NDPers fired up after party AGM; Athabasca MLA Colin Piquette highlights motions to expand rural broadband access and $25 a day daycare

 

The province is at a fork in the road; are we going to be taking care of those among us who need it? Are we going to educate our children properly? Are we going to have the infrastructure to be able to grow our economy and provide a good living for our people? Or are we going to turn back the clock?”– MLA Colin Piquette

Town and Country Nov 6, 2018. Used with permission.

New school’s first day; Dignitaries, students cut ribbon on Athabasca’s new Edwin Parr Composite School at grand opening ceremony Oct. 23

“Edwin Parr Composite School is a state-of-the-art school that will inspire students to excel and provide the opportunities to discover and explore their interests,” [Piquette]  said.

Athabasca Advocate, Tue Oct 30 2018
Byline: Allendria Brunjes
Source: Athabasca Advocate

After years of planning, scrapping, reworking and building, the new Edwin Parr Composite School is officially open for staff and students. On Oct. 23, staff, students and local dignitaries cut the ribbon for the new institution, celebrating with drumming, dancing, speeches and cake. Former Aspen View Public Schools superintendent Mark Francis was on hand for the celebrations, and he said the school was not only being built for the students there right now, but for generations. “In fact, what will happen is that some of the kids sitting here today, they will have kids that will attend here, and then they will have grandchildren that will attend here,” he said. “We build schools not for today, but for generations.”

Board chair Dennis MacNeil joked that his tie featured the pattern of a finish line. “It’s nice to be at the finish line,” he said. “We’re here. Finally, it’s here. This is the day we’ve all been waiting for, after all these years of planning, dreaming and building. Edwin Parr Composite School is now ours, and it belongs to you – the students of the town. It belongs to the staff; it belongs to the community.”

Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette noted that EPC is the first new school in Alberta with solar panels. “Edwin Parr Composite School is a state-of-the-art school that will inspire students to excel and provide the opportunities to discover and explore their interests,” he said.

Former teacher and Athabasca County Reeve Larry Armfelt said he has had 46 first-days-of-school. He said he could not help but wish students the best in their educations.

“And I want to thank Mr. MacNeil and the board of education for, in my opinion – if I can make an analogy, and I said it to Mr. MacNeil this morning – thank you for having the tenacity of a Sherpa guide to make this happen.” Francis, who is now the deputy superintendent of the Parkland School Division based in Stony Plain, said he is building schools all over the place in his new job. “Let me tell you – none of the schools we are building or have opened come close to this building,” he said. “One of the previous speakers said this building is one-of-akind and there will never be another like it. I fully intend to steal from this building.”

Elder Elsie Paul has worked with Aspen View Public Schools for about 10 years. Introducing her, Grade 12 student Ethan Woodward said she has been working with the Land-Based Learning program. “I’m so inspired by these little Elders, the drummer and the jigger,” she said, referring to performers who opened the ceremony. “Because all you young people are our Elders.”

Marie Burrard is Edwin Parr’s niece, and she was at the grand opening ceremony. She said Parr believed all children should get the best education schools could offer. “Today marks a milestone in the history of education,” she said. “Why Edwin Parr? He was a school trustee starting in 1925. He was one of five in the formation of the Athabasca School Division. This was in time to be what is now Aspen View School Division.”

Piquette also noted during his speech that the new school was not without controversy as it was being built. After the ceremony, Piquette said there had been concerns that location was not a coincidence, but after going through records of the process available through Alberta Education and Alberta Infrastructure, as well as meeting with the Town of Athabasca, Athabasca County and school board, he believes due diligence was done. “The numbers did make sense, and the location makes a lot of sense, as well,” he said, noting that some of the issues have already been addressed, like upgrading the intersection at the bottom of University Drive. “I think it’s a great day for Athabasca.” He said it was indeed a complicated arrangement requiring land transfers, Orders in Council. He said going through that, he became convinced that the school project made a lot of sense for the community. “There’s going to be a segment of the community that either is still convinced that we didn’t need a new school or that it should have been built in a different location,” Piquette said. “But from what I can tell, it seems like the majority of the community has come around to the new school in its present location.”

Francis said the project did have its fair share of challenges, and it did take a long time. “Like MLA Piquette said, it was worth the debate,” Francis said. “It was worth the wait, and it was worth the challenges, because today we have a spectacular building.”

 

 

Town and Country – June 26, 2018 La Francophonie est forte en Alberta

http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?pubname=&pubid=47386dcd-9f92-4112-a0c2-8d09c4a539a0

On the year anniversary of Alberta’s French policy, schools across the Town & Country region continue to see steady enrolment

Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA ColinPiquette said that Francophone culture has come a long ways since his father, Leo Piquette, attempted to ask a question in the Legislature in French when he was the MLA for Athabasca-Lac La Biche in 1987.

