Working to support Albertans

photo1Last week, Edmonton K-Day’s kicked off with the annual K-Day’s Parade! Thank you to all those who attended this fantastic family event. Summer in Alberta is a fantastic time to get out and enjoy the sunshine with great activities such as K-Days. If you’re in the Edmonton area this week, I encourage you to head over to the Northlands Fairgrounds and partake in some old fashion fun!

While we continue to enjoy yet another beautiful summer here in Alberta, it is important that we continue to help those in need. This week, we announced new supports networks for Albertans affected by eating disorders. The first new support groups will launch in Edmonton this year, with Calgary groups starting next year. Expansion into other locations across the province is planned to follow. Albertans who are battling eating disorders rely on the support of their loved ones, and I am proud that these new community-based support networks will help ensure these families are also supported during their loved one’s recovery. With 1.3 per cent of Albertans at risk of an eating disorder, supporting networks like the Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta means investing in Albertan families and their futures.

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This week, I am pleased to support the introduction of a new Alberta license plate designed to Support Our Troops. This license plate gives Albertans a new way to show their respect and appreciation for Canada’s brave service men and women. For every plate that is purchased, $55 will go to the Support Our Troops Program, which is administered by the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services organization. This group helps current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families in Alberta.

photo3I am proud to call Alberta home. This province of ours is full of some truly spectacular beauty. This week, we took some major steps to further protect Alberta’s natural beauty through an expansion of conservation areas, protected watersheds, and native grasslands in southern Alberta. The South Saskatchewan Regional Plan will help manage growth pressures and protect the environment in southern Alberta with eight new or expanded conservation areas, two new provincial parks, and six expanded provincial parks. So take some time this summer and get out and enjoy our province’s natural beauty!

New supports for flood mitigation and the new Alberta Innovation Council

Premier's K-Days Breakfast 39301

The Calgary Stampede came to a close this past Sunday, marking another successful year with the second highest attendance in history. The dust has barely settled, and already, Edmonton’s K-Days is kicking off this weekend! Thank you to all who joined me at my Premier’s K-Days Breakfast this Thursday at the Legislature. This event would not be possible without all the hard working volunteers, MLAs, and our wonderful sponsors.

It’s important to remember that as we enjoy this beautiful Alberta summer weather, many in Alberta are still rebuilding from last year’s catastrophic flooding. This week, we implemented a government program to help municipalities get the equipment and supplies they need to ensure they are better prepared for any future flooding. Approximately $25 million has already been provided to more than 20 communities across Alberta for supplies including deployable flood barrier equipment, rescue boats, water filtration systems, generators, pumps, and sandbagging equipment.

The provincial government will continue working with communities on their flood readiness applications. Communities impacted by the 2013 Southern Alberta Floods can apply for a grant through the Alberta Emergency Management Agency.

Which Plate Do You Like  38413The online voting for our province’s new license plate is still open! Albertans have been invited to help select our province’s new license plate design, as it’s been more than 30 years since our plates were changed. The updated versions will have a reflective coating that makes them easier to read, making it easier for police to spot vehicles that are unregistered, uninsured or stolen. To vote for one of three potential designs, click here. Voting will end on August 19. 

On Thursday, I met with the new Alberta Innovation Council. This council will work to provide photo3leadership and evolve innovation in our province. We have brought together some of the world’s best talentin research, innovation and entrepreneurship from right here in Alberta. The members have impressive knowledge and experience that will help our innovators turn ideas into solutions and our province into a launching pad for opportunity. With approximately $800 million annually invested in research and innovation by our government, the council will provide vital oversight and advice to align priorities, advance strategic initiatives and clarify roles and responsibilities while providing advice to government on ways it can enhance research and innovation in the province. To read more about the council, click here.  

It has been a busy week for all of us here at the Legislature, but it would be remiss of me not to take a moment to acknowledge the terrible tragedy affecting the friends and family of Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents, Alvin and Cathy Likness. I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to their loved ones with the recent developments in their disappearance. Words cannot express the depth of my sympathies during this difficult time, and I know those close to the Likness and O’Brien families remain in the thoughts and prayers of Albertans across the province, as they remain in mine. Thank you to the first responders, the Calgary police Department, and everyone involved for the countless hours and dedication spent searching for answers in this unthinkable event.

I hope everyone enjoys the remainder of the summer by taking the time to enjoy our beautiful province, and maybe taking the K-Day’s festivities if you are in the Edmonton area!

