Mise à jour provinciale et territoriale - 10-17 novembre 2023
An overview of the Provincial and Territories Legislative Updates for the week of November 10 - 17, 2023. Written by Wes McLean.
The RCMP says it’s hoping to level the policing playing field across New Brunswick as it fills 51 new front-line officer positions over the next two years. The provincial government announced last spring it was spending $32.6 million to boost the number of RCMP officers in the province by 15 percent.
A $160 million surge in health-care spending has deflated what had been another ballooning New Brunswick budget surplus, according to new figures released by the province on Tuesday. In a quarterly update of his current-year budget forecasts, Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said a $199.6-million budget surplus he was projecting less than two months ago has mostly evaporated, almost entirely due to unbudgeted spending in the health department.
The New Brunswick Teachers’ Association is calling on the provincial government to address serious issues it says teachers are facing in the school system. The call comes as the association releases survey results showing a picture of teachers’ experiences over a two-week period in mid-October. Peter Lagacy, the president of the association, said the survey results are “deeply concerning.”
New Brunswick’s two health authorities are disputing the suggestion that patients seeking surgical abortions have to wait several weeks to have the procedure at the three hospitals offering the service. Horizon Health and Vitalité Health were responding to the manager of Clinic 554 in Fredericton, who said a woman was recently referred to the clinic because she could not get an appointment in Moncton before the end of December.
Nova Scotia’s prosecution service says it will proceed with a new trial for a former children’s hospital CEO after Canada’s top court refused on Thursday to hear the Crown’s appeal of a ruling that quashed her fraud conviction. As is customary, the Supreme Court of Canada did not explain its decision to deny leave to appeal the case against Tracy Kitch, former chief executive of the IWK Health Centre, in Halifax.
The federal government has pressed pause on a licence to explore for oil and gas off Nova Scotia. In October, a company called Inceptio was awarded rights to a parcel of seabed in shallow water near Sable Island. The exploration licence was issued by the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, which regulates offshore energy development on behalf of both levels of government.
Digby business community steps up lobby effort to prevent ferry redeployment. Transport Canada is considering sending MV Fundy Rose to the Magdalen Islands for part of 2024.
The deputy minister of Nova Scotia’s Department of Public Works says it’s too soon to know when work will begin on upgrading and strengthening the Chignecto Isthmus, but a plan for the work and the ensuing tender could be finalized within 12 months. “We are getting to a point where we have a plan that we can probably settle on that we think will work,” Peter Hackett told reporters following a legislative committee meeting on Wednesday in Halifax.
Prince Edward Island’s health minister says he wants formalized agreements signed quickly with health authorities in other provinces so Islanders can get guaranteed access to out-of-province care. This comes after Saint John Regional Hospital (SJRH) in New Brunswick refused to accept cardiac patients from the Island last weekend — a decision that Health P.E.I.’s chief medical officer says took staff by surprise and “was made without warning and without discussion.”
E.I. needs to reconsider some of the provisions in its new Mental Health Act, says a psychiatry professor at Western University in London, Ont. The act would, for the first time on the Island, allow community treatment orders (CTOs), which can compel a patient to take their medication while out of the hospital. The act has been passed, but it has not been enacted.
Former P.E.I. MLA Jamie Fox, who resigned his seat last week to run federally for the Conservatives, understood he could not campaign federally and be an MLA, says Premier Dennis King. “It was becoming more difficult for Jamie to have a foot in two camps,” said King. Fox was the only person to put his name forward for the Conservatives in the Malpeque riding before the deadline, making him the de facto candidate. No federal election has yet been called. It must be held before Oct. 20, 2025.
The number of designated services on P.E.I. that must be available in French through the provincial government is about to grow from 19 to 31. These include new services in departments such as Health, Education, and Transportation and Infrastructure, said Acadian and Francophone Affairs Minister Gilles Arsenault.
Terre-Neuve et Labrador
Premier’s advisor Fred Hutton poised to run in upcoming byelection, says PC leader. Former longtime journalist set to run in Conception Bay East-Bell Island. The race for what will soon be a vacant electoral district on Newfoundland’s east coast is on. David Brazil, PC MHA for Conception Bay East-Bell Island — and the party’s former interim leader — is finishing up his term on Dec. 29 after announcing his intentions to step down earlier this month.
Teachers in Newfoundland and Labrador are close to having a new collective agreement, with their union reaching a tentative deal with the provincial government and school boards association. On Friday afternoon, Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association president Trent Langdon said K-12 teachers will get to go over the details of the tentative agreement over the next few weeks.
Joan Marie Aylward has been sworn in as Newfoundland and Labrador’s 15th lieutenant governor, making her the second woman to take on the role. Speaking to the House of Assembly during her swearing-in ceremony Tuesday morning, Aylward thanked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for suggesting her for the role and all the officials who helped prepare for the ceremony. In addition, she gave a nod to Government House staff who have been helping move her and her husband into their new ceremonial residence.
The results of this year’s Atlantic cod stock assessment off the south coast of Newfoundland show that the stock is still in the critical zone — the same dire state since 2000. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans recommends that fishing in the area, known as 3Ps, should remain at the lowest possible level until populations improve. Laura Wheeland, the DFO stock assessment biologist, said the results of this year’s assessment landed exactly where they were expected to.
