Posted on Apr 6, 2018

Budget Work for Albertans

Join me for a Round Table Discussion on the Budget

As I write this column, the Assembly is discussing the budget estimates for the next year, with specific funding announcements forthcoming over the next few weeks. The discussion on budget estimates may be of interest to Sherwood Park residents, as it establishes any new government programs, funding increase(s) and decrease(s), and clearly outlines how the government is working to lessen the spending curve in ministries such as Health. Information on which ministry is being discussed, and all the budget documents, can be found on http://assemblyonline.assembly.ab.ca/harmony/ and https://www.alberta.ca/budget.aspx#p8993s1. I sit on the Standing Committee on Families and Communities that will be debating such ministries as Education, Community and Social Services, Children Services, Status of Women and Justice and Solicitor General.

I invite you to join me for an informal Round Table discussion on Budget 2018 in my office next Friday, April 13, from 9:30-10:30 am. Please call (780-417-4747) or email (sherwood.park@assembly.ab.ca) to confirm your attendance.

Congratulations to Elk Island Catholic Schools on the announcement of funding for the renovation to École Père Kenneth Kearns Catholic Elementary School. Only 20 school projects across the province were announced in the budget, and I know it was a difficult decision given both the budgetary constraints and the need for educational spaces. This modernization will allow École Père Kenneth Kearns to be better able to serve their community and continue to provide an excellent learning environment for their students for years to come.

Over the last few weeks, I have been visiting businesses to learn about the challenges and opportunities they face. Sherwood Park has an amazing business community, and over the last three years I have come to discover that many of them include little-known and unique industries, and innovative entrepreneurs. Our economy is very diverse and includes recipients of numerous awards, such as Confetti Sweets who just received the 2018 Alberta Business Awards Young Entrepreneur Award of Distinction, and grants from Alberta Innovates, such as Integrity Products. The diversity of employers in Sherwood Park is great for our workforce and helps to ensure the stability of our economy.

I appreciate the work that Strathcona County is doing on changing their Human Resources policies to create inclusive hiring and workplace policies. Our community is changing – more and more residents are ethnically and religiously diverse, speak a diversity of languages, and have differing abilities and personal challenges. A truly inclusive community ensures inclusive workplaces and recreation facilities. The Provincial Government is doing a lot of work on the issue of inclusion as well, with resources available through various ministries and the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Many of our local businesses are excellent models of inclusion of persons with disabilities. I commend them for their leadership and encourage you to support them with your business.

As we approach Volunteer Week, I am reminded of what local residents committed to community can accomplish. Seedy Saturday in Sherwood Park 2018 is just one example of the power of volunteers. An annual event organized by Brandi Harrop, this year it is being held at Glory Lutheran Church (22577 Highway 16) on Saturday, April 14 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Seedy Saturday will have displays, a seed exchange and speakers on a number of topics — giving everyone a great start to the gardening season (which will hopefully be here soon!) — see you there!

April 23, 2018, is the deadline for nominations for the Ministry of Seniors and Housing’s 2018 Minister’s Seniors Service Awards. These awards are an excellent opportunity to recognize individuals and organizations who volunteer to make life better for seniors in our community. One of the three award categories, the Alice Modin Award, is named for Strathcona resident Alice Modin, who launched a seniors’ day in Strathcona County over 30 years ago. Her one-day event helped pave the way for the province-wide Seniors’ Week we observe every year. The Alice Modin Award acknowledges the contributions of a senior, 65 or older, who has provided 20 or more years of volunteer service to the community. Visit www.seniors-housing.alberta.ca for more information.