Last week, Alberta took a bold step forward with our plan to ease restrictions by beginning Step 1 of our four-step framework. This means that restaurants, cafes and pubs can permit indoor dining to a maximum of six people per table (from same household or the two close contacts for people living alone), one-on-one training is permitted for indoor fitness activities and lessons, and conditioning activities for indoor team-based minor sports, activities and school athletics can begin again.
The Camrose constituency is full of entrepreneurs who have put their heart and soul into the success of their dining establishments and promising young athletes who deserve every opportunity to reach their potential. Thanks to the hard work of Albertans, we have bent the curve and are continuing to make progress. And Alberta’s health care providers have done their part to keep the health system operating on a sustainable basis.
Despite all the challenges we faced in 2020, Alberta’s forestry and agriculture sectors showed signs of strength that point towards a positive economic future. In October, Alberta witnessed record breaking solid wood prices at $1,288 per thousand-board-feet for western spruce-pine-fir. Prices for lumber, oriented strand board and plywood have also seen a profound recovery, with benchmark prices increasing between 125 per cent and 215 per cent. When COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency, Alberta quickly understood the role of forestry as an essential service and the global need for forestry products that are vital to the lives of Albertans.
Alberta has a proud history of resilient, innovative farmers, food processors and ranchers who have overcome some of the toughest conditions. Harvest progress in 2020 hit a new record high in Alberta with farmers harvesting more than seven per cent above what is normal. From our world-famous Alberta beef to high-quality hard red spring wheat, Alberta’s agriculture sector is an economic highlight during these tough times.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has recognized Alberta as the most improved province on their annual Red Tape Report Card – giving us a first-ever grade of A. Since the Associate Ministry of Red Tape Reduction was formed in June 2019, thousands of regulatory requirements have been eliminated across government. To date, Alberta has made progress cutting red tape by more than nine per cent and has saved Albertans more than $476 million. Ongoing red tape reduction efforts are being driven by advice from key leaders in Alberta through panels with representatives from small business, oil and gas, tourism and hospitality, and other sectors.
Alberta is carefully reopening the economy and showing encouraging signs of resurgence. This is welcoming news for everyone in our province as we work together to ensure this year is better than 2020.