Provincial and Territorial Update – September 8, 2023

Provincial and Territorial Update for the week of September 2 - September 8, 2023. Prepared by Wes McLean.

New Brunswick

  • The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has filed the first lawsuit against New Brunswick’s changes to school gender-identity policy. The suit follows Education Minister Bill Hogan’s decision in June to change Policy 713 to make it mandatory for staff to get parental consent before using the chosen names and pronouns of children under 16.
  • The New Brunswick government did not make sure nursing homes were prepared for a pandemic, and their staff shortages and other problems played a critical role in the impact of COVID-19, Auditor General Paul Martin says in an audit released Thursday. Ninety nursing-home residents and one staff member died because of the pandemic, as of March 31, 2022.
  • New Brunswick’s public safety minister has embarked on a tour of the province to elicit feedback from local officials on how he plans to tackle crime. Kris Austin was in Miramichi recently for the first of 12 stops to market his “safer communities action plan.” Department of Public Safety spokesperson Allan Dearing said Austin was unavailable last week for an interview about the meetings. CBC News later asked Dearing for any information about the meetings but he did not respond.
  • As students across New Brunswick return to classrooms this week, advocates worry about how the Department of Education’s new gender identity policy will impact First Nations students. Earlier this summer, N.B. Education Minister Bill Hogan made it mandatory for schools to get parental consent before verbally using the chosen names and pronouns of students under the age of 16.

Nova Scotia

  • With tensions rising over unauthorized lobster fishing in southwestern Nova Scotia, the province’s fisheries minister says he intends to increase the maximum fine to $1 million for commercial buyers who are caught selling out-of-season lobster. Following a cabinet meeting Thursday, Steve Craig said he’s making the move out of concern about reports of “industrial-scale” fishing conducted outside of the federally regulated season in St. Marys Bay, near Digby, N.S.
  • Nova Scotia’s minister of advanced education says international students need to find housing and jobs before they arrive or have enough money to support themselves when they come here. A card shop in Sydney says it is being inundated with resumes from job-hunting foreign students, some of whom say they desperately need work to live and are being misled about the availability of housing and jobs by overseas recruiters working for Cape Breton University. Advanced Education Minister Brian Wong says that’s possible.
  • Halifax resident Andrew Jantzen is trying to receive spinal surgery that could be life-changing. However, they may need to pay out-of-pocket and raise about $80,000 Cdn to pay for the procedure in the U.S. and cover an accessible hotel and other expenses, because a Nova Scotia specialist doesn’t support the diagnosis of a U.S. neurosurgeon. Jantzen was diagnosed with tethered cord syndrome — a neurological disorder which limits the movement of the spinal cord within the spinal column— by a professor at Brown University in Rhode Island with expertise in the syndrome.
  • Nova Scotia Environment Minister Tim Halman has said his government’s delay in enacting the Coastal Protection Act is due to a large volume of feedback received from the public, but documents obtained by CBC through access-to-information laws show the majority of that correspondence calls for Halman and his government to get on with it.

Prince Edward Island

  • Without a huge increase in the construction industry labour force, there is no hope of building the number of homes that would be required to keep pace with Prince Edward Island’s population growth, says the Construction Association of P.E.I. The latest population figures from Statistics Canada show the province gained 7,755 people from April to April, a growth rate of 4.6 percent. Given an average household size of 2.3 people, that equals a requirement for more than 3,300 new apartment or condo units and single-family houses.
  • Police forces on Prince Edward Island will have greater powers to seek access to crucial data in missing persons cases when a law passed more than two years ago finally comes into effect this Saturday. The Missing Persons Act will give officers the ability to obtain judicial orders to require cellphone and social media companies to share GPS data, text messages, internet browsing histories and other information that could help locate a missing person. They can already do that in criminal investigations, but not when there’s no proof of any wrongdoing.
  • A public meeting hosted by MLAs to discuss homelessness on Prince Edward Island could soon be coming to your community. On Wednesday, the legislature’s standing committee on health and social development unanimously backed a motion from Liberal housing critic Gordon McNeilly to “seek public feedback on programs, policies and supports for P.E.I.’s unhoused community members.”
  • A 62-year-old Charlottetown man charged with assault after shoving P.E.I.’s housing minister at a public meeting was back in court Wednesday. Video taken by a CBC News journalist showed Mark Anthony Brown shoving Rob Lantz at the July meeting. It was held to discuss adding a supervised injection site to the Park Street Emergency Shelter. Lantz could be seen staggering back from the force of the push, liquid spilling from the cup he was holding, but he was not injured.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • More than 50 employees in Newfoundland and Labrador are receiving layoffs as Air Canada makes changes to its services at airports in Gander, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Deer Lake. Beginning Nov. 1, PAL Airlines will be the new service provider under the Air Canada Express banner, and not solely Halifax-based Jazz Aviation, which currently holds the contract. “We are making staffing changes required as a result of changes to Air Canada’s schedule,” reads a statement from Jazz Aviation.
  • After nearly a decade of doing business with Newfoundland and Labrador’s Public Utilities Board, U.S.-based Liberty Consulting Group is severing the relationship. The company has acted in an advisory role and kept a watchful and critical eye on Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, exposing cost overruns and schedule delays with the Crown corporation. It also questioned and challenged Hydro in quarterly reports on the overbudget Muskrat Falls megaproject and its integration into the power grid.
  • September’s arrival traditionally means peak hurricane season, and in anticipation of extreme weather events, the provincial government has launched a new website. But you can’t see it — at least not yet. The new emergency preparedness tool will be housed directly on the government’s website, and will be activated only in the case of an emergency. The idea is the site will host the most up-to-date and accurate information during a weather-related emergency event, in order to prevent disinformation from spreading elsewhere online.  


