Provincial Legislative Update – March 10, 2023
An overview of the Provincial and Territories Legislative Updates for March 10, 2023.
- The company increasing its shipments of Maine’s human waste to New Brunswick has told state legislators that trucking it to this province is not a long-term solution, but says so-called “forever chemicals” in the sludge should not be a major concern. Officials from Casella Waste Systems said the PFAS — perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances — detected in Maine soil do not appear to come from biosolids in landfills like the one the company operates.
- A $20.8-million funding announcement for child care in New Brunswick is welcome news to many in the industry — until they do the math. Erin Schryer, who operates 500 spaces in her two centres in Quispamsis, said operators have been waiting for Tuesday’s announcement for a long time because “designated” centres like hers can’t raise fees without government approval.
- The Department of Health will conduct its own review of New Brunswick’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but unlike the ongoing review by the auditor general, these findings won’t be made public. That’s a mistake, according to Liberal Leader Susan Holt. “Keeping the results of such a review behind closed doors is not the way to rebuild trust,” she said in a statement Tuesday.
- The number of COVID-19-related workers’ compensation claims in New Brunswick has increased 533 per cent since the beginning of the pandemic, and the number of accepted claims has jumped nearly 1,521 percent. The 2022 claims alone cost more than half a million dollars, including loss of earnings and medical aid, while the province’s three-year total exceeds $1.4 million, according to figures from WorkSafeNB.
- The Nova Scotia government has announced plans to spend $37 million on a new research institute that will focus on improving the health of rural residents. Premier Tim Houston made the announcement Thursday at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., where the institute will be based. The province issued a statement saying the Institute for Innovation in Health will study chronic disease prevention and management, rehabilitation and aging in place.
- On Tuesday, Premier Tim Houston announced $59 million to create a new medical school campus at Cape Breton University in Sydney, and on Wednesday, Advanced Education Minister Brian Wong announced $25 million to create more training options in healthcare data analysis and related areas at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.
- Keith Bain will continue to preside over the Nova Scotia Legislature as Speaker of the House for the duration of the upcoming spring session. Premier Tim Houston confirmed the news following a funding announcement in Antigonish on Thursday. “I’m not anticipating any changes during the session,” Houston told reporters. The spring session will open on March 21.
Prince Edward Island
- Close to half of Prince Edward Islanders are prepared to vote for the Progressive Conservatives in the upcoming election, according to a poll released Tuesday morning. Dennis King announced Monday night there would be a general election on P.E.I. April 3. The latest Narrative Research poll comes hard on the heels of that. It shows the results of phone calls made to 420 Islanders from Feb. 13 to March 2. The Tories hold a comfortable lead in voting intentions in the poll, as they have through much of the last four years. The party’s 49 percent support is the same as it was in November, but down a little from the previous few polls.
- Progressive Conservative Leader Dennis King says Charlottetown’s supervised injection site won’t be located at 33 Belmont Street after all. King’s government had previously selected the site, which was scheduled to open this spring once renovations to the building were complete. If elected, King said his party would look at using a temporary modular unit for the supervised injection site.
- Green party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker says a Green government would spend $485 million over five years on building and buying publicly-owned housing. Bevan-Baker made the campaign announcement on March 9 with Charlottetown-Victoria Park candidate Karla Bernard at Haviland Court, a publicly-owned seniors housing building in downtown Charlottetown.
- P.E.I. Green party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker says he has a plan to expand access to health care while removing politicization from the system. In a morning election campaign announcement in Charlottetown on March 8, Bevan-Baker said the Green plan would also improve the training of healthcare professionals while expanding the scope of practice of nurse practitioners.
Newfoundland and Labrador
- The Newfoundland and Labrador government is set to begin issuing bonds on the London Stock Exchange as part of a new foreign borrowing program. Premier Andrew Furey, who was in London on Monday, said the new program is an indication of the province’s “much better” financial position, rather than a sign that the province is having trouble issuing domestic bonds.
