Premier Blaine Higgs is facing a growing wave of dissent from several of his cabinet ministers over the review of the province’s policy on LGBTQ students at school. Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Jeff Carr is the latest Progressive Conservative to question the rethink of Policy 713, which sets minimum standards for creating safe, inclusive spaces in the education system.
The controversial review of a New Brunswick school policy that guarantees basic protection for LGBTQ students has recently been expanded to include a section on washroom access, an issue also addressed in human rights law. Education Minister Bill Hogan says the review of Policy 713 will consider issues such as how to have gender-neutral washrooms in schools with infrastructure challenges and whether the policy affects the rights of students who aren’t transgender.
New Brunswick hasn’t decided whether to hold coroner’s inquests into two emergency department waiting room deaths that occurred last year, but the family of Darrell Mesheau is relieved the circumstances of his death will be examined by an inquest jury in Fredericton next week. The Office of the Chief Coroner announced Tuesday an inquest into the death of Mesheau, 78, who died while waiting for care at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital’s emergency department on July 12, 2022.
Fredericton Mayor Kate Rogers says a proposed bill at the New Brunswick legislature could harm democracy and curb the autonomy of local councils if it becomes law. Rogers, city councillors and three organizations representing municipalities in New Brunswick are hitting back at Bill 45, proposed legislation that among other things would allow the minister of local government to repeal municipal bylaws.
A new code of conduct for surgeons should help address longstanding concerns about inappropriate behaviour in the cardiac surgery division, says the head of the department of surgery for Nova Scotia Health’s central zone and Dalhousie University. “We as surgeons have been put on notice that we’re going to call each other out,” Dr. Gail Darling said this week.
Starting June 1, some Nova Scotians waiting for surgery may be eligible for help from the Nova Scotia government to defray some of their travel costs. The travel assistance program will be available to patients who have to travel within the province for certain procedures. The aid is only available to families who earn less than $35,000 a year and won’t cover all travel-related expenses.
After years of planning, construction is underway for a new rail project that will take most transport truck traffic out of downtown Halifax. The Port of Halifax recently began building a new yard shed at the south-end container terminal. This will allow for an existing shed to be torn down, making room for new sections of rail in both the south-end and Fairview Cove terminals.
The four premiers from Atlantic Canada are asking the federal government to delay implementation of its new clean fuel regulations. The provincial leaders said in a news release Thursday that they want a pause until a plan can be developed to address what they call “the disproportionate impact of the regulations on Atlantic Canadians,” where many goods needed by consumers and businesses have to be trucked in.
Prince Edward Island
Finance Minister Jill Burridge tabled her first provincial budget in the P.E.I. legislature Thursday, with an estimated deficit of $97.6 million next year and no plan for a balanced budget in the foreseeable future. Budget spending in the province, including interest payments and amortization, is projected to exceed $3 billion for the first time.
The P.E.I. government has tabled a budget that tops $3 billion in spending, including substantial investments in housing and health care. Investments in housing include $6 million to offset property tax increases for homeowners and $1 million for a new rent-to-own program for first-time homebuyers. It’s a step in the right direction, said Cory Pater of the P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing. “It’s a serious amount of money being spent on housing and it’s really good to see that,” he said.
A Progressive Conservative backbencher and long-time paramedic from the Souris area wants to know when his own government will uphold its promise to add more ambulances on Prince Edward Island. Robin Croucher raised the issue in the legislature Wednesday, saying he knows the strain paramedics are feeling and he worries about burnout. With the pressures being felt at hospital right across P.E.I., he said he fears the strain will only get worse.
Members of the P.E.I. Legislative Assembly have unanimously pledged to express “unreserved support” to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and urge government to ensure stable funding to allied groups and improved access to gender-affirming care. The vote came after Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker and MLA Karla Bernard put forward a motion on the topic. “We all need to become better allies, and to be sincere and willing leaders in this and the change we want to see,” Bevan-Baker said.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The Newfoundland and Labrador provincial legislature wrapped up its spring session Thursday, scattering its 40 MHAs back to their districts for the summer. They will not return until Oct. 16, after 144 days. There are just 39 sitting days at the House of Assembly scheduled in 2023, the fewest since at least 2017, which is the earliest archived parliamentary calendar on the legislature’s website. For the five years from 2017 through 2021, the House averaged 54.8 days. In 2022, the number was 46 — seven more than this year.
A scathing report from Newfoundland and Labrador’s auditor general shows the provincial government has mismanaged food inspection and licensing practices for years, which could have put public health at risk. The report released Wednesday was created to determine whether the two government departments that manage food inspections, the Department of Health and the Department of Digital Government and Service N.L., have been effective in their management of the program.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s Official Opposition says money spent by the English school district fighting a discrimination court case would have been put to better use in the provincial education system. Opposition leader David Brazil said Wednesday afternoon that the money spent by the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District on legal fees fighting Todd and Kimberly Churchill in court — nearly $682,000 — was alarming.