  • Premier François Legault announced that his government will install 116,000 charging stations for electric vehicles by 2030. The premier made the announcement on Thursday morning before the start of his party’s pre-sessional caucus in Saguenay. The government also wants to increase the number of parking spaces for electric vehicles in multi-unit housing by 600,000.
  • As dozens of mayors and elected municipal officials gathered Thursday to discuss a more lucrative fiscal pact with the province, Quebec’s premier threw cold water on the idea. Speaking to reporters in Saguenay Thursday morning, Premier François Legault said the province does not have the financial means to increase funding and had already signed a “very advantageous” $7.5-billion financing agreement with Quebec’s municipalities that would be in effect until December 2024.
  • A new player has entered Quebec’s electric vehicle battery sector, with a South Korean firm announcing it will open a copper foil factory in the province by 2026. Volta Energy Solutions, a subsidiary of South Korea’s Solus Advanced Materials, will produce copper foil for car batteries destined for a growing North American market. The company will retrofit a facility in Granby, Que., east of Montreal, for the copper plant, which will provide Quebec with another piece of the global EV battery supply chain.
  • Unlike his political counterparts, Quebec Premier François Legault will not appear on campaign posters used during the byelection in the Quebec City riding of Jean-Talon. And up until the absence was mentioned to him on Wednesday by a reporter, the Coalition Avenir Québec leader said he had no idea he had been edited out of the campaign’s publicity. “I’ll have to talk to (CAQ director) Brigitte (Legault) tonight,” the premier joked after his absence was mentioned to him during a news conference in Alma.


  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford has shuffled his cabinet in the wake of Steve Clark’s resignation as housing minister amid the ongoing Greenbelt scandal. In a statement from the government issued Monday afternoon, Ford announced changes to his cabinet, with Paul Calandra taking on the role of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Calandra remains on as the Government House Leader. Rob Flack becomes the Associate Minister of Housing “with a specific mandate on attainable housing and modular homes,” the statement said. Other changes include Prabmeet Sarkaria becoming the Minister of Transportation, replacing Caroline Mulroney, who is taking over Sarkaria’s role as the president of the Treasury Board.
  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s approval ratings have dipped to a historic low following the release of two bombshell Greenbelt reports, according to a new poll released Friday morning. A survey by Angus Reid suggests that fewer than three in 10 Ontarians, or about 28 percent, approve of the premier. This marks a five-point drop from Ford’s approval ratings in June and represents the lowest rating he has ever received since being elected in 2018.
  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he’s looking to New Brunswick to help address Ontario’s housing crunch after his “great friend” Blaine Higgs alerted him to the province’s thriving modular home industry. And companies in New Brunswick have confirmed they’re doing just that, now working on expansion plans.
  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford says his government will “re-evaluate” Greenbelt land, including hundreds of additional applications for land removal, which could result in further changes to the protected land. The evaluation is part of a larger review mandated by the previous Liberal government, which legislated in 2005 that Greenbelt lands should be reviewed every 10 years, Ford said.