- The Stephenville town council is again making cash contributions to keep the local airport running, as the finalization of a deal to sell the operation drags on. But now, Mayor Tom Rose says there is progress: a court date set for next month to resolve a long-running insolvency proceeding at the airport. Rose says that will clear the way for the acquisition to be completed.
- A man who died in an ambulance while the Bonavista emergency room was closed was the face of a protest held at the Confederation Building in St. John’s on Thursday. The Bonavista emergency room closed for just over 18 days in February — including on Feb. 20, when Shelley Gosselin’s father, 78-year-old Charles Marsh, died.
- The Quebec government rolled out a fresh wave of measures to deal with the ongoing crisis at the province’s automobile insurance board Wednesday. Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbault cut her Europe trip short earlier this week as problems continue to plague the Société de l’Assurance Automobile du Québec (SAAQ).
- The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating two alleged covert police stations in Quebec that it believes are working on behalf of the Chinese government. The RCMP has confirmed that the two locations under investigation are the Service de la famille Chinoise du Grand Montréal in Montreal’s Chinatown and the Centre Sino-Québec de la Rive-Sud, in the municipality of Brossard on the South Shore.
- Former Liberal cabinet minister Marc Garneau, who announced his resignation as a member of Parliament this week, says he views anglophone minority rights in Quebec as “a hill to die on.” Garneau’s comments on CTV’s Power Play with Vassy Kapelos on Thursday come as the federal government considers opposition amendments to a key piece of legislation Bill C-13.
- Québec solidaire wants to put an end to landlords evicting tenants in order to convert units into short-term rentals the likes of Airbnb, especially in the midst of a housing crisis. At a news conference in Montreal Wednesday, QS co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois was joined by two men who recently received eviction notices from new owners looking to convert their units.
- For the second time in the history of Quebec, the national assembly is chaired by a woman, and Nathalie Roy seems ready to make some changes. Under her reign, we will see the appearance of a drop-in daycare centre in parliament, she confirmed in a lengthy interview with The Canadian Press on the occasion of International Women’s Day. There will also be talk of pay, parental leave and remote voting. The big reform project that was aborted under former president François Paradis is being revived with the arrival of Roy.
- Time’s up for TikTok on Ontario government phones. Treasury Board President Prabmeet Sarkaria said Queen’s Park is following Ottawa’s lead in banning the popular video-sharing app from all government-issued devices “effective immediately.” TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance, is headquartered in Beijing and there are concerns the Chinese government could gain access to users’ data for spying purposes.
- An all-season road to Ontario‘s Ring of Fire — a region with rich deposits of critical minerals needed for battery manufacturing — appears to have been a primary preoccupation for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford during four successive meetings in the latter half of 2022.
- From March 2 to 4, 2023, Abacus Data surveyed 1,000 Ontario adults and asked them about their views and intentions as they relate to Ontario provincial politics. The PCs lead the Ontario Liberals by 13 points, with the NDP back in third. If a provincial election was held at the time of the survey, the PC Party would get 41% of the vote, followed by the Ontario Liberals at 28%, the Ontario NDP at 22%, and the Ontario Green Party at 5%. Compared with our last survey conducted in November 2022, the PCs are up 3, the Liberal vote is up marginally by 1 point and the NDP is down 4.
- Ontario will allow students in Grade 11 to begin working toward their apprenticeships in skilled trades. Education Minister Stephen Lecce says it’s a deal that lets high school students earn credits toward a secondary school diploma while they apprentice. Lecce says the change is designed to get students into the trades faster. The province says the construction industry will need 72,000 new workers by 2027.
- Ontario’s healthcare system is facing staffing, capacity and funding shortages over the next six years, according to a new report, leading to concerns about whether growing demand will outpace and overwhelm hospitals in the province. An analysis of the Ford government’s health care promises, conducted by Ontario’s Financial Accountability Officer (FAO), found the province will fall $21.3 billion short of the funding needed for hospitals, home care and long-term care by 2028 unless the government changes course.
