Monthly Column

August 2017 MLA Column

Hello Calgary-Klein,

The Government of Alberta recently committed funding to Phase One of the Green Line LRT project, the largest single investment in public infrastructure projects in Calgary. The province will provide one-third of the total project cost, up to $1.53 billion over eight years to support Stage 1. The funds will come from the Climate Leadership Plan.

Calgary City Council had approved the construction of Phase One of the Green Line, which will include the first 20 kilometres and 14 stations of the eventual 46-kilometre Green Line. As many of you know, our government campaigned to fund municipalities to ensure they have the right resources to fulfill infrastructure priorities, such as transit.

As such, the announcement of Phase 1 is a step in the right direction. I’m very excited to see much-needed infrastructure getting built in Calgary. I am also admittedly let down that Phase One of the Green Line stops directly at the southern border of Calgary-Klein, at 16th Avenue and Centre Street North.

The Green Line was presented as a transformational project for the communities along Centre St N, and residents have been looking forward to welcoming increased transit infrastructure into their communities. Furthermore, I know that some contentious development proposals have justified themselves by pointing to the imminent construction of the Green Line, and some residents understandably feel short-changed now that the Green Line won’t be arriving in the area for quite some time.

Phase 1 will open in 2026, with extensions added pending further funding. I understand the disappointment many in Calgary-Klein feel. The expectations regarding the Green Line were very high, and the timeline is much slower than any of us would like. While it’s important to build things right the first time, I firmly believe that Calgary-Klein would benefit from the rapid construction of a Green Line. Population density exists along the entirety of the northern corridor, and the city’s priority should be to service communities whom need it most.

As a government that supports inclusive, low-carbon, well-planned communities, I urge representatives at all levels of government to equip communities with both the funding and the planning resources they need. We share a common goal for the need of transit infrastructure for Calgary, in the push to offer healthy and-low carbon transportation that complements vibrant communities. Phase Two should happen sooner rather than later!

As always our office is happy to hear from you, and may be reached at calgary.klein@assembly.ab.ca or 403-216-5430. I’ll be available for the next Coffee with Craig at the Velvet Café (502 25 Ave NW) on Sept 9th from 10am-12pm.

Also, our second annual Cool-down with Coolahan Family Pool Party & BBQ will be happening on August 27th from 9 am-12 pm at the Mount Pleasant Pool (2310 6 St NW). Stop by with the kids for free pool admission and free food!

Regards,

Craig

July 2017 MLA Column

Hello Calgary-Klein,

Albertans are among the most productive workers in Canada, and work some of the longest hours in the country. Yet despite this hard work and long hours, Alberta hadn’t seen significant changes to its labour legislation in 30 years.

That’s why I am proud that Bill 17: the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act is ensuring Alberta has modern and fair labour laws that protect the rights of Albertans. Work is where we spend half (and often more) of our waking hours, so it’s vital that the standards for work meet both the needs of Albertans as well as those of workplaces.

Bill 17 includes a number of important changes. Most importantly, the bill would allow Alberta workers up to five days of job protection a year for personal sickness or short-term care of an immediate family member. It would also allow for 16 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave for long-term illness or injury. I believe that no one should have to lose their job because they get sick, or because they need to care for their loved ones who’ve fallen ill.

Additional changes ensure our laws meet the same standards in place in other provinces and at the federal level, such as maternity leave, parental leave, compassionate care leave and bereavement leave. Updates to overtime, vacation pay and termination notice standards are included, as well as a simplification of union certification and decertification processes.

The proposed Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code changes are the result of previous government reviews, as well as broad consultation with Albertans, employers, business organizations, labour organizations, municipalities, academics and advocacy groups. More than 7,000 submissions were received.

If passed, Bill 17 is expected to come into effect January 1, 2018.

As always our office is happy to hear from you, and may be reached at calgary.klein@assembly.ab.ca or 403-216-5430. I’ll be available for the next Coffee with Craig at the Velvet Café (502 25 Ave NW) on August 12th from 10am-12pm

Regards,

Craig

June 2017 MLA Column

Hello Calgary-Klein,

A belated happy Mothers’ Day and early happy Fathers’ Day to my constituents. Our government cares about Albertan families and this May, I had the honour of meeting parents and children at the Louise Dean Centre who are benefiting from our government’s new $25/day childcare program. Thirteen existing child care centres officially opened as Alberta Early Learning and Child Care Centres, and nine more will open throughout the year. All of these will provide quality child care at a cost to parents of no more than $25 per day.

