Mise à jour provinciale et territoriale - 29 mars 2024

Provincial and Territorial Update: An overview of the Provincial Legislative and Territories Legislative Updates for the week of March 29, 2024.​ Written by Wes McLean.

Nouveau Brunswick

  • The longest-serving member of the New Brunswick legislature is calling it quits, becoming the latest Progressive Conservative to opt against sticking with Premier Blaine Higgs for this year’s election. Trevor Holder, the MLA for Portland-Simonds, made the announcement in the legislature Thursday afternoon, delivering an ode to the institution he has been part of for a quarter-century.
  • Le ministre de la Sécurité publique du Nouveau-Brunswick affirme qu'un processus d'évaluation médicale sera mis en place dans le cadre d'une nouvelle loi visant à obliger certaines personnes souffrant de graves dépendances à suivre un traitement contre leur gré. Kris Austin a déclaré aux journalistes que le projet de loi comprendra "absolument, à 100 %" un processus impliquant des professionnels de la santé, des membres de la famille et d'autres personnes. "Nous ne cherchons pas à entraîner arbitrairement des personnes dans une sorte d'incarcération", a déclaré M. Austin mercredi.
  • Premier Blaine Higgs says the death of two people at a tent encampment in Saint John shows the need for legislation that would force some homeless people with addictions into treatment against their will. Higgs brought up the bill, yet to be introduced, in response to questions from the opposition about the two deaths on Monday. “Some people just don’t want to come off the street,” the premier said in Question Period.
  • The New Brunswick government has been touting a “much healthier economy” in the province in recent years but economists with four major Canadian banks are projecting New Brunswick will finish last among the three Maritime provinces in economic growth in 2024 — for what their estimates show will be a fourth straight year.

Nouvelle-Écosse

  • Three Nova Scotia universities are facing what could be a substantial cut in the number of international students they will welcome this year — Cape Breton University (CBU), Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) and Université Ste-Anne. That’s because the federal government has limited the province to about 13,000 international study permit applications in 2024, about 7,000 fewer than were submitted for the academic year that started last September. Previously there was no limit on international study permit applications.
  • The Nova Scotia government is answering a long-standing call to index income assistance payments to the rate of inflation. Community Services Minister Brendan Maguire announced on Wednesday. The change takes effect July 1 and will be retroactive to April 1. The rate being used for 2024-25 is 2.5 per cent. It marks the first increase to the rates in three years and will be worth between $9 and $35 a month more, depending on household composition.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has challenged premiers across the country who opposed the federal carbon tax to come up with a credible alternative, but it remains to be seen whether Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston will take him up on the offer. “We’re considering doing that,” Houston told reporters at Province House on Wednesday.
  • The head of the RCMP is adamant the police service he oversees is different from the one that was denounced a year ago for failing to keep Nova Scotians safe during the worst mass shooting in modern Canadian history. “Judge us by the results we’re going to have as we move forward,” said Commissioner Mike Duheme from Millbrook, N.S., on Wednesday.

Île-du-Prince-Édouard

  • P.E.I.’s population grew by only a few hundred people in the last three months of 2023, the lowest increase in a single quarter since a population boom began when the province emeged from the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistics Canada data released Thursday estimated P.E.I.’s population on Jan. 1 to be 176,162, up by 309 people from three months earlier.
  • Selon l'Association dentaire de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard, les politiciens fédéraux donnent aux personnes âgées l'impression que le nouveau programme de soins dentaires du gouvernement signifie des soins dentaires gratuits alors que ce n'est pas le cas, et le groupe affirme que cela cause déjà des problèmes. La frustration et la confusion suscitées par le Régime canadien de soins dentaires, annoncé à la fin de l'année dernière, font que les dentistes de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard se détournent du programme, selon l'association. Lorsqu'elle a interrogé ses membres récemment, elle a reçu 36 réponses, représentant environ la moitié des membres de l'association, et 32 de ces dentistes ont déclaré qu'ils ne s'inscriraient pas au programme.
  • The person who has been on P.E.I.’s patient registry the longest won’t necessarily be the next to get a family doctor, Health P.E.I. has confirmed. The health authority clarified the process after hearing from OmbudsPEI. Ombudsperson Sandy Hermiston said her office was contacted by a concerned citizen who felt family doctors or nurse practitioners were taking on new patients who had not been on the registry as long as others in the same community.
  • Holland College and UPEI are increasing tuition deposits for international students after the federal government’s decision to cut the number of study permits it gives out. Both schools say they’re raising that up-front cost from $1,000 to $5,000. After Ottawa announced enrolment restrictions in January, P.E.I. found out it could bring in up to 2,000 new students across all schools. Those spots were divided between UPEI with 1,185, Holland College at 710, and 105 at the French-language College de l’Île.

