The fall legislation kicked off on Monday with a Speech from the Throne that promised new legislation to enhance accountability.
Bill 1, focused on respecting property rights, was introduced by Premier Jim Prentice and will be the foundation of a new relationship between government and property owners.
“Respect, integrity and accountability will be the watchwords of this new government as we position Alberta for continued prosperity in the years ahead. First and foremost, government serves its citizens, and that will be our guiding principle as we build an even better quality of life for all Albertans,” said Prentice.
Other highlights from the Throne Speech, read by His Honour, Colonel (Ret’d) the Honourable Donald S. Ethell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, include developing a new climate change framework; maintaining a contingency fund to protect priority programs from revenue volatility and respond to emergencies; developing a long-term transportation strategy; establishing a five-year and 25-year capital plan to meet health, education, seniors’ care and skill training infrastructure needs and advancing comprehensive flood mitigation work.
Other highlights include introducing a straightforward budget presentation to ensure Albertans have a clearer understanding of the province’s finances and introducing legislation to enhance protection for condo owners and buyers.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Official Opposition Wildrose Party, Danielle Smith said the Speech from the Throne outlined, “Recycled promises.” She said it showed little departure in policy of the previous premier and consisted of recycled campaign promises that were short on details.
With the price of oil heading towards $70, the government is continuing on its policy to borrow billions of dollars to pay for basic infrastructure and failing to lay out any plan on how to improve the performance of core government services in health care, education and infrastructure, she added.
“Mr. Prentice made a lot of expensive campaign promises, but Albertans not only want promises, they want a plan on how to achieve them,” said Smith. “Albertans looking for a new generation of leadership with positive and innovative ideas on how to move Alberta forward will be disappointed by today’s Throne Speech.”
During the by-election campaigns, the government made several high-spending promises, including building new schools on accelerated timelines and expanding the number of continuing care beds.
Smith said with resource revenues in steady decline, Prentice needs to do better to explain how these major promises can be kept while improving outcomes for government services.
“Sooner or later, Mr. Prentice will have to come to terms with reality and realize governing is more than recycling old campaign promises,” Smith said. “Albertans deserve a government ready to meet the challenges our province is facing head on, and be honest enough with them about how they will achieve it.”