As the 2019 year comes to a close here are a few important updates to consider as the fall session ends and as we close out what has been a very busy 2019.
On Wednesday night, Dec 4th, the final three government bills on the order paper were passed, bringing the fall sitting of the Legislature to a close. Some interesting numbers were delivered via a news conference the following Thursday, Government House Leader Jason Nixon reported that seven months into the UCP’s mandate, the government has delivered on 43 per cent of campaign commitments, an incredible total of 16 government bills were passed during the eight week fall sitting. 375 commitments were made in the UCP platform and, to date, 162 are met or underway. Only 12 per cent of the way through a 4-year mandate in government and the UCP are on track to reverse many of the backwards and cumbersome policies implemented by the NDP.
The following is a closer look at some recent accomplishments of our government over the last month.
PISA Grades Alberta’s Education System
On December 3, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) released its results for 2018. While we welcome Alberta’s climb in global rankings, our science and reading scores declined from 2015, and math scores saw no change.
We realize that we cannot rely on global rankings when individual test scores are not improving. That is why we will continue to move forward on strengthening our education system so we can see increases in scores, in addition to climbing global ranks, in future years
Progress on Pipelines
I am happy to report that on November 3, construction finally began on the Trans Mountain expansion project just outside of Edmonton. While construction is far from complete, this is a milestone worth celebrating. This past week also saw a portion of Enbridge’s Line 3 become operational. Along with other enhancements to the Enbridge Mainline system, Line 3 will increase Alberta’s takeaway capacity by roughly 100,000 barrels of oil per day.
I am happy to report on the progress that is being made to get pipelines built and Alberta’s resources to market. Albertans can rest assured that our government will continue to stand up for our world-class energy sector and the jobs it creates for our province.
Premier Kenney Fights for Alberta at the Council of the Federation
Recently Premier Kenney traveled to Toronto to meet with Canada’s 12 other Premiers. Premier Kenney voiced the need to modify the Fiscal Stabilization Program to make it more responsive to economic downturns in resource markets. All Premiers agreed that this must be done. The Premiers also called for the removal of the per capita equalization cap that prevents Alberta from receiving full payments following sudden declines in revenue. This would add a $1.7-billion retroactive payment going back to 2015-16. Overall, the meeting was a positive step in our fight for a fair deal for Albertans.
These are some of the political highlights as the 2019 year winds up. It started with Albertans looking forward to a spring election and the opportunity to change the direction of the government of this province that we love. The citizens of Alberta entrusted the United Conservative Party with a majority government to enact their campaign promise of jobs, pipelines and the economy and the year is ending with the government working hard to fulfill its campaign promises. So as we all move in to the 2020 New Year I want to wish you and yours a Happy New Year with all of the promise that a new year brings.
Mark Smith is MLA for the Drayton Valley-Devon constituency and writes a regular column for The Pipestone Flyer.