 -Premier Dave Hancock

 

Another busy week in government

 

Summer is in full swing but the work of government is never done. This week saw some important changes for our province, which I am excited to share with you.

Which Plate Do You Like  38439Albertans are being invited to help select our province’s new licence plate design! It’s been more than 30 years since our plates were changed, and the updated versions will have a reflective coating that makes them easier to read, making it easier for police to spot vehicles that are unregistered, uninsured or stolen. They also feature some of the natural beauty our province is known for, inspired by the pride we have for our home.

To vote for one of three potential designs, click here. Voting is open now and will end on August 19.

A five dollar fee will be added to the annual registration fee for vehicles to cover the production and implementation of the new plates, but even with that increase, our vehicle registration fees will still be about 11 per cent lower than the national average.

OFFICIAL Premiers photograph WPC 2014This week, I was glad to have the chance to sit down with the Western Premiers at this year’s Western Premiers’ Conference in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Over the two days we discussed a number of priorities including labour market development, market access and internal trade. Given that we achieved support for a modernization agenda for the Agreement on Internal Trade and made steps towards developing our labour market, I consider this year’s meeting to be a success. During my time there, it was clear to me that the western premiers are committed to advancing their mutual interests to sustain the West’s continued vitality as the economic engine of Canada. You can read more about what we discussed here: Western Premiers Focus on Competitiveness and Rural and Remote Communities.

On Wednesday morning, federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver announced that Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have signed on with the federal government’s proposed Cooperative Capital Market regulatory System, joining Ontario and British Columbia.

I firmly believe that removing the securities regulation from provincial jurisdiction not only goes against the Supreme Court ruling, but it also goes against what is best for Alberta.

Premier Hancock's Stampede Breakfast 7As our own Minister of Finance, Doug Horner, has said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon, proceeding with these changes to Canada’s securities regulation system without support from the two of the largest markets in Canada, Alberta and Quebec, will leave Canada with a more fractured system than the system we have in place today.

It’s been a busy summer so far, and I’d like to thank everyone who came out for my Stampede Breakfast in Calgary on July 7! It was great to meet so many Albertans while flipping pancakes and working the grill! I’ll be hosting a K Days breakfast on the Legislature grounds in Edmonton bright and early on July 17 and invite all Albertans to come down! The event runs from 7-9 a.m. on the south grounds.

Have a great weekend and I hope to see you on Thursday at the K Days Breakfast!

–Premier Hancock

Collaborating to improve environmental performance in our oil sands

Alberta’s energy exports are tremendously important to our province and Albertans. Revenues from our exports, along with all the industrial and business activities related to the industry, are a big part of Albertans’ quality of life. As a result, our government is focused on sustainable development of the resources and seeking access to new markets.

Our government has encouraged energy-related companies to seek solutions that can lead to a sustainable industry. That’s why I am excited about the new collaboration between GE and Alberta’s oilsands industry to address issues relating to environmental performance.

These are great projects in themselves, but strategically represent the long-term value GE sees in Alberta. What I am particularly excited about is how these agreements and projects are exactly the kind of solutions-focused, innovation-driven and collaborative initiatives we want to see more of in Alberta. It’s agreements like our memorandum of Understanding with GE that support the initiatives we are encouraging thorough our economic development, land use and innovation policies.

Additionally, GE announced its latest GE Global Ecomagination Challenge focused on two of the biggest opportunities to reduce green-house gases in the oil sands: new uses for waste heat and improved efficiency of steam generation. Since GE launched its Ecomagination program nine years ago, more than 150 new products have been created and GE has reduced green-house gas emissions in its own operations by 32 per cent.

Alberta has long known the value of collaboration to get things done. These announcements show how this very Albertan value still applies today whether working within Alberta or with global companies and organizations to benefit Albertans.

-Premier Dave Hancock

Warmest wishes to our Muslim community for Ramadan

On behalf of the Government of Alberta, I’d like to extend warmest wishes to everyone in our Muslim community as you begin the blessed month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a time for self-reflection and spiritual renewal through prayer and fasting. It’s a time for strengthening bonds in the family and bolstering ties in the community. It’s also a time of social responsibility; when Muslims here in Alberta and around the world reaffirm their commitment to those in need.

