Provincial and Territorial Update – August 25, 2023

An overview of the Provincial and Territories Legislative Updates for the week of August 21 - 25, 2023.

New Brunswick

  • Lawsuit against N.B. gender policy coming ‘soon,’ emboldened CCLA says. Modifications to gender policy don’t stop it from being ‘harmful’ to children and their rights, lawyer says. Canadian Civil Liberties Association Director of Equality Harini Sivalangam said the changes made to Policy 713 are ‘unlawful and unconstitutional and should not stand.’ Months later, she said this argument stands and is strengthened by the province clarifying the changes further.
  • The New Brunswick Nurses Union says people shouldn’t be misled by a recent report of hundreds of new nurses being registered to work in the province. New registrations aren’t the same as new hires, union president Paula Doucet said Tuesday. The number of nurses who are newly hired and working in the health care system is lower. Morale is low among nurses, who are still struggling with a nursing shortage, Doucet said.
  • The owner of two New Brunswick special-care homes didn’t follow the rules when it came to reporting a missing resident, administering medication, or general health standards in the months before the Department of Social Development shut them down in January, according to documents obtained by CBC News.
  • Security gates and more security officers are coming to Sitansisk, also known as St. Mary’s First Nation, following a disturbance on Sunday amid concerns about drug problems in the community. In a news conference Tuesday, Chief Allan Polchies Jr. said the First Nation is acting swiftly and decisively to enable the community to solve safety concerns.

Nova Scotia

  • Officials say it’s too soon to tell whether tropical storm Franklin will hit Nova Scotia, but they’re urging residents to prepare for hurricane season in the wake of other chaotic weather events that have devastated parts of the province this year. John Lohr, the minister responsible for the Emergency Management Office (EMO) and Municipal Affairs, said people should discuss what they’d need during an evacuation.
  • The family of a Mi’kmaw woman who died in provincial custody is suing Nova Scotia’s attorney general and the province’s health authority for negligence. A statement of claim filed Tuesday alleges that Sarah Rose Denny died in hospital of double pneumonia after she was incarcerated at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth, N.S.
  • It took the better part of three years, myriad fundraising events and help from former prime ministers — and at least one country singer — but Peter MacKay says he has finally paid off the $1.7 million in debt his campaign ran up in the 2020 Conservative leadership race. The Harper-era cabinet minister told CBC News he’s proud to report that as of June, his campaign has paid off “every penny” it owed. He acknowledged it was a struggle.
  • Canada’s plan to have an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 will result in an overall cost of $3 billion to the Nova Scotia electricity system, according to figures from Environment and Climate Change Canada. The total cost to the province over 27 years will be $6.1 billion, but Ottawa says federal tax incentives, grants and loans will cut those costs in half and eventually overall household energy costs will be lower.

