Alberta This Week

What to Expect

Today we saw the government present their agenda – likely the one they’ll run with until the 2023 election – with a Speech from the Throne. More importantly, we’ll see the budget on Thursday, which, as the Throne Speech hinted at, will reflect a “dramatic improvement” in Alberta’s finances. There, we’ll see not just the symbolic areas of focus, but the tangibles, as projects are funded, and programs made real with cash. High oil prices and restored investment means the economic outlook will be positive. There is a real possibility of a balanced budget.

The bottom line is this will be an incredibly important week for the UCP government. It is the beginning of an important eight weeks that will determine the political environment of Alberta moving into the summer, fall, and finally spring 2023 election.

Speech from the Throne 

Throne Speeches set the stage for the plans the Government intends to focus on.  It highlights where they will prioritize their energy, funding and legislation with an insight to understanding the political landscape. Today’s speech was hopeful and optimistic – Alberta is ready to grow and welcome new families and the province has a story to tell, and will take the story to the global stage. 

The key areas of focus are: 

Economy:

  • Creating jobs by moving forward with Alberta’s Recovery Plan – a plan to create jobs, diversify the economy and create opportunities for every Albertan.

    • Part of that plan will be a renewed effort to tell Alberta’s story to the world—highlighting the many reasons why there is simply no better place on Earth to pursue a dream, raise a family, and build a life.

    • The Environment, Social, and Governance Secretariat will be part of this effort, showcasing Alberta’s achievements in lowering emissions and improving Alberta’s reputation as a world leader in responsible energy production.

    • The government will continue to support the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero Alliance to achieve their goal of net-zero carbon emissions in the industry by 2050, while pressing the federal government to create strong fiscal incentives for investment in carbon capture utilization and storage technology.

  • Addressing cost-of-living pressures through a gas rebate program.

  • New legislation to modernize the electricity market.

  • Legislation to reform and modernize the financial services sector by allowing reinsurance.

  • A bill will be tabled to promote innovation in the financial services sector by allowing companies to test new products and services.

  • Create a Clean Hydrogen Centre of Excellence to help achieve Alberta’s vision of becoming a major global hub in this future multi-trillion dollar industry.

  • Dissolving the Balancing Pool to reduce costs on Alberta’s economy.

  • Expand access to broadband internet will bring high-speed connectivity to rural, remote, and Indigenous communities.

  • New legislation to strengthen Alberta’s position as a modern electricity powerhouse and a magnet for investment in emerging technology like data storage and cryptocurrency, as well as in traditional sectors like forestry and petrochemicals.

    • This bill also clears the way for more self-generation of electricity, allowing major consumers to sell power to the grid.

    • Introduce a natural gas consumer protection program similar to rebate programs used in the past.

  • Red tape reduction legislation to advance the goal of eliminating one-third of the provincial government’s regulatory burden.

Health Care: 

  • Building health care capacity so hospitals are better prepared for potential future waves of COVID-19.

  • Accelerating the Alberta Surgical Initiative to reduce surgical wait times caused by COVID-19.

  • Major capital investments will expand and modernize hospital capacity, including completion of the Calgary Cancer Care Centre, an expansion of the Red Deer Regional Hospital, and expansion of Edmonton’s Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute.

  • The government will increase health care capacity by expanding intensive care while training and recruiting more health care workers.

  • Introduce a new Continuing Care Act, implementing recommendations of a recent review to make the system more responsive and sustainable.

  • A bill will propose sanctions for health practitioners who perform the misogynistic practice of female genital mutilation. It’s part of the government’s broader effort to protect vulnerable women and girls from sexual violence.

  • The government will implement the recommendations of a report on improving access to palliative care.

  • Increased focus on beginning palliative care as soon as possible, and keeping individuals in their homes and communities with support from those they know and love for as long as possible.

Education: 

  • Strengthening protection for Alberta students by ending the ability of the Alberta Teachers’ Association to investigate its own members.

  • Creating more charter schools and improving support for existing charters.

