An overview of the Provincial and Territories Legislative Updates for April 26, 2023.
The mayor of New Brunswick’s largest French-speaking city says Premier Blaine Higgs is missing a critical opportunity to protect Francophone communities. Dieppe Mayor Yvon Lapierre said amendments to the Official Languages Act, introduced last week by the Progressive Conservatives, are “deplorable” for what’s included and what’s not.
In his speech closing budget debate last Friday, Premier Blaine Higgs shot back at those who have criticized the government’s revenue projections for the coming year. But opposition parties remain skeptical that the numbers this year will be accurate. Silas Brown has more.
The CEO of N.B. Power says it’s too early to tell whether the Energy and Utilities Board would get to scrutinize a potential business deal with an Ontario power utility to help run the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant. Lori Clark says the Crown corporation is looking at a range of options for how Ontario Power Generation might be able to run Lepreau better. One of them could be “a separate entity” co-owned by the two utilities to manage the plant, allowing them to share profits and financial risk.
Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative government reacted with sour skepticism Wednesday to the latest federal promises to fund the proposed Atlantic Loop electricity corridor. “I would say I’m not optimistic about the Atlantic Loop,” Premier Tim Houston told reporters at Province House. “I’m not investing a lot of time into it until I understand that the federal government is there in a meaningful way to support the ratepayers and I haven’t seen that.”
Newly released numbers show the fourth quarter of 2022 had more deaths in emergency departments in Nova Scotia than any three-month period in the past six years. The numbers, obtained by the Nova Scotia NDP caucus through a freedom of information request and shared with CBC News, show 180 people died in emergency departments across the province between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 of last year. That includes 32 deaths in the last two weeks of the year.
The Tory government is backing down on a threat to expel Independent MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin from the legislature. On Monday, Community Services Minister Karla MacFarlane brought forward a motion that could have removed Smith-McCrossin with a simple majority vote. She wanted Smith-McCrossin to apologize for saying that a woman who once worked in her constituency office was coerced into signing a non-disclosure agreement with the Progressive Conservative caucus when she worked there in 2018.
As a result of post-tropical storm Fiona, the province’s Emergency Management Office is in charge of handing out federal relief dollars under a national program called Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements. In February, the office stopped accepting applications from homeowners under the program for Fiona-related damage. It has received more than 1,400 applications from across Nova Scotia but only 200 claims have been paid out so far.
Prince Edward Island
Dennis King will return for a second term as premier of Prince Edward Island after his Progressive Conservatives won 22 seats for a commanding victory in Monday’s provincial election. The Liberals won three seats and will form the Official Opposition, while the Greens fell to third-party status with just two MLAs.
P.E.I. Liberal Leader Sharon Cameron is stepping down as head of the party after failing to win a seat in the provincial election on Monday. Cameron ran in District 17: New Haven-Rocky Point and placed third. Green Leader Bevan-Baker, the incumbent MLA, won the hotly contested seat by just 106 votes over the second-place candidate, Progressive Conservative Donalda Docherty.
Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker’s political future uncertain as P.E.I. Greens take major losses in the election. Though two incumbents, including Bevan-Baker, managed to hold onto their seats, the party was otherwise decimated and lost its status as the province’s official opposition to the Liberal Party of P.E.I. and its three elected members.
Maritime Electric is asking for a smaller increase to electricity rates than it had originally wanted after reaching a deal with the Prince Edward Island government. The company announced Wednesday that it’s no longer asking the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission for 3 percent rate increases in each of the next three years. Instead, Maritime Electric now proposes electricity rates would go up 2.6 per cent starting May 1, 2.6 per cent in 2024, and 2.7 percent in 2025. That’s after the utility reached an agreement with the government-operated P.E.I. Energy Corporation that would allow Maritime Electric to increase its profit as long as it doesn’t drive provincial electricity rates higher.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador’s Official Opposition says Premier Andrew Furey needs to be more aggressive in defending the province’s interests in a proposed major Atlantic Canada energy project. On Tuesday in the House of Assembly, Opposition leader David Brazil referenced a National Observer article published Monday that said Newfoundland and Labrador had been deliberately left out of a federal government announcement last week about transmission line upgrades in Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia — the “Atlantic Loop.”
Memorial University of Newfoundland’s governing body has removed president and vice-chancellor Vianne Timmons from her position. In a statement to MUN’s Gazette on Thursday afternoon, board of regents chair Glenn Barnes announced Timmons is leaving as of Thursday. On March 13, Timmons announced she was taking a voluntary, six-week paid leave of absence from the president’s office amid public scrutiny following a CBC News investigation into her statements on her Indigenous ancestry and past membership in an unrecognized Mi’kmaw First Nation group. • Newfoundland and Labrador’s regional health authorities have spent around $100 million on private agency nurse contracts in the past year, according to numbers obtained by CBC News. On Wednesday, Newfoundland and Labrador’s opposition parties said the eight contracts, obtained through an access-to-information request and first reported by online news outlet allNewfoundlandLabrador, show that the government’s recruitment efforts aren’t working. PC health critic Paul Dinn called the figures “astounding.” • Justice critic Helen Conway Ottenheimer is calling on Justice Minister John Hogan to make changes to the Limitations Act, which would remove the statutes of limitation on physical abuse. The Progressive Conservative member told CBC News she had a meeting with Hogan in February about the issue, and said he seemed receptive to her request. Conway Ottenheimer said she hasn’t heard anything since then, but wants to see changes soon.