Quebec Premier François Legault has justified a controversial decision to spend up to $7 million of public money to have the L.A. Kings play two exhibition games next year in Quebec City, saying “It’s important to invest in recreation”. Legault made his remarks Friday during a press conference in Gaspé held at a local seniors’ residence. The premier said he hoped NHL commissioner Gary Bettman would attend the matches and have a chance to appreciate the Centre Vidéotron as a sports venue. Legault added that bringing the Kings to the provincial capital was important because “people in Quebec City, they like hockey.”
A group fighting Bill 96 in court is planning a 10-kilometre “rolling procession” through Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce followed by a rally on Sunday to protest against the Legault government’s language policies. The Task Force on Linguistic Policy says the event — with protesters on foot and bikes and in cars — is one of a series of rallies against the law.
Ten days before the start of a possible indefinite general strike by Quebec teachers, members of the Fédération autonome de l’enseignement demonstrated in front of Premier François Legault’s Montreal office Monday morning. Around 50 FAE members gathered downtown to remind the Quebec premier of his promise to make education a real priority. In a statement, the FAE emphasized the “key role” the premier can play in “resolving the negotiations.”
A new study finds significant support for Front Commun unions over the Quebec government. Quebecers are more likely to support public sector unions amid negotiations with the province, and ahead of next week’s strike, by a margin of 2 to 1.
The Doug Ford government has tabled legislation that will officially reverse changes to the urban boundaries of multiple cities while also ensuring “immunity” for those involved in the decision-making process. Housing Minister Paul Calandra first said he would be introducing this legislation in mid-October after finding that changes to municipal official plans in a number of jurisdictions, including Halton, Peel and York regions, were not made “in a manner that maintains and reinforces public trust.”
Premier Doug Ford’s government gives a for-profit clinic more funding to perform certain OHIP-covered surgeries than it gives Ontario’s public hospitals to perform the same operations, CBC News has learned. Ontario’s government has never before made public the rates it pays a private clinic in Toronto to perform thousands of outpatient day surgeries each year.
Le Gouvernement Ford has hit back at questions about why the phone logs of the premier and several senior ministers were largely empty. Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles peppered the government with questions about how ministers communicate after Global News revealed the ministers of education, finance, health, housing and transportation made between zero and 20 minutes of calls on their official devices. Freedom of information requests have also revealed four months where Ontario Premier Doug Ford failed to make a single call from his official device.
More than two months after resigning as Ontario’s housing minister, Steve Clark has returned to Queen’s Park as a backbench MPP. Clark resigned after a bruising summer defending the Ford government’s Ceinture verte scandal after watchdog reports that found the process was rushed, flawed and to the benefit of a few developers. After resigning his post as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on Sept. 4 — a role he had held since 2018 — Clark returned to his riding of Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
Premier Wab Kinew has dismissed criticism of his commitment to getting Manitobans a carbon tax break as nothing more than political games. Kinew came under fire from the Progressive Conservatives after his name was not included in a letter sent by five premiers to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week, calling for the tax to be removed on home heating fuels. The PCs accused Kinew of flip-flopping on the subject after the new premier confirmed the NDP government would ask for an exemption at a Nov. 6 meeting of Canada’s premiers in Halifax.
A month after hitting pause on Manitoba’s surgical and diagnostic task force, the NDP government is shutting it down permanently, saying it will redirect the focus and funding back into public healthcare delivery. Patients scheduled for care under the task force’s direction, and those in the queue, will not see any added delays as the task force’s operations wind down, Health Minister Uzoma Asagwara said Friday at a news conference at Grace Hospital in Winnipeg.
Former Manitoba premier Heather Stefanson may step down as leader of the Progressive Conservatives sooner than expected. Stefanson said Wednesday she may leave the Progressive Conservative helm once the party works out the procedures for electing her successor. Party officials are scheduled to discuss leadership rules next month, and are then to present them to grassroots members at the party’s annual general meeting, expected in the new year.
Manitoba Progressive Conservatives plan to hold a January vote on new rules for a leadership race the party president expects to take place in late 2024. The party’s executive council will meet on Dec. 16 to consider a package of new rules and then bring those rules before all PC members for a vote on Jan. 13, party president Brent Pooles said in an interview on Thursday.
The Saskatchewan government has introduced legislation that it says would enable it to stop remitting the federal carbon tax on natural gas bills while providing legal protection for those at its energy Crown corporation. The Saskatchewan Party government announced last month that SaskEnergy would stop remitting the carbon tax on natural gas on Jan. 1 in response to Ottawa’s decision to pause the tax on home heating oil.
The City of Saskatoon is giving the green light to its long-planned bus rapid transit system thanks to a massive influx of cash from all levels of government. Mayor Charlie Clark, Saskatchewan Minister of Government Relations Don McMorris and federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jenna Sudds gathered in Saskatoon Thursday afternoon to announce nearly $152 million in combined spending for four BRT projects and the construction of a new leisure centre in the city’s east side.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority is purchasing the Regina Lutheran Home from its operator, Eden Care Communities, allowing the care home to remain open. Eden Care informed residents in September that it intended to shut the care home down as of April 2024. The SHA said last month it was not going to step in and buy the home, but would assist in relocating its 62 residents.
