While the pandemic and oil price war made for a dreadful 2020, Banff-Kananaskis MLA Miranda Rosin says there was also positive news and moves that give Albertans reason to be optimistic for the future.
"It was an incredibly difficult year for so many people, so many families, so many small businesses, and I don't want to diminish by any stretch what hardships people have gone through," says MLA Rosin. It's been a tough year."
Still, during dark times, she believes it's important to search for the light.
"I think there's a lot of people who probably feel there's not a lot of hope or there's no light at the end of their tunnel, but I do feel there is a lot to be optimistic about, even if we can't necessarily see it quite yet, or recognize it quite yet."
"Especially now that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being rolled out and our COVID case count is falling, I think it's time we look to the future and be a little more positive about our province."
She's proud of the major policy moves and investments made by a Legislative Assembly that met more often than any other government in Canada during the pandemic.
"I've been very grateful to be part of the government that has been willing to work our absolute butts off during this pandemic to not only mitigate the health crisis that we face, and the hospital capacity and keep Albertans safe, but to also put a very strong focus and laser-lense on our economy."
In addition to making the corporate tax rate the lowest in the county, Rosin is particularly excited about the doors opened to expand the innovation and tech sector.
For one, last year saw a record-setting $200 million investment in the Calgary tech sector.
"We instituted a new research and development tax credit, which I'm very excited about, for Alberta entrepreneurs and people from the tech industry. I believe tech is the wave of the future."
Concurrently, the province is working on its broadband strategy to ensure rural Albertans have the same access to technology as their urban counterparts
Billions in projects have been announced in a wide range of initiatives. Besides the Keystone XL pipeline, E3 Metals has launched its Clearwater lithium project, construction has begun on a biorefinery using Alberta technology, there has been a $2.4 billion in green investment for solar, wind, and co-generation power, and a $280 million investment to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency.
Additionally, an investment bank opened its doors in Calgary and Suncor has moved its head office to Alberta from Ontario.
As well, she says the agricultural sector proved strong in 2020, with sales rising 4.8 per cent over its five-year average.
"It's looking optimistic, and it's also looking diversified, which I think is something a lot of people have been looking for for years. I think some of those investments show that we have diversification coming. We've got investors from every industry looking at our province and seeing the positive future here."
She says the year saw some other outstanding issues addressed, such as contractors being paid promptly.
"We created prompt payment legislation which I know is something a lot of contractors have been begging for for years. It will make sure our contractors don't go unpaid for an extended period of time after they invested their labour and costs into projects."
Returning driver testing to the private sector is a reversal of a Notley government move, Rosin believes will help address the backlog of people awaiting testing.
"Not only will it create a lot of jobs for those who use to have jobs in the vehicle test business in Alberta, but it should create labour mobility access for young people who are entering the workforce.'
"Our government was definitely elected on a platform to create jobs in our province, especially after the previous four years and everything that our province went through. So I think, despite things looking grim right now, we've got a lot to look forward to."
Rosin's constituency is heavily reliant on tourism and many companies and people have suffered some crippling blow. The focus for many has been to find a way to ride the storm until widespread travel resumes.
"Banff and Canmore were incredibly hard hit when all international travel ceased, most interprovincial ceased and all events, conferences were shut down effectively. My riding has been really hard hit over this past year, and there's been a lot of work that's gone into working with those struggling."
Rosin says 2020 has left her and others reflecting on the lasting impact of COVID-19.
"I think there's no denying our futures are going to be looking a little bit different after COVID-19, for better or for worse--obviously, I'm optimistic for better. There is going to change, and I think this season has given us time to reflect on what we want our world will look like after the pandemic."