With Premier François Legault altering his schedule and rushing back to Montreal, Quebec’s minister of energy said Thursday that Montreal has been “devastated” by the ice storm that has left 1.1 million Quebecers, half of them in the city, without power. “I think the situation is under control,” Pierre Fitzgibbon said at a hastily called news conference at the legislature. “It’s a crisis. Montreal is devastated, we need to be aware of that.”
Two university researchers are calling out the Quebec government for political interference and censorship. Retired Prof. Michele Vatz-Laaroussi, an emeritus professor at Université de Sherbrooke and Prof. Lilyane Rachedi with the school of social work at UQAM say they were awarded a contract to develop anti-racism training for the province’s health-care employees, but it was pulled by the health ministry over a reference to systemic racism. • A law won’t be enough to end racial profiling by police forces, the Montreal police department said Tuesday. The SPVM was in parliamentary committee to vote on Bill 14, which provides for the Minister of Public Security to set out guidelines for random police stops. The Ligue des droits et libertés has demanded a ban on police stops for both pedestrians and motorists. On the other hand, the Montreal police union has warned Minister François Bonnardel against too strict a framework for stops, which would be useful in the fight against street gangs. • The Superior Court of Quebec has awarded $385,000 to former Quebec premier Jean Charest in his lawsuit against the government for the unlawful disclosure of his personal information during an investigation by the province’s anti-corruption unit. The former premier had filed a lawsuit against the government after details of the Mâchurer investigation were sent to Quebecor media in 2017. Charest was never charged once the investigation was completed, but the leaks mentioned that he was considered a person of interest.
The majority of Ontarians feel the Doug Ford government is doing a poor job tackling a variety of files, including housing affordability, cost of living, and health care, according to a new survey. The survey, released on Tuesday by Angus Reid, suggests there is a general dissatisfaction with how the government is handling important issues. This dissatisfaction appears to cross party lines, with many past Progressive Conservative voters also indicating the government is doing a poor job handling inflation, health care and housing affordability.
Ford government to tackle ‘renovictions’ and beef up Landlord and Tenant Board. Premier Doug Ford’s government is doubling the number of Landlord and Tenant Board adjudicators and imposing new rules for property owners in hopes of preventing more renters from being “renovicted.”
New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds the NDP as the second-choice party of Ontarians with a 10-point gap over the Ontario Liberal Party, who are still looking to regroup after an election day humbling last year. The NDP have an advantage over the Liberals because they have found a new leader in Marit Stiles. The party’s next step will be to introduce her to the public and past NDP supporters. Half (47%) of Ontarians don’t have an opinion of Stiles, including two-in-five (42%) of those who voted NDP in 2022. Meanwhile, the governing PC Party under Premier Doug Ford continues to lead in vote intent, as they have consistently in the last year. Two-in-five (38%) Ontarians would vote PC if an election were held today.
Premier Doug Ford is increasing the pressure on the federal government to speed reforms making it tougher for violent offenders to get bail, saying there appears to be “no urgency” from Ottawa despite continuing tragedies. Speaking just over a week after the fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Gabriel Magalhaes at Toronto’s Keele subway station, Ford warned delays are costing lives. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that people are now dying because of the failures of our justice system,” the premier said in the legislature Monday.
Manitoba’s three main party leaders promised more money for health care in their first debate leading up to the Oct. 3 provincial election. Premier Heather Stefanson was on the defensive as the other leaders attacked the Progressive Conservative government’s record on health care, which includes a bed shortage that forced dozens of intensive care patients to be flown to other provinces at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NDP Leader Wab Kinew is promising to cut administration at Shared Health, but the premier is casting doubt Kinew will generate the savings he says are needed to improve Manitoba’s battered health-care system. At a provincial leaders’ forum hosted Tuesday by the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, Kinew alleged “nobody can explain the benefits” of Shared Health, which the Progressive Conservative government created in 2018 to help co-ordinate health-care service delivery and planning across the province.
Canada’s police chiefs are calling for help, following the deaths of nine officers since September – a trend they say shows policing today has become more dangerous. Late last year an Ontario police officer was shot and killed south of Hamilton, near Hagersville. It was described as an ambush and one of the two suspects charged in his death was out on bail. Now police executives across the country including Winnipeg Police Service Chief Danny Smyth say urgent action is needed to protect the public and officers.
Manitobans recovering from hip and knee replacement surgery will once again be able to have costs covered for physiotherapy and rehabilitation services from any clinic in the province, following concerns the previous billing model created a “two-tier health-care system.” The province is spending $2.5 million to ensure an estimated 6,100 eligible patients will have coverage for these services at their provider of choice, Health Minister Audrey Gordon said in a Wednesday news release.
