MLA Minister Rick Wilson (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

MLA Minister Rick Wilson (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

MLA Rick Wilson: May recap

Hello again friends and neighbours!

When Lord Stanley’s Cup was first introduced in March of 1894, I doubt he had any idea just how much it would be sought after for all these years, how much it would come to mean to Canadians, or how easily it could simultaneously divide and also unite this province! What a Battle of Alberta! And as you watch the Oiler’s dominate the next series, enjoy the rivalry and the thrill of sharing the playoff experience with your friends and family and please consider doing it from a local restaurant or pub – they have had a rough couple of years, and this is the perfect opportunity to give them a boost! Oh and since this is Oil Country – Go Oilers Go!

Speaking of Oil Country, there’s some good news about Bill C-69, the “No More Pipelines” law. Alberta’s Court of Appeal ruled recently that the federal law is unconstitutional.

This was an historic moment in Alberta’s fight for a fair deal within the Canadian federation. It was also a major win for Alberta’s energy sector and the more than 100,000 men and women who work in it. In court, our government argued that we have the right to responsibly develop our own resources – resources that belong to the people of Alberta – and the court agreed. In their 4-1 decision, the court ruled that the federal government needlessly overhauled a regulatory review process that is already one of the best in the world, putting Albertans’ livelihoods and economic investments at risk. The court ruling was crystal clear: Bill C-69 “constitutes a profound invasion into provincial legislative jurisdiction and provincial proprietary rights.”

The federal Bill C-71 is also an issue on this provincial government’s radar. This Bill requires additional verification of Possession and Acquisition Licences for non-restricted firearms transfers and increased record-keeping by businesses. Recently appointed Alberta chief firearms officer Teri Bryant is requesting the federal government delay or eliminate these requirements altogether. In light of the fact that these changes will do nothing to prevent criminals from accessing firearms illegally, she will advocate for common-sense firearms legislation that avoids unnecessary red tape.

The Minister of Advanced Education has been announcing additional funding for specific programs (including agriculture, health care, science, IT, aviation, quantum computing, veterinary medicine, engineering, business, early learning and childcare) in many post-secondaries around the province. These strategic investments in high-demand programs will help meet labour demands, will ensure students have more opportunities to train closer to home in the programs they choose, and will support industry with the highly skilled and talented workforce they need for the future. Possibilities (and spaces) are opening up all across the province for those interested in a post-secondary education.

You may remember that in Budget 2022, the Alberta government promised to open and staff 50 new critical care beds as part of its commitment to expand health-care capacity to meet patient needs now and in future emergencies. I am happy to report that 19 of those ICU beds have already been added, and that the remaining 31 are expected to be ready and staffed by the end of September. Alberta’s ICU capacity will grow to 223 beds across the province. To date, AHS has filled 250 positions to support the new beds, including nurses, allied health professionals and pharmacists, as well as clinical support service positions such as diagnostic imaging and service workers. AHS plans to recruit to fill another 425 clinical and support service positions to support the total bed numbers.

When the beds are not in use, staff will support other areas of the hospital, offering greater flexibility and overall capacity to the broader health system.

This work is part of a Sustainability and Resiliency Action Plan to ensure the health system can respond quickly and proactively to future waves of the pandemic or other health emergencies. The plan incorporates leading practices and lessons learned from other Canadian and international health systems.

I’ve mentioned before that it is my great honour and privilege to represent the good people of Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin. One of the beauties of also having the privilege of serving as Minister of Indigenous Relations is that my Ministry work sometimes brings me to my own constituency, where over one-third of the constituents are First Nations. This connection helps inform the work I do with my Ministry and vice versa. Any work we do as a community or a province to advance reconciliation, in the spirit of cooperation and respect, will be of great benefit to us all.

This was certainly highlighted last week when hundreds gathered to honour and celebrate Maskwacis’ Dr./Chief Willie Littlechild for his extraordinary leadership and commitment to ensuring the rights of Indigenous Peoples are recognized and protected, globally.

Dr. Littlechild’s list of accomplishments is impressive; he was the first Alberta Treaty First Nation person to receive a law degree from the U of A and the first Treaty Indigenous Member of Parliament. In addition, he has been a commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, worked with the United Nations for over 30 years and has been inducted into seven Sports Halls of Fame!

Heartfelt thanks to the four Maskwacis Cree First Nations for organizing this wonderful event and to Dr. Littlechild for his mentorship and for the tremendous personal sacrifices he has made (and continues to make!) to promote human rights, particularly those of Indigenous people. He is truly an inspiration, and I am humbled to call him a dear friend.

— Rick Wilson, MLA Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin

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