Premier Rachel Notley creates new economic development ministry

Just six months after forming Alberta's NDP government, Premier Rachel Notley announced changes to her cabinet Thursday morning at Government House.

Department will co-ordinate efforts to diversify the economy

Premier Rachel Notley announced changes to her cabinet Thursday morning at Government House in Edmonton. (CBC)

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shuffled her cabinet Thursday and created a new department to co-ordinate efforts to diversify the province's economy as it deals with massive job losses in the energy sector.

Deron Bilous takes over the new portfolio of Economic Development and Trade, which will oversee all of Alberta's international trade offices and new and existing trade initiatives.

The department will help businesses attract investment, create jobs, develop new products and reach new markets, Notley said.

"This is a unique effort for a unique time in Alberta's economic story," Notley said. "It's hard to believe, quite frankly, that we haven't had a minister dedicated to economic development and diversification since 2006. Frankly, growth used to be taken for granted. That passivity and those attitudes of entitlement end today."

Notley said the impact of low oil prices and thousands of jobs lost in the energy sector make it imperative that Alberta find and develop new businesses and help others expand and grow.

"While the worst pain is in energy, the impact is being felt right across sectors and communities," Notley said. "Today's announcement and changes to cabinet are aimed directly at job creators, business innovators and all those people working to turn their bright ideas into new products, new services, and most importantly new jobs."

A detailed plan to diversify the economy will be outlined when the government tables its first budget on Tuesday, Notley said, though she declined to answer questions about any specifics of that plan.

Of the budget itself, Notley said: "There's not going to be any big surprises in it. Our view is that we need to try and stick as close as we can to the principles that we ran on."

Danielle Larivee, the MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, was added to cabinet Thursday, taking over from Bilous as minister of Municipal Affairs and minister of Service Alberta.

Lori Sigurdson will now serve as minister of Advanced Education but will continue to hold the portfolio as minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour.

The ministers were sworn in at a ceremony Thursday morning at Government House.

Bilous had been minister of Municipal Affairs and minister of Service Alberta before being moved to the newly created department.

The premier announced that Bilous will also chair a cabinet committee conducting a review of the Municipal Government Act.

Rachel Notley to shuffle cabinet Thursday, just months into term

The new 13-member cabinet looks like this:

  • Joe Ceci - Finance/Treasury Board president
  • Sarah Hoffman - Health/Seniors.
  • Kathleen Ganley - Justice/Aboriginal Affairs
  • David Eggen - Education/Culture and Tourism
  • Margaret Mccuaig-Boyd - Energy
  • Shannon Phillips - Environment and Parks/Status of Women
  • Brian Mason -  Infrastructure/Transportation
  • Deron Bilous - Economic development and trade
  • Lori Sigurdson - Advanced Education, and Jobs, Skills, Training & Labour
  • Rachel Notley -- Premier 
  • Oneil Carlier - Agriculture/Forestry
  • Irfan Sabir - Human Services.
  • Danielle Larivee - Municipal Affairs, Service Alberta


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