MLA for Lesser Slave Lake
Lesser Slave Lake is a resilient region that I have called home for many years. I continue to be thankful for the chance to represent the hard-working, community-minded people I call friends and neighbours.
Collaboration and determination have gotten this region through many challenges and our communities have come out stronger because of them. Between low oil prices and the resulting weakened economy, Albertans have been feeling the pressure, especially here in Northern Alberta. I know these are tough times, but thankfully the economy is stabilizing and signs of recovery are becoming clearer.
The latest example of recovery is Tolko announcing that it is restarting its High Prairie Oriented Strand Board (OSB) mill, which had been closed since 2008. President and CEO of Tolko, Brad Thorlakson, credits Premier Rachel Notley and our government for being “key to the restart decision.”
Forestry is a big part of our way of life in Northern Alberta, so it’s great to see that the Tolko mill will be creating jobs and supporting our region once again. Investment will be flowing back into our region, helping to support families and industry in the High Prairie region.
Our government is also supporting rural communities by investing in vital infrastructure, such as the Slave Lake Airport. People in Slave Lake and the whole surrounding region count on our airport to fly sick people out and to support our air tankers to fight fires across Northern Alberta. That’s why I was proud to join Transportation Minister Brian Mason and local community leaders for the funding announcement for initiatives including the repaving project at the Slave Lake Airport; bridge and culvert replacements in Big Lakes County and in the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River; and grading and other improvements on Cattle Ranch Road in the East Prairie Metis Settlement.
Because our government knows it’s important for Northern Albertans to have opportunities for education where they live, we recently announced $21.6 million for a new consolidated Northern Lakes College campus in High Prairie. This facility has been needed for far too many years and I am very proud to have been a part of making it happen. With this new investment, Northern Lakes will continue to help our region thrive by providing the paramedics, teachers, electricians, nurses, welders, social workers, carpenters, and more, that we need to have healthy sustainable communities.
I’m looking forward to spending time this summer listening to students, families and hard-working Albertans in Lesser Slave Lake, and talking about the work our government is doing to create good mortgage-paying jobs, build new schools, invest in transportation infrastructure projects, make life more affordable for families and support the front lines services we all rely on. We will continue to diversify Alberta’s economy, and work to ensure long-term sustainability for our northern rural communities.
What we will not do is make a bad situation worse with deep cuts, such as a $3.5 billion cut like the conservatives want, which would significantly impact services, take money out of the economy and put more Albertans out of work.
While the conservative parties continue to talk our province down, we know that we have a lot to be optimistic about here in Alberta. Housing construction, retail sales, exports and drilling are all set to increase over the next year.
, and the Conference Board of Canada has projected that Alberta will outperform all provinces with the fastest growing provincial economy this year, with real GDP forecast to increase by 3.3 per cent.
We still have some work to do, but it’s important to take opportunities to celebrate the work we have done together, to build strong communities and create a prosperous future for Alberta.