Edmonton

Alberta MLAs return to legislature for busy session

Alberta’s MLAs will be returning to the provincial legislature Wednesday to start a busy spring and summer session in which the UCP government plans to introduce at least 10 pieces of legislation.

Bill enshrining parents’ choices in education programming is first on docket

Night sessions and physical distancing will become part of the new normal once the legislature begins sitting Wednesday.  (Josee St-Onge/ CBC)

Alberta's MLAs will be returning to the provincial legislature Wednesday to start a busy spring and summer session, in which the UCP government plans on introducing at least 10 pieces of legislation.  

Night sessions and physical distancing will be part of the new normal, said government house leader Jason Nixon, during a press conference Tuesday. 

"I do anticipate that, for sure, by Monday of next week, we will be into night sittings," he said. "I do not believe that we will stop night sittings the rest of the way through the legislative session." 

The first order of business is an all-party debate on the COVID-19 crisis response, where Premier Jason Kenney will provide an update and take members' questions. 

Opposition house leader Heather Sweet said the NDP will try to prevent the government from using the COVID-19 crisis as cover to forward its own agenda.

"Our job is to make sure this government doesn't use this pandemic as a reason and an ability to push through policy and legislation that ultimately will have long term effects on Albertans," Sweet said.

Choice in Education Act 

The UCP government will introduce Bill 15, Choice in Education Act, Nixon said. 

"The intention of that bill is to fulfil a campaign promise," he said. "This bill will demonstrate our government's support for all educational programming, including public, separate, Francophone, charter, and independent schools, as well as alternate programs and homeschooling."

More details will be shared when Education Minister Adriana LaGrange tables the bill, Nixon said.

Sweet called the lack of information around the Choice in Education Act worrying. 

The province should instead focus on strengthening the current educational system, she said. 

"What this government needs to do is reinstate our educational assistants, make sure we have enough teachers in our classrooms to meet the needs of students before they start looking at making changes to the public educational system."

The Alberta government will also introduce Bill 7, an amendment to the Responsible Energy Development Act that will set timelines for the Alberta Energy Regulator's review of applications, and Bill 16 which seeks to expand the scope of the Victims of Crime Act and transition to a services-based program.

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