing with the pandemic, we have run a marathon and are close to the end. I know that we, as Albertans, can shoulder the load to protect one another until vaccinations arrive and are more widely administered. I remain optimistic that these mandatory measures will only be needed for a short while and that Albertans will rise to the challenge in following the guidelines in place.
Over the past two weeks I have also heard from constituents who are sharing their thoughts about the draft curriculum that was presented to Albertans. I appreciate the feedback and that there are a lot of views on the best methods of teaching and subject matter. As a father to three daughters we need to get this right for our students. Please read further information about the draft curriculum below and have your say on the public survey.
In this edition you will also read about ongoing efforts for our economic recovery plan and work I have been doing to review the Occupational Health and Safety Code as set out in the three-year review as well as funding to support research and development for vaccines.
As always, if you have questions or would like to share your feedback please reach out to my office at http://email@example.com.
COVID-19 Step 1 Restrictions
Retail and Shopping malls
- 15% of fire code occupancy, with a minimum of five customers allowed.
- Only 1-on-1 or one household with a trainer only
- (e.g., fitness in dance studios, training figure skating on ice, one-on-one lessons).
- No drop-in or unsupervised individual fitness.
- Group fitness, high- or low-intensity, is not allowed.
- Outdoor fitness is allowed to a max of 10 people.
Adult performance activities
- Performance activities not permitted include dancing, singing, acting, playing a musical instrument and any rehearsal or theatrical performances.
Effective noon on April 9
Restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges and cafés
- Indoor in-person service is no longer permitted
- Takeout, curbside pickup and delivery services are permitted.
- Outdoor patio dining is also allowed with distancing.
- Household members only, or two close contacts of someone who lives alone.
- Contact information must be collected from one person of the dining party.
- Places of worship
- Social gatherings
- Personal and wellness services
- Indoor and outdoor children’s sport and performance
Alberta will remain in Step 1 with restaurant restrictions until further notice.
Find further information here.
COVID-19 vaccination program
Alberta draft curriculum
On March 31, the Honourable Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education released the draft K-6 curriculum for Albertans to weigh in on.
Our government was elected on a platform which included broad curriculum consultation and to develop a curriculum that is focused on foundational competencies with teaching methods that produce the best outcomes. Alberta has a top notch education system, including fantastic teachers. However, for the past decade outcomes have been declining and there is the recognition Alberta’s education system needs to provide students with a strong foundation of essential skills and knowledge.
There are four key themes woven throughout the revised curriculum that will span all grades: Literacy, numeracy, citizenship and practical skills that include household budgeting and essential skills that will prepare them for success.
This draft curriculum was designed using a broad consultation process, including experts, parents, teachers and the Association of Alberta Deans of Education. Our government recognizes that the most important consultation is with Albertans and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me and Minister LaGrange. I hope you will also take a moment to complete the public survey which will be open until next Spring 2022 at alberta.ca/curriculum.
Alberta’s economic recovery plan
Petrochemical program gains momentum
Alberta has approved its first project grant through the Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program (APIP) to Inter Pipeline’s propane-to-polypropylene plastic facility just north of Edmonton. This is the first of its kind in North America.
Through APIP, the company will receive a $408 million grant, spread out over three years and will have employed 16,000 Albertans directly and indirectly through construction.
APIP offers companies a grant worth 12 per cent of their eligible capital costs when building new plants for petrochemical, hydrogen, fertilizer, fuel products, or expanding existing ones. This is an opportunity to grow the sector by more than $30 billion by 2030, resulting in tens of thousands of jobs for Albertans according to the Alberta Industrial Heartland Association.
Occupational Health & Safety Code
An updated and easy-to-understand OHS code will help workers and job creators ensure healthy and safe workplaces and continue to support jobs and Alberta’s economic recovery. Reviewing the OHS Code ensures health and safety rules keep pace with changes to workplaces, new best practices, standards and technological advances. Input from workers, job creators and health and safety professionals will help improve and update the OHS Code so it works better for everyone on a work site. The review will help streamline and simplify OHS Code rules to mirror the direction taken by the new OHS Act.
Albertans may respond to an online survey about proposed first-year changes to the OHS Code between March 29 and May 10.
Funding to support vaccine research and development in Alberta
As part of Budget 2021, the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute (AVI) at the University of Alberta will receive $20 million in funding over four years. The funding will accelerate research and development of pharmaceutical and vaccine treatments and build on Alberta’s successes, such as the recent announcement of a Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for Dr. Michael Houghton, director of the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute.
Vaccine nationalism has shown the need to invest in health security for Albertans. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated more than ever the need for health research and domestic development of treatments for illnesses. Supporting a strong pharmaceutical and life sciences industry will attract investment, encourage the growth of spinoff industries and create jobs in Alberta. Alberta’s pharmaceutical and life sciences industry is the fourth largest in Canada, next to Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. Alberta has more than 200 life sciences companies – 60 per cent of which are in the medical technology and devices, health biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors.In 2019 alone, Alberta’s pharmaceutical and life sciences industry attracted $430 million in private capital investment, generated $824 million in revenue and supported more than 15,000 high-paying jobs.
In Our Community
Anti racism rallyAt the end of March I was honouored to speak and participate in an anti racism rally. Thanks to the organizers and all who came out to fight racism, and raise their voices for an inclusive and diverse Alberta and Canada. We all have a role to play to speak up, stand up and act against racism. We are stronger together.
Nominate a star volunteer in your communityNominations are open for the Stars of Alberta Volunteer Awards recognizing those making a lasting impact in their communities. The Stars of Alberta awards highlight and pay tribute to volunteers who give their time, energy and skills to make a difference in the lives of Albertans. Two awards are given in each of the following categories:
- Youth (up to 24 years of age)
In addition, the Breaking Barriers category recognizes exceptional volunteers who are working to create communities that are diverse and inclusive. Three awards are presented in this category to individuals who are addressing racism, advocating for LGBTQ2S+ inclusion and fighting gender discrimination in their communities.
The awards are part of the government’s commitment to recognize the contributions of Alberta’s volunteers, and is celebrated annually on or around International Volunteer Day on Dec. 5. Since the inception of the Stars of Alberta Volunteer Awards in 2000, 136 volunteers from across the province have been honoured.
Albertans are encouraged to submit nominations online. The deadline for nominations is Sept. 15.
Volunteers are the foundation for many community organizations providing recreational, social and cultural programs. Alberta has more than 26,400 non-profit organizations and, each year, more than 1.6 million Albertans provide more than 262 million volunteer hours to support the non-profit and voluntary sector at a value of $5.6 billion.
I want your feedback. Please take a moment to answer the following question.
Do you agree that our government made the right decision to go back to Step 1 of the COVID plan in light of the rise in COVID and variant cases across Alberta and projected impact on our health care system?
c/ Not sure
To answer please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FRKDGM2
Thank you to those who took time to answer the previous survey question:
Do you agree that our government made the right decision to stay in Step 2 of the COVID reopening plan to ensure we do not put further strain on our health care system?
a/ Yes – 86%
b/ No – 14%
c/ Not sure – 0