Premier Scott Moe says it will be up to the school divisions to figure out potential punishments for any teachers who don’t follow the province’s new pronoun policy. His comments to reporters at the legislature on Tuesday come after dozens of teachers recently signed a petition stating they won’t follow the policy – which was recently made provincial law. The Parents’ Bill of Rights requires parental consent if a youth under the age of 16 wants to be referred to by a different pronoun or name at school.
Premier Danielle Smith says, if nothing else, her government’s proposal to have Alberta quit the Canada Pension Plan has started a national conversation on her province’s grievances. Smith also says leaving the CPP is not a bargaining chip for a better deal with Ottawa on equalization or on federal rules, her government believes are undercutting energy development.
The board of Alberta Health Services says six of the organization’s top executives are no longer in their positions. Last week, Premier Danielle Smith announced sweeping changes to dismantle the provincewide healthcare provider, reducing it to one of four new service delivery organizations reporting directly to Health Minister Adriana LaGrange. She appointed Lyle Oberg, who’s a doctor and former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, to run the AHS board.
The Alberta government is happy with a court decision that ruled Canada’s plastics ban was too broad when it came to determining which ones were toxic to the environment. On Thursday, the Federal Court found the cabinet order that said all items manufactured out of plastic were harmful was not a reasonable determination for the government to make. The decision could therefore lead to changes for the ban on six single-use plastic items including straws, grocery bags and takeout containers.
The Public Health Emergencies Governance Review Panel (PHEGRP) submitted its final report to the Alberta government, which included more than 90 recommendations for consideration. “Alberta, like the rest of the world, had to make decisions quickly and with limited, changing and even conflicting information,” said PHEGRP Chair Preston Manning in a Wednesday press release.
A lithium-ion battery cell production plant costing more than $1 billion will be built in Maple Ridge, B.C. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier David Eby jointly announced Tuesday that the new E-One Moli facility will bolster Canada’s role as a global leader in clean technology. A statement says the province is contributing up to $80 million, with $970 million coming from the federal government, E-One Moli and private sources.
British Columbia’s human rights commissioner says she is disappointed with the provincial government’s bid to address the rise in hate-motivated incidents in B.C. On Wednesday, the B.C. government announced it is launching a racist incident helpline and offering community groups up to $10,000 to combat hate-motivated violence in the province. Premier David Eby made the announcement on Wednesday, citing a “deeply troubling rise in hate and racism” against members of the Muslim and Jewish communities, and against Asians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Premier David Eby is warning against playing affordability off against fighting climate change. “The issue of affordability is getting tied into the need for us to take action on carbon pollution,” Eby said Thursday (Nov. 9). “We just need to take action on climate change. It’s not debatable. So to tie that in with affordability, which every government knows we need to support people right now, is a mistake because if we want to be a prosperous jurisdiction in the future, we are going to have to reduce carbon pollution and be a leader in this space now.”
The B.C. government will offer homeowners and developers off-the-shelf designs for small, multi-unit homes to help save time and money as part of its push to densify housing across the province. On Thursday, Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said standardized building designs would help streamline the permitting process.
Territoires du Nord-Ouest
Re-elected MLA Lesa Semmler weighing a run for N.W.T. premiership. Another re-elected MLA, R.J. Simpson, has already said he wants the top job.
Any MLA can make a bid to be premier, but typically they’d have served at least one term as MLA before going for the top job. The convention also suggests the next premier should come from outside of Yellowknife, following two successive Yellowknife premiers. That narrows the potential field this time around, as only seven MLAs from the last legislative assembly are heading into the next one: Semmler, Jane Weyallon Armstrong, Caitlin Cleveland, Richard Edjericon, R.J. Simpson, Shane Thompson and Caroline Wawzonek. Of those, Simpson, Thompson and Wawzonek have served in cabinet.
A Yukon judge has dismissed a legal challenge of the territory’s Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA), the legislation used to create and enforce public health rules and restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seven plaintiffs sued the territorial government in 2020, arguing that CEMA was unconstitutional and gave politicians too much power without sufficient oversight. They wanted the legislation struck down.
The Yukon Party’s health critic says the proposed pay scale for doctors at a planned walk-in clinic will only end up “poaching” doctors from family practices. The Yukon government aims to open the new walk-in clinic in a Whitehorse industrial park at the end of January. It’s aimed at offering a place for Yukoners without a family doctor, of which there are thousands, to get prescriptions refilled or minor ailments treated, without having to go to the emergency room at Whitehorse General Hospital.
A Nunavut MLA is renewing calls to declare the territory’s suicide rate a public emergency in order to access resources and deploy what she says the government always talks about a whole-of-government approach. Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster, MLA for Iqaluit-Sinaa, raised the issue in the Nunavut legislature last week, calling on the premier and health minister to take action. “It’s time to take another more revolutionary approach to addressing suicide in Nunavut,” Brewster later told CBC News.