Regina Mayor Sandra Masters told reporters Wednesday that she would not be stepping down due to the controversy surrounding a recent rebranding of the city’s tourism agency. “I’ve had other people tell me that I should just quit,” Masters told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “I won’t be stepping down. I think we’re trying to find a way to move forward, and if additional training and education and those types of things are needed, then absolutely.”
The Saskatchewan government needs to better support vulnerable children who are removed from their parents and placed in the homes of extended relatives, according to the province’s advocate for children and youth. On Tuesday, Lisa Broda released a new report detailing how one of the Ministry of Social Services’s programs is failing vulnerable youth.
Ambulances forced to wait up to 12 hours at Regina ERs to off-load patients: documents. Health minister acknowledges issues in the province, but points to $8.8 million in recent budget. The Saskatchewan government says it is working to address the problems in the province’s health-care system.
Five organizations throughout Saskatchewan will receive the money earmarked for second-stage shelters in the recently released provincial budget. Saskatchewan had been one of the few provinces that did not provide operational funding for second-stage shelters. That changed in the latest budget, when the province committed $876,000 over three years toward those shelters.
Premier Danielle Smith must explain to Albertans why she discussed a criminal case with the accused before his trial, whether she still believes such calls are OK and whether she will continue to have these conversations, legal experts and political scientists say. They say the premier’s actions are a violation of the democratic firewall separating politicians from court cases and that Smith’s strategy to stay silent and threaten to sue media ensures the controversy will be alive for the upcoming election campaign.
As fears over violent crime spike in Alberta’s largest cities, a Calgary UCP MLA on Wednesday called out NDP candidates for their past social media comments critical of police. But Municipal Affairs Minister Rebecca Schulz wouldn’t denounce Premier Danielle Smith’s recorded sympathetic conversation with a Calgary street pastor criminally accused in the 2022 Coutts border blockade. Instead, Schulz said NDP Leader Rachel Notley owes Albertans an explanation over the social media statements made by six of her candidates that show hostility toward police, adding they should be fired from caucus.
The Alberta government is paying to deploy 100 more police officers on public transit systems over the next 18 months to address violence and disorder in Calgary and Edmonton. Premier Danielle Smith and Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis made the announcement Tuesday, outside an inner-city transit stop in Calgary. Mr. Ellis estimated the cost at $15-million, or $150,000 per officer.
Improving Alberta’s health-care system and addressing cost-of-living issues are far and away the top priorities for voters in next month’s provincial election, a new poll says. But the Leger poll also suggests significant disparities between topics of focus for planned UCP and NDP voters, differences that have already been reflected in each party’s campaign.
The provincial government has introduced a multibillion-dollar, four-point housing plan aimed at cracking down on soaring real estate prices, increasing construction and creating more rental units. Premier David Eby, Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon and State of Child Care Minister Grace Lore revealed the ‘Homes for People’ plan on Monday. It promises legislation that allows up to four units on a single traditional housing lot, and warns that a tax on the proceeds of house-flipping is coming.
B.C. Premier David Eby called today a “sad day” but one that is necessary to ultimately move homeless people camping on the streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside into safe and permanent housing — after police and city crews removed the tents along Hastings Street.
In response to the cost of living crisis facing many British Columbians, the province says it will begin sending out the latest affordability credit beginning on Wednesday (April 5). Roughly 85 per cent of British Columbians will be eligible to receive the third installment of the B.C. Affordability Credit payment as a direct-deposit into their bank accounts. Amounts are dependent on income and family size — individuals can receive up to $164 and $41 per child, while a family of four could get $410.
The B.C. premier says the Growing Communities Fund — $1 billion funnelled to municipalities to help with infrastructure needs — is an example of what the province would like to continue to do to support local governments as cities expand. Premier David Eby appeared at a Union of B.C. Municipalities housing summit held in Vancouver on Wednesday afternoon, sitting down for a question and answer session with UBCM President Jen Ford.
Federal public safety minister Marco Mendicino is in Yellowknife, Łútsël K’é and Behchokǫ̀ this week to make budget announcements – and talk guns. On Wednesday, Mendicino promised that nothing in Bill C-21 will affect northern Indigenous hunting rights. The minister went further, repeating an accusation that Conservatives have engaged in “disinformation” by suggesting that the bill would have that effect. “[They] say we’re going after hunters and the like. We’re not,” Mendicino told Cabin Radio.
Opposition parties in the Yukon Legislature are using findings from a recent judicial review to highlight weaknesses with the territory’s First Nations procurement policy. The policy aims to give advantages to Yukon First Nations businesses when they bid on government contracts to strengthen their participation in the economy. It uses a tool called “bid value reductions” to lower the price of proposals if Yukon First Nations businesses are bidding, making them more competitive.
Budget erred by suggesting Ottawa backing away from Inuit TB eradication, minister says. Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), welcomed the admission but said he’s still concerned about Ottawa keeping its promise to Inuit. “I’m really disheartened by the terminology,” Obed said. “We are worried about Canada’s commitment.”
The North will receive a specific amount of the government’s multi-billion dollar strategy aimed at addressing Indigenous housing needs off-reserve, according to Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal. Vandal is in Iqaluit this week to highlight the federal budget, which included $4 billion over seven years to implement an urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing strategy.