  • Manitoba Progressive Conservatives are promising financial support for seniors if they are re-elected on Oct. 3. The Tories say they would let seniors defer some or all of their property taxes, and the money would be repaid with interest when the senior sells their home. Scott Johnston, a Tory cabinet minister running for re-election in the Winnipeg constituency of Assiniboia, says the province would have to pay municipalities for the deferred tax upfront, but the money would eventually be recouped.
  • Manitoba’s New Democrats are promising to spend more money on incentives for nurses to work in Manitoba. NDP Leader Wab Kinew promised Thursday to increase the pool of money set aside to recruit and retain nurses by $1 million, partly to recruit nurse practitioners left out of existing incentive plans. “We are committing to ensuring that the nurse practitioners who’ve been left behind from incentive programs to date will get those financial incentives to continue serving us better,” Kinew said outside Winnipeg’s Grace Hospital, where he reiterated NDP pledges to work more closely with nurses than the Progressive Conservative government has to date.
  • Manitoba Progressive Conservative Leader Heather Stefanson’s absence from two consecutive party campaign announcements has prompted speculation about PC tactics in the early stages of this provincial election. So far this week, Stefanson has only appeared at one of three PC campaign announcements, all of which involved promises of tax cuts. The PC leader spoke Tuesday at a promise to cut the basic income tax rate, but left a Wednesday promise of a land transfer tax cut to Riel candidate Rochelle Squires, and a Thursday property tax deferral announcement to Assiniboia candidate Scott Johnston.
  • The private market has failed to meet the need for affordable housing and the provincial government needs to step in to increase the supply, according to a coalition of housing advocates. The Right to Housing Coalition released a five-point plan Wednesday, including a call to create thousands of new rent-geared-to-income units, and asked all parties running in the election to support it.


  • Muneeb Khan is thankful to be in Canada, a year being allowed to come thanks to the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP). The SINP has 7,250 spots for potential immigrants to be selected based on skills, work experience, language proficiency and other criteria using a points-based system. As part of a new preferred nations pilot project, the province is reserving 10 percent of those SINP spots for people from specific countries of origin: Czechia, Germany, India, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine.
  • Two weeks ago, then-education minister Dustin Duncan announced several new policies in schools throughout Saskatchewan. That includes students under 16 needing permission from their parent or guardian to change their name or pronouns at school. Consent is not required for students 16 or older. Under the minister’s directive, teachers are now obligated to inform the student’s family of these changes, regardless of whether they have permission from the student. That doesn’t sit well with Boutilier.
  • Saskatoon has been clouded by wildfire smoke so far this year more than any year in the previous four decades, while Regina has also experienced a record year, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). Meteorologist Terri Lang said she expects more is on the way, as parts of B.C. and the Northwest Territories continue to burn, but it’s hard to predict exactly how much.
  • Monday marked one year since the worst mass stabbing in Canadian history happened at James Smith Cree Nation (JSCN) and nearby Weldon, Sask. Chiefs and community members who gathered on the First Nation say healing continues after the traumatic events that unfolded last year, but some are starting to feel safe again. On Sept. 4, 2022, 32-year-old Myles Sanderson killed 11 people and injured 17 others on the First Nation. James Smith Chief Wally Burns started the conference by saying, “The system has failed us.” He pointed to the role colonialism has played in intergenerational trauma. 


  • New documents outline a massive increase in public funding for the Canadian Energy Centre’s campaign to change attitudes toward Alberta’s oil and gas. An agency founded by Alberta’s United Conservative government to fight what it calls misinformation about the province’s industry and otherwise known as the “war room,” the centre’s most recent annual report shows it signed a $22-million contract last fiscal year for a media campaign. That’s about three times its entire government grant from the previous year.
  • Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to announce that she has scheduled a special meeting of the council later this month to discuss the city’s housing crisis. “We are in a housing crisis in Calgary. I have called a special meeting of council for 1 p.m. on Sept. 16, 2023, to take swift action,” she wrote. “Compared to 2021, average market rent is [up] 40 percent with vacancy at three percent. Median home prices for single detached [up] 37 percent. The time to act is now.”
  • A tribal council representing five First Nations in northeastern Alberta declared a state of emergency over what it calls an escalating mental health and addictions crisis. Athabasca Tribal Council Grand Chief Allan Adam told a news conference Thursday in Fort McMurray, Alta., that 60 members of the First Nations have died since January from drug overdose, suicide or as a result of self-harm.
  • Alberta Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides says he can’t dismiss a school board trustee whose social media post comparing the LGBTQ movement to Nazi supporters continues to draw criticism. Red Deer Regional Catholic School board trustee Monique LaGrange has come under fire since the post surfaced last week. It depicted children waving Pride flags below a photo of children waving Nazi flags, with the caption “brainwashing is brainwashing.”

