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NDP pledges to cut school fees, seek intervener status on Trans Mountain Pipeline challenges

The first thing the provincial government plans to do in the spring sitting of the legislature is cut school fees. In her speech from the throne Thursday, Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell committed to getting rid of instructional supply and material fees at Alberta public schools. Busing fees for children travelling to their designated school would also be waived.

“The first bill tabled this session will start that work, by eliminating these fee categories in time for the start of the next school year. These changes will reduce total mandatory school fees by approximately 25 per cent.”

Bill 1 was tabled Thursday afternoon, and the NDP say charges for textbooks, workbooks, photocopying, and printing or paper supplies would fall under it. Consultation will be done with parents and school boards.

Mitchell also used her speech to announce the province is seeking intervener status for court challenges against the Trans Mountain Pipeline. The project has been approved by the National Energy Board, the federal government, and the B.C. government, but it’s facing challenges from environmental and First Nations groups.

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“In any and all appropriate forums, your government will continue to make the case that this pipeline is critical for Albertans and all Canadians. To that end, your government will defend our province and its key industry in court.”

Mitchell says they’ll also be working with the federal government and Indigenous communities on the Energy East pipeline.

At least 15 bills are expected to be tabled by the NDP in the spring sitting of legislature. That includes capping electricity rates for families and businesses.

“Because an electricity bill isn’t a jack-in-the-box,” says Mitchell. “There is no need for a surprise. Rates will be capped below the average price families have paid over the last decade. If electricity prices go up past the cap, electricity bills won’t. Period.”

That bill should be tabled this year, along with a consumer bill of rights, legislation to help and protect victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, along with new measures to expand whistleblower protection and strengthen conflict-of-interest laws.

This is the third throne speech from the NDP government, which reaches the halfway point of its mandate in May.

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