MLA Mark Smith

MLA Mark Smith

MLA Mark Smith: Ukraine and Alberta

More than 350,000 Albertans are of Ukrainian descent, including several in the Alberta Legislature. When fighting in Ukraine began, the government wasted no time in acting to support the people of Ukraine, by contributing a total $10.3 million to support aid in Ukraine. This included $5 million donated through the Ukrainian World Congress to equip 5,000 members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Force with defensive equipment, including flak jackets, helmets, bulletproof vests, first-aid kits, night-vision goggles, communications equipment, and essential fuel.

Ukrainian Albertans have contributed so much to our province’s communities, culture, and economy, so I’m glad we could contribute to the effort in Ukraine at a time when support is most needed.

With European countries dependence on Russian oil and gas the war in Ukraine is proof that the world needs more Canadian oil and that our country must build energy infrastructure and boost oil exports. Alberta is a rights-respecting liberal democracy with the third largest energy reserves in the world. We can be a major force for global stability by displacing conflict oil from Russia and other dictatorships with Alberta oil.

Albertans are some of the most generous people on earth. For all those wishing to donate to the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, please visit the Canada-Ukraine Foundation donation portal at www.CanadaHelps.org.

The situation in Ukraine has put a damper on the good economic news in Alberta, but I still want to update you on some exciting announcements that have happened in our province ever since the government tabled a landmark balanced budget.

The pandemic has highlighted a need to expand our healthcare system and increase capacity. This past week, we announced that Budget 2022 will grow Alberta Health’s total operating expense budget by $600 million this year and by a total of $1.8 billion by 2024-25. This will ensure we have the capacity we need to protect patient care and prepare for future health care demands.

We also announced this week that Budget 2022 contains an increase of more than $700 million over the next three years to support teachers and to address cost pressures in schools, as well as $110 million in new funding for the next three years to support the mental health and wellbeing of Alberta students.

We also found out this week that Budget 2022 includes about $2.5 billion over three years in support of our new childcare agreement with the federal government. I am proud to report that since this agreement was announced, Drayton Valley- Devon families are experiencing lower costs for childcare, which remains on target to average $10 per day by 2026.

Finally, earlier this week, we announced that Budget 2022 invests almost $3.7 billion, a 6.3 per cent increase over last year, into continuing care programs and services for seniors and vulnerable Albertans. It also earmarks $204 million in capital funding over three years to modernize existing continuing care facilities across the province and develop new continuing care spaces for Indigenous Peoples.

With our balance sheet back in the black, the lowest taxes in Canada, and essentially all restrictions now lifted – Alberta is starting to feel like Alberta again. Nowhere is this truer than in Drayton Valley-Devon.

I look forward to providing you with more updates soon.

— Mark Smith, MLA for Drayton Valley – Devon