Provincial and Territorial Updates – May 24, 2024

The Provincial and Territorial Updates: An overview of the Provincial Legislative and Territories Legislative Updates for the week of May 24, 2024.​ Written by Wes McLean.

New Brunswick

  • New Brunswick’s lieutenant-governor is not required by the Constitution to be bilingual, the province’s top court has ruled. Everyone agrees that whoever is appointed to the position “should ideally be fluent in both official languages of the province,” the New Brunswick Court of Appeal says in a decision issued Thursday morning. But “our analysis brings us to the conclusion that the Charter does not, in fact, impose such a requirement.”
  • Ten months after the New Brunswick government unveiled a plan to rein in high rent increases in the province for tenants, figures show the escalation has been worsening, not improving. That is adding pressure on the province to attack the issue more aggressively, with New Brunswick’s minister in charge of housing already acknowledging measures taken so far to combat rising rents are not helping tenants enough.
  • Legislation brought in earlier this month to target impaired drivers would only apply to drunk driving and not cannabis impairment, the New Brunswick government says. “This bill is specific only to impairment by alcohol,” Jess Hearn, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety, wrote in an email. “Impairment from cannabis or drugs is prohibited already, with the same penalties as for impairment by alcohol.”
  • The province has proposed laws to improve accessibility for public and private sector spaces, including standards and penalties for failing to comply. Haley Flaro, the executive director of Ability New Brunswick, said it was a career highlight for her and her team to see the Accessibility Act tabled in the legislature on Friday. “We had tears coming down our face,” Flaro said after the bill was introduced. 

Nova Scotia

  • Patients waiting at an emergency department in Dartmouth, N.S., with symptoms including chest pain, severe bleeding or trouble breathing are now being given a portable device that allows nurses to monitor their pulse and oxygen levels. It’s part of a pilot project that started in January. The device, a pulse oximeter, is wirelessly connected to a monitor that tracks vital signs.
  • The senior executive who had a hand in establishing virtual care in Nova Scotia and setting up clinics in pharmacies, in addition to being a driving force behind the YourHealthNS app, is quitting her job. In an email to staff Tuesday, Gail Tomblin Murphy said she is resigning from her role as vice president of research, innovation and discovery as well as innovation partnerships with Nova Scotia Health’s Innovation Hub. She said the decision was the result of “careful consideration,” and came with “mixed emotions.”
  • It was an emotional day for some community leaders Thursday in Pictou County and Liverpool after the Nova Scotia government announced it has reached a tentative deal with Northern Pulp that would see the company drop its legal fight to reopen the shuttered mill on Abercrombie Point. Andrea Paul, who previously served as chief of Pictou Landing First Nation for 12 years, said she was “really pleased” that the agreement would mean the mill wouldn’t resume operating. 
  • Public school teachers in Nova Scotia have ratified a new contract agreement with the province. The Nova Scotia Teachers Union, which represents 10,000 teachers in the province, released the results on Wednesday evening showing 91 percent of its members voted 80.5 percent in favour of the deal. In a news release, the NSTU noted that when compound interest is factored in, the contract gives teachers a salary increase of 11.47 percent over three years retroactive to Aug. 1, 2023.

Prince Edward Island

  • The province is ramping up tree production over the next six years, following in the footsteps of a federal program called 2 Billion Trees. The national program aims to plant that many trees by 2031. Provincially, there are four programs that will plant 300,000 additional trees per year. That’s on top of the 1 million trees that were already being planted annually. The P.E.I. 2 Billion Trees program is run by the provincial Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action.
  • Summerside police and city staff say more officers are needed to address complaints connected to city residents facing addiction and homelessness. The city estimates there are about 30 people dealing with homelessness in the city, scattered in about 10 active encampments. Cleaning up those encampments has cost the city about $40,000 since April 1, according to data presented at a regular meeting of council on Tuesday night. Police resources are also being strained by calls related to mental health, responding to more than 600 in 2023, said Summerside Chief Sinclair Walker.
  • The rate of child food insecurity in Prince Edward Island continues to be the worst in the country, and the numbers are climbing higher still, according to the most recent figures from Statistics Canada. Those figures show that 41 percent of Island children were living in households struggling to be able to afford the food they needed in 2022, up from 35.1 percent the year before. Overall, 28.6 percent of Islanders of all ages had trouble acquiring healthy food in an affordable manner in 2022, up from 23.6 percent in 2021.
  • The prime minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis says his country and Prince Edward Island are facing many of the same challenges when it comes to fighting the effects of climate change. Terrance Drew is among more than 200 people on P.E.I. this week for the Global Sustainable Islands Summit at the Rodd Crowbush Golf and Beach Resort. His nation of about 50,000 people in the West Indies, located just southeast of Puerto Rico, and other islands around the world are disproportionately affected by climate change and rising sea levels. 

