Yao was given small business, northern development position by Smith

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Tany Yao has been named parliamentary secretary for small business and northern development. Premier Danielle Smith appointed Yao to the position on Thursday, and named seven other MLAs to parliamentary secretary posts.

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Yao will report to Matt Jones, Alberta’s minister of jobs, economy and trade. No other region in Alberta has a parliamentary secretary position, and Yao said in an interview the extra attention for northern Alberta is a good sign from the legislature.

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“The premier has long been recognized, since I’ve known her, the importance of the north,” said Yao. “It’s an acknowledgment she understands we are resource-rich in the north, and the region is a ticket to prosperity not just for Alberta but the nation.”

As an example, Yao praised Smith for approving Highway 686 in April, the planned route connecting Fort McMurray to the Peace and Grande Prairie regions.

Yao, the UCP MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, said his priorities will include promoting the natural resources of the north and helping small business owners.

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“There’s a lot of capacity, and the ability for our region to grow and northern Alberta in general to grow,” he said. “It’s really broad when you get into the economic diversity of the region and all of northern Alberta.”

Yao held a parliamentary secretary role for rural health before the general election on May 29. That position is now being held by Martin Long, UCP MLA for West Yellowhead. Yao still expects to deal with rural health issues with his new position, and is proud of his previous work with his former post.

Yao is happy to see the Alberta government expand physician training into Lethbridge and Grande Prairie, and hopes to see Fort McMurray follow. He still plans to promote programs encouraging doctors, nurses and medical specialists to settle in rural Alberta.

“I definitely think I’ve made an impact on health and I’m ready for this new challenge,” said Yao.

Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche MLA Brian Jean was named Alberta’s energy and minerals minister last month. Jean was previously Alberta’s jobs, economy and northern development minister.

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