Posted on Jun 7, 2016

Your Letter for June 2016

It has been just over a month since the wildfire swept through Fort McMurray. On that first day, May 3, our province’s efforts were solely focused on safely evacuating the city’s 80,000 strong population. Ten percent of Fort McMurray’s housing stock was lost that day, and it was only through the incredible efforts of many Albertans that no more was lost. By May 5, more than 1,110 firefighters, 145 helicopters, 138 pieces of heavy equipment and 22 air tankers were fighting the fire. By May 7, the wildfire covered more than 1560 square kilometres.

As of June 7, there are 2,794 firefighters and support staff, 147 helicopters, 16 tankers and 233 pieces of heavy equipment battling fires across the province. The Fort McMurray wildfire remains out of control, but it is nearly 70% contained. Between Alberta and Saskatchewan, the fire is estimated to cover 5816.95 square kilometres and its perimeter is roughly 984 kilometres in length. To give perspective, the wildfire is eight and a half times the size of Edmonton itself.

But we are Albertans. We stood together in the wake of Black Friday in Edmonton on July 31, 1987. We were there after fires burned through Slave Lake from May 14 to 16, 2011. We held strong after floods ravaged through Calgary, High River and Southern Alberta in June and July of 2013. And we are doing it again now. Residents are already beginning to return to Fort McMurray, and together we will make the city stand tall again.

In addition to helping those affected by wildfire, our government has been helping Alberta move forward. Legislature adjourned on June 6, and there are numerous highlights that I want to share with you.

First, we passed Bill 15 – An Act to End Predatory Lending, which will change how the payday loan industry lends money to vulnerable consumers. We passed Bill 16 – Traffic Safety Amendment Act, 2016, which created regulations for companies like Uber to make ride-sharing safer for Albertans. With these amendments, all ride-sharing drivers require a professional license, appropriate insurance, and a policy safety check. We passed Bill 19 – Reform of Agencies, Boards and Commissions Compensation Act that bring transparency to and ensure salaries and compensation for agencies, boards and commissions are in line with the rest of the government.

And after sitting until 4:37 AM on Tuesday, June 6, we passed Bill 20 – Climate Leadership Implementation Act. Last election I heard from your friends and neighbours that Alberta needs to take a real stand on environmental issues. The Climate Leadership Implementation Act does just that. Collected revenues will be put towards green infrastructure like transit as well as to projects that will reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency.

Finally, I would like to offer congratulations to all the elementary and junior high graduates who are off to new schools this upcoming fall. For everyone in grade twelve, I wish you the best of luck for your final exams. Whether you are choosing to enter university, pursue a trade or simply travel for a while, know that you have the support of your entire community.