My colleagues and I are working to make life more affordable for parents by increasing access to quality, affordable, accessible child care, and I am proud to follow through on this election promise. Approximately 1,296 licensed child care spaces will be included in the program, with 714 of these as of May. Five of these centres are located in Calgary, and there will be 320 spots operating throughout the pilot program.

This support also helps families by allowing parents get back to work. By investing in quality child care, young children benefit from specialized and enriched programs, and working mothers are better able to return to work and support their families.

This is one way in which we are responding to the long-standing childcare crisis that working parents face. According to a 2016 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development report, two-parent Canadian families spend nearly a quarter of their income on child care. That puts Canada among the most expensive countries for child care within this group of 35 wealthy countries. Single parents in Canada face an even tougher situation, spending nearly a third of their income on child care.

I believe Albertans deserve better, and our government is looking to implement a universal maximum of $25/day quality child care as the province’s finances permit.

My office is happy to hear from you, and may be reached at calgary.klein@assembly.ab.ca or 403-216-5430. I’ll be available for the next Coffee with Craig at the Velvet Café (502 25 Ave NW) on June 10th from 10am-12pm.

Regards,

Craig

May 2017 MLA Column

Hello Calgary-Klein,

Occasionally, constituents tell me they’re concerned about the state of Alberta’s finances. The fact is that Alberta is set to lead the country in economic growth this year, and has the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio of all Canadian provinces. Given this outlook, there are several important arguments for maintaining the state of our front-line services.

The moral argument is the one I find most compelling: Albertans shouldn’t be made to pay or suffer for fluctuations in the price of oil and the lack of foresight of previous governments. Since oil was discovered in Alberta, governments have used non-renewable resource revenues to fund schools, hospitals, roads and infrastructure. When oil prices were high, previous governments pretended to be wise fiscal managers, and when oil prices were low, they slashed and burned front-line services Albertans rely on. This isn’t fair to Albertans. People shouldn’t be made to line up for hospital care, or put their child in a classroom with 50 others, just because the price of oil fluctuates.

There’s also a strong economic argument to be made for maintaining funding levels for health and education while investing in infrastructure. As Alberta’s economy recovers, we want to be an attractive place to move to, start a business, and invest. This means building the infrastructure we need while prices are relatively low, and maintaining the state of our front-line services. Companies rarely start new branches or move employees to places that throw their health and education systems into crisis. Maintaining stable funding to services helps Alberta remain competitive on the world stage.

The role of any government should be to make life better for Albertans, and that’s the role I see myself and my New Democrat colleagues accomplishing. Yes, serious conversations need to happen regarding the responsible management of revenues in Alberta. But when a world-wide oil price shock hurts working Albertans and their families, the first priority of government is to support Albertans as they weather the economic storm.

Regards,

Craig

April 2017 MLA Column

Hello Calgary-Klein,

Cuts to the salaries of the highest paid top executives of the government’s agencies, boards and commissions were announced in late February by the Alberta government. Perks such as retention bonuses, golf club membership and housing allowances have also been eliminated.

For much too long, previous governments allowed bloated CEO salaries beyond acceptable levels. Albertans deserve better, especially in tough times. These changes to compensation are expected to save government and agencies nearly $16 million a year.

Agencies, boards and commissions are now subject to a new compensation framework. The new framework benchmarks agency salaries against public sector market data in the Alberta Public Service, municipalities, public bodies and other Canadian jurisdictions. Similar measures have been implemented in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. These changes ensure that salaries for agencies, boards, and commissions are reasonable and in line with other provinces, while serving the public interest.

Future contracts will be reviewed by the new Public Agency Secretariat to ensure they are in line with the new rules. These changes are a part of the Government of Alberta’s review of all agencies, boards and commissions, which has introduced a transparent and accountable recruiting process, as well as public disclosure of compensation amounts.

For more information about Alberta’s public agencies, boards and commissions and their compensation, please visit https://www.alberta.ca/abc-compensation.aspx.

Our office is happy to hear from you, and may be reached at calgary.klein@assembly.ab.ca or 403-216-5430. I’ll be available for the next Coffee with Craig at the Velvet Café (502 25 Ave NW) on May 13th from 10am-12pm.

Regards,

Craig

March 2017 MLA Column

Hello Calgary-Klein,

Alberta’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths. Alberta has always been a home to those seeking refuge, and this will not change. Refugees and immigrants to Canada enrich our society beyond measure, and make incredible contributions to our communities, our economy, and our thriving cultural fabric.

Alberta will welcome those fleeing persecution, terror and war with open arms because all people deserve to live in peace and security. My family and I feel incredibly fortunate to enjoy these things in Alberta. Our country was largely built by wave after wave of immigrants, who made new lives, sharing lands long home to Indigenous peoples. And so just as previous generations made their homes here thanks to the kindness of others, so too should we offer this same kindness to those starting new lives here.