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Newfoundland and Labrador Health Minister Tom Osborne said Friday he is retiring, bringing an end to his career as the longest-serving member of the provincial legislature. Osborne made the announcement to reporters inside the House of Assembly alongside members of his family. “Even the brightest days have a sunset,” Osborne said. “I can say that when I first started, I never imagined being here almost three decades, but along the way, I could never imagine leaving. So it’s taken, you know, a lot of thought gone into my decision to retire.”
  • Picture a room with 100 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians crammed inside. Thirty-one of those people would be struggling to meet their basic needs like transportation, housing, food and clothing. Twenty-six would be struggling to afford food. Twenty of them would be experiencing housing insecurity. These are the sobering numbers contained within the Harris Centre’s annual Vital Signs report, released Thursday morning in St. John’s. Vital Signs aims to unearth the biggest issues in the province by taking a closer look at a wide range of statistics. This year’s main topic — the cost of living crisis — was no surprise. 
  • With Newfoundland and Labrador in a housing crunch — and needing tens of thousands of new homes built in the next six years — one advocate is calling for a contractor and builder registry to ensure consumers are protected and construction is done well. Alex Foster, executive officer of Newfoundland and Labrador’s chapter of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, has been promoting the creation of a provincial registry since 2020. “It adds a little bit of consumer protection for people. And we’re hoping that it will help legitimize the industry a little bit more as well,” Foster told CBC News.
  • Liberal by-election candidate Owen Burt is running to keep the central Newfoundland district of Baie Verte-Green Bay red, despite being a member of the federal Conservative Party. Burt said he’s volunteered in several Liberal campaigns, including with the district’s former MHA, Brian Warr, and he likes the direction Premier Andrew Furey is taking the province. “I think Mr. Furey is the man of the hour,” Burt told CBC News in a recent interview. He added the Conservative MP for Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame, Clifford Small, is a good friend whom he met at a Liberal convention 20 years ago.

Quebec

  • Two weeks after he called Quebec mayors “beggars” for asking for more financing for public transit, Quebec premier François Legault extended an olive branch by way of humour. “I know there is an elephant in the room,” Legault said during his speech at the Quebec Union of Municipalities’ annual conference. “I’m not here to ‘beg’ for applause in the room. I won’t use this word again,” he said, as the crowd laughed and indeed, applauded.
  • Quebec attracted a record $13 billion in foreign direct investment in the fiscal year ended March 31, more than doubling last year’s record high of $6 billion and five times more than in 2018-19, Investissement Québec announced Thursday. Much of the jump in foreign investments was due to Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt’s decision to build a $7-billion plant in Quebec. Announced in late September, Premier François Legault said it was the largest private manufacturing investment in the province’s history.
  • Boeing, a giant in the aircraft manufacturing business, is investing $240 million as part of a partnership with the Quebec government to create an aerospace innovation zone in the Montreal area. The total investments for the project are worth $415 million. The Quebec government is contributing $85 million. Premier François Legault and Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon unveiled the project Tuesday during an annual aerospace international forum held in Montreal. 
  • A Quebec court judge has issued a scathing decision identifying major long-standing problems in youth protection services for Inuit children in Quebec’s North, in a case where a teenage girl was sent to 64 different foster homes in less than 10 years. For most of that time, the teen was placed in foster homes and rehabilitation centres in the South because of a shortage of services in the North. In a decision on April 24, Quebec Court Judge Peggy Warolin ruled the teen — who can’t be identified due to youth protection laws — “was thus deprived of her right to the preservation of her cultural identity.”

