Maintaining quality of life key theme in premier's address

Premier Alison Redford outlined her plan to help the province weather the global economic uncertainty on the first day of a two-day legislative session. She wants to find new markets for oil, while maintaining education and health funding.

'We must shield Alberta from ... challenging times,' Redford says in state of province speech

Premier Alison Redford speaks Monday during the first day of a shortened legislative session. Later, she adjourned the session to speak directly to Albertans to try and allay fears in the midst of global economic uncertainty. (CBC)

Premier Alison Redford outlined Monday her plan to help the province weather global economic uncertainty on the first day of a two-day legislative session.

"We must maintain steady job growth and provide Albertans with the opportunities they expect," Redford said during a 30-minute "State of Alberta" speech, according to an online transcript.

"Debt is the trap that has caught so many struggling governments. ... Alberta has no net debt."

Redford went on to say that her PC government will have to make "tough decisions" on spending and saving, but did not specify if particular programs will be trimmed.


'Debt is the trap that has caught so many struggling governments'—Premier Alison Redford on why Alberta must keep net debt at zero

Instead, she re-emphasized several spending commitments, including the restoration of $107 million in education funding that was previously cut.

She added that non-profits will get access to more stable funding, and that both education and health care will be financed on multi-year plans.

"We're talking about long-term, sustainable funding so that local decision-makers have the ability to plan long term," Redford told reporters afterwards.

Redford, who was sworn in as premier Oct. 7, said finding new markets for Alberta's oil is also a priority.

"Over 99 percent of our crude exports go to the United States, but we can find more outlets," she said in her speech.

Redford recently named her main rival for the PC leadership, Gary Mar, as the province's representative in Asia.

The premier also committed to adding 1,000 continuing care beds for seniors, provided through public-private partnerships.