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.”

 

 

The Review Newspaper – July 24, 2018

MLA, Premier concerned about loss of Greyhound bus service

http://cowleynewspapers.com/pdf/review/TheReview_July_24.pdf

“Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater residents rely on the Greyhound bus service to get to medical appointments, visit family and friends, and to get to work. Premier Notley and I will keep fighting to extend Greyhound’s operations in our communities and across the province until there are other solutions in place. “

Town & Country – July 31, 2018 – Province calls for Greyhound bus service extension

Premier would like to see up to a 12-month extension

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Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette also released a statement July 20 supporting the call to extend service, noting its importance in his constituency. 

“People did depend on the Greyhound coming through Grassland and the late night stop to Athabasca. For people that don’t have alternative types of transportation, it’s a real challenge for them.”

He said a creative approach would be needed to address rural transportation without Greyhound. 

Smoky Lake Signal – July 17, 2018 HAD: Farm workers benefit from increased protections

By Colin Piquette, MLA for Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater

Life is getting better for the thousands of Albertans who are paid employees on farms and ranches – and for the farmers and ranchers who employ them.

But for decades, the PC government had ignored the need to modernize the rules to reflect the realities of work in Alberta’s agricultural sector, and too many workers were left without the same protections the rest of Albertans take for granted in their workplace. Prior to the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, Alberta was the only province without comprehensive occupational health and safety laws for farm and ranch workers, a state of affairs that no responsible government could allow to continue.

There was a lot of controversy surrounding these long overdue changes. Who can possibly forget the furor over Bill 6?  Sparked at the very beginning by admittedly confusing and even misleading statements by some WCB and OHS employees, the opposition did everything they could to exploit these initial missteps for maximum fear and consternation long after they themselves knew better.  As a person who grew up on the farm myself and as a farm insurance agent until my election in 2015 I know that although the great majority of farmers have always striven to work safely, there has always been room for the kinds of improvements only good legislation can bring. That’s why every other province has done just that, most of them decades ago.

To be clear, none of their dire prophecies have come to pass. Both family and non-family farms continue to survive and to thrive (depending on weather and commodity prices of course!)  in Athabasca, Thorhild Smoky Lake, and Sturgeon counties, and the rest of the province.  

That’s why I’m so pleased to see that my colleagues Labour Minister Christina Gray and Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier have been able to work with industry stakeholders, and in consultation with Albertans, to make sure workers get the protections they deserve while still recognizing the legitimate concerns of farm operators and continuing to repect the unique multigenerational family farm culture.

This didn’t change when the act came into effect Jan. 1, 2016. What did change is that since then more than 1,860 paid, non-family agriculture workers have had their workers’ compensation claims accepted. They’re getting the supports they need, when they need them, if they’re injured on the job. All workers deserve these kinds of protections, and so do the families that depend on them.

Our government promised that any changes we made to rules on farms and ranches would be made alongside those in the industry and only with the input of all Albertans. And that’s exactly what we did. Over the past two years, stakeholders all across the province and everyday Albertans have been part of the discussions.

The technical rules for workplace health and safety, which come into effect Dec. 1 this year, are common-sense solutions developed in extensive collaboration with farmers and ranchers and with the consensus of industry stakeholders.

The result is that we’re able to enshrine in regulation the strong culture of farm safety that the vast majority already practice, and with the assistance of our ag partners we’re able to support producers with a grant project to help in establishing health and safety practices and procedures that will make their farms and ranchers safer for their workers and their families. A lot of hard work to be sure, but Albertans have never shirked hard work in a good cause and we’re not about to start now!

Town & Country – July 10, 2018 – UCP release rural crime report

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“[Colin Piquette] Our priority is to employ the tools that are actually within our power and within our jurisdiction, that’s something that I think is going to pay greater dividends on a provincial side.”

As part of the 2018 budget, the NDP increased funding for the justice ministry by $10 million to hire 59 extra RCMP officers and 20 Crown prosecutors, 10 of which are specifically dedicated to rural cases.

The government also plans for four additional judges to oversee cases, 55 more court clerks to work through the backlog, 40 new civilians to help police officers with their paperwork and 13 bail clerks to get bail hearings through the system faster. The funding also included $7.9 million to expand Legal Aid services.

“The resource allocations were developed in close consultation with the RCMP and I think we’re getting a big bang for our buck in results.” said Piquette. “Instead of using rural crime as a political talking point and a recruitment method, we’d rather actually take concrete steps improve the situation. Anyone who thinks it’s just a matter of throwing money at a problems has not really taken a look at what we’re doing.”

 

 

Athabasca Advocate – July 10, 2018 Fifteen Boyle School students take a bow as they finish their high school education

Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquettte was one of the proud parents. He said he was very happy for his son, Luke. 

“I was really fortunate to see him share his moment with his classmates,” Piquette said. “Being a kid with special needs, it was not an easy thing for him to do.  He usually has some difficulties with crowds, but he managed to do a great job, and I was really impressed that he won an award too. I am very proud of him.”

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