Premier Jason Kenney announced several changes to his cabinet on Thursday, welcoming six new members to further support Alberta’s transition from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta’s government is focused on Alberta’s Recovery Plan, a plan to build, diversify the economy and create good jobs,” said the premier’s spokesperson Jerrica Goodwin.
Exiting her role as the Minister of Community and Social Services, Rajan Sawhney, MLA for Calgary-North East, becomes the Minister of Transportation. Her mandate focuses on Alberta’s historic Capital Plan investment of $20.3 billion over the next three years, including Alberta’s $1.53-billion investment in Calgary’s Green Line LRT project, which the province claims will create 90,000 new jobs.
Tanya Fir, MLA for Calgary-Peigan, re-joins cabinet for her second stint, becoming Associate Minister of Red Tape Reduction after serving as Minister for Economic Development, Trade and Tourism before the previous cabinet shuffle. She will focus “aggressively” on the province’s efforts to eliminate burdensome regulations, improve small business competitiveness and get Alberta’s economy moving. Exiting the role is Grant Hunter, MLA for Cardston-Taber-Warner.
Mike Ellis, MLA for Calgary-West and currently the chief government whip, becomes Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. He will continue to implement Alberta’s recovery-oriented systems of care model across the province.
Jason Luan, MLA for Calgary-Foothills and currently the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, becomes the Minister of Community and Social Services. He will focus on delivering supports for vulnerable Albertans as they emerge from COVID-19, helping to bridge unemployed and underemployed Albertans into good jobs.
“Alberta is leading Canada out of the COVID-19 pandemic and into strong economic growth,” said Premier Jason Kenney. “This renewal of our cabinet will support Alberta’s Recovery Plan, a plan to build, to diversify the economy and to create jobs.
“We’ve been through 16 incredibly tough months - a time of real adversity. And together, Albertans have overcome a once-in-a-century public health crisis… and to our economy,” said Kenney.
During the announcement, he added several, predominantly Associate Minister roles. “With new voices and strong, experienced ministers moving into important economic roles, Alberta’s government is ready to deliver a strong recovery for all Albertans.”
Nate Horner, MLA for Drumheller-Stettler, becomes Associate Minister of Rural Economic Development, under the Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Innovation. He will support Minister Doug Schweitzer in making sure Alberta’s Recovery Plan delivers results for rural and remote Alberta communities, working across government on important strategic initiatives such as expanding rural broadband internet and irrigation networks.
Muhammad Yaseen, MLA for Calgary-North, becomes Associate Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism, under the Ministry of Labour and Immigration. He will work with Minister Jason Copping in rolling out the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program and the Fairness for Newcomers Action Plan. Yaseen will also be tasked with reaching out to ethnic and faith communities and working across government to address recent attacks on vulnerable individuals and communities.
Whitney Issik, MLA for Calgary-Glenmore, becomes the Associate Minister of Status of Women, under the Ministry of Culture and Status of Women, and the chief government whip. She will work to ensure that women are a driving force in Alberta’s economic recovery, recognizing the disproportionate impact of the global COVID-19 recession on women.
Ron Orr, MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka, becomes the Minister of Culture. He will focus on helping Alberta’s arts and culture organizations recover from the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 while implementing an Alberta Identity Strategy that will address recommendation 25 of the Fair Deal Panel to “affirm Alberta’s cultural, economic and political uniqueness in law and government policy.”
Other non-ministry changes, include Joseph Schow, MLA for Cardston-Siksika and currently the deputy government whip, becoming the deputy government house leader, and Brad Rutherford, MLA for Leduc-Beaumont, becoming deputy government whip.