Provincial Legislative Update – May 12, 2023

An overview of the Provincial and Territories Legislative Updates for the week of May 12, 2023.

New Brunswick

  • Mi’kmaw and Wolastoqey communities in New Brunswick are slamming comments reportedly made by Premier Blaine Higgs indicating that he’s prepared to go ahead with fracking without their approval. They say his recent comments “again show his complete disregard” for the rights of First Nations.
  • The Official Opposition took aim Thursday at a bill introduced by New Brunswick Health Minister Bruce Fitch earlier this week that would eliminate elected positions on regional health authority boards. Rob McKee, Liberal MLA for Moncton Centre, called the bill “an attack on democracy,” and questioned an apparent about-face by Fitch on the issue.
  • Landlords in New Brunswick could soon have to prove an eviction is necessary for renovations, and that those renovations are actually happening, before terminating a lease. Landlords could also be required to give people three months’ notice before turning the unit into commercial space or evicting tenants and moving in family members.

Nova Scotia

  • A stop-work order has been lifted and production has resumed at the Donkin coal mine in Cape Breton following an underground fire nearly two weeks ago. Inspectors checked the mine equipment before and after repairs due to the fire and the province is satisfied the coal mine can operate safely, said Gary O’Toole, senior executive director with the Nova Scotia Department of Labour.
  • The provincial government is spending $4 million to add 180 new licenced practical nursing seats at six Nova Scotia Community College campuses and establish a nursing program at Acadia University. “I think the message today for Nova Scotians is no matter where you are in the province, anyone who is interested in becoming a nurse in Nova Scotia, after today there are more options available to you,” Premier Tim Houston told a news conference at the Wolfville-based university.
  • Some RCMP officers in Nova Scotia will start wearing body-worn cameras next week as part of a national field test of the devices. Sixty officers from seven detachments across the province including Chester, Digby, New Minas, North Sydney, Pictou, Stellarton and Yarmouth rural, will be testing the technology. The cameras will record audio and video, which will be uploaded and stored in digital files, according to a news release by the RCMP on Thursday. 
  • The federal government won’t be bending its rules to help uninsured homeowners in Nova Scotia who suffered damage from post-tropical storm Fiona, says Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair. Speaking with Cape Breton’s Information Morning program Wednesday, Blair said the eligibility requirements are crystal clear, and consistent across the country. And in the interest of fairness, he’s not budging.

Prince Edward Island

  • A new session of the P.E.I. Legislature gets underway Friday, the first since Dennis King’s Progressive Conservatives made significant gains in the province’s general election on April 3. The PCs went from a bare majority of 15 MLAs to 22, reducing the Liberals and Greens to a combined five seats. That’s the smallest opposition presence the legislature has seen since the 2011 election returned five PC MLAs and 22 Liberals. Government whip Zack Bell said he doesn’t think the PCs will change their approach from when they formed a minority government four years ago — a minority that became a majority when Bell himself won a by-election in 2020. Former finance minister Darlene Compton was also selected today to become Speaker of the Legislature.
  • The City of Charlottetown held a meeting Thursday to talk about ways to address homelessness in the city. People from multiple levels of government as well as community groups discussed issues such as social housing, encampments and how to best offer services to vulnerable populations. One topic of discussion was decentralizing said services. District 12 MLA Karla Bernard said they need to be offered in communities where people live.
  • Snow crab fishers on P.E.I. say the price they’re getting for their catch is lower than it’s been in years. Crab fishers were getting $8 a pound at the wharf last year. This year, the price has plummeted to $2.25. Fishers in some other parts of the Atlantic region are staying off the water because of the low price. Meanwhile, Island snow crab fishers have wrapped up their season.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Newfoundland and Labrador has signed a memorandum of understanding to explore future hydrogen-to-ammonia opportunities with the Port of Rotterdam — the largest port in Europe. The deal comes as Energy Minister Andrew Parsons and Premier Andrew Furey are in the Netherlands this week, shopping the province to major players in Europe’s emerging hydrogen market.
  • A portrait of Senator George Furey was officially unveiled in Ottawa yesterday. Furey retires from the Senate today. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised Furey for helping to steer the Upper Chamber through many changes and offered his thanks for his “many years of public service.” Newfoundlander Iris Petten was appointed to the Senate last week, replacing Norm Doyle who retired in 2020.
  • Snow crab harvesters were on the move Friday, bringing their protest over the still-tied-up fishery to the doorsteps of major industry partners in St. John’s. Fish, Food & Allied Workers (FFAW) members axed a tentative deal tabled a week ago by the Association of Seafood Processors (ASP) that would have jump started the stagnant fishery and saw thousands of harvesters back on the water, along with the thousands of processing workers heading back to the plants.