“At the time, it caused a major controversy, with opponents thinking he was trying to bring in compulsory bilingualism within the Legislature,” Piquette said. “But he was really practicing his legal right under Section 10 of the Northwest Territories Act, which allowed French to be spoken in the Alberta and Saskatchewan legislatures.

In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada even confirmed that. When I more recently spoke French in the Legislature, it was not a big deal at all.” Piquette said the province has become more inclusive and pragmatic in terms of understanding its historical obligations.

“Alberta now has one of the fastest growing Francophone communities in the country,” he said. “People moving to the province are bringing a lot of skills, knowledge, and talent. Having that level of respect for the French language and culture is definitely more of a boon for us than a hindrance.”

 

 

 

Question Period – May 8, 2018 Athabasca University – Keeping Jobs in Athabasca

Athabasca University – Keeping Jobs in Athabasca 

Mr. Piquette: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Athabasca University provides Albertans with a high-quality university education no matter where they live. In my riding it is also a pillar of our community, providing high-quality jobs and educational opportunities. The staff of AU and the greater Athabasca community are grateful for the support our government has provided to keep the university strong in Athabasca. However, recently there have been concerns over professional jobs being lost to big urban centres. What is the government doing to make sure that Athabasca University is sustainable and that jobs in Athabasca are protected?

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Advanced Education.

Mr. Schmidt: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the member for the question. He’s been a powerful advocate for Athabasca University and the town of Athabasca. We’re proud of the work that we’ve done to put AU back on track and to keep it in the town of Athabasca. We commissioned a third-party review, written by Dr. Ken Coates, and we’ve been working with AU to implement its recommendations. We’ve made clear that as progress is being made, jobs in the town of Athabasca must be protected. The Coates report calls for enhancing the role of Athabasca University in Athabasca and states that “AU should be able to maintain if not expand the size of its operations in the Town of Athabasca.”

The Speaker: First supplemental.

Mr. Piquette: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Given that under the previous Conservative government there were grave concerns about roller coaster funding and the long-term financial sustainability of AU, what has the government done to provide financial stability?

Mr. Schmidt: Well, we know that one of the favourite Conservative pastimes was making cuts to postsecondary education, and that made the problems at Athabasca University worse. We’ve been proud to increase our funding by 2 per cent for our universities and colleges every year that we’ve been in government, including at Athabasca University. We were very pleased to see that the financial reports from AU last year were positive, and thanks to our support, they are now on much more stable financial footing. If the Conservatives ever got the chance again, they’d make more cuts and undo the progress that we’ve made at Athabasca University.

The Speaker: Second supplemental.

Mr. Piquette: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Given that the Coates report provides a way forward for Athabasca University to thrive in the years to come, what is the minister doing to make sure that the third-party report is being followed through on?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Mr. Schmidt: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker. We’re working closely with Athabasca University’s new president and board chair to see this work through. AU has been consulting and recently presented a strategic plan, which outlines a path forward and clear goals and objectives through 2022. I’ll be visiting Athabasca in the coming weeks and providing further updates on our government’s support for Athabasca University, and I look forward to having the hon. member there with me.

Town & Country – February 6, 2018 Pipeline training centre progressing despite lack of provincial funding

Athabasca-Sturgeon- Redwater MLA Piquette said in an interview the project “makes huge sense” for the province and for Boyle, due to it being a focal point of pipelines in the province. “Considering the kilometres of pipeline we have across North America, and how important it is not only environmentally – but also politically — to be able to demonstrate that pipelines really are the safest way to transport oil and bitumen, having a worldclass training facility to make sure the next generation of pipeline workers and inspectors have the best training they can get, i think it makes a lot of sense and that’s what I’ve been communicating,” he said.
The current New Democratic government has not announced funding for the project to date. Piquette said he has highlighted funding for the PTC as a priority in Budget 2018, and he is “hoping for the best.

The Redwater Review – January 30, 2018 – Parents, trustees, MLA concerned about funding for rural schools

When contacted later Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette confirmed the 2.4 km busing restriction is being changed.

“It was removed as part of the legislative requirement in the School Act,” he said. “The Ministry is tasked with coming up with new
regulations for busing by the 2018-2019 school year. This came out of public consultations around the School Act.” He expects the regulations on busing radius will be set this spring.

Piquette explained that while there was no consensus during consultations, there is a shared understanding and concern for rural children who have to walk in unsafe conditions.

Asked if he agrees with the AVPS board that rural schools have different requirements than urban ones Piquette said, “Most definitely. This is something I’ve been working with them on and I’ve been advocating for with my government. Rural education faces some challenges urban schools don’t, and the funding formula should reflect that.”