Assembly Lines: UCP says trade careers are in the making, NDP says economy nothing to brag about, and legislature welcomes Indigenous filmmaker

By George Lee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


Increasing numbers of successful careers in the trades start now with the Alberta government’s investment in apprenticeships, the UCP member for Chestermere-Strathmore told the legislature May 14.

The government is “firing on all cylinders to create opportunities in the trades and help students succeed in the economy of tomorrow,” said Chantelle de Jong.

Funding worth $24 million per year over the next three years will create 3,200 apprenticeship seats at 11 post-secondary schools. These are earn-as-they-learn opportunities for students on their way to good jobs, she said.

The UCP recently announced a partnership with the Union of Operating Engineers Local 955 to provide $350,000 to a pilot project that trains crane operators at a site north of Edmonton. “Canadians are choosing to move to Alberta in record numbers, and that means we need more crane operators to grow our infrastructure and get more housing built,” de Jong said in her statement.

Also, $12.9 million is earmarked to expand a tech hub at Red Deer Polytechnic called CIM-TAC. The new funding will create more opportunity for students to gain hands-on work experience at CIM-TAC while helping industry meet technological challenges, de Jong noted.


The lives of sick and vulnerable Albertans are under threat while the province layers privatization efforts upon “intentional, Frankensteinian levels of organizational chaos,” opposition leader Rachel Notley charged May 14 in the legislature.

During a question period exchange, Notley asked Premier Danielle Smith what “concrete steps she’s taking to address the many, many failures within our health care system.”

But Smith said problems that come to light are the reason her UCP government is refocusing health care delivery into four areas.

Under the government’s plan, the existing Alberta Health Services agency will become the acute-care arm of health care delivery instead of the overall agency. The other three will be primary care, assisted living, and mental health and addiction.

“Alberta Health Services needs to be focused on providing the very best emergency and surgical care,” said Smith, the member for Brooks-Medicine Hat.

But Notley, the member for Edmonton-Strathcona, said the province’s health care approach and decision-making are intrinsic to health care problems.

“With the system strained beyond capacity, when will (the premier) stop making things worse by cancelling hospitals, chasing away health care workers, engaging in endless reorganization, and instead start investing in what is necessary to attract and retain the critically important front-line health care workers that all Albertans rely on?”

“Well, that’s already started,” responded the premier. Through actions like accepting credentials from across the country, “thousands of additional nurses” are being on-boarded. Alberta is also starting to attract doctors.

Smith added: “The issue is the issue that has been in place for decades: the fact that we have a number of people who need to be in alternative levels of care who are in acute-care beds in hospital.”

A government review found there were over 1,500 acute-care patients who should have been elsewhere “As we move those to appropriate care, we’ll have the acute-care beds available,” said the premier.


An acclaimed Cree writer, filmmaker and educator received an introduction to the legislature, May 14, as her 2024 documentary Singing Back the Buffalo makes the rounds.

Tasha Hubbard’s past works have addressed issues like the Sixties Scoop and the death by gunshot of a young Cree man named Colten Boushie. Her current doc follows Indigenous visionaries, scientists and communities as they reintroduce bison to the plains, to their ecological roles, and to their cultural and spiritual place in North America.

Filming locations include Banff and two other national parks in Alberta: Elk Island, east of Edmonton, and Waterton Lakes in southern Alberta. Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan and Blackfeet territories in the U.S. also make appearances, according to the film website IMDb.

Calling the work a “powerful and moving documentary” he’d watched the evening before, Rick Wilson introduced Hubbard to the assembly.

Wilson, who’s the minister of Indigenous relations and the member for Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin, also introduced the documentary’s impact producer, Jade Tootoosis. An impact producer collaborates with a film team to promote the work and give it context.


The UCP government should shelve grandiose claims about the economy, face the statistical facts and adjust its policies accordingly, the NDP’s jobs, economy and trade critic advised his government counterpart May 14.

Reports from StatsCan show Alberta is no longer the country’s wage leader, said Nathan Ip, the member for Edmonton-South West. Under the UCP, Alberta has the second-highest jobless rate in the country and the highest youth unemployment rate, he said.

“They say that Alberta is calling, but there may be no job, health care or schools when you get there.”

In the question period exchange, Ip wanted to know what the government is doing to address a “worsening economy.”

But Matt Jones had statistics of his own to share. The minister said that between October and April, 90 per cent of Canada’s added private-sector jobs were in Alberta. Under the NDP’s leadership, Alberta lost 183,000 jobs, he said.

“So if Alberta is a disaster, Canada is in real trouble and it needs more Alberta,” quipped Jones, the member for Calgary-South East.

Jones said it takes time for the effects of what Alberta is doing to show up in a measurable way.

“We are leading the country in job growth. At the same time we’re attracting record numbers of Canadians from other provinces and territories to Alberta. It takes time for them to attach to the labour market, which is temporarily causing an increase in the unemployment rate,” said Jones.

“Canadians are voting with their feet. They are moving to Alberta, which is quite different than the 13 consecutive quarters of people abandoning Alberta to work everywhere else under the NDP.