I hope that you have all been able to enjoy the warmer weather and spend some time outdoors. At long last, playgrounds and parks across our community are reopening. Just a couple weeks ago, my colleagues and I returned to the Alberta Legislature for a busy spring and summer session.
Our government continued its work to make life better for Albertans. New pieces of legislation were introduced to help tackle the issues that matter to our community, including creating an Alberta Parole Board, addressing the health harms of smoking and vaping in youth, working towards new ways to prevent crime, while maintaining supports for victims when they need it most, and freeing up police and courts to make Alberta safer. All of these proposed laws live up to our promises to Albertans.
Last week, our government announced its plan to distribute non-medical face masks to Albertans as part of our government’s relaunch strategy. A&W, McDonald’s, and Tim Hortons are partnering with the Alberta government to distribute these masks at no cost through their drive-thru locations across the province. This innovative distribution will help Albertans who want face masks get them quickly, and at very low cost to taxpayers.
During the election we promised Albertans that we would focus on jobs, the economy and pipelines. To make good on that promise, the Legislature passed the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, which increases penalties for damaging or interfering with critical infrastructure through blockades and other illegal protests. Albertans can rest assured that our government will not allow illegal action to undermine our economic recovery.
Airdrie-East is home to many local business owners, and our government is listening to entrepreneurs and landlords to ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep businesses open and Albertans working. Tenants and landlords can now fill out a survey to help inform the government of any challenges they may be experiencing while working together to develop a payment schedule, paying their rent, or meeting other financial obligations during COVID-19. I encourage businesses and landlords to complete the survey at alberta.ca/commercial-tenancy-support-feedback.aspx.
Over the past few months, Seniors in our province have been faced unprecedented and difficult circumstances. I am very happy to share that our government is accelerating $26 million in funding for seniors housing projects to ensure that low income seniors will have access to well-maintained homes. In addition to providing important service to Albertans, this investment will help create 190 jobs and help begin our province’s economic road to recovery. Further, we are increasing care in nursing homes by expanding the role of nurse practitioners beyond the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that residents can access direct primary care.
A high priority for our government continues to be red tape reduction. Over the past couple weeks, we have reduced red tape across the province. I am happy to share that a new apprenticeship path for barbers is now available that will streamline training and help get Albertans working sooner. Further, we reduced red tape and increased competitiveness for Alberta’s farmers by removing Fusarium graminearum from the Pest and Nuisance Control Regulation. We also cut red tape for job creators by allowing them to incorporate and get their federal business number and federal tax program account number in one easy step, saving them valuable time, money and resources. Lastly, we introduced Bill 7 which proposes common sense changes to address unnecessary delays at the Alberta Energy Regulator caused by red tape.
I often see home-based businesses on Shop Local Airdrie and other sites, selling their delicious goods! I am happy to share that new measures will provide Albertans with more access to locally-prepared food. New changes to Alberta’s Food Regulation will enable Albertans to sell low-risk home-prepared foods from home and at special events. These gradual changes will cut red tape for businesses such as farmer’s market vendors.
I am pleased to share that our government is upholding its commitments to Albertans and protecting choice within Alberta’s robust and diverse education system. If passed Bill 15, or the Choice in Education Act, will amend the Education Act to affirm that parents have the right to choose the kind of education they feel is best for their children. This will strengthen Alberta’s successful history of education choice, including public schools, Francophone schools, charter schools, and home education. The bill also proposes expanded options for parents to deliver home education for their children, and will allow charter schools to be established with a focus on vocation-based education. Our government believes that parents know what is best for their children. Bill 15 creates more choice on this important issue, which I know is important to many parents in Airdrie-East.
I know that’s quite a bit to take in! My colleagues and I at the provincial legislature are working hard on your behalf. While night sessions and physical distancing are part of our new normal, none of that will break our focus on making life better for all Albertans.