Prince Edward Island

  • People in eastern P.E.I. are relieved to hear a new ferry is on the way. Earlier this week, the federal government announced plans to buy a 16-year-old Norwegian ferry, MV Fanafjord, as an interim replacement on the route between Wood Islands and Caribou, N.S. But some Islanders say the government needs to do more to support reliable ferry service.
  • Dennis King’s Progressive Conservatives need to reassure Islanders they learned the right lessons from Fiona as peak hurricane season nears, the Green Party says. On Thursday, Interim Leader Karla Bernard said the government hasn’t given people enough information about how hurricane preparations are going in the province. She said that’s generating anxiety among Islanders, particularly since they’ve had to live through post-tropical storms Fiona and Dorian in recent years.
  • Almost three-quarters of Prince Edward Island voters are satisfied with Premier Dennis King’s Progressive Conservative government, a new poll suggests. Out of 300 Island adults asked how satisfied they were with the provincial government, 74 percent said they were either completely satisfied (11 percent) or mostly satisfied (63 percent) with the PC administration. Only 22 percent said they were mostly or completely dissatisfied. (The remainder didn’t know or didn’t answer.)
  • Utility companies in P.E.I. say they’re doing the homework ahead of this year’s storm season. Maritime Electric and Bell Aliant say they’re working to improve communication with customers as they draw lessons from what happened during Fiona last fall. Many Islanders lost power for days, if not weeks, after the storm hit P.E.I. in late September. Maritime Electric spokesperson Kim Griffin said the company has been following hurricane information closely.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • A housing expert says the provincial government’s long-awaited short-term regulations miss the mark — and property owners say a lack of clarity could spell trouble for next year’s tourism season. In April, Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Minister Steve Crocker announced the provincial government would require property owners to register short-term rentals and follow the same municipal and provincial rules governing established operators like hotels.
  • About 100 people gathered at the Confederation Building in St. John’s on Wednesday to demand the provincial government do something about the number of people who have died of suspected drug overdoses in recent months. The rally was organized by Tina Olivero, a St. John’s mother who lost her 20-year-old son, Ben, to an overdose in July.
  • World Energy GH2 has taken another step forward with a controversial wind energy megaproject proposed for Newfoundland’s west coast. In a press release on Tuesday, the company announced it had submitted an environmental impact statement for the project, called “Nujio’qonik,” which is the Mi’kmaw term for St. George’s Bay and means “where the sand blows.” “This submission marks the first comprehensive environmental study in North America for a commercial-scale green hydrogen project,” the company wrote.
  • A Memorial University ocean sciences professor says climate change hasn’t hit Newfoundland and Labrador’s aquaculture industry hard yet — but it will. Paul Snelgrove, a MUN professor and the associate scientific director of the Ocean Frontier Institute, said diseases spread more rapidly in warmer water, and if ocean waters heat beyond the threshold of a fish or invertebrate, mortality could become more prevalent.

Quebec

  • The provincial byelection for Quebec City’s Jean-Talon riding has yet to be called, but tensions are already running high between the Parti Québécois and the CAQ. On X, formerly known as Twitter, Thursday afternoon, Quebec Premier François Legault shared a statement from his spokesperson referring to PQ candidate Pascal Paradis as a “liar” over conflicting claims regarding a potential cabinet role for Paradis if he were to run for the CAQ and a CAQ electoral promise on a highway tunnel project.
  • According to a study by the Angus Reid Institute, just 33% of Quebecers believe the Quebec government led by François Legault is doing a good job with regard to the environment and climate change. Conversely, 55% say that the Legault government has done a poor job on climate change. The same study also found that 74% believe that Legault and the CAQ have done a poor job on housing affordability in Quebec.
  • Quebec’s College of Physicians has responded to concerns from the independent body that monitors medical aid in dying in the province, saying it is not seeing a decline in the standards for providing the procedure. In recent weeks, Dr. Michel Bureau, head of Quebec’s commission on end-of-life care, has expressed several concerns about the growing frequency of the practice in the province, as well as the standard for providing it. “We see, more and more, that the cases receiving [MAID] are approaching the limits of the law,” Bureau said last week.
  • Quebec university administrators, professors and students are rejecting an idea by the federal housing minister that Canada could cap the number of international study permits it issues as a way to ease the country’s housing shortage. They say that limiting the number of international students will do little to address the housing crunch and would instead hurt university research and deprive Quebec of skilled immigrants.

Ontario

  • The RCMP branch that probes corruption and political crimes is looking into Greenbelt “irregularities” related to Premier Doug Ford’s $8.28-billion land swap amid the unexpected resignation of a top Progressive Conservative aide. That move came the morning after Ryan Amato suddenly quit as chief of staff to embattled Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark, catching Ford off-guard.
  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford, under fire for his handling of the Greenbelt, struck an upbeat tone at his address Monday to a municipal conference in London, avoiding any mention of the environmentally protected area in the Greater Toronto Area. Ford, who is facing backlash in the wake of an auditor general report critical of his opening of Greenbelt lands for development, spoke about job creation and manufacturing investment but focused on growing housing needs.
  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expanding so-called strong mayor powers to a total of 49 communities across the province and is offering $1.2 billion in incentives for cities and towns to meet housing targets. Ford’s announcement Monday, in a speech at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s conference, comes as the province’s housing starts are well below what’s needed to hit the premier’s target of building 1.5 million homes by 2031.
  • The Ontario government says Greenbelt land will not be part of a new subdivision it’s proposing to fast-track in Caledon, weeks after residents were warned the province planned to use its authority to develop a portion of the protected area. The township, located about 45 minutes northwest of Toronto, held a meeting on Thursday night to discuss a proposed amendment to a ministerial zoning order (MZO) that would have opened for development 141 hectares of what is mostly farmland near the future site of Highway 413 — an area that included 41 hectares of protected Greenbelt land.