- The Manitoba government’s election-year budget brings millions in tax savings and billions in increased healthcare spending. The proposed budget, which Premier Heather Stefanson intends to take to the electorate, sees overall spending jump by nearly 10 percent which the province says brings funding increases in all 19 government departments.
You can see the Capital Hill Group’s Manitoba budget overview at the following link:
The Manitoba Budget Before Provincial Election Article
- The provincial government will allow a record number of skilled immigrants to come to Manitoba in 2023 to address critical labour needs, including in health care. Manitoba Labour Immigration Minister Jon Reyes announced in a Thursday news release the province is creating 3,175 new nominations through the provincial nominee program. Last year, out of a pool of 13,030 candidates, a total of 6,367 immigrants were nominated, the highest since the program’s inception in 1998, Reyes said previously. The bump in nominations means the province could see 9,500 new immigrants, the news release said.
- The mother of a 31-year-old Manitoba woman who died while waiting to be transferred to an Ontario hospital in 2021 is suing all those involved in the decision to move her out of province in order to make room for more critically ill COVID-19 patients. In a statement of claim filed in Manitoba Court of King’s Bench on March 7, Elaine Mousseau claims a sequence of bad planning and decisions and a lack of the necessary medical equipment and properly trained staff caused the death of her daughter, Krystal Mousseau.
- The Manitoba government is desperately attempting to win back voters with its spending promises proposed in its latest budget, the leader of the Official Opposition says. NDP leader Wab Kinew says the province’s increased spending of $2 billion more in 2023-24 than the previous budget appears desperate after what he claimed was seven years of cuts. Manitoba’s Opposition NDP won’t commit to keeping tax cuts promised in latest budget if elected this year. Revenue lost from promised income tax cuts would put a new government in tough spot, says U of W economist.
- The Saskatchewan government says it’s on track to meet its goal of 100,000 new jobs by the end of the decade. According to February’s labour force numbers from Statistics Canada, released Friday, there were 9,400 more jobs in the province last month compared to February 2022 — an increase of 1.6 per cent — and 2,600 more jobs since January of this year.
- While recognizing challenges across Canada, Premier Scott Moe defended his government’s economic performance on Monday after Opposition NDP Leader Carla Beck slammed him for “failing to deliver.” On the first day of the spring sitting, Beck blasted Moe for the province’s low-ranking status in employment and GDP growth when compared to other provinces — but the Premier retorted the province has more people working under the Sask. Party government than there were under the former NDP government.
- Premier Scott Moe and Opposition Leader Carla Beck say their MLAs will not be taking their full salary increase on April 1. Saskatchewan MLA salary increases are tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for that year. If applied this year it would mean an increase of 6.8 per cent from 2022. Moe said Monday the government MLAs would not be taking the full amount: “The government isn’t in favour of taking that salary increase.”
- MLA for Lumsden-Morse Lyle Stewart announced that he will resign his seat due to health-related reasons. “I have been living with prostate cancer for a number of years now, but unfortunately, my condition has worsened in recent weeks to the point that I can no longer do this job to the standard I expect of myself and that my constituents deserve,” Stewart said in a Sask. Party caucus news release on Monday.
- A First Nation in northern Alberta has slammed Premier Danielle Smith for downplaying a massive toxic spill from an oilsands tailings pond that the community is calling an environmental disaster. Smith stood in front of reporters Monday and assured Albertans that no wildlife or drinking water had been affected by the Kearl Lake tailings pond leakage.
- On Tuesday morning, Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi met with Danielle Smith for the first time since she became Alberta’s premier five months ago. Ahead of the meeting, Sohi provided Smith with a letter outlining Edmonton’s most immediate needs. He said these priorities were also raised prior to the provincial budget. He described the meeting as “very positive.” Sohi said the premier showed a strong desire to work with the city on these priorities.
- Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping defended the province’s $80-million purchase of children’s pain medication on Thursday, even though much of the order has yet to arrive on store shelves more than three months after it was announced. Amid a nationwide shortage of the medication, the UCP government announced plans last December to import five million bottles of children’s medication from Turkey-based Atabay Pharmaceuticals and Fine Chemicals.
- Claims that a government edict will force Calgary paramedics to off-load emergency room-bound patients within 45 minutes of reaching the hospital — regardless of whether staff are available to take over care — are being disputed by Premier Danielle Smith and Health Minister Jason Copping. The Alberta NDP says it received a copy of an email from a Foothills Medical Centre staffer that claims a new directive from the provincial government will change policy regarding patient drop-off starting March 15, mandating patients be transferred to the hospital’s care within 45 minutes.
- It’s been four years since the B.C. NDP passed legislation that would make daylight time permanent across the province, and as residents get ready to change their clocks on Saturday night, the provincial opposition is calling on Premier David Eby to deliver on the change now. “Despite all the talk and big promises from the premier, families are in for another crude and rude awakening this Sunday,” said Opposition House Leader Todd Stone, the B.C. Liberal MLA for Kamloop-South Thompson on Thursday during Question Period.
- British Columbia is dedicating $ 200 million toward boosting both the province’s food bank system and overall agricultural production and resiliency. Premier David Eby says the funding will go toward two branches of spending: adding infrastructure to food banks, such as commercial coolers, and to improve overall food production and access throughout B.C.
- British Columbia Premier David Eby says the federal government needs to reform Canada’s bail system now instead of simply talking about it. His comments come after federal Justice Minister David Lametti said Ottawa is prepared to change the Criminal Code to add “more stickiness” for people seeking bail, and he plans to discuss the matter with his provincial counterparts on Friday.
- Premier David Eby signalled that the provincial government won’t directly support municipalities facing significant property tax hikes. When asked on Friday (March 3) whether the provincial government would help offset such hikes, Eby said municipal governments are “accountable” to their communities, while acknowledging that they are facing rising costs like everybody else during a time of global inflation.
- Regular MLAs passed a motion Wednesday in the N.W.T. Legislative Assembly to forgive debt held by elders with mortgages and rental arrears owed to Housing NWT — but it’s not clear whether the policy will ever go into effect. The applause was heard throughout the legislature Wednesday afternoon as the motion titled “Reconciliatory review of Housing NWT’s collection approach” introduced by Monfwi MLA Jane Weyallon Armstrong was passed with support from all nine regular MLAs present.
- The aftershocks of Alberta’s failure to live up to its end of a bilateral water agreement with the Northwest Territories continue to resonate. Last week, the N.W.T. found out that a tailings pond near Fort McMurray had been leaking for months. There were fears that toxins might have reached the river system that ultimately feeds Great Slave Lake, but no one reported the major leak to the N.W.T. as required under the agreement. On Thursday, N.W.T. Environment Minister Shane Thompson met with Alberta Environment Minister Sonya Savage to talk about it.
- Women’s advocates say an NDP-led push for free birth control in the Yukon could remove barriers for family planning and ease burdens on the territory’s health system. On Monday, the Yukon NDP filed a notice of motion urging the Liberal government to fully subsidize prescription contraceptives like IUDs and birth control pills for all Yukoners. That came a week after B.C. announced it would become the first province to cover prescription birth control costs for its residents.
- The head of the Yukon RCMP says he’s both pleased and surprised by the hefty budget increase for the police service included in this year’s territorial budget. The Yukon budget, tabled earlier this month, includes an additional $3.5 million per year in core funding for the police. That’s nearly as big an increase in one year as the government gave to the force over several years prior.
- The Supreme Court of Canada says it won’t hear an appeal that would have challenged mandatory firearm sentencing in Nunavut. Cedric Ookowt and Simeonie Itturiligaq both had their original sentences doubled by the Nunavut Court of Appeal in 2020 because their initial sentences of two years less a day were lighter than the law required. They were seeking to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.