I have written many times about how we as Albertans need to get better value from our oil by upgrading more here at home. We’re taking action to make that a reality. Our government is working hard to create jobs in Strathcona County and to attract billions of dollars of investment from oil and gas. For decades, Albertans have been talking about increasing upgrading capacity so we can get a better price for our resources. By supercharging energy upgrading in Alberta, we can create more jobs and open more markets to finally get top dollar for our resources. Six project proposals are being considered for investment in partial upgrading of oil sands bitumen. These proposals are collectively worth nearly $5 billion of new private sector investment resulting in almost 10,000 construction jobs with 500 more jobs when operational. Partial upgrading is an emerging technology that reduces the thickness of oil sands bitumen so it can flow through pipelines more easily, without having to be blended with diluent. This provides significant cost savings to industry, increases pipeline capacity by up to 30 per cent, and provides access to more refineries around the world. We’re kick-starting a new era of energy diversification in Alberta. These strong proposals show companies want to make big investments and create opportunities in our province. Our made-in-Alberta energy upgrading strategy is a win for energy producers and a win for all Albertans. These opportunities were made possible through the Energy Diversification Act, introduced in March 2018. The government committed up to $1 billion in incentives to help leverage billions more in private investment to build partial upgrading facilities.
Accessible education We know cost shouldn’t be a barrier to a good education in Alberta. That’s why our government passed legislation to make post-secondary more affordable for all. Post-secondary education is one of the best investments people can make in their lives. Extending the tuition freeze and implementing a revised tuition framework makes this investment more affordable so every Albertan has access to a good education and, ultimately, good jobs. The current tuition freeze will be extended for a final year until the new tuition framework is in place in 2020. Students can save $2000 for a four-year degree and have more money to put towards things like food, rent and just living their lives.
Protecting patients After hearing from survivors and their allies, including here in Strathcona County, our government decided to introduce An Act to Protect Patients. Albertans deserve to feel safe while accessing health care and that’s why we have taken action to ensure that’s the case. Now there are appropriate penalties when there is sexual abuse or sexual misconduct by a health professional. This includes a lifetime ban on health professionals found guilty of sexual misconduct. With the changes, we are strengthening protection for patients from sexual abuse and misconduct by health professionals in Alberta. To increase confidence in their safety and well-being, Albertans will be able to look up whether their health provider has faced disciplinary action from a regulatory college for sexual abuse or sexual misconduct toward a patient from the date the new legislation comes into effect. Alberta will be the second province in Canada, after Ontario, to take this kind of targeted legislative action to protect patients.
Estefania Cortes-Vargas is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Strathcona-Sherwood Park Constituency. If you have any comments or questions concerning this column or other provincial government issues, please contact Estefania at her constituency office located at #19 – 99 Wye Rd., Sherwood Park, T8B 1M1. Telephone: 780-416-2492 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org