Hello again friends and neighbours.
New leadership is always followed by adjustments to the way government is organized to address the needs of Albertans. Consequently, Premier Smith has recently announced her new cabinet along with some tweaking of our government’s ministry names and objectives. This new cabinet is composed of a diverse team of MLAs from every region of the province, from rural and remote areas, small and mid-sized communities, as well as large urban centres. I am honoured to have been asked to remain in my role as Minister of Indigenous Relations and to also take on new duties as a member of the Treasury Board.
There is a complete listing of all the Alberta Ministries at: https://www.alberta.ca/ministries.aspx. If you click on each Ministry name, you will be taken to a page of further information about that ministry, including its responsibilities, services it provides, and information about the current minister. Take a moment to look up any ministry you are interested in and browse the information available. You will notice that some ministries have been tweaked and some responsibilities have shifted.
Premier Smith has now issued mandate letters to each Minister and has made them available on each Ministry’s page for everyone to read. These letters provide direction to Ministers about the priorities of the government and spell out tasks assigned to individual ministries.
I am encouraged to know that all ministers and MLAs are being asked to keep affordability top-of-mind in their work. Fighting inflation and making life more affordable for families is a priority reflected in these mandate letters. Among other things, ministers have been asked to adjust income supports like AISH and seniors benefits for inflation, develop a package of targeted inflation relief measures, address the cost of utility bills, review Alberta’s electricity pricing system, and fix the gaps in mental health and wellness funding for kids.
While Alberta’s economy is strong, we know the reality for many families is that inflation is causing difficulties. Some of our existing programs are already working to help weather the storm. So far, our electricity rebates have distributed $375 million to 1.9 million households. As well, our natural gas rebates are set to kick in if monthly rates go above $6.50 per gigajoule this winter. Thankfully, they haven’t yet! I am very happy to report that Premier Smith has been clear that much more is expected to be done to make life more affordable for Alberta families and businesses.
Session starts up again at the end of this month and will keep me quite busy at the Legislature in Edmonton for the rest of the year.
I’ve had the opportunity, over the last month, to spend some really wonderful time here in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin, listening to constituents, celebrating successes, and helping support some causes dear to this community.
I will never tire of singing the praises of the people in this constituency who have given so much of themselves to make life better for someone else. There are people who have run for public office and have taken it upon themselves to wrestle with the difficult decisions. There are parents who have stepped up to run programs for children. There are community members who have seen ways that sharing their time and expertise would benefit their neighbours. There are philanthropists who have given generously to enhance other people’s lives. I am always so encouraged to hear stories of citizens taking the initiative to help wherever they see a need. Over the last couple of months, I have had the opportunity to read through many such stories of outstanding service and citizenship from constituents in this riding.
You may have heard of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal commemorating the 70th anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada. The medal is a tangible way for Alberta to honour Her Majesty’s service to Canada, by recognizing the significant contributions of individual Albertans to their communities. My office has received medal nominations from many constituents, and this past week I was honoured to award 20 of those extraordinary nominees with Platinum Jubilee Medals. Twenty, of course, is not the number of people in Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin who are accomplishing good things; that number is much higher! But this group of medal recipients is certainly representative of the many we are fortunate to have in this constituency who go above and beyond to make life better for everyone.
Before the program ends, 7000 Albertans across this province will be recognized and awarded the medal.
My heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributes in any way to our community; keep up the great work! Your efforts are so appreciated.
—MLA Rick Wilson, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin