July 17th, 2024

Reflections upon the years serving Lethbridge


By Lethbridge Herald on June 29, 2024.

AT THE LEGISLATURE
Shannon Phillips – NDP MLA for Lethbridge West

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

This quotation, often misattributed to Winnie the Pooh or his author A.A. Milne, is actually from a film that came out the year I was born. 

I have been reflecting on the quotation, though, as I wind up my MLA duties and clear out my offices. I have so many treasured items from the accomplishments we have had together. 

I want to use this, my ultimate column, to share some of the thanks that is owed to you, the Lethbridge community, for those accomplishments.

In government, we hired 4000 teachers and built or modernized 260 schools, all during a recession. Some of those schools are in Lethbridge and I am delighted to remember those school openings at Senator Joyce Fairbairn Middle School, Coalbanks Elementary, and Robert Plaxton Elementary. I continued, in Opposition, to press for the schools still needed and the modernizations, like the one desperately needed at St Francis School, that have been unfunded by the UCP.

The Chinook Hospital expansion was another wonderful achievement of our work together but more important than even that building was remembering that time in which people were able to see family doctors, there were walk-in clinics, and access to specialists was faster. Obviously, the system has suffered a great deal since 2019, but our advocacy to end the chaos has led to the government’s promises to invest in a cardiac catheterization lab and a physician training centre in Lethbridge. I know my caucus mates, and the new MLA for Lethbridge West, will make both these priorities, as I did.

The Lethbridge College (renamed Lethbridge Polytechnic this week) and the University of Lethbridge saw tremendous growth in the last decade and I will always be deeply proud of our government’s commitment to making them more accessible and to investing in their world-class facilities. The Science Commons at the university is inspiring for every person who stands and watches those state-of-the-art labs through the glass walls! 

The new Trades building at the College inspires students too and the four-year freeze on tuition that we achieved meant that some students completed their whole program without a tuition increase like the ones today’s students have been seeing in the last couple years.

The business community thrived, especially when they had an NDP government funding the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) so there were investments in major infrastructure projects, allowing companies like Cavendish to choose to build a plant here. Come to think of it, ever since the UCP cancelled the MSI our property taxes in Lethbridge have seen sudden increases. Investments matter, especially in infrastructure, to ensure businesses and workers can choose Lethbridge.

My time as the MLA for Lethbridge West has been treasured for more than the memories of school openings and ribbon cuttings. I have had the greatest honour to meet thousands upon thousands of you who have opened your door to my knock, met me at an event, or stopped me in the city. It has been a true honour to have represented this incredible community so I want to shine a light on some of the groups that have been the most instrumental in my time in office.

First to the U of L community: the faculty, administration, students, and staff – you have been some of my strongest supporters and most valued critics because when you had concerns you employed your knowledge, research, and critical thinking to improve me and our whole city. Like the best teachers, you anchor us in knowledge but you bring us a world of ideas that act like wings. We are all made better by the U of L.

To those dedicated people in K-12 education including the trustees, teachers, administrators, students, parents, and support staff: when I became an MLA I was just starting my journey as a parent in the school system and I have seen, up close, your dedicated work. 

My last class presentation was in the Gilbert Paterson gymnasium last month where I spoke to 300 middle school students for one hour. It reminded me of the many school presentations I made that always put me in awe of what our education system, and each of you, achieve daily as you build young people into our future. I hope you all enjoy some rest this summer!

To those incredible health care workers who are still our heroes for all they did during the pandemic years and since: in every interaction I have had with physicians, nurses, administrators, support staff, EMS, or any other health care professional I have been struck by their personal commitment. We owe gratitude to each of you and we owe our province a health care system that is boring again. I have often remarked that a good government is one that is kind of boring because it does the important things well so they do not reach the frontpage news. 

A boring health care system, like we had until 2019, would meet the needs of the population and be a place where our health care heroes would be proud to serve.  Please know, we appreciate every person in the system and know what you are up against.

I have saved the best for last and that is the many people who have become my friends, my team, and my raft. To the Queer community, Arts community, Labour unions, SACPA, and the many civil society groups, especially environmental organizations:  you have lead the way and made the world a better, more beautiful, more diverse, and safer place for every one of us.

 We all benefit from the world you envision and work to build every day. Know that I will remain your ally in building that better world.

I am truly lucky to have so much to be thankful for and to leave with so much pride for all that we achieved together. Thank you, Lethbridge, for the incredible honour of three times being elected to be your voice in Edmonton. 

My title changes in a few days but this is not goodbye – let’s see what more we can achieve when we achieve it together!

 

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ReallyReally

Thank you Shannon. Your conviction and diligence to and sacrifices for the responsibilities of your elected position were obvious and have benefited all your constituents as well as all Albertans; that is irrefutable and your efforts exemplary to others in such roles. RESPECT. Enjoy the next pathways you are adventuring down.



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