Alberta Premier Rachel Notley spent a couple of days in the area last week. Her visit included a fundraiser for the NDP constituency association (press not invited), a ribbon cutting for a provincially-funded daycare program and a visit to a school snack program that is also supported by provincial funds. A planned meeting (at Tim Hortons) with members of the local Filipino Community Association had to be canceled, due to news breaking on the inter-provincial pipeline spat that took up a chunk of Notley’s time while in Slave Lake last week. She also visited Wabasca on Friday, to announce improvements and expansion of Mistassiniy School. Also announced: a deal with Treaty 8 on managing Indigenous traplines.
At St. Mary of the Lake School in Slave Lake, Notley spoke with school staff members about the nutrition program there. It’s part of a pilot program in 33 schools around the province.
Sarah Cross, who runs the program at SMOTL, wheeled in a cart with bannock, blueberries and bison stew for a hungry and enthusiastic Grade 1 class while the premier and Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee looked on and the Premier asked questions.
Later, at the Legacy Daycare, Notley helped cut the ribbon on a new program, which offers $25 per day daycare. This is another pilot project for the province.
The Slave Lake daycare is one of 100 in the province funded in an expansion of the pilot project announced just last week. It adds 18 new daycare spaces and subsidizes others to the $25 per day level.
“We have more work to do,” Notley said in her remarks at the ribbon-cutting. “But we are making progress and this was a choice we had to make as a government.”
Members of the union representing school support workers used the visit of the Premier to showcase their dissatisfaction with pay and other issues. Outside St. Mary of the Lake School, members of the union local had an information table set up.
AUPE vice president Rod Feland was one of those at the table. He told The Leader the allocation of resources in Living Waters school division is skewed too much in favour of head office administrators, leaving “the people doing the work” trying to do too much with too little. For example, he said the superintendent gets a six-figure salary, while the average support staff salary is about $34,000.
Premier Rachel Notley, with Minister of Children’s Services Danielle Larivee, in a Grade 1 classroom at St. Mary of the Lake School in Slave Lake last week, seeing the provincially-supported school nutrition program in action.
Premier Notley helps kids cut the ribbon on new daycare spaces at the Legacy Centre.