Quebec

  • Will François Legault’s armour be scratched at the end of the national convention this weekend in Sherbrooke? The Quebec premier and Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) leader must pass the vote of confidence test by his delegates for the second time in his career. In 2014, Legault received a staggering 97.2 per cent. The 2020 confidence vote was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Premier François Legault says Quebec is saying no to the Century Initiative, a plan by an influential lobby group to increase Canada’s population to 100 million by 2100. Legault said Tuesday that he was opposed to the plan, which seems to have the ear of the federal government. A motion was also unanimously adopted in this sense.
  • The Quebec government is set to table a bill that would give members of the legislature the highest base salary out of all provincial politicians in the country. The bill is to be introduced Thursday by Premier François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec government and would increase base salaries by $30,000 — to $131,766.

Ontario

  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford has once again waded into Toronto’s mayoral race, appearing to throw his support behind crime-focused candidates while calling out local councillors hoping to get the job. Despite promising early on to stay out of the byelection and saying that he will “work with any mayor,” Ford has made it clear that he hopes certain candidates are not chosen.
  • A decision on the possible future independence of cities within Peel Region will hopefully be made “very, very soon,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Thursday. Peel encompasses Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, and the region is responsible for services such as paramedics, health programs and recycling. Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark announced in November that he would appoint facilitators to assess six regional governments, including Peel Region, and look at the best mix of roles between upper-tier and lower-tier municipalities with an eye to expanding “strong mayor” powers beyond Toronto and Ottawa.
  • Asked when he told the province’s bureaucrats to look at the Greenbelt as part of the housing solution, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Friday he had not asked them to look at any specific area, but said that this area of the province was “a failed policy, a flawed policy,” from the previous Liberal government. He said he was a strong believer of not building on areas like marshes and ponds, and that they’ve added 2,000 acres to the Greenbelt, but added they would continue to build in the province to provide housing to new Ontarians.
  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford has strong words for two people who viciously assaulted a senior outside of a Toronto mosque on Wednesday. “People that want to discriminate, I have a recommendation: Get the heck out of the province. I don’t want you here,” Ford said after being asked about the incident at an unrelated news conference Friday morning. His comments come on the heels of a violent attack that was caught on surveillance video outside of the place of worship in Toronto’s east end.

Manitoba

  • A search for the remains of two First Nations women at a Winnipeg-area landfill could take up to three years and cost $184 million, says a study examining whether a successful search is possible. The study looked at the various scenarios and challenges that come with searching a landfill and concluded a canvass of the Prairie Green landfill is feasible. The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs held a news conference Friday to discuss the results and share next steps.
  • The Manitoba NDP’s plan to exclude out-of-province billionaires from receiving education property tax rebates is getting some pushback. On Monday, Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew told reporters that if the party is elected, it would keep the rebates and cut the number of recipients. He set his sights on a popular grocery chain as an example, claiming the provincial government gave a rebate of more than $300,000 to Loblaws — the company that owns stores like Real Canadian Superstore and No Frills. CBC News has not independently verified that figure.
  • The provincial government is making good on a pledge made last fall and plans to cover licensing fee costs over the next two years for physicians practising in Manitoba. The Progressive Conservative government will pick up the licensing tab for doctors between now and 2025, according to a news release on Thursday. Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon committed to spending $13 million reimbursing physicians as part of a $200-million “Health Human Resource Action Plan” aimed at health-care workforce recruitment and retention, which was announced in November.
  • A 15-storey health-care tower with a primary-care clinic, an after-hours walk-in clinic and a satellite facility for the Pan Am Clinic are part of a roughly $550-million plan to redevelop downtown Winnipeg’s Portage Place mall. True North Real Estate Development — which has an option to purchase the mall, the parkade below it and rights to build two new high-rise towers above it — is planning a radical makeover for the 36-year-old megaproject that would transform it into a downtown community campus.

