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Alberta’s diversity is its greatest strength

Rachel Notley is seen in a handout photo from the Alberta NDP. Rachel Notley is seen in a handout photo from the Alberta NDP.
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I love Alberta.

That may sound obvious coming from someone who was born here, went to school here, and eventually became Premier.

I love Alberta and the ways it transcends the stereotypes held by many outside the province. We are diverse, bold, ambitious, thoughtful and caring. People from all over the world have made their home here and have built careers across oil and gas, tech, the arts, agriculture, finance and of course public service.

I am proud that after years of being a one-party province where many progressive voices were stifled, we have now established a sound two-party system where the outcome of any election cannot be predicted and robust political debate is part of our culture. As the old saying goes, we can disagree without being disagreeable.

With that in mind, I am concerned about the direction our province is headed. Radical voices are penetrating the mainstream with growing fearlessness, calling for the compromise or even elimination of fundamental human rights. The UCP's focus on targeting the rights of 2SLGBTQ+ Albertans risks normalizing such violations and leaves all marginalized groups vulnerable.

Rachel Notley is seen in a handout photo from the Alberta NDP. This trend towards radicalization extends beyond human rights issues. Conspiracy theories are drowning out evidence-based medical advice, a historic ambivalence towards the hazards of climate change is turning into hostility against efforts for emission reduction, and academic independence is under attack by the UCP.

This government is focused on the wrong things. We need our provincial leaders prioritizing the issues most important in the lives of Albertans. 

We must prioritize health care

Health care is a fundamental right, and access to publicly paid, publicly delivered, publicly administered, universal care is the most important job of the provincial government. 

Over the past five years, Albertans have witnessed the UCP systematically erode health care quality and reliability. From funding cuts to conflicts with health care professionals, and breaking promises to increase hospital beds, their actions have led to the deterioration of our health care system. Rather than adopting effective strategies, the UCP has chosen chaotic reorganization, centralizing power and driving much needed experts out of the province.

Rachel Notley is seen in a handout photo from the Alberta NDP. There is a better way. Alberta’s NDP has proposed a comprehensive effort to negotiate with physicians, attracting medical experts to Alberta and increasing family medicine access. We need more beds, training spaces, and support for health care workers, and we need more resources for mental health care, not just addiction recovery. Real work and resources are needed, resources that are currently being hindered by the UCP's chaos.

We must prioritize public education

Alberta once boasted the best educational outcomes in Canada. Now, this province has the lowest funding per student. Classrooms are desperately over-crowded, school boards are shuttering early education, and children with individual learning needs are being left to fall through the cracks. These failures, if not addressed urgently, will cost Alberta for decades.

We must provide teachers and educational assistants with the resources and support they need so that our kids succeed in this most critical time in their lives. This work cannot wait.

We have to make life more affordable

There was a time when moving to Alberta meant high wages and low costs of living. Now, affordable housing is scarce, insurance and fuel prices are through the roof, and even hamburger meat has become unaffordable for many.

Rather than blame Ottawa, the provincial government must turn to local solutions, as there are many. We can control rent increases, we can control minimum wage, we can cap insurance rates, and we can make sure Albertans have reliable and affordable utility rates over the long term.

We need to act on climate change

Taking meaningful steps to reduce our emissions is both an economic and environmental necessity. Pushing our targets decades down the road while turning our back on the need to act today is a recipe for failure.

Rachel Notley is seen in a handout photo from the Alberta NDP. We need ambitious, realistic, and accountable emissions targets, supported by evidence-based policies and public engagement. This is the only way to protect our environment and grow a modern economy for future generations.

An Alberta for All

I am proud to be Albertan. We have challenges, but collectively, we have immense capacity. This capacity lives in our diversity and in our care for one another.

It's been said many times that the strength of a society is to be judged by the strength of its most vulnerable citizens. By this metric, we have much work to do. But I'm optimistic that we can make great in-roads in this area as we have in the past.

Rachel Notley is seen in a handout photo from the Alberta NDP. While Alberta has many natural resources below ground, our greatest resource walks on top of it. This is why my colleagues and I in the Alberta NDP will always remain Albertans’ biggest advocates, and will fight for an Alberta that prioritizes its people above all else.

Rachel Notley served as Alberta's 17th premier from 2015 to 2019, and has been the leader of the Official Opposition since 2019. She announced she  would be stepping down from her role as NDP leader in January 2024.

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