2017 was the year Alberta turned the corner. In 2018, Alberta will take the lead.
Alberta began 2017 gripped by the recession, but we’re ending the year as the fastest growing economy in the country.
It hasn’t been easy for Albertans and there is more work ahead. But the plan is working. Alberta is moving forward.
Today, Alberta’s economy is more diversified and things are looking up. Our economy is the fastest growing in Canada, with tens of thousands of new, full-time jobs added over the last year. We’re seeing tens of thousands of new jobs, and billions of dollars in new investment – from JACOS in Fort McMurray to Amazon in Calgary.
Small business confidence, manufacturing, retail sales, drilling: they are all up. All credit goes to the resilient, hard-working and entrepreneurial people of Alberta.
Our term started with one big strategic choice that has shaped these two years: Invest in the recovery.
First, we helped to create good jobs by investing in badly needed infrastructure.
Second, we protected the public services all Albertans rely on.
Third, we teamed up with communities and the private sector to help our province diversify.
And with the economy improving, we’re carefully finding savings to ensure we reduce the deficit while protecting Albertans’ priorities in health care and education.
Instead of slashing spending on new infrastructure – the lifeblood of our economy – we put more Albertans to work building new roads, bridges, schools and hospitals. With interest rates low it made even more sense.
So we got to work on badly needed projects. Our kids are learning in good schools, and in new schools, finally getting built after years of ignoring the problem. Health care will be stronger with new hospitals – like the Calgary Cancer Centre and a new hospital in southwest Edmonton – and care facilities throughout the province.
I am proud of the action our government has taken to support our recovery and support families. Here’s a few of the highlights:
Helping Alberta’s energy sector move forward & fighting for pipelines[break]
- We saw a 122% increase in drilling activity stemming from our Modernized Royalty Framework that provides flexibility for the modern industry, which means good-paying jobs for Alberta families. And the construction of new pipelines will create over 20,000 jobs for Albertans.
- Our energy sector is increasingly diversified thanks to our Petrochemicals Diversification Program, which just saw the first project get a green light for $3.5 billion in private sector investment and the creation of over 2,300 jobs in the industrial heartland near Fort Saskatchewan.
- Made-in-Alberta solutions will protect our oil and gas industry from the business risks of climate change, ensuring we don’t have a plan imposed on us by Ottawa.
- As we stand up for Alberta’s interests in court, we remain confident we will get a Canadian pipeline built to Canadian tidewater to ensure Albertans receive full value for their resources.
- Our cross-country tour reminded people that the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion pipeline and a strong Alberta energy sector benefit all Canadians.
- We celebrated the beginning of construction for the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline, which will help employ over 9,000 Albertans, and was approved thanks to our Climate Leadership Plan.
Creating good jobs, boosting employment opportunities and diversifying the economy[break]
- The tens of thousands of new full-time jobs created province-wide since last year are being led by growth in the oil and gas industry.
- We are helping Indigenous people find career success in construction-related careers by providing additional support for job-training and employment services. We’re also helping unemployed Albertans train for new jobs and better supporting rural employers by making improvements to the Canada-Alberta Job Grant.
- By cutting the small business tax rate by one-third as of January 1, 2017, we are saving small business owners more than $175 million this year.
- We’ve provided craft brewers and liquor producers more opportunities to showcase their products by creating a taproom licence and allowing them to sell Alberta-made beer and spirits at approved farmers’ markets.
- We partnered with the City of Lethbridge to help ensure the largest private sector investment in that City’s history – the $360 million expansion of Cavendish Farms, which will create good jobs and opportunities for local farmers. The record investment Cavendish Farms is making in Lethbridge is good for our farmers and producers, good for the entire community, and good for our growing economy.
Protecting and supporting hardworking Albertans[break]
- We protected the health and safety of Albertans and supported injured workers by passing legislation changing the Workers’ Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act.
- We supported family-friendly workplaces and modernized Alberta’s standards by passing changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code.
- Fuel and convenience store workers are better protected by our legislation requiring violence-prevention plans and pre-payment for fuel.
- Low-income Albertans can make ends meet thanks to raising the minimum wage to $13.60 per hour.
- We’re making life more affordable by strengthening consumer protections and helping businesses succeed by: banning door-to-door energy sales; giving Albertans the right to be told about a vehicle’s history or have warranty protections for repairs; ensure pet owners get information about fees up front and are asked for approval before administering any service; making sure Albertans get a fair shot at tickets to see their favourite performers by ticket-buying banning bots.
- New condo purchasers will be protected as we ensure more information is disclosed to the buyer and deposit money is protected during construction.
Making education more affordable and accessible[break]
- We funded the elimination of fees for instructional supplies and materials, and some transportation fees, for the 2017/18 school year. The parents of nearly 600,000 Alberta students will save more than $54 million annually as a result. We believe every student should have the right to publicly-funded education. School fees should not be a barrier to kids getting a good start in life, no matter their circumstance. We understand that times are tough for Alberta families and our government is working to make life more affordable.
- Albertans will have affordable and stable access to post-secondary education with the extension of the tuition freeze to 2019. Students will pay the 2015 rate of tuition and will save $1500 over the four years of their degree.
- We’re making education more affordable for Alberta students by providing a $4.4 million increase to the Rutherford Scholarship, providing financial assistance for up to 1000 more apprentices through the apprentice training award and increasing access for Indigenous learners to apprenticeship training through the Trade Winds to Success program.
Ensuring Albertans have the supports they need[break]
- Every student in Alberta deserves a school that is a welcoming, caring and safe place to learn – that’s why we’ve passed a new law that ensures students can form a gay-straight alliance at their school without fear of being outed. An Act to Support Gay Straight Alliances supports students who wish to create or join gay-straight and queer-straight alliances (GSAs and QSAs) by ensuring that every publicly funded school in Alberta has a clear policy allowing them. Our top priority is for all schools across Alberta to be safe and welcoming for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
- We increased access to the legal system for survivors of sexual and domestic violence by eliminating the two year time limit to bring forward civil claims and removing the limitation period for the following types of claims: sexual assault, sexual misconduct involving a minor, intimate relationship or dependant, and non-sexual assault involving a minor, intimate relationship or dependant.
- We are also helping victims of domestic violence put their safety first and get out of their rental agreement, without additional financial penalty.
- The new Service Dogs Qualifications Regulation will allow more schools to train qualified service dogs, giving more Albertans opportunities to find a job, attend school and participate in their communities.
- The cost of quality child care has been ignored in Alberta for far too long. A government that is focused on families’ priorities can’t ignore a challenge that so many families face. So, we have expanded our $25-a-day child care pilots to 100 Early Learning and Child Care Centres.
- The Alberta Child benefit will provide $174 million in 2017-18 with up to $2,785 each year to Alberta’s most vulnerable families in support of about 200,000 children.
In 2018, with the economy growing and the private sector gaining new jobs, we will stay on course to balance the budget and continue to focus on the fundamentals: jobs, affordability, and good public services.
A key priority will be to make progress on the Trans-Mountain Pipeline. We must keep up the fight, join together as Albertans and get the pipeline built. I will continue to lead that campaign asking Albertans and the moderate majority in Canada to come together to get this done.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there is a not a school, hospital, road, bus, bike lane, or port anywhere in the country that does not owe something to Alberta’s energy industry. And when Alberta is hurting, the whole country pays a heavy price, and they see it in their own communities.
My focus in 2018 is squarely on what matters to Albertans – keeping our recovery going, supporting good jobs, building a pipeline, and making sure people have the services they need.