July 17th, 2018

Working to improve Albertans’ lives

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on February 9, 2018.

Whether it has meant creating more jobs, protecting important services such as health care and education, reducing school fees, freezing tuition, protecting and keeping workers safe or providing funding to enable seniors to age in place, our government is making life better for Albertans.

There are more employed Albertans with over 75,000 full-time jobs having been created in Alberta since mid-2016. With our government’s investment in diversifying the economy and creating jobs through the building of new schools, hospitals and road projects, as well as cutting small business tax and offering two new tax credits for diversification and growth of small to medium-sized businesses, we are optimistic about the future of our province.

February sees two significant celebrations. Black Heritage Month recognizes the contributions people of African and Caribbean descent have made to our province. Proclaimed Jan. 31, 2017 by Premier Rachel Notley, Alberta joined British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec in its official recognition. Alberta has the third-highest black population in Canada and our history includes that of many notable Canadians of African or Caribbean descent.

One such story is that of cowboy pioneer John Ware. Born into slavery on a South Carolina plantation, Ware was Alberta’s first settler of African descent. Remembered for his animal husbandry abilities, his great strength and amiable personality, Ware is credited with bringing the first cattle to southern Alberta, prior to Alberta becoming a province. John Ware earned a place among folk heroes and helped lay the foundations of Alberta’s ranching industry.

We also celebrate the Year of the Dog as part of Lunar New Year this month. As we welcome the Year of the Dog, it’s important to remember that diversity makes our province stronger and more vibrant. By celebrating our diverse customs and traditions we create a more understanding, caring and connected society.

Education Minister David Eggen and Alberta Education are calling on all junior and senior high school students between the ages of 13-19 to apply for the 2018-19 Minister’s Youth Council. Our government is focused on making life better for Albertans and there are few better investments we can make than those we make to education. This annual recruitment invites young Albertans to bring their broad range of life experiences, knowledge and skills and provide input on a variety of topics to improve Alberta’s K-12 Education system. The MYC are given the opportunity to work with the Minister of Education and Alberta Education staff, and their peers from around the province and to gather input from their respective communities to inform education issues and future Alberta Education activities. All costs associated with travel and accommodations (meal and transportation included) will be covered by the Government of Alberta for MYC members.

Go to https://www.alberta.ca/

release.cfm?xID=5235801D4B3E6-C40F-A68C-F1E2C8B39091384D for more information and to apply to become a member of the Ministers Youth Council. Applicants will need parental permission to apply and all applications must be postmark dated on/or prior to March 30, 2018 to be considered. If you are unable to apply online or download the application please contact my office and a member of my staff with be happy to provide you with hard copies of the application package.

A world-class education calls for a world-class curriculum and in May and June 2017, Albertans were asked to provide feedback on what students will learn as part of the government’s second curriculum survey. Nearly 10,000 Albertans took the time to participate. The current Alberta Education Curriculum, having been unchanged for over 30 years, needed revisions to fully support today’s learners in pursuit of their goals. A modern curriculum will build the skills, abilities and competencies needed for the future.

Stakeholders, including parents, teachers, post-secondary institutions, and industry provided input ensuring we move forward with the best curriculum possible. The results of the 2017 Spring Curriculum survey showed that Albertans support a curriculum that will “give students a strong foundation in reading, writing and math and provide opportunities to develop essential skills like problem-solving and effective communication.”

We know students can’t focus in class on an empty stomach. Access to a daily nutritious meal can help ensure children have the fuel they need to get through the school day and learn. In the 2016-17 school year, 14 school authorities participated in a pilot school nutrition program for elementary school students. We continued throughout 2017 to phase in a targeted school nutrition program; now, our government is expanding our successful nutrition program to every board in the province. Not only will we be helping to fuel young minds for learning, our teachers, students, community members, and caregivers will have enhanced opportunities to learn about healthy food choices, accessing food resources and information on food labelling.

The Ministerial Panel on Child Intervention, of which I have been a member, met for the last time officially in January. Tasked with exploring ways to improve Alberta’s Child death review and to strengthen the child intervention system in our province the panel met throughout the province in a series of public meetings looking at the issue. The panel has taken a considerable amount of timedue to the importance of this review. I am proud of the recommendations we will be providing to the minister as we move forward in improving Alberta Child Intervention and Alberta Child Death review systems.

Finally, come out and enjoy a Taste of Colombia on Feb. 23. Tickets are $12 for children and $20 for adults, doors open at 5:30 p.m. and dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Multicultural Centre (421 6 Ave. S.). Contact the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association (SAEA) to purchase your tickets.

My office is open for walk-in service Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., or at other times by appointment. You can also reach us by telephone at 403-320-1011 or by email at lethbridge.east@assembly.ab.ca.

Maria Fitzpatrick is the NDP MLA for Lethbridge East. Her column appears monthly.

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