Ed Stelmach’s Conservative government has chiseled out a new plan that it says focuses on Alberta’s already rich economy and a health care system that is struggling to attract new nurses and doctors, a plan that suggests high schools dedicated to health care.
Critics say the new plan, as announced in yesterday’s throne speech, is vague and it was created by a government that is currently on “auto-pilot.”
During his throne speech, Lt.-Gov. Norman Kwong outlined a number of priorities, including hiring workers in hurting health care and construction industries.
“Your government recognizes the need for Alberta to catch up in some areas, to close the gap in others and, in all cases, ensure that no one is left behind,” said Kwong.
Among the long list of priorities is a new tax credit for scientific research and development, along with the promise to create 14,000 new child care spaces by 2011.
Along with addressing the need to attract more medical staff, the government has also vowed to create health care-devoted high schools to help students pursue careers in the field.
“This is a silly idea,” said NDP Leader Brian Mason.
“They need to train more health care professionals. Dedicating high schools to health care is just, in my view, a gimmick.”
The Conservatives’ first bill will forge a new economic agreement with British Columbia. The pact would allow trained nurses, welders and pipefitters trained in one province to now work in another province.
With the new deal, the two provinces will also share the second largest economy in Canada, Stelmach said in a news conference after the speech.
“This now allows Albertans to take advantage of opportunities on both sides of the border,” said Stelmach.
This is the first throne speech since the March 3 election when the Conservatives made huge gains as it captured a 72-seat majority, leaving both opposition parties with 11 seats.
Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft, meanwhile, says the new plan for Alberta lacks substance.
“There is no targets, there is no deadlines, there are no deliverables” said Taft. “It seems like the government woke up for the election and they are going back to sleep.”