Ontario

  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford is fuelling early election speculation by declining multiple times today to commit to sticking to the planned June 2026 date. Ford announced today that his plan to expand sales of beer, wine, cider and ready-to-drink cocktails to all grocery stores and eligible convenience stores is being sped up. He said late last year that the expansion would come by 2026, but now that will start far sooner, with the first phase happening this summer.
  • Drug decriminalization is an “absolute nightmare” that will “never” happen under Ontario’s Progressive-Conservative government, Premier Doug Ford says. Ford made the comments to reporters on Friday amid a national debate over the policy, which was recently rejected in Toronto by the federal government. “It’s an absolute nightmare. It would be a disaster,” Ford said. “As long as I’m premier, we’re never going to decriminalize hardcore drugs.”
  • Ontario Liberal Leader Bonnie Crombie is formally requesting an update from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on the ongoing investigation into the Ford government’s $8.3-billion Greenbelt scandal. Crombie’s request came after new documents obtained through a freedom of information request by the Ontario NDP revealed previously undisclosed meetings between Premier Doug Ford’s staff and a developer. The information, first reported by the Toronto Star, was not available at the time of the initial inquiry by Ontario’s Auditor-General and integrity commissioners who investigated and issued reports in 2023.
  • According to Acabus Data, Doug Ford and the Ontario PCs continue to lead over Bonnie Crombie’s Ontario Liberals, by 13 percentage points (2 points down from our last survey). If an election were held today, 39% of committed voters in Ontario would vote PC. The Ontario Liberals are at 26%, with the Ontario NDP closely behind at 22%, and the Greens at 9%. These results are consistent with their survey from last month. 28% of respondents are undecided, up 7 points from last month.

Manitoba

  • The redevelopment of the former Bay building in downtown Winnipeg is getting a $31-million boost from the federal government — on top of the $65 million Ottawa has already committed. Dan Vandal, the federal minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and a former City of Winnipeg councillor, called the money a commitment to advancing economic reconciliation while helping to revitalize downtown.
  • Hundreds of patient records were “inappropriately accessed” by a worker at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre over the span of months from last summer through this spring. Shared Health, which coordinates healthcare delivery in the province and is responsible for operations at HSC, HSC reported a breach Friday.. It has advised about 360 patients at HSC, Manitoba’s largest hospital, that their personal health information was breached between August 2023 and March of this year, a Shared Health news release said.
  • Lawrence Pinsky was sleeping in Israel the moment it was announced Progressive Conservative members had placed their trust in him to win the upcoming Tuxedo byelection. Pinsky was selected as the PC candidate at a nomination meeting Thursday night, despite the family lawyer being fast asleep half a world away from the Varsity View Community Centre. He had travelled to Israel after the death of a family friend. He made the trip before the governing NDP caught their rivals off-guard by calling the byelection earlier than many political observers expected.
  • Manitoba’s government says a new tentative contract will draw nurses working for private agencies back into the public healthcare sector — but the Opposition says the NDP is trying to bully nurses. A new tentative four-year contract includes a clause that prohibits nurses working for private nursing agencies from also picking up extra hours through the public sector in the same health region. The agreement was narrowly ratified by nurses last week — except for those working at Shared Health.

Saskatchewan

  • Jeremy Harrison has resigned as government house leader, admitting that he did bring a long gun into the Saskatchewan Legislative Building “approximately a decade ago.” “I was going hunting on a weekend,” Harrison said in a prepared statement that was released via email on Friday morning. “I stopped at the Legislative Building for a short period of time and brought a properly cased long gun into the building with the knowledge of security officials so as to not leave it unattended in my vehicle in the parking lot.”
  • The Opposition NDP has sent letters to three different entities seeking answers to allegations about guns made by the Speaker of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly. Last week, Speaker Randy Weekes claimed during a speech that Government House Leader Jeremy Harrison brought a firearm into the legislative building at some point in the past and wanted to carry a handgun in the building.
  • The executive of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) is endorsing a proposed contract agreement that will be offered to teachers at the end of the month. The proposal includes some new measures to address classroom complexity that were absent from the previous proposed agreement that was resoundingly rejected by teachers earlier this month. According to an internal document sent to teachers and obtained by CBC News, the new proposed collective bargaining agreement includes promises of a task force on classroom complexity.
  • The truck driver who caused the horrific bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team has been ordered to be deported. The decision came this morning at an Immigration and Refugee Board hearing in Calgary for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu. Sidhu’s lawyer Michael Greene has said the decision was a foregone conclusion, as all that’s required to deport Sidhu is proof that he’s not a Canadian citizen and he committed a serious crime. Sidhu is from India and has permanent resident status in Canada.

