Rachel Notley renews vow to raise Alberta's minimum wage
Premier-designate also speaks to new cabinet, royalty review and minor scandal
After a week behind closed doors, Alberta's premier-designate Rachel Notley emerged Wednesday to say she is still committed to raising the provincial minimum wage.
"That is something typically addressed in the fall," Notley said. "So we'll meet as a cabinet to discuss rolling out that process. But without question, that was in our platform and we intend to move forward on it."
During the election campaign, Notley pledged to raise Alberta's minimum wage from the current $10.20 to $15 within three years, which would take it from the lowest to the highest in Canada.
She announced that she will work to get the job done, along with 11 new cabinet members, when they are sworn in on Sunday on the legislature grounds.
Notley quickly firmed up several important dates at her first news conference in a week, touching on key issues her new government will face. She said her new cabinet will hold its first meetings in Calgary on May 27-28.
Other members of the NDP caucus will be sworn in as MLAs on June 1. The legislature will meet to elect a speaker on June 11, Notley said, and a speech from the throne will be delivered on June 15.
She also spoke about controversial images that have plagued one of her MLAs since the May 5 election.
"I spoke with her about it today," Notley said. "I indicated to her that I thought the images that she was part of were highly inappropriate. She agreed with me and she offered her very genuine apology and I've accepted that apology."
Drever has been asked to come back with a plan to reach out to groups that work with vulnerable young women, Notley said, and help work toward strategies to curb violence against women.
Royalty review high on agenda
When asked about recent news reports which warn more than 185,000 jobs could be lost this year in the province's oilpatch, she said that is the first topic her ministers will address.
"I've asked that the state of the economy be the first thing that is brought to our cabinet for a briefing next week in Calgary," she said.
A royalty review will also be high on the agenda when the cabinet begins meeting.
"We've committed to a review," Notley said. "It will be thoughtful, well-informed, and all parties to it will have a clear understanding of what the process itself entails before it unfolds."
The government has a number of bills it plans to introduce this spring, she said, though she would not give details.
During the short spring sitting, the government will ask the legislature to approve an interim supply bill to finance the operations of government.
A full budget will be tabled during a fall sitting of the legislature, she said.
Cabinet to meet outside Edmonton
Notley said the cabinet will regularly meet outside of Edmonton to give ministers a better chance to hear from all Albertans.
The new cabinet will be much smaller than the one led by outgoing premier Jim Prentice. The Tory cabinet appointed last fall had 19 ministers.
But Notley said there are no plans to merge ministries, though some cabinet ministers will oversee more than one department.
"I'm very confident that when we announce who is in cabinet that people will see that it makes a good deal of sense," she said.
Notley was also asked about recent a CBC News story that examined and exposed the huge salaries paid to members of two arm's-length agencies: the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation and Alberta Innovates.
"We've indicated all along that agencies, boards and commissions should have been subject to the sunshine list," she said. "And it's been our position that they should have been all along. We'll be moving forward to make that a reality as soon as we can."
Former premier Alison Redford's government introduced the sunshine list in January 2014. It details the compensation given to all government employees who make more than $102,100 annually, but specifically excluded the salaries of employees at government-funded agencies, boards and commissions.
Notley said her new government will undertake a more complete review of agencies, boards and commissions in the province, both their number and makeup.
"We hope as well in that process to look at ensuring that we have some reasonability in terms of the pay scales that we see in those organizations," she said.