Newfoundland and Labrador health officials did not act on a series of warnings and failed to adequately protect sensitive health information of hundreds of thousands of people before a ransomware gang launched a devastating cyberattack in 2021 that surreptitiously scooped up 200 gigabytes of data and paralyzed the province’s health-care system. That’s among the findings of a 115-page report on the attack issued Wednesday morning by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
Months after saying that accepting more than 50,000 immigrants a year would be “suicidal” for Quebec, the province’s premier is considering increasing the number of immigrants who arrive in the province to 60,000 a year. Premier François Legault said that will be possible after an immigration reform that will require the vast majority of people who come through the province’s economic immigration system to speak French before they arrive.
Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) are entitled to earn “as much money as possible” for their children, says Quebec Premier François Legault, who is not ruling out a $30,000 salary increase for elected officials before June 9. His government tabled Bill 24 on May 11, which would increase the base salary of elected officials from $101,561 to $131,766. The bill is now at the stage of being passed in principle.
It took eight months after Pierre Poilievre won the Conservative leadership for him to meet with Quebec Premier François Legault. By comparison, Legault met with his predecessor, Erin O’Toole, only three weeks after his victory as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. “This is a discussion that has been going on for some time. So we just found a time to meet,” the premier explained before his meeting with Poilievre on Tuesday.
Quebec’s legislature has unanimously adopted a motion calling on the province’s chief electoral officer to release all documents related to an investigation into illegal spending ahead of the 1995 referendum. The 2006 investigation, overseen by retired judge Bernard Grenier, concluded that two federalist organizations funded by Ottawa failed to report spending of more than $500,000.
Quebec’s government has chosen former pension fund head Michael Sabia as the next chief executive of Hydro-Québec, according to people familiar with the matter. It’s a big job. Hydro-Québec supplies one third of the country’s energy, pulling in profits in the billions, thanks in part to increased demand for green power as more municipalities and households shift away from fossil fuels. But lately, Hydro-Québec’s leadership and Quebec politicians have been at odds about how best to use the province’s vast stores of energy.
On the heels of saying his government would spend more to save Windsor’s Stellantis electric vehicle battery plant last week, Ontario’s premier now says it’s up to the federal government to finish off the deal. Doug Ford answered questions about the deal again Wednesday. “We put in our fair share and now we’re stepping up again to borrow more money because it’s all about the people,” he said.
Premier Doug Ford trained his sights on potential provincial Liberal leadership candidate and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie Wednesday, saying it would be a “slap in the face” to residents for her to continue in the city’s top job while campaigning to lead the third-place party. A visibly irritated Ford said Crombie’s provincial ambitions are about her own “political agenda” and that staying on as mayor while running for the Liberal leadership would mean neglecting her constituents.
The six leading candidates in Toronto’s mayoral election outlined their visions for transit, city services and taxes on Wednesday at a debate in Scarborough, the east-end area poised to be a key battleground in next month’s election. The debate, hosted by several community groups on the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus, was the third of the day for the candidates deemed to be in the top tier, according to a series of recent polls.
Ontario is rolling out an energy conservation program that will pay residents with smart thermostats to lower their air conditioning during certain periods in the summer. Residential customers who sign up for the Peak Perks program will receive a $75 prepaid credit card in exchange for giving their smart thermostat manufacturer secure access to the device.
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson plans to walk in this year’s Pride parade in Winnipeg after being banned from speaking at Pride Winnipeg events for not walking in last year’s parade. Stefanson confirmed she will walk in the Pride Winnipeg parade during a news conference Tuesday to announce the creation of a Gender Equity Manitoba secretariat and funding for activities that support the LGBTQ community. The parade is scheduled for June 4.
A man who plays down the impact of Indian residential schools and expresses doubt about unmarked graves has tendered his resignation from a patronage appointment with the Manitoba government. Jim McRae, a former Manitoba justice minister, was appointed earlier this month by current Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen to the masters appointment committee, which helps select judicial officers for the Court of King’s Bench.
A leaked recording of the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives election campaign co-chair saying many young people are being “brainwashed” at universities and schools has the NDP questioning the government’s views on public education. In the 78-second clip, former MP Candice Bergen is heard speaking to a group of 100 young PC supporters at a private event at the legislature on Wednesday evening. Bergen shared her excitement about seeing youth in politics, but said many young people are disengaged and entitled.
A pilot project launched two years ago to provide quicker support to victims of domestic violence is being called a success and will now become a permanent partnership between Winnipeg police and Manitoba Justice. Staff from Manitoba Justice’s victim services are stationed at the police headquarters downtown so they can get involved sooner in calls about intimate partner violence. They are involved in cases where no charges are laid but the people reaching out needed support, Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen said.
The provincial government has amended occupational health and safety provisions to require all employers to develop a violence prevention policy and investigate violent incidents. The government has given employers until May 17, 2024, to create and implement their policies. Other amendments to the legislation came into force last week. Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Don Morgan said the amendments, “will ensure we are building a strong culture of workplace health and safety, which is critical to helping reduce workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities.”
