It’s good to be home. Working as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities is one of the great privileges of my life and while it means that I am out of Edmonton often, the time away has given me a greater appreciation for the city I love so much.
This past week, I was fortunate to participate in a number of events – both in Edmonton and across Alberta – where I spoke about our government’s plan for record investments in supporting families and investing in infrastructure.
The tour started at a place that is very familiar to me: the Edmonton Transit System (ETS) Centennial Garage. Keeping existing fleets in good working order is central to well-functioning transit systems and the hardworking people at the Centennial Garage know this well. As a former ETS bus driver myself, it was great to see so many old friends and colleagues; I even got behind the wheel like old times and showed MP Randy Boissonnault a few things.
The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce welcomed me for a keynote address later that day to discuss Budget 2016. Our government recognizes that Albertans are having a difficult time right now and we are here to help. The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) will give increased support to 9 out of 10 families and our infrastructure plan will see immediate investments in green, social, and public transit infrastructure, helping to build strong, sustainable, and inclusive communities.
After a short trip down Highway 2, I arrived in Red Deer for a meeting with Mayor Tara Veer and her Council colleagues. It is the big bridge and transit projects which often dominate national infrastructure headlines but having assets in good repair and investing in future stock is critical to a city like Red Deer. As I told Mayor Veer and her colleagues, we intend to continue this kind of dialogue with cities across Canada as we build the second phase of our infrastructure plan. Input from all orders of government and a wide network of stakeholders is what will make our plan successful.
While in central Alberta, I also participated in a town hall meeting with Mayors and municipal leaders from across the region, hosted by the City of Red Deer. There I received valuable feedback on the budget and fielded questions on both INFC’s existing programs and the process by which we are designing our new infrastructure plan. The diversity of the city representatives there that evening – from cities as small as 320 people to ones over 100,000 – offered a glimpse into the wide array of infrastructure needs our country has and I look forward to more meetings like this one.
Back in Edmonton I welcomed Prime Minister Trudeau to the Mill Woods Library – and later, Family Futures Millbourne – where we discussed the CCB with local families. Strong families are essential to building strong communities and the CCB helps to achieve this by lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.
In Fort McMurray, I participated in several meetings, including a community forum at the YMCA. Much like the infrastructure of smaller towns, the importance of social infrastructure to cities like Fort McMurray can also get lost in the headlines discussing major building projects. But as the participants in this forum could attest to, social infrastructure – like adequate housing and good recreational facilities – is essential to building cities where families want to live and enjoy a high quality of life.
This was a great week in Alberta and I’m thankful for the hospitality showed to me across the province. As we move forward with record infrastructure investments across Canada, I look forward to continuing this kind of engagement throughout our country.