Infrastructure on tap - Metro US

Infrastructure on tap

The province has vowed to shield Albertans from a global economic storm that has hit the province like a monsoon — forcing companies to scale back projects and leaving thousands jobless.

In his throne speech, Lt.-Gov. Norman Kwong said the Tory government will follow through with infrastructure investments to hospitals, schools and public structures to “strengthen communities and help municipalities address growth pressure.”

“In today’s economic environment, now more than ever, this means investing strategically and building responsibility,” said Kwong.

The province also vowed to move ahead on plans for 11,000 affordable housing units by giving capital funds to municipalities to create more jobs.

“The proof is when they deliver the final budget, but I didn’t hear anything in there that gave me concern that is was business as usual because it’s not easy in these times,” said Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel after the speech.

The government will also support people facing layoffs by helping them find new jobs or upgrade their skills. There’s even help for military reservists to ensure they have a job once they get back from a long mission.

But critics say the speech didn’t do enough to address the economic crisis — a key reason, they say, why Ed Stelmach’s government must roll out its budget as soon as possible. No date for a budget has been set.

“There is nothing in there, there is nothing about actually creating real jobs for people who’ve lost them,” said NDP Leader Brian Mason. “Counselling and helping people explore their options — that’s just meaningless babble and that’s very cold comfort to a family that is wondering if they can keep a roof over their heads.”

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