Terre-Neuve et Labrador

  • A new report released by the 2024 Members’ Compensation Review Committee recommends MHAs make an annual salary of $120,000, about a $25,000 increase from their current salaries, which have remained frozen since 2009. The more than 200-page report, titled How We Value Democracy, also recommends MHAs’ annual salaries be adjusted to reflect the province’s consumer price index on Dec. 31 of the previous calendar year.
  • A new report from the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour says 42 percent of the province’s early childhood educators are considering finding a new job because of low wages and a lack of benefits. The report released Thursday surveyed 520 educators, or ECEs. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they don’t receive health or dental benefits through their work, 80 percent don’t have a pension, and 90 percent don’t know when they’ll be able to retire.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador’s auditor general will conduct a performance audit of health sector contracts — including those of agency nursing operations — to determine whether or not the province is spending its money most effectively. Plans for the audit were confirmed to CBC News in an email on Thursday. The email said it can take months to determine the scope of an audit, and an audit can take approximately a year to a year and a half to complete.
  • The Registered Nurses’ Union of Newfoundland and Labrador is appalled that the provincial government included a clause in private-agency nursing contracts preventing some nurses from staying and working in the province’s public healthcare system. President Yvette Coffey said she became aware of the issue when a nurse who was employed by a private agency inquired about taking a permanent, full-time position in the public system. “He was not allowed to take a position in Newfoundland and Labrador for upwards of 12 months after he finished his contract with the private agency,” Coffey said.

Québec

  • The Parti Québécois (PQ) has roundly denounced the federal government’s “interference” in Quebec’s areas of jurisdiction regarding its housing announcement. Québec solidaire (QS) and the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) said it was Premier François Legault’s fault that Ottawa wanted to take action in this area. The PQ argued that “Justin Trudeau is a pyromaniac firefighter” because “Ottawa is at the root of the housing crisis” because of its immigration policies.
  • Premier François Legault refuses to commit to working with Québec solidaire (QS) to pass Bill 198, which would expand the scope of the Françoise David law to better protect seniors from eviction. “Is the premier open to discussions with the other parties to better protect senior tenants?” asked QS parliamentary leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois during the question period at the National Assembly on Wednesday.
  • The Coalition Avenir Québec government and the province’s opposition parties are suspending a review of the electoral map, six months after a controversial report recommended abolishing two ridings. Alongside members of the opposition parties, Quebec Minister for Democratic Institutions Jean-François Roberge said at a news conference Thursday that there was unanimous agreement to put the review on hold, after consulting with the electoral representation commission and hearing voters’ concerns.
  • All 13 provinces and territories were part of Ottawa’s new health accord as of Wednesday after Health Minister Mark Holland announced a $3.7-billion health pact with Quebec. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first pitched a new health-funding deal to provinces more than a year ago to increase federal health transfers and provide targeted help.

Ontario

  • High-interest rates are expected to take a toll on Ontario’s economy this year, the province said in its 2024 budget, which includes projections of weak economic growth and a ballooning deficit. Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy tabled the government’s $214-billion budget at Queen’s Park Tuesday, saying it is investing in housing, roads and public services during a time of uncertainty without raising taxes. “These investments and more are a signal to Ontarians of our commitment to keep building Ontario while retaining a prudent, targeted and responsible approach to public finances,” Bethlenfalvy said at a news conference.
  • At first glance, the provincial budget tabled Tuesday seems like a win for Ontario’s post-secondary institutions. The Ford gouvernement announced 1.3 billion dollars for colleges and universities. However, local Liberal MPP Ted Hsu says it isn’t cause for celebration. “It’s not a good news budget for Ontario post-secondary education. And it’s been a bad news budget for the last five years,” Hsu told Global News Friday
  • Ontario’s premier called on the federal government to require public servants to work in the office more frequently to revitalize the city’s downtown — but neither the government department responsible for public servants nor one of its main unions appeared moved by the request. “They have to get people back to work,” Premier Doug Ford said during a press conference on Thursday in Ottawa, standing next to Mayor Mark Sutcliffe.
  • Ford disagrees with school board lawsuits against social media companies. Ontario Premier Doug Ford responded to news Thursday that four major school boards in the province are suing some of the largest social media companies over alleged harm to young people, saying he disagrees with the boards’ action. “Let’s focus on the kids, not about this other nonsense,” he told reporters.