Regina city council has cleared Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) to take on more debt. Part of the deal approved on Wednesday will have city administration work to develop a long-term sustainability plan for the municipally-owned corporation — which runs the city’s exhibition grounds, Mosaic Stadium, the Brandt Centre and Tourism Regina — for council to consider ahead of the 2024 municipal budget.
A moisture disparity across the province has caused mixed results for Saskatchewan producers so far this season, with 68 per cent of the 2023 crop reported to be in the ground. According to the provincial crop report for May 16-22, producers made “tremendous progress with their seeding operations,” though the current total is still behind the five-year average of 76 per cent.
The Saskatchewan government is signalling its support of the federal government’s plans to reform Canada’s bail laws, saying the changes answer its calls to strengthen the country’s system. This week, the federal government introduced Bill C-48, which aims to make it harder for some repeat violent offenders to seek pretrial release by putting the onus on them to prove why they should be granted bail. It will also add some firearms offences to existing reverse-onus provisions, and expand the provision of that measure in cases where the alleged crimes involve intimate partner violence.
After trailing in the polls for years, the United Conservative Party appears poised to win a majority next Monday, according to a new CBC News poll. “If you asked me four months ago how I thought this election was going to turn out, I’d say the NDP was going cruise to victory,” said Calgary-based pollster Janet Brown, who conducted the random survey of 1,200 Alberta voters.
Former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi is throwing his support behind Rachel Notley and the NDP, while former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper urged Alberta voters to choose Danielle Smith and the UCP Friday.
According to Elections Alberta, a total of 501,005 ballots have been cast as of noon Friday.
About 180 Edmonton Public Schools are participating in Student Vote Friday. Student Vote election results will be shared publicly after the Alberta election polls close on May 29.
The city of Nanaimo on central Vancouver Island is the latest British Columbia community to receive government approval for a cancer care centre, Premier David Eby said Friday. The centre will be located at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. B.C.’s growing and aging population has stretched demand and need for cancer treatment across the province, Eby told a news conference in Nanaimo.
Premier David Eby says British Columbia’s legislature will have two new members this fall after he calls byelections in vacant ridings once held by former premier John Horgan and cabinet minister Melanie Mark. Eby says he will announce the dates for byelections in Greater Victoria’s Langford-Juan de Fuca riding and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Vancouver-Mount Pleasant constituency “very shortly.” The premier says he will not set late summer election dates, saying residents of both ridings are in urgent need of representation.
B.C. Premier David Eby is heading to Asia on a trade mission that makes stops in Japan, Korea, Singapore and Vietnam. But the premier’s tour itinerary, released by his office on the day of his departure, does not include China. Eby said in a statement the overseas mission will bolster B.C.’s trade and investment ties in the Indo-Pacific region, the world’s fastest-growing economic zone. B.C. cabinet ministers Josie Osborne and Brenda Bailey, and Jagrup Brar, the New Democrat government’s minister of state for trade, will accompany Eby on the trip.
Premier David Eby took part in a town hall Thursday, fielding questions about everything from crime, to disability rates and childcare. But the crowd also wanted answers on housing. At Camosun College’s Interurban campus, Eby faced an NDP-friendly crowd who had questions about a yet-to-be-detailed program that would allow each single-family home in the province to be replaced by four units.
The Northwest Territories government launched two new programs on Thursday to help evacuees, and some host communities, with the financial burden of displacement. One program is aimed at people who’ve lost income due to an evacuation, and the other is meant to help smaller communities that have taken in evacuees. The funding programs arrive as a wildfire still rages next to Hay River, N.W.T., and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation reserve.
The cost to replace Yellowknife’s aging drinking water pipeline has ballooned in recent years, and the city doesn’t have the cash on hand to pay for it. The 54-year-old pipeline that pulls drinking water from the Yellowknife River is nearing the end of its life. A public memo provided to city councillors this week states that replacing the 8.4-kilometre pipeline is now expected to cost more than $57 million, up from an estimated $34.5 million in 2019.
Whitehorse city council voted unanimously this week to close a downtown block to vehicles this summer, creating a pedestrian mall. Council voted on Tuesday to adopt a new bylaw for a town square pilot project. The project will begin June 23 and run for 11 weeks, until September 5. As part of the project, a section of Main Street, from Front Street to Second Avenue, will be closed to vehicle traffic.
The president of Canadian North says an open house meeting in Iqaluit this week gave the airline “a lot of good information” from customers about how to improve service. “I said at the discussion that it was kind of selfish of us to come in because we often take away more than what we give, as far as information to the community,” said company president Michael Rodyniuk. “We’ve heard the community and we’re going to be making changes to make things better.” People at the open house meeting had plenty of questions for the airline, about pricing, routing and schedules. The airline has been under fire recently, since announcing a revamped schedule that involves service reductions to some communities, and increases to others.
Wes McLean is a Senior Consultant with the Capital Hill Group, who spent 18 years advising conservative governments in Ottawa, New Brunswick and Manitoba. He most recently served as deputy chief of staff to Premier Blaine Higgs.