This Christmas season, put the needs of others first

Nathan Cooper 2017

I have always believed that Christmas is a time for sharing with those we love most. It’s about putting the needs of others first.

There is no question that 2017 was another difficult year for many Albertans. According to Statistics Canada, since May of 2015 we’ve lost 73,100 full-time private-sector jobs. As a direct result, tens of thousands of families found themselves scrambling, while others have been forced to leave our province and seek opportunity elsewhere.

Here in our region, there are a number of charitable initiatives working hard to provide assistance to those who need help. I would like to encourage everyone to lend a hand where possible. Helping those who are being left behind is a task far too important to leave entirely to governments. As previous generations have taught us, the sense of community we share is nurtured by mutual goodwill, the responsibility for which ultimately rests with individual citizens – me and you - and our individual acts of kindness.

Of course, government also has a major role to play in rebuilding our economy. Most Albertans recognize that the first step has to be restoring confidence for the long term. For that to happen, Alberta must get its spending, and its deficit, under control.

Currently, the government is running deficits in excess of $10 Billion, according to the government’s most recent budget, debt is forecast to hit $71.1 billion by 2019-20, at which time interest payments will cost $2.3 Billion. The Notley Administration has no credible plan to meet this challenge, forcing one credit agency to remark that Alberta has the “weakest budget outlook among all provinces.” This is a big red flag for employers, whether you’re a small business owner struggling through tough times, or a major corporation looking to expand.

Fixing Alberta’s fiscal disorder will go a long way to rebuilding confidence in Alberta, and getting our friends and neighbours back into quality, full-time jobs. It’s also the first step in rebuilding the Alberta Advantage, ensuring that our children and grandchildren can build a future here in our province. Finally, it will help us turn the page in the days of economic decline, marked by increases in crime and substance abuse. Helping those who need help the most is about more than handouts; it’s about offering them opportunity.

There is no question, the most effective way to change our world for the better is to put the needs of others first. Restoring the Alberta Advantage will be a major issue in the coming New Year, and I look forward to it.

Until then, let’s do all we can to let our families, friends, and neighbours know how much they mean to us. From my family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy, prosperous New Year.