Thank you to all the volunteers, conference planning committee, staff, and sponsors who made our 13th Annual Advocacy Conference: OUR Public Services such a huge success! Keep an eye on this page for updates as we work on getting session videos and presentation slides up over the next week.

The complete program, including full bios for each speaker, panelist, and moderator can be downloaded here.


Workshop: Advocacy to Reduce and Eliminate Poverty in Alberta

Session Description: Alberta has made significant progress over the past few years on reducing poverty through meaningful actions by government. However, significant levels of poverty remain, and more action is needed. This workshop is designed to equip advocates and activists who are passionate about addressing poverty with knowledge about the problem of poverty, and to chart a path foward for how we can reduce and eliminate poverty in Alberta.



Workshop Leaders:

Sarah Barber, EndPovertyEdmonton

Sandra Ngo, Edmonton Social Planning Council

Cheryl Wiskeyjack, Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society

Sandra Azocar, Friends of Medicare

Nevena Ivanovic, Women's Centre of Calgary

Nicki Dublenko, Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta

Ricardo Acuña, Parkland Institute



Trish Hennessy's Keynote Address: Becoming Builders: Proactive Advocacy for the Public Good

Trish Hennessy, the founding direction for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' Ontario Office and current Executive Director for Updream, delivered her keynote in Calgary and in Edmonton.

Keynote Description: Progressives have become excellent firefighters: when we see our public services being attacked, we know how to defend them. However, we need to become better builders, focused on revitalizing and expanding public services and spaces for the betterment of everyone in our society. Join us for Trish Hennessy's keynote address which will explore ways to collectively envision a brighter and more equitable future focused on building healthy, educated, and engaged communities.





Dr. Allyson Pollock's Keynote: Privatisation and Austerity: Lessons from the UK

Keynote Description: In the decade since 2008, austerity has seen gains in infant mortality and life expectancy plateauing and now reversing; poverty is increasing as are inequalities in health. Austerity has been accompanied by a twin track policy of cuts in public services and privatisation with catastrophic consequences for public health and public accountability. There is no evidence that the efficiency gains have materialized, but rather that fragmentation and outsourcing are increasing levels of stress decreasing access to services.


Panel: Just Transition and a Green New Deal for Canada

Session Description: While it is widely accepted that fossil fuels must be phased out and replaced by renewable forms of energy, election officials are stalling progress. The transition must happen much more quickly to respect climate science, and at the same time must be done in a way that considers the impact on those most affected: workers in the fossil fuels sector who deserve good jobs and Indigenous peoples who have often borne the brunt of the negative impacts of fossil fuel extraction. This session will explore how we can build a just transition to a 100% renewable energy economy in Alberta and across Canada that upholds Indigenous rights, expands racial justice, and guarantees good work for everyone.


Ty, Indigenous Hunter & Tradesperson

Stephen Buhler, Machinist


Emma Jackson, Climate Justice Edmonton



Panel: Bold Ideas for Expanding out Public Services

Session Description: It is sometimes tempting for progressives to think short-term and focus on gains for public services that seem possible immediately. However, too often compromises made at the outset limit the possibilities for change, both in the short-term and beyond. Bold, unapologetic advocacy for expanding public services motivates activists and advocates, and can result in big gains that wouldn't otherwise be possible. This session will feature examples of the positive impact of bold advocacy on public services in Alberta and around the world.


Paige Gorsak, Community Organizer

Alvin Finkel, Historian


Michael Janz, Edmonton School Board Trustee


Participants were asked to choose detailed, discussion-based workshops on 6 of Public Interest Alberta's action areas: Environment & Just Transition, Poverty & Child Care, K-12 Education, Post-Secondary Education, Health Care, & Seniors.




Panel: The Past and Future of Fighting for Strong Public Services

Session Description: Progressives in Alberta have fought and won many battles in the past, and the challenges we face, in many ways, are not unique. Experiences in our province and across the country show us how to engage in effective coalition-building and advocacy, regardless of the political leanings of the government of the day. Two of Alberta's iconic progressive leaders will conclude the conference with a message that reflects on the lessons of the past and points the way forward for the future.



Heather Smith, President of United Nurses of Alberta

Elisabeth Ballerman, Secretary-Treasurer of National Union of Public and General Employees


Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta

Presentation slides available

See you next year! Our 14th Annual Conference will be taking place on April 2 & 3, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta.