Throne speech: Province to cut school fees, cap electricity rates, diversify energy markets

EDMONTON – The Alberta government says the first job of the spring session of the legislature will be to cut school fees.

Premier Rachel Notley’s government made the announcement Thursday afternoon in its speech from the throne.

The government says news legislation will forbid parents from having to pay for essentials such as textbooks or to bus their child if they already live within their designated school area.

The move is expected to save 25 per cent of the fee costs and take effect this fall.

Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell said in her speech from the throne that the province will continue to fight for the Trans Mountain Pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia ports. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has approved expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, as has B-C, but opponents are promising to fight it.

The government also says it will help residents with their electricity bills by capping rates.

The spring session is expected to last until early June as members debate 15 pieces of legislation or more.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci brings in the budget in two weeks on March 16.

Highlights of the 2017 speech from the throne include (via the Office of the Premier):

Creating jobs and supporting jobs
•Diversifying Alberta’s energy markets by seeking intervener status on any legal challenges to the Trans Mountain Pipeline and continuing to work with the federal government and provinces on the Energy East proposal.
•Putting more Albertans to work building highways, schools, affordable housing and health facilities across the province.
•Moving forward with the first renewable energy auction, attracting up to 400 megawatts of new generation, along with new investments in a more diversified economy.
•Expanding supports to help entrepreneurs across the province.

Making life more affordable
•Reducing school fees to help families save money.
•Capping electricity rates with new legislation.
•Helping families, businesses, Indigenous communities, municipalities, farms and non-profits save money and reduce emissions with new energy-efficiency programs.
•Protecting pocketbooks with a new Consumer Bill of Rights.

Protecting public services
•Approving more new schools to be built across Alberta.
•Partnering with the Alberta Medical Association to help communities find and retain health-care professionals.
•Building more long-term care and dementia spaces that are modern, safe and allow our loved ones to age with dignity.
•New legislation focused on ensuring child death reviews receive the utmost care and attention.
•Eliminating barriers to justice for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Making Alberta a better place for everyone
•Addressing the critical need for access to clean drinking water in First Nations communities.
•Moving forward with the City of Edmonton and City of Calgary on the creation of city charters.
•Expanding protection for whistleblowers and strengthening conflict of interest laws.
•Continuing with consultations to protect the Castle area and improving our parks.

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