Saskatchewan

  • Organizations that advocate for survivors of sexual violence are urging officials in Regina to do more after the city’s attempt to rebrand its tourism agency ended up re-traumatizing people.  “There should be action made, this shouldn’t just be brushed under the table,” said Kerrie Isaac, executive director of Sexual Assault Services of Saskatchewan (SASS). The provincial non-profit works with front-line workers and governments to provide education on sexual violence and support people affected. This week, SASS and its member agencies penned a letter to Regina’s mayor and city councillors calling for a public town hall.
  • Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman says it will soon be easier for foreign nurses to help alleviate shortages across the province. Until now, nurses from other countries required more than a year of extra training before they could work here. That is being reduced to 14 weeks. Merriman said some nurses from the Philippines have been going to Great Britain, where they could begin work immediately, and then making their way to Saskatchewan because the province recognizes British credentials.
  • A pair of Regina city councillors will have to wait at least a few more weeks before they find out the potential repercussions for a lawsuit they filed against the city manager. On Wednesday, the city council received a report from integrity commissioner Angela Kruk that said the two councillors’ actions violated the council’s code of ethics bylaw. Council was to decide how to proceed at Wednesday’s meeting.
  • Saskatchewan’s Opposition is calling on the provincial government to help offset higher grocery bills by removing what the NDP is calling a “snack tax.” In 2017, the provincial government added PST to snack foods, prepared meals at grocery stores, and restaurant meals. “We’re not talking about junk food. The Sask. Party snack tax affects the staples of any good school lunch or quick family dinner,” said Opposition NDP finance critic Trent Wotherspoon on at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Alberta

  • The Alberta Party’s candidate in Calgary Varsity has withdrawn from the May 29 election due to health concerns.
  • Alberta UCP Leader Danielle Smith says if elected her party would only continue with contracting surgeries to private facilities — not privatize acute care hospital operations.
  • The Alberta NDP is promising to build more hospitals, schools and light-rail transit lines in Calgary if the party is elected on May 29.
  • United Conservative Party Leader Danielle Smith was interrupted during a Thursday news conference in Calgary by a protester who was seen holding a placard and chanting ‘Hospitals are not for sale.’
  • Elections Alberta is keeping a close watch on the wildfire situation just in case it has to delay the provincial election in one of the constituencies impacted by wildfires. Fires in areas north and west of Edmonton have forced thousands of people to leave their homes over the past week. Parts of nine northern and central Alberta constituencies are currently subject to evacuation orders. 
  • The woman who’s looking to reclaim power in Canada’s energy heartland is pushing back against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s targets for cleaning up the oil and gas industry. Rachel Notley, who was the centre-left premier of Alberta from 2015 to 2019 and is running for the job again, said Trudeau’s plan for cutting the sector’s emissions by more than 40 percent by the end of the decade is too onerous.

British Columbia

  • The New Democrat government in British Columbia started the spring legislative session promising more affordable homes for vulnerable people but ended the sitting Thursday amid turmoil over its public housing agency. An Ernst and Young audit released Monday found mismanagement and risk to public dollars at the Crown corporation BC Housing and has the government facing sharp criticism as it left the legislature pledging tighter controls.
  • It took until the last question on the last day of the spring session of the B.C. legislature on Thursday for the NDP government to begin to admit that it was out of step with the public mood on open drug use. Premier David Eby suddenly opened the door to change on the issue, after spending weeks defending his government’s response to rising concerns about drug use in city parks, playgrounds, beaches and streets.
  • British Columbia Premier David Eby says he had a meeting with the regional director of Canada’s spy agency over allegations of foreign interference in the province’s elections. He says he was told he could not receive information because he’s not a “direct client” of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which he says he found “frustrating.”.

Northwest Territories

  • N.W.T. MLAs are reviewing some proposed changes to the territory’s Business Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC), including a possible name change. Other proposed amendments to the BDIC Act would see the use of gender-neutral language, and updating the roles and responsibilities for the minister responsible. The nine amendments were discussed at the public hearing in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday afternoon.
  • The risk of wildfires remains high in the southern part of the N.W.T., and the forecast is calling for more hot, windy weather in the days ahead. That makes for “a dangerous, truly extraordinary combination for this time of year,” according to an update from the N.W.T.’s Department of Environment and Climate Change (ECC).

Yukon

  • Ice jams on the Klondike River near Dawson City, Yukon, continue to cause trouble for local residents, with floodwaters forcing people from their homes, and closing the North Klondike Highway for a period. Emergency officials said Thursday they know of 32 residents whose properties have been evacuated. Those people have been put up in hotels in town. The North Klondike Highway was closed late on Wednesday and was reopened to one lane by Thursday morning, but emergency officials warned that things were still “dynamic.”

Nunavut

  • An arbitrator has ruled the Government of Nunavut’s Inuit Employment Plans don’t comply with the Nunavut Agreement, and neither do those of the federal government. In her ruling, Arbitrator Constance Hunt said the territorial government’s plans fall short in several aspects. Specifically, they fail to set out long-term goals for Inuit employment at the Government of Nunavut (GN) and action plans to achieve a fully representative workforce. 

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