The City’s MLA for Red Deer South said she continues to learn and engage in her new position since being elected last spring.
“The learning curve has been very steep. There has been a lot of reading and learning. I’ve been able to work with some amazing people. The knowledge that this group of people has that all meshes together is amazing,” said Barb Miller, MLA for Red Deer South. “I know there have been comments (from the public) about some people are too young, some people are too old, some don’t know what they are doing. People don’t know what other people’s life experiences are. It’s just been amazing. I am loving it.”
Miller added the NDP have accomplished a number of things thus far.
“We passed three important Bills and one of them unanimously which is unheard of.”
That Bill was to get rid of corporate and union donations.
“When you’ve got all parties on side – that is incredible. We are determined. We are going to work with the other parties,” she said.
Miller has also been appointed to some committees including one that will review laws governing elections, whistleblowers and conflicts of interest. She is also the chair of the Heritage Trust Fund Committee. She is also on the Public Accounts Committee.
“We are going to make some important, long overdue changes that will benefit Albertans.”
When she is in Red Deer, Miller said she has enjoyed meeting with local citizens to hear their concerns and feedback.
“I’ve been meeting with a lot of constituents and now that we are out of session I try and meet with three to four different groups a day. We have a long list of people who want to talk to us. I won’t turn anyone away. If you have an issue, I want to listen and if I can’t do anything, I want to pass it on to the people that can,” she said. “If you have concerns, contact us. We are here to help the people of Red Deer. We want to be accessible in this office.”
Miller said one aspect she would like to focus on is poverty and homelessness in Red Deer.
“Over the years I have worked with the homeless camps when I was with the Red Deer and District Labour Council. Something has to be done. Some of these people are gainfully employed, but they are not making enough at minimum wage – they’re living in cars or living in homeless shelters because they can’t afford a place to live. That should not be happening in Alberta. It shouldn’t be happening anywhere, but especially not in Alberta.”
In addition, Miller added stepping into the Legislature for the first time after she was elected, is an experience that she will never forget.
“It’s indescribable. It’s very regimented. You have your Sergeant at Arms and if the speaker stands up and if you are moving, you freeze, because that is disrespect,” she said. “I was very fortunate because the desk that I was assigned was one of the original desks that went into that building in 1905. Inside the desk drawers are signatures of all the members who have sat there and mine is one of the original desks.”
Looking ahead, Miller said she looks forward to seeing the minimum wage increased.
“I think it’s a win-win. People will have more means to live hopefully above the poverty line. I’m sure we’ll be working towards getting living wages. We are getting rid of the two-tier wage system which is a good thing because it is wrong.”
Meanwhile, Miller said there is more to her than being a cashier at a local grocery store – a job which she held before being elected.
“We all have areas of expertise. People think I was a Safeway cashier, but I was also a banker for 10 years, I’ve worked in schools as a library tech and as a teacher’s aid,” she said. “No one is ever just something and I think people are starting to realize that.”