I am pleased for this opportunity to thank our Muslim friends and neighbours for their many contributions to this province through acts of charity and work that supports their fellow Albertans. This commitment to service and empathy for others is a model for all us, and a reminder that we all share a responsibility for our neighbours of all faiths, cultures and ethnicities.

We are indeed blessed in this province with a multicultural and diverse population. And even with such diversity, we all share common values and aspirations for continued tolerance, peace and equality.

As you reflect on your faith, renew your spirit and share this time with friends and family, I wish you all much hope and peace in this, the holy month of Ramadan, and in all the months ahead. 

On behalf of the Government of Alberta, Ramadan Mubarak! 

Celebrating summer in Alberta

There is so much to do and see in Alberta during the summer. With warm weather and sunny skies finally here, the pools at the Legislature are filled with children enjoying the freedom as school lets out and the summer months begin.

It’s an exciting time to be an Albertan. We all know how quickly summer days go by, how all-too-soon, winter will be back. Albertans are experts at experiencing as much fun as possible during the summer, and here in our province, there is so much fun to be found.

To kick off the summer months, I invite everyone to the Legislature grounds for our Canada Day celebration. With fun guaranteed for Albertans of all ages, Canada Day is always an event to remember at the Legislature, and I am honoured to be speaking at this year’s celebration. More information can be found here.

For the rest of the summer, each community in our province has their own summer celebrations, from farmers’ markets to antique car shows, rodeos, festivals and more. To see just some of the events happening around our province this year, check out our Culture Calendar or travelalberta.com.

Camping is always a popular summer activity. To make planning your camping getaway even easier, Alberta Parks has an online tool to check reservation availability here.

There are also special promortions available. More information can be found at AlbertaParks.ca.

To make sure your travel is as stress free as possible this summer, check 511 Alberta for the latest on road reports and construction updates as well.

The summer months give my colleagues and I the opportunity to spend more time at home, meeting our constituents and participating in our local fairs and festivals. I know I speak for all of us when I say I hope to see you this summer, out enjoying the sunshine and finding out a little bit more of what our amazing province has to offer!

Rebuilding Alberta: one year after the floods

ImageOne year ago, our province was hit by the worst natural disaster in Canadian history. Flood waters devastated 30 communities, displacing thousands of Albertans. Homes, businesses, parks, highways, and schools were destroyed. Most devastatingly, one year ago, this flood claimed lives.

This past year has shown the amazing spirit and character of Albertans. While the flood waters that surged through our province were unprecedented, and catastrophic, they were no match for the spirit in which Albertans responded.

As I reflect back on the floods of June 2013, I think of the first responders, the volunteers, First Nations, the municipalities, public service members and everyday Albertans who reached out to help others in our time of need. I want to sincerely thank all those who have worked tirelessly, and sacrificed much, to lift this province up over the past 12 months.

And in 365 days, we have recovered in a way that proves our resilient Alberta spirit can get us through anything. In the days, weeks and months following the disaster we mobilized quickly to provide support to individuals, municipalities, and First Nations to help them begin rebuilding. And the progress has been nothing short of remarkable. While temporary neighbourhoods were quickly established, many families are now back in their homes. Hundreds of kilometres of highways have been repaired or reopened, along with bridges, parks and trails. Damaged schools and health facilities are back up and running. 

As we recognize our accomplishments I don’t want to lose sight of those who are still dealing with the impacts of this disaster. I also recognize the stress and emotion the one-year anniversary may bring to those who were affected. I want those people to know we stand beside them and we’re committed to assisting them as they continue to rebuild their lives. 

We’re also taking steps to ensure we’re more prepared than ever in the event of another major flood. Just this week, several communities in Southern Alberta declared states of local emergency due to heavy rainfall and threats of overland flooding. It’s situations like these that remind us we always need to be prepared and ready. I’d like to thank Minister Greg Weadick, MLA Bridget Pastoor and all southern Albertan MLAs who have supported their communities over the past year and the past week to ensure residents are safe.

Back in October we passed legislation to limit development in floodways and offered those Albertans affected by the June 2013 floods who were currently living in flood plains the choice to relocate to higher ground. We’ve completed dozens of erosion control projects across the province and many more are underway. We’ve started to gather your input and moved forward on major infrastructure projects. Over the coming months and years, we’ll keep reaching out to you so that together, we can make our communities as safe and resilient as possible.

As we commemorate the year since floods devastated our communities, we stand together with affected municipalities to honour all those who have contributed to the progress in recovery. We stand together with the families, residents, and businesses who lost so much one year ago. And we will stand together as we continue building Alberta.