Hard work and a commitment to building strong and diverse communities have shaped this great province. As our economy recovers, let’s work together to welcome newcomers and offer them care and opportunities to succeed.

Let’s work together for a prosperous, diverse, and fairer Alberta.

Government goes back into session this month. Our office is happy to hear from you, and may be reached at calgary.klein@assembly.ab.ca or 403-216-5430. I’ll be available for the next Coffee with Craig at the Velvet Café (502 25 Ave NW) on April 8th, from10:30 am - 12 pm.

Regards,

Craig

 

February 2017 MLA Column

Hello Calgary-Klein!

As of November 2016, approximately 110,000 families, caring for an estimated 200,000 children, have received the Alberta Child Benefit (ACB).

The ACB, which came into effect this past summer, helps families to make ends meet and support the well-being of their children.

If you have a child under the age of 18, have been an Alberta resident for at least one month and earn less than $41,220 per year in net family income, you may be eligible for the benefit.

To qualify for the ACB, Albertans must file their tax return. The current benefit year for the ACB runs from June 2016 to June 2017, and eligibility is based on 2015 income tax returns.

If you have not yet filed your 2015 tax return, you are encouraged to do so to benefit from the ACB and other programs that you may qualify for.

Visit humanservices.alberta.ca/childbenefit or call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre at 1-877-644-9992 (780-644-9992 in Edmonton), for more information on the ACB.

As always, our office is happy to hear any feedback from constituents, and we may be reached at calgary.klein@assembly.ab.ca or 403-216-5430.

Regards,

Craig Coolahan

 

January 2017 MLA Column

Hello Calgary-Klein!

Last month, Prime Minister Trudeau and his government approved important energy infrastructure projects, which are critically important to the economic future of the people of Alberta. Our province has experienced a dramatic oil price shock over the last two years, and these new pipeline approvals give us a chance to break our landlock. We’re getting a chance to sell to new markets at better prices, and reduce our dependence on a single market. We’re getting a chance to pick ourselves up and move forward again.

Our made-in-Alberta Climate Leadership Plan is getting results. Albertans are used to being leaders, and these pipeline approvals demonstrate the benefits of our leadership. By leading the way in addressing climate change and phasing out of coal, we are getting real results for our energy industry. We are proving that you don’t have to choose between jobs and the environment: we are doing both. Working families shouldn’t have to choose between making a decent living versus protecting the environment for our kids and future generations.

This decision will mean:

Let’s work together across our province to protect our environment, create jobs, and work for a greener future.

Regards,

Craig Coolahan

December 2016 MLA Column

Happy holidays, Calgary-Klein!

As the nights grow long, snow falls, and the lights and music of the holidays surround us, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the stresses and obligations that often come along with the season. Often the pressures and commitments we place on ourselves and those around us can create a great deal of stress.

This kind of stress can sometimes lead us to forget the ‘reason for the season.’ While there are many traditions that celebrate this time of year in a range of different ways, some common threads unite them: treasuring our loved ones, and caring for and including vulnerable members of our society who find themselves without resources and without a warm and safe place to live.

Several excellent organizations do great work in Calgary to help our most vulnerable:

I wish you, your families and your loved ones all the best this holiday season.

Regards,

Craig Coolahan

November 2016 MLA Column

Hello Calgary-Klein!

Economic diversification is a key element of Alberta’s economic recovery. Alberta’s economy must become more resilient to changes in the international price of oil. Our government is supporting small businesses to create jobs and get Albertans back to work.

Alberta’s small businesses and investors create new jobs and diversify our economy. Small businesses in Alberta have a bigger economic impact than small businesses anywhere else in Canada, and make 35 per cent of all jobs in Alberta.

As part of the Alberta Jobs Plan, our government is creating a tax credit for investments in small Alberta businesses that will support up to 4,400 new jobs over three years, and contribute up to $500 million to the province’s GDP.

The Alberta Investor Tax Credit (AITC) will offer a 30 per cent tax credit for investments in Alberta small business made between April 14, 2016 and December 31, 2019. The tax credit will be offered to investors who provide capital to Alberta small business in a variety of sectors, including:

Legislation establishing the AITC is being introduced this session. We know from similar legislation in other jurisdictions that this will provide a strong incentive for Alberta investors, increasing access to capital when and where small businesses need it most.

As always, my office is happy to hear from constituents. If you have any feedback about this initiative, or any other matter, feel free to contact my office at calgary.klein@assembly.ab.ca or 403-216-5430

Regards,

Craig Coolahan