Manitoba

  • Unionized workers at Manitoba Public Insurance will walk off the job on Monday morning if no settlement is reached this weekend, their union says. The strike would begin at 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 28, affecting approximately 1,700 workers represented by the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union, a news release from the union says. Both parties will continue bargaining over the weekend, the news release says. 
  • Manitoba New Democrats are promising to increase a tax credit for renters and make it harder for landlords to raise rents above the province’s annual guideline. The province currently offers renters a tax credit of up to $525 a year, and NDP Leader Wab Kinew says his party will raise it to $700 if it wins the election slated for Oct. 3. An NDP government would also reduce allowed exemptions to provincial guidelines for maximum annual rent increases, he said.
  • The firefighters union that once backed Heather Stefanson’s Progressive Conservative leadership bid is now supporting her biggest rival, Wab Kinew’s NDP, which committed Thursday to hiring 40 firefighters in southwest Winnipeg if elected in the upcoming election. United Firefighters of Winnipeg president Tom Bilous said he’s grateful Stefanson, after becoming Tory leader and premier, expanded the list of cancers that entitle firefighters to work-related compensation, but he said their other requests of the government are outstanding. 
  • Picket lines at Liquor Marts across the province have come down as unionized workers with Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries learn about and vote on a new tentative deal made with the Crown corporation this week, their union says. With some exceptions, a majority of the approximately 1,400 unionized workers would receive a general wage increase totalling about 12 percent over four years if the proposed deal is ratified, MGEU said in a news release Wednesday.

Saskatchewan

  • On Friday, Premier Scott Moe announced that four Saskatchewan Party MLAs are not seeking re-election in 2024, most notably longtime cabinet minister Don Morgan. The Saskatoon Southeast MLA was first elected in 2003 and has served in cabinet since 2007. Morgan posted a statement on social media on Friday. “It is with some sadness that I am announcing that I will not be running in the 2024 election. I have had five terms and it is time to pass the torch to someone else,” Morgan said.
  • The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) says the Saskatchewan government’s new policy on name and gender rules for schools is discriminatory because it singles out students who are trans and gender-diverse. On Tuesday, Education Minister Dustin Duncan announced a policy that requires parental permission for students under 16 who wish to be addressed by their chosen name or pronoun.
  • Saskatchewan’s Opposition leader says a new policy on naming and gender pronoun use in schools is motivated by politics and transphobia. NDP Leader Carla Beck called the policy announced by Education Minister Dustin Duncan, “reckless, cynical and divisive politics.” “What we saw from this government was calculated policy to solve their own political problems and a policy that we fear will put already vulnerable kids at greater risk,” Beck said. “We don’t support outing kids.”
  • There’s a small group of people in Saskatoon that officers know well from their repeat visits to cells, but when they’re released they have nowhere to go. Saskatoon mayor Charlie Clark put forward a motion during a Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners meeting Thursday afternoon asking the police service to file an in-depth report on the Saskatoon Police Service’s interactions with them, hoping to better understand how to support them.

Alberta

  • Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and her N.W.T. counterpart Caroline Cochrane will be in Calgary Friday to tour the city’s reception centre for wildfire evacuees. Since the centre was opened on Aug. 17, thousands of N.W.T. residents have made their way to the city for shelter and support. According to the latest numbers, there are more than 2,700 N.W.T. residents staying in Calgary. The city is also helping a number of long-term care and obstetric patients from both N.W.T. and B.C., where wildfires are also raging.
  • Lethbridge East MLA Nathan Neudorf and Premier Danielle Smith continue to defend the government’s moratorium on renewable energy and say a six-month pause in new green energy projects was not irresponsible and the NDP needs to get on board. “What’s irresponsible is the NDP siding with (federal) Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault against Alberta,” Smith said Tuesday during a news conference in Lethbridge.
  • Alberta Premier Danielle Smith doubled down on her support for the oil and gas industry, just as a report showing her government’s pause on renewable energy development could jeopardize investments worth billions. “We don’t need a just transition because we don’t intend to transition away from oil and natural gas,” Smith said this week at the Canadian Energy Executive Association conference in Banff. The industry is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but will not transition “away from production,” she noted.
  • The Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion project has run into another construction-related hurdle that could delay its completion. The crown corporation that owns the pipeline has filed for regulatory approval to modify the route of one of the remaining stretches of pipe yet to be completed. In its regulatory filing, Trans Mountain Corp. said it has run into engineering difficulties related to the drilling of a tunnel in B.C. and wants to alter the route slightly for a 1.3-kilometre stretch of pipe, as well as the construction method.