  • Access to specialized services will be expanded to home education families through a new program to ensure all children in Alberta, regardless of educational choice, receive the supports they need to be successful.

Social:

  • Increasing prenatal financial aid to mothers receiving AISH and Income Support.

  • Legislation to better protect the public from individuals on bail, probation and parole.

  • Take action on recommendations from the Police Act Review and the Human Trafficking Task Force.

  • Recognizing Alberta’s unique heritage, in part by naming the Terrace Building after Chief Poundmaker and erecting a memorial to the victims of residential schools on the legislature grounds.

  • The government will ensure full implementation of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, and Motion 501, to simplify and accelerate the adoption process, connecting children with loving parents eager to be their forever families.

  • The three-day bereavement leave currently offered when a family member passes away will be extended to employees who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth.

  • The 20-day limit for unpaid military reservist leave will be removed, recognizing that reservists often train for longer periods.

  • New legislation will broaden the services and supports for victims of crime, and a new regional approach will ensure that victims in all parts of Alberta can access support.

  • Right to Know legislation will allow more information to be shared with the public about individuals on bail, probation and parole, and criminals pending deportation.

  • Launch a review of recent apparently hate-motivated incidents, working with police to identify common patterns and to make recommendations on how better to prevent such crimes in the future.

Federalism: 

  • Last October, 62 per cent of voters endorsed a proposed amendment to the Canadian Constitution regarding equalization. The government will use that mandate to press for negotiations on equalization this year, while also seeking the appointment of Alberta’s elected nominees for the Senate of Canada.

  • Consultations will be completed on the prospect of an Alberta Provincial Police Force and the government will continue to examine a possible Alberta Pension Plan as potential reforms to strengthen the province.

Culture: 

  • The Minister of Culture will table a bill creating a process for the designation of commemorative days, and a bill recognizing ammolite as Alberta’s official gemstone.

  • Recognizing Alberta’s unique heritage, in part by naming the Terrace Building after Chief Poundmaker and erecting a memorial to the victims of residential schools on the legislature grounds.

  • The Minister of Indigenous Relations will complete consultations with Indigenous communities and will establish a memorial on the grounds of the legislature forever to remember the victims of the Indian Residential School system.

The Week That Was

letter of intent has been signed between the Ministry of Children’s Services and Enoch Cree Nation to ensure collaborative work to protect the safety of children and maintain their connection to their family, culture and communities.

Alberta is looking toward the advantages of immigration of skilled workers to bolster the provincial economy through both the new Rural Renewal Stream and the Rural Entrepreneur Streams.

Supporting the increase of women into the IT sector, the provincial government has committed to invest $1.9 million for skills development training.

Premier Jason Kenney announced that Alberta would challenge the invocation of the Emergency Act by Ottawa in court.

The Government of Alberta announced the new Edmonton Metro Region Economic Recovery (EMRER) Working Group to revitalize the capital region and attract investment. Members include:

  • UCP MLA for Spruce Grove-Stony Plain Searle Turton, chair;

  • Lisa Baroldi, president and CEO, BOMA Edmonton, co-vice chair;

  • Malcolm Bruce, CEO, Edmonton Global, co-vice chair;

  • Grand Chief George Arcand Jr., Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations;

  • Ashlyn Bernier, COO, SamDesk;

  • Joseph Doucet, interim dean, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Alberta;

  • Shalene Jobin, associate professor, faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta;

  • Hubert Lau, CEO, Trustbix;

  • Andrew MacIsaac, CEO, Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation;

  • Puneeta McBryan, executive director, Downtown Business Association;

  • Tina Naqvi-Rota, CEO, Cameron Developments;

  • Scott Nye, head of game studio operations, Improbable Canada;

  • Marlea Sleeman, associate, Creative Destruction Lab;

  • Heather Stewart, CEO, BBE Logistics; and

  • Dave Young, vice-president, CBRE.

 

Orders in Council

OIC 26/2022 – Authorizes the Chief Electoral Officer to issue a writ of election directed and addressed to the returning officer of the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche electoral division; voting will take place on March 15, 2022.

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