Manitoba

  • Manitoba’s NDP government plans to scrap its existing package of education-tax rebates in favour of a single $1,500 property-tax credit for every home. The first budget from Wab Kinew’s government, slated to be tabled on Tuesday, will call for the elimination of both the 50-percent provincial property-tax rebate and $350 education tax credit in 2025, a spokesperson for the Kinew government said. In their place, every property subject to provincial property taxes would receive up to $1,500 off those taxes in 2025, the spokesperson said.
  • The Manitoba government has confirmed it intends to ask Ottawa to remove the carbon tax from this province. Following a meeting Thursday between Manitoba’s premier and federal Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre, a news release put out by the Conservatives thanked Wab Kinew for calling on Ottawa to get rid of the backstop. Kinew, however, has only previously said the province ought to be exempt from the tax on home heating and that his government planned to continue to make the case that the backstop isn’t needed in Manitoba.
  • Plastic health cards could replace paper ones in Manitoba as soon as next year, Premier Wab Kinew says. The new change is part of the upcoming provincial budget to be announced on Tuesday, and will include plastic and digital options to replace the existing paper health card, Kinew says. Work on the design of the new card will begin this year.
  • Le ministre de la Santé du Manitoba examine les raisons pour lesquelles une agence de recrutement a peu de résultats après avoir signé un contrat visant à recruter 150 médecins de famille dans la province. Huit mois après que la province a signé un contrat de deux ans avec Canadian Health Labs (CHL), l'entreprise n'a toujours pas recruté un seul médecin dans la province, a confirmé le gouvernement mardi. Le ministre de la santé, Uzoma Asagwara, promet de revoir le contrat alors que le gouvernement évalue les mesures à prendre.

Saskatchewan

  • The president of the Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees says Premier Scott Moe and his government are a threat to 2SLGBTQ+ people in the province. Kent Peterson is the first openly gay president of CUPE Saskatchewan, which represents about 31,000 members who work in health care, education and municipal sectors across the province. “I hope my election as president will make it just a little bit easier for a future queer worker to see themselves in leadership roles in their union,” he wrote in a statement released Tuesday.
  • Saskatchewan teachers could return to the bargaining table as early as next week to work out their labour dispute with the province. Samantha Becotte, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, told reporters Thursday she’s encouraged by a draft memorandum of understanding from the government. The document promises teachers a voice in how school divisions allocate funding. It includes a reporting mechanism to track how dollars are being spent.
  • Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said Thursday that the dispute between several provinces and the federal government over Ottawa’s carbon pricing plan likely won’t end without a change in the federal government. Moe and six other premiers have called for a halt to the planned increase to Ottawa’s carbon pricing plan — to $80 per tonne from $65 — scheduled for April 1. After question period in the Saskatchewan Legislature on Thursday, Moe was asked how the relationship between the federal government and the provinces can be mended.
  • A survivor of domestic violence says she wanted a fresh start, but got a basement full of sewage and mould. Saskatchewan’s Opposition NDP brought Shannon Kay, a single mother of seven, to the legislature Thursday to share her story. Three years ago, Kay and her children fled their Saskatoon home to escape an abusive relationship. Just a few months later a fire destroyed everything they owned.

