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Commentary: Job situation must be MLA focus

MLAs must rise to the occasion starting Oct. 20

With the COVID-19 pandemic showing no signs of ending and with the spin-off impacts on the economy continuing to pummel the job sector, the upcoming session of the Alberta legislature must focus on meeting the crisis.

Whether the Kenney UCP government and the opposition NDP can work together to address the dire situation remains to be seen.

What is known is that however bad things appear this week, anyone who thinks things can’t get even worse is probably mistaken.

The NDP is calling for the job situation to be the top priority when the legislature resumes sitting on Oct. 20.

“Many of the jobs lost since the pandemic have not returned, and new layoffs across the energy sector are compounding the economic devastation facing Alberta families. The livelihoods of far too many Albertans are at risk,” said Opposition house leader Heather Sweet.

“In a time of crisis, Albertans expect leadership from their government, and to hear their detailed plans, across ministries, to attract new investment, diversify the economy, and create good mortgage paying jobs.”

The economic situation in Alberta demands an emergency debate in the legislation, she said.

For his part, Premier Jason Kenney said recent oilpatch layoffs are “very disturbing” and anything but good news for Alberta’s already hard hit economy.

“My heart goes out to all those who are affected by this terrible news, to their families, for those workers who are experiencing great anxiety about what the future holds for them and their families,” Kenney reportedly said.

“I’ve been clear that this is the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, leading to the largest decline in energy prices in history.”

The premier is calling on the Trudeau government to do more to help Alberta. Yet in light of the deep hostility between the federal Liberals and the Alberta UCP, any help from Ottawa may be a long time coming.

With that in mind, Alberta’s MLAs themselves must rise to the occasion starting Oct. 20 to address the critical job situation facing this province.

Dan Singleton is an editor with The Albertan.