Provincial and Territorial Update – November 10, 2023

An overview of the Provincial and Territories Legislative Updates for the week of November 3 - 10, 2023.

New Brunswick

  • Support workers wait for N.B. government to fix wage ‘mistake’. Human service counsellors missed out on pay top-up in March budget. Those in the public sector are covered by collective agreements and earn higher wages. But those employed by community non-profit agencies — organizations contracted by the province to provide services on their behalf — get a much lower, locked-in rate of pay.

  • Interest in calling a snap election this fall by Premier Blaine Higgs may have faded but the bills from floating the idea for several weeks are still coming in and may eventually surpass $1 million. “When we have all the information, the [chief electoral officer] will make it public,” said Elections New Brunswick’s director of communications, Paul Harpelle, in an email to CBC News about what it spent for the fall election that never came.

  • A judge has reserved a decision in an application by the province to have a $2 million payout to the fired head of Horizon Health Network quashed. Lawyers for the province argued Wednesday in the Court of King’s Bench of Saint John that either the labour arbitrator’s decision in the case of Dr. John Dornan should be thrown out or the grievance should be sent to another arbitrator.

  • A coroner’s jury has made 10 recommendations to try to prevent deaths similar to Lexi Daken’s. The 16-year-old Fredericton-area girl died by suicide within days of being turned away from the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in February 2021. Testimony at the inquest into Daken’s death wrapped up Wednesday morning, and the jury of three women and two men began deliberations before noon.

Nova Scotia

  • Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Amanda McDougall says she’s angry over the way CBRM has been treated by the Nova Scotia government during the passage of the Municipal Reform Act. McDougall was in the legislature on Thursday, where she heard Municipal Affairs Minister John Lohr call CBRM’s opposition to the bill a “distraction” and said he and his staff would meet CBRM officials to offer suggestions on better financial management.

  • Nova Scotia’s housing minister has suggested streamlining development bylaws across every municipality to speed up new housing. John Lohr, also minister of municipal affairs, made the comment Thursday during a question-and-answer session with municipal leaders at the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities conference in Halifax.

  • The debate over whether Nova Scotia should join a class-action suit against opioid manufacturers took a deeply emotional turn in the provincial legislature in Halifax this week as MLAs shared their personal experiences with the public. The comments were part of the final debate on amendments to the Opioid Damages and Healthcare Costs Recovery Act introduced by Health Minister Michelle Thompson last month. The bill was unanimously approved by MLAs.

  • Nova Scotia’s Auditor General Kim Adair is looking at what the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia did when it discovered a staffer had stolen thousands of dollars in party funds two years ago. The AG’s website says the report will outline the auditor general’s work on the “unauthorized disbursements” listed in the Nova Scotia Liberal Party’s 2021 financial statements. That report will be the first official accounting of the theft, the party’s efforts to recover the money and the cost of its internal investigation.

Prince Edward Island

  • Prince Edward Islanders who heat their homes with oil will pay 19 cents a litre less as of Friday afternoon after the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission applied the removal of the federal fuel charge to prices in the province. That means retailers on the Island can charge a maximum of just under $1.42 per litre for home heating oil. The news came just after 4 p.m. AT, in a statement from IRAC.

  • P.E.I.’s Green Party is seeking clarity about what constitutes a reasonable return on a landlord’s investment in rental properties, while also recommending legislative changes it says would give landlords more insight into a property’s financial risk. The province’s Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) says that when it falls to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission to approve a requested rent increase, one of the factors includes “the expectation of the landlord to have a reasonable return on the landlord’s capital investment.

  • Progressive Conservative Jamie Fox is resigning as the MLA for Borden-Kinkora, the P.E.I. electoral district he has represented since 2015. He announced his decision at the P.E.I. Legislative Assembly Friday afternoon, saying the resignation will be effective after Remembrance Day ceremonies in his district. “It is a privilege being elected to this chamber three times, and having the opportunity to work with each and every one of you,” Fox told the legislature.