Alberta

  • Premier ministre de l'Alberta Danielle Smith says the upcoming federal carbon price increase is “inhumane.” “The so-called solution of the federal government is to increase the taxe carbone on something that is life or death for Albertans in the extreme cold of winter,” Smith told the House of Commons operations committee.
  • Appearing before a House of Commons committee, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith defended her government’s plan to hike the provincial fuel tax while also calling on Ottawa to pause the coming increase in the carbon tax, something she later said the province could challenge in court. Smith appeared by video link early Thursday and addressed the standing committee on government operations and estimates.
  • Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says her government is standing by to help Edmonton with its financial challenges — if the city asks — while political scientists and a city councillor say the province is in large part to blame for the state of affairs. “We stand by ready to assist if they would like to ask us for assistance,” Smith said at a news conference Wednesday where she fielded questions from news reporters on several topics. In an operating budget update two weeks ago, Edmonton city administration showed a $48.3-million deficit for the end of 2023. 
  • Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says federal immigration limits are undercutting her province’s ability to fill jobs, grow the economy and aid those fleeing violence in war-torn Ukraine. Smith called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government Wednesday to immediately double to 20,000 the number of allotments to Alberta under the Provincial Nominee Program and add 10,000 on top of that for Ukraine evacuees. Smith said Ottawa has given Alberta 9,750 spots for 2024 and that falls well short of what is fair and what is needed.
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Colombie-Britannique

  • The B.C. government has filed its third unexplained wealth order for money, gold bars and jewelry from a now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange company. In a statement, Mike Farnworth, B.C.’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, said the application has been filed against Quadriga Coin Exchange (QuadrigaCX.). “If successful, this application would see the forfeiture of $250,200 in cash, 45 gold bars, four luxury watches and a number of pieces of expensive jewelry,” Farnworth said.
  • A small but mighty credit is kicking in next month to help British Columbians cope with their electricity bills. Starting April 15, the BC electricity affordability credit will be applied to eligible residents and save them around $100 on their household bills. The credit comes under a new subsidy in the provincial budget announced by the BC government earlier this year. It is meant to help reduce living costs amid the affordability crisis across the province.
  • The B.C. government says it will introduce an emissions cap on fossil fuel production in the province as a backstop should a federal cap fall short in the coming years. In a release Thursday, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy said the province is in discussions with the federal government to align their policies, and avoid regulatory duplication. The B.C. government says it will introduce regulatory measures in 2025 so that the cap takes effect in 2026. If at any point, a federal emissions cap does not go far enough to meet B.C.’s reduction targets, the provincial cap will kick in. 
  • British Columbia has officially recognized Aboriginal title to the Haida Nation over the islands of Haida Gwaii with a draft agreement that has been 50 years in the making. The agreement, called Gaayhllxid Gíihlagalgang “Rising Tide” Haida Title Lands Agreement, officially recognizes and affirms the nation’s right over the land of Haida Gwaii under Section 35 of the Constitution — which affirms the rights of Indigenous people.

Territoires du Nord-Ouest

  • Two N.W.T. departments will have new top managers as of April 1. In a news release Thursday, Premier R.J. Simpson announced James Fulford and Gary Brennan as the new deputy ministers for, respectively, the departments of Education, Culture and Employment, and Municipal and Community Affairs. Fulford has been an associate deputy minister for Housing and has spent 23 years in senior management roles with the territorial government.
  • The federal government is giving money to 27 Indigenous governments and organizations in the N.W.T. to help deal with the impacts of last year’s wildfire season. Indigenous governments and organizations had to use their own funding to help provide support for their communities because of evacuations last year.  The federal funding announced Tuesday is meant to reimburse the costs for things like accommodations, flights and cultural support. They could also include food and locating members from Indigenous communities and bringing them back to the territory.
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Yukon

  • Melanie Bennett, executive director of the Yukon First Nation Education Directorate (YFNED), says there have been many reports and recommendations made over the years, about how the Yukon education system can better serve Indigenous children. She says those are all appreciated — but now it’s time for a deeper look at what exactly needs to change, and how. “It’s time for some action. We need to see some things that are being implemented,” she said.

Nunavut

  • Roughly 50 employees of the Government of Nunavut who work outside of the territory could find themselves without a job at the end of the summer. That’s because a new remote work policy means employees will have to reapply to keep their job and beat out other candidates. “Come the end of August, individuals need to be hired under the Remote Hiring Policy (RHP) to be working outside the territory full-time,” said Kristie Cronin, deputy minister of human resources.

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