British Columbia

  • A permanent emergency response team is needed, B.C. Premier David Eby says. B.C.’s top elected official, Premier David Eby, took a tour in West Kelowna to see the wildfire devastation first-hand and talk to local officials and evacuees. He joined the Global BC News Morning show to talk about the tour in a live interview on Wednesday morning.
  • Premier David Eby is calling on the social media company Meta to reverse its decision to block Canadian news from being shared online in British Columbia, saying it feels like it is holding the province “ransom” in its ongoing spat with Ottawa. Eby is imploring the company and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to open up access to critical information that could help keep residents safe as the province grapples with devastating wildfires that have forced thousands of people from their homes.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is visiting is set to visit B.C.’s Central Okanagan Friday before coming to Vancouver, meeting with firefighters, community volunteers, and elected officials. The visit comes after rainy conditions helped curb fires and allowed residents and visitors to return to some evacuated areas in the region. But dry weather is expected to increase fire activity again throughout the area and North Shuswap.
  • The B.C. Wildfire Service has confirmed it temporarily pulled out crews fighting fires in the province’s Shuswap region after protesters showed up at an RCMP roadblock Wednesday evening in what police say was an effort to “overwhelm” the blockade. Police say protesters challenged officers at the blockade on the Trans-Canada Highway, and “threats of violence” against emergency workers had prompted the Mounties to increase their presence there.

Northwest Territories

  • Officials with the Giant Mine remediation project say if wildfire were to reach the site there’s no risk the 237,000 tonnes of water-soluble arsenic trioxide buried underground would leach into the environment. “You have to remember that trioxide is between 80 and 250 feet below ground, it’s entombed in rock and there’s really no way for fire to get in at it,” said Chris McInnis, the director of the Giant Mine remediation project. 
  • It’s been nearly two weeks since a wildfire tore through Enterprise, N.W.T. Now, the forecast for Hay River is showing similar conditions — strong winds and hot, dry weather — as the night that fire burned nearly 90 percent of the community. “Without the protection that is now in place and fire personnel the fire would travel at five to six kilometres per hour,” reads a recent update from the Town of Hay River. “The next three days will have an elevated fire risk.” 
  • As wildfires roar across the Northwest Territories, Premier Caroline Cochrane says she’s done “begging” for federal help to fill the infrastructure gaps that have made it harder to get people to safety. “We have been asking the federal government to address our infrastructure gaps for decades,” Cochrane told The Current’s guest host Susan Bonner.

Yukon

  • A new sober shelter, a managed alcohol program, better housing, and more restorative justice options are among the dozens of recommendations included in Yukon’s new substance use health emergency strategy, presented by the territorial government on Wednesday. The broad-ranging 60-page document, developed by the territorial government in partnership with the RCMP, the chief medical officer, and the Council of Yukon First Nations, says it “represents an urgent call to action” to deal with Yukon’s ongoing substance use crisis, and is based on consultations with community organizations, police, front-line workers, among others.
  • A judge has ordered the Yukon Water Board to reconsider a land use approval and water licence application from a Dawson-area placer operation. Yukon Supreme Court Deputy Justice Adele Kent, in a decision last month, wrote that the board’s denial of Fellhawk Enterprises Ltd.’s application in 2022 was unreasonable and based on ungrounded speculation.

Nunavut

  • A new Royal Canadian Navy ship sailed into Nunavut’s waters last week. HMCS Harry DeWolf arrived in Iqaluit to complete its annual Arctic security exercise, Operation Nanook. The exercise takes place every year across the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Labrador. The Arctic offshore patrol vessel will travel throughout the Canadian Arctic in August and September. It will also patrol the Northwest Passage.

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