Notley cabinet shuffle adds ‘insult to injury,’ says opposition

Notley cabinet shuffle adds ‘insult to injury,’ says opposition
Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee shakes hands with Premier Rachel Notley as she is sworn in as the new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Service Alberta at the provincial legislature.Photo courtesy of the Government of Alberta.

Northern Alberta has a new voice in cabinet.

A former registered nurse, Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee was named minister of Municipal Affairs and Minister responsible for Service Alberta on Oct. 22, five months after being elected to the legislature for the first time.

Larivee holds a bachelor of science in midwifery from the Midwives College of Utah and a Bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Alberta. She currently serves as a member of the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, Standing Orders and Printing and as a member of the Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future.

The third-place Alberta Liberals are less than thrilled with Larivee’s appointment and the rest of the minor shuffle that took place in Premier Rachel Notley’s cabinet last week.

“I have enjoyed working with Ms. Larivee as we have examined ways to improve our mental health system,” leader David Swann said in a press release. “However, while Ms. Larivee is a talented and hardworking individual, I am deeply concerned about the revolving door of ministers at Municipal Affairs. Ms. Larivee is the sixth (such minister)  in less than two years (and) our cities require more continuity than that.”

The cabinet shuffle saw the creation of a new ministry of Economic Development and Trade and the naming of Deron Bilous as its minister.

The province’s new economic plan will include enhanced supports for small- and medium-sized businesses, sector development initiatives, and a strategy to increase trade, investment attraction, and market access.

“We need to take the qualities that have made Alberta an energy leader – including an innovative, entrepreneurial culture and a highly skilled workforce – and apply them to the challenge of building a diversified, 21st century economy,” Bilous said.

The new ministry will bring under one umbrella work that is currently spread between several departments but is primarily concentrated in Innovation and Advanced Education and International and Intergovernmental Relations, and will be supported by several agencies, including the Alberta Innovates corporations. The new ministry’s work will be guided by the advice of the Premier’s Advisory Committee on the Economy.

Economic Development and Trade will also be responsible for:

  • coordinating and leveraging the research and innovation system to increase business start-ups and the commercialization of Alberta ideas;
  • expanding access to capital for small- and medium-sized enterprises;
  • supporting private sector job creation by promoting trade and investment; and
  • leading Alberta’s negotiations on domestic and international trade agreements.

Included in the government announcement were kudos from affected organizations, including the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) and the Alberta Chambers of Commerce.

“By creating a new Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, this government has made it clear that the economy is a priority,” the CEO of the Chambers, Ken Kobly said. “It’s important that we have a partner dedicated to helping grow and diversify the provincial economy, so our organization is looking forward to working with government on these initiatives to help make Alberta the best place in the country to start and operate a business.”

The Official Opposition was also critical of the shuffle at municipal affairs, saying it created confusion and added “insult to injury,” and of the NDP approach to economic development.

“Wildrose knows that the people who diversify economy are our local business owners,” Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean said. “Instead the NDP have raised taxes on businesses and individuals and have begun a problematic 50 per cent increase to the minimum wage on the backs of small business owners.”

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