  • P.E.I.’s housing minister says the delay in setting up and servicing an emergency shelter for Summerside is because staff are trying to avoid the problems that have been haunting the government in Charlottetown. That comment came as Rob Lantz responded to questions in the legislature Wednesday from interim Liberal Leader Hal Perry, who had asked whether facilities similar to the Community Outreach Centre will be set up in communities across the Island.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Construction is finished on the new Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook — 17 years after it was promised — and the next step is moving in. The build officially began in August 2019 with a $750-million contract awarded through a public-private partnership. Teara Freake, chief operating officer and vice-president of Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services’ Western zone, called it a “remarkable day” for the region’s residents, as well as the health authority’s staff and clinicians.

  • Newfoundland and Labrador consumer advocate Dennis Browne says he plans to fight Newfoundland Power over its proposed rate increases — a move he says is driven by a desire for profit. For its part, the St. John ‘s-based utility says Browne has his facts wrong. On Thursday it was announced that Newfoundland Power is looking for permission for a 1.5 percent increase to electricity bills effective July 1, followed by another 5.5 percent increase the following July. The proposed increases would apply to both residential and commercial customers.

  • Avalon MP says he’s received death threats after being accused of giving middle finger in House. Speaker Greg Fergus couldn’t determine if the gesture was made in bad nature. Avalon MP Ken McDonald says he’s received death threats since being accused of giving the middle finger in the House on Monday.

  • The dust is beginning to settle after the government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced a new poverty reduction plan Wednesday, and advocates say the proof will be in the fine details of the plan, which are expected to roll out over the next few years. Wednesday’s announcement promised more funding for crucial social programs such as Newfoundland and Labrador child benefit payments and boosts to income support benefits — but advocates have concerns about the thresholds that people have to meet to qualify.

Quebec

  • The Legault government calls the shooting of two Jewish schools in Montreal(opens in a new tab) terrorism and is not ruling out banning demonstrations linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The incidents occurred overnight Wednesday into Thursday and the political class vigorously condemned the crimes while calling for calm. “This is a form of terrorism,” said Education Minister Bernard Drainville during a press scrum at the Quebec legislature Thursday morning.

  • The Legault government has refused Quebec City’s latest plan for its long-awaited tramway project. Quebec City Mayor Bruno Marchand met with Premier François Legault Wednesday to present an $8.4-billion Plan B to complete the tramway project, with the city as a prime contractor and the province covering 50 percent of the costs. This came after the city put an end to the call for tenders when the only remaining bidder was unable to submit a financial proposal for the project due to a lack of funding.

  • The federal and provincial governments will each invest $900 million over the next four years to accelerate housing construction in Quebec, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier François Legault confirmed Thursday. Trudeau said the deal was unique in the country because a province is matching the federal funding on offer. The provincial government had said it would match $900 million from the federal government’s housing accelerator fund in an economic update Tuesday.

  • Quebec Premier François Legault is asking the police to intervene after a Montreal imam made alleged calls to hatred and violence. During a demonstration in support of Palestine last month, Imam Adil Charkaoui, who is already known to police, reportedly prayed unequivocally to God to “take care” of the Israelis. “God, take care of the aggressor Zionists,” he declared, according to a translation obtained by The Canadian Press. “Make sure you don’t leave one.” Legault expressed his indignation in a press scrum on Tuesday afternoon, saying, “It’s clear that this is “incitement to hatred, to violence.”

Ontario

  • In Sudbury on Thursday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced $4.1 million for five mining supply and services projects in northeastern Ontario from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. The NOHFC provides money for projects aimed at stimulating growth, job creation and skills development. “These investments will support our province’s growing mining industry and help build up our home-grown electric vehicle and battery supply chain,” Ford said in a news release.

  • Premier Doug Ford described local demonstrations in support of Palestinians in Gaza as “hate rallies” since Israel declared war on Hamas following a terrorist attack that killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, last month. The premier, who also shared his commitment to combatting anti-Semitism through education, made the comments at the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Spirit of Hope Gala in Toronto on Nov. 2. Dame Helen Mirren was presented the 2023 Humanitarian Award.

  • In its attempts to make more land available for housing, Premier Doug Ford’s government is threatening the viability of land where hundreds of thousands of people work, the Toronto Region Board of Trade says in a new report. The report, entitled The Race For Space, looks at what is called “employment lands” – areas exclusively zoned for factories, warehouses, offices, big institutional employers and commercial buildings.