–Premier Hancock

 

Celebrating Alberta’s entrepreneurs

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Alberta report issued by the Centre for Innovation Studies (THECIS) confirms what we have known for a long time – Albertans truly do have an entrepreneurial spirit and Alberta is one of the best places on Earth to be an entrepreneur.

The study shows that Alberta has the highest level of entrepreneurship in Canada and is ranked far above the G7 country average. Alberta also has a high level of female entrepreneurs.

Our province’s entrepreneurial culture has been enhanced by government’s hard work to create the conditions that allow entrepreneurship to thrive. We will continue to work to ensure we accelerate entrepreneurship and build an innovative and competitive province. The GEM Alberta Report helps inform government’s action to enrich this entrepreneurial environment.

We have been meeting with Alberta’s entrepreneur community and working to develop a small business strategy which will include action on enhancing and accelerating entrepreneurship.

We do this because we know that successful entrepreneurs and high-growth ventures are the foundation to innovation, job creation, economic diversification and quality of life. Entrepreneurs are key to keeping Alberta’s economic engine running strong so we can continue to lead for generations to come.

Alberta has received ample validation of our strong economy. Recent reports, such as the Conference Board of Canada’s provincial economic report card ranking Alberta with an A+ and Alberta’s positive results in the Alberta Economic Development Authority’s Report on Competitiveness, confirm we have a strong economy. These reports, along with economic forecasters predicting Alberta will continue to lead the country in the years to come in economic growth and job creation demonstrate that we are well positioned to keep building Alberta.

This is important since Albertans are counting on us, and not just the four million of today, but the one million more we expect to settle here in the next decade or so.

For information on the GEM-Alberta report, please visit the Centre for Innovation Studies website.

–Premier Hancock

Huge day for medical research in Alberta

ImageMedical research has just progressed hugely in this province. Thanks to the substantial gift of a generous, successful Albertan, we have the opportunity to change the landscape of medical research in our province.

Calgary businessman Geoffrey Cumming (pictured with Premier Hancock, left) has shown the degree to which he believes in his community and the potential of his alma mater by donating $100 million to the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine. This incredibly generous donation will be matched by the Government of Alberta with an additional $10 million per year for ten years starting in 2014-2015.

The research program Mr. Cumming and the Government of Alberta are helping to fund will focus on studying brain and mental health, inflammation, infections, and chronic diseases. Students will now have an unparalleled opportunity to take part in leading-edge research in these areas.  This research could also create advances in medicine that will benefit Albertans, Canadians and people around the globe.

Given the magnitude of his donation, it is fitting the Faculty of Medicine at the U of C will be renamed, “The Cumming School of Medicine.”

The U of C has a strong track record of success within Campus Alberta for medical research in the areas of brain and mental health and chronic diseases. This donation will help strengthen its reputation in these are$200 Million for Medical Research 37052as and will also attract top medical students and researchers from around the world to Alberta.

I often talk about Albertans and their values. One of the things I have continually said is that Albertans care about each other, we care about Canada, and we care about the world.

Alberta is an economic powerhouse with a keen understanding of social responsibility. We are known for our world class energy sector and we are proud of our economy – but Alberta is much more. We trade out into the world and our innovation and research is certainly not confined within our provincial boundaries.

We now have one more reason to say that Alberta is the best place to live, work and raise a family.

–Premier Hancock

Commemorating the 2013 Alberta flood: Viewing the mitigation efforts

ImageIt’s been a year since the disastrous flood in southern Alberta, and this past week, I had the opportunity to see first-hand the incredible work that has been done to rebuild our communities and to make them stronger than ever.

I will never forget the helplessness that I, and many Albertans, felt as we watched the water levels rise last year, as we witnessed the sheer and unimaginable scale of that disaster. But Albertans will never shy away from a challenge, and within hours of the flood’s arrival, people from all over the province put on their rubber boots and rushed to help.

Albertans have always had a pioneering spirit, through a strength and unwavering determination to get things done, no matter how difficult the task. It’s thanks to that spirit, shared among first responders, volunteers, and everyday Albertans that we have begun rebuilding stronger, more resilient communities.

It was an amazing experience to see, first-hand, the hard work that’s happening on the ground (and from the air) to make sure our communities are more resilient than ever.

–Premier Hancock