British Columbia

  • Large moving trucks and a dumpster are onsite at a downtown Prince George, B.C., a homeless camp whose residents have been told to leave by the end of Friday. The city issued the order to vacate Millennium Park on Aug. 31, but many of the people in the camp say the nine-day notice is not enough for them to find a new place to live. “I feel like they didn’t give us enough time at all,” said Marisa Marie James. “We need places to live. We have no places to live.” “Honestly, it hurts,” said fellow resident Tyneesha Savory. “Where are we gonna go?”
  • Healthcare workers at a hospital on Vancouver Island are sounding the alarm about the fast spread of COVID-19 at the facility in the last few weeks after public health officials said they would not declare it an outbreak because of “negative connotations.”  Dr. Jeff Unger, an ER physician at Saanich Peninsula Hospital, said 18 patients tested positive for COVID-19 as of Aug. 31, occupying nearly 30 percent of beds at the hospital. Most patients at this hospital, Unger said, are over the age of 75, making them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
  • Mounties in Prince George are investigating an arson at a remote logging site that left three machines burned beyond repair. RCMP say employees were at the Mackenzie Lookout Forest Service Road on the weekend and when they returned to the site on Tuesday morning, they found the burnt-out machines. The estimated cost of the damaged equipment is approximately $1,000,000, according to RCMP.
  • C.’s anti-gang agency has failed to stem the gang war that has resulted in dozens of murders and public shootings over a two-year period, according to a report commissioned by the B.C. Public Safety Ministry. The critical 123-page report, obtained by Postmedia through a freedom-of-information request, said the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit “is neither effective in suppressing gang violence and organized crime nor is it providing the province with an adequate return on investment.”

Northwest Territories

  • “Quickly and efficiently.” That’s how Hay River Mayor Kandis Jameson is planning to stage the re-entry to her community. On Thursday, the town announced it would be releasing its plan for when residents can return on Friday. Those looking for specific dates on when that’ll happen will need to wait until next week. “This weekend’s warm, dry weather comes with a significant risk for that fire to grow,” said Jameson. Mike Westwick, fire information officer with the N.W.T. government, said the trend of warming temperatures seen this week “sort of escalates” over the weekend. 
  • Tony Brushett, the executive director of the Salvation Army in Yellowknife, said he’s “fairly confident” that his organization has made contact with the 120-or-so individuals that use the shelter regularly. Brushett said most of Yellowknife’s underhoused population was evacuated to Calgary and were connected with shelters and other services in the city for the past three weeks. Still, some went to Edmonton and Fort McMurray, Alta., among other locations. “We work with folks there,” he said. “Again, we are fairly confident we have contacted most of them.” 


  • Some Yukoners are rethinking their travel plans when it comes to visiting the United States. Recently, the Canadian government updated a travel advisory for the U.S, warning the LGBTQ2S+ community that some state laws criminalize same-sex activities and relationships, or target people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. For example, the state of Florida recently passed the “bathroom law”, which could subject transgender people to criminal penalties for refusing to leave a public bathroom if asked.
  • The Yukon Supreme Court has given the green light to a class-action lawsuit by students and parents of Jack Hulland Elementary School in Whitehorse. 
    The class action alleges a number of students at the school were subject to holds, restraints and seclusion between January 1, 2007 and June 30, 2022.
    The Yukon Department of Education is named as the defendant. 
    None of the allegations have been proven in court.


  • Lawyers on a Nunavut court case argue that driving prohibitions for people found guilty of impaired driving violate the Charter rights of Inuit hunters in the territory by preventing them from operating vehicles on the land. In Canada, people convicted of impaired driving on a first offence, face a mandatory driving ban of at least one year. That mandatory minimum prohibition increases to two years after a second offence, then three years after a third. Lawyers in the potentially precedent-setting Charter challenge argued in the Nunavut Court of Justice on Friday that mandatory minimum driving bans breach Inuit rights by preventing Inuit hunters from going out on the land to harvest, a right that’s also protected under the Nunavut Agreement. 

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