Alberta

  • The Alberta government is clawing back parts of a bill that would have given Premier Danielle Smith and her cabinet the power to unilaterally fire mayors and councillors. But a spokesperson for the province’s towns, cities and villages says the changes won’t calm local leaders who have worried the proposed legislation is an undemocratic overreach.
  • Nearly one year after Danielle Smith’s United Conservative Party defeated Rachel Notley’s Alberta New Democrats, new polling suggests Smith’s party is mostly hanging on to the support that brought it into office. The random polling of 1,200 Albertans was commissioned by CBC News and conducted by Edmonton-based Trend Research under the direction of Janet Brown Opinion Research between May 1 and 15. It determined that number at 48 percent for the UCP and 45 percent for the NDP. In the 2023 election, the UCP won with 52.6 percent of the vote.
  • Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has reflated the idea of a 2,600-kilometre rail line from Fort McMurray to Anchorage, AK with her Alaskan counterpart, Governor Mike Dunleavy. Speaking at an energy conference in the state capital on the weekend, Smith and Dunleavy pitched the idea of reviving the line — known as ‘A2A’ — between Delta Junction and Fort Mac, via Fort Nelson, British Columbia. In 2020 then-president Donald Trump issued a permit granting approval for the rail project but it never got past the planning stages.
  • Nearly two months ago, the Alberta government launched four investigations into a company that placed people in hospital awaiting assisted-living accommodations into hotels. Today, internal emails shared by the Official Opposition reveal both the province’s health and social services ministries received a complaint about the firm, called Contentment Social Services (CSS), months earlier. One Edmonton family wasn’t surprised to hear of the complaint as they say they’ve been raising concerns about it for more than a year.

British Columbia

  • British Columbia’s premier has revealed a cyberattack on a health authority is another ransomware incident, while experts say it appears to be a different group of criminals than those behind two other recent attacks. The First Nations Health Authority, which provides services and healthcare to Indigenous people across the province, announced a “cyber security incident” on Wednesday but provided little detail. When David Eby was asked about the incident at an unrelated press conference on Thursday, he told reporters cyberthreats are growing and that “we have seen high-profile retailers like London Drugs be the victim of ransomware, and now the First Nations Health Authority.” 
  • The second phase of a homebuilding partnership involving the province, Metro Vancouver and non-profit housing providers will provide up to 670 below-market rental units in four separate urban areas, Premier David Eby said Thursday. Phase 2 of the partnership follows a memorandum of understanding signed last year between the B.C. government and Metro Vancouver Housing to create 2,000 affordable rental homes over the next decade, he said.
  • The British Columbia government says a $900 million project to create a network of hydrogen production plants and refuelling stations will create nearly 300 jobs and cut greenhouse gas emissions in the province. The Canada Infrastructure Bank is providing a $337 million loan to support the project by hydrogen company HTEC, which involves plans to build up to 20 hydrogen refuelling stations, with 18 of them in B.C. and the others in Alberta.
  • British Columbia’s trial lawyers and its self-regulating law society have launched constitutional challenges to the provincial government’s move to combine oversight of their profession with notaries and paralegals, a move they contend violates their institutional independence. The Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. filed its lawsuit on Tuesday in the B.C. Supreme Court, and the Law Society of B.C. filed its claim last Friday. These twin challenges could substantially delay the creation of a new regulator named the Legal Professions British Columbia, which is the core piece of Bill 21, passed last week on the final day of the legislature before the fall election.

Northwest Territories

  • Fire crews have set up sprinkler protection for the N.W.T.’s 60th Parallel Visitor Information Centre on Highway 1, after a wildfire on the N.W.T.-Alberta border moved north. As of Thursday night, the fire was about 300 metres from Highway 1, said fire information officer Mike Westwick. As of noon Friday, the highway was listed as open on both sides of the border. “That fire had some pretty significant activity yesterday, driven by warm temperatures, winds from the south, which supported greater fire growth to the north,” Westwick said Friday morning.
  • Job cuts and a partial closure of the Fort Smith jail are some of the measures the N.W.T. government wants to take in order to help the territory manage the costs of unexpected events like evacuations, wildfires and floods and pay down debt. On Friday morning, Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek tabled the 2024-25 operating budget. She characterized the $2.2-billion plan as one that includes “difficult choices” to ensure the territory is financially ready for whatever the future might bring.

Yukon

  • International graduates from Yukon University say that the territorial government’s temporary and abrupt pause on the Yukon Nominee Program shows a lack of consideration for international students. Christy Sibi graduated from the university’s Northern Sciences program in 2022. He says the “sudden stop” to the nominee program is a big disadvantage for international students. “The government should have been supporting the international students,” he said. “We don’t have a[n immigration] stream for maintaining the students to stay in the Yukon.”

Nunavut

  • Passengers are now able to head back inside an airport terminal in Arviat, Nunavut, after a fuel spill forced it to close down on May 16. The Arviat air terminal building’s fuel system developed a leak, and 3,000 to 4,000 litres of heating fuel leaked into a containment berm, where it mixed with water as well. Around 55 barrels of the mixture had to be pumped out of the area, according to Joe Savikataaq Jr., Arviat’s mayor. He said as of Wednesday the terminal was safe to use again. 

Keep Up to Date With Trending News

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website visit.

CHG Logo.