Notes from the MLA Fighting for ordinary Albertans

Danielle Larivee
MLA Lesser Slave Lake

When I was elected nearly four years ago as MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, I didn’t even know where to park my car at the Legislature. But I soon discovered my love of walking up those steps to fight for the things that matter.

Back in 2015, I wore my newbie status with pride. As a member of a new NDP government, I was an ordinary Albertan fighting for ordinary Albertans. With the price of oil falling quickly, I was concerned about how we could protect the people who elected me.

What did I know? As a single mom, I knew cutting services and asking everyday families to pay more would hurt family budgets. As a nurse and community member, I knew that it wasn’t fair to pack kids into overcrowded classrooms, allow longer wait times at the hospitals, or cut services for vulnerable Albertans.

Instead of deep and painful cuts, our government focused on things that mattered to ordinary Albertans. We invested in education, health care, and supports for the most vulnerable among us. Every decision we’ve made has been made to help Alberta families, just like yours and mine. As the economy has improved, we’re starting to see how important it was to stay focused on ordinary Albertans.

Now that the Legislature is back for another session, I want to tell you that we’re doing the same work. In the first week back in session, we’ve already introduced legislation to make life better for Albertans.

I’ll name just three examples.

The first bill we introduced will help make sure that cost isn’t a barrier to a good education. If passed, it will extend the current tuition freeze into 2020, saving students $2,000 on a four-year degree.

This bill was the result of work with student organizations and a comprehensive review of tuition and funding. Time and time again, we heard that predictable costs are a priority. Freezing tuition will help students at Northern Lakes College stay in the community.

We also introduced a new health bill to improve safety of patients. In the past year, we heard some disturbing stories about doctors with histories of abuse. This new legislation will make sure that professional colleges are more transparent. It will increase survivor supports when abuses happen. When Albertans go to the doctor, they shouldn’t have to worry about anything besides their health.

Finally, as Children’s Services Minister, I was proud to introduce a new bill that is part of our plan to improve the child intervention system. Living in a part of Alberta with more Indigenous communities than anywhere else, I’ve heard that we need to do more to keep kids safe and connected with their culture.

The changes we’re bringing in are part of 16 actions we will complete this spring. There’s more work to do, but this will make some long-overdue changes and clarify the steps needed to keep our children safe, supported and connected to their community.

As we start heading into election season, it’s easier to talk about returning Alberta to the past, to pick fights and distract people from issues that matter. We’ve seen this playbook used on our southern neighbours, but these things won’t help us make a difference for ordinary Albertans.

I want to talk about the kinds of changes we’re working on because they demonstrate a different reality, and the reasons I ran to be your MLA.

Even though I’m far more experienced now, it’s still a thrill to walk into the Alberta Legislature. It’s exciting to be part of a government made up of ordinary Albertans fighting for you. I’m proud to stand alongside colleagues to make sure every decision we make is focused on helping everyday families.

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