By The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Alberta politicians are to return to the legislature Tuesday with a plan to discuss up to 20 new bills — many of which are focused on the province’s economic recovery.
Government house leader Jason Nixon said Monday there’s a variety of legislation prepared for the fall sitting that’s aimed at speeding up an economic rebound.
“We know times are tough for folks right now,” Nixon said during an online news conference. “The commodities slump, the oil price wars and the COVID-19 pandemic have hit our province hard.”
He said the sitting, which is to run until Dec. 3, will set the stage for geothermal development in the province, accelerate job creation and reduce red tape. That would include legislation to reduce barriers to labour mobility in certain industries and reduce obstacles for forestry companies, he added.
Nixon said the bills are all aimed at creating good jobs for Albertans.
Opposition house leader Heather Sweet said the NDP will focus on holding Premier Jason Kenney and his government responsible for their “self-inflicted job crisis and the chaos he is creating in health care during a pandemic.”
She said she’s concerned that Kenney is not taking the economic crisis seriously enough and will not level with Albertans about what she said are his policy failures.
“Among those failures is the layoff of 11,000 front-line hospital workers, which was announced last week,” said Sweet, who called the announcement “cruel, irresponsible and downright stupid.”
The latest chaos, she said, comes on top of the government’s ongoing fight with Alberta doctors.
Health care in spotlight
On the weekend, the United Conservative Party also narrowly endorsed a resolution at its annual general meeting that supports a privately funded and privately managed health-care system that would operate parallel to the public one.
Sweet said the UCP government has historically accepted its membership’s resolutions and has already started its attack on the public system with recent health-care changes.
Earlier Monday, Kenney denied that his government is “Americanizing” the health system.
“It is the oldest scare tactic in the book,” he said during an interview with a Calgary radio station. “In Saskatchewan, they call it the medi-scare play. It’s just catnip for socialists to try to make people afraid about their health care.
“The United Conservative Party, in member-approved policy and in our platform that we campaigned on, made an unqualified commitment to publicly funded, universally accessible medicare. That is not the U.S. system.”
Kenney said there’s no plan for his government to move away from a publicly funded system.
“What I heard 52 per cent of the members who voted this weekend saying was that there should be more choices and options. Alberta has the least choices and options in how health care is delivered.”
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