  • Two contenders for the Ontario Liberal leadership are banding together to urge their supporters to put the other as a second choice in a bid to stop Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie from finishing at the top of the pack. Liberal MP and former provincial cabinet minister Yasir Naqvi and Liberal MP Nate Erskine-Smith announced Thursday that they have an agreement to ask supporters to select each other as their number two choice and also to co-ordinate election weekend get-out-the-vote efforts.

Manitoba

  • Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Premier Wab Kinew shared a podium in Winnipeg Thursday morning but sidestepped questions about Manitoba’s request for a carbon-tax exemption for natural gas home heating. Freeland and Kinew announced $476 million in combined federal-provincial funding to upgrade Manitoba Hydro’s 112-year-old Pointe du Bois generating station on the Winnipeg River and build a new east-west transmission line across southern Manitoba.

  • Clean energy experts say it makes no sense for Manitoba’s new government to tout hydrogen as a solution to the province’s growing energy needs — and are questioning other aspects of the NDP’s decarbonization plans. Throughout Manitoba’s provincial election campaign and since he became premier, Wab Kinew has stressed the need to invest in hydrogen production in Manitoba.

  • Tom Lindsey, Flin Flon’s representative in the Manitoba Legislature, never thought he’d be an MLA — but now, he’s the member responsible for keeping all of his colleagues in line. On Thursday, Lindsey was acclaimed to the non-partisan role of Speaker of the House. The NDP MLA for the northern Manitoba riding of Flin Flon let his name stand for the prestigious posting, after a conversation with Premier Wab Kinew. He was the lone nominee for the post. “He did talk to me about it to see if I’d be interested,” Lindsey said. “What the heck, let’s give it a whirl and see how it goes.”

  • Representatives from Winnipeg Jewish organizations say antisemitic graffiti spray-painted in a pedestrian underpass — including swastikas, an SS insignia and a Star of David with a line through it — is saddening and sickening. The graffiti on the walkway under Fermor Avenue near Niakwa Park was cleaned up by the City of Winnipeg crews on Wednesday afternoon but was still visible as late as Wednesday morning. It had been there since at least Sunday, according to people CBC spoke with.

Saskatchewan

  • The Saskatchewan government is to spend up to $765,000 on an event space at a global climate conference in Dubai. An order made public this week includes the price tag for the pavilion at the COP28 conference later this month in the United Arab Emirates. The cost, which doesn’t include travel, appears to be the Saskatchewan Party government’s largest trip expense ever. The province has said the total cost has yet to be finalized.

  • A shortage of paramedics, crowded hospitals and other factors are to blame for the recent gaps in ambulance service in Saskatchewan, says one healthcare official. In more than 1,100 instances since February, people who called for an ambulance were told none was available, according to data obtained by the province’s NDP Opposition. Those numbers don’t include Saskatoon and other communities that have different ambulance providers.

  • Northern Sask. communities plagued by high crime rates are trying to stifle the violence. Sask. North’s crime rate is among the worst in Canada. Pelican Narrows has been under a state of emergency for about a year because of high crime rates. It’s one of many communities in northern Saskatchewan struggling with substance addiction and violent crime.

  • People in Saskatchewan must now be 19 years old to legally buy tobacco and vaping products after the provincial government passed legislative changes Wednesday. Health Minister Everett Hindley tabled Bill 147, the Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act, in the legislative assembly Wednesday. The bill raised the minimum legal age from 18 to 19 and further clarified previously existing conditions around advertising such products. “This is an important day to address youth smoking and vaping rates in our province,” Hindley told reporters at the legislature Wednesday.

Alberta

  • Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is stripping her province’s health authority of the power to formulate policy, allocate funding and make other major decisions – and shifting those responsibilities to the government. Alberta Health Services, which oversees and delivers care across the province, accumulated power thanks to a creeping mandate, Ms. Smith told reporters Wednesday. The governing United Conservative Party’s shakeup of the province’s health care system will rectify this, the Premier said, as she unveiled her plan alongside some of her ministers a day after some details in a leaked document were made public.

  • Alberta’s Opposition leader is calling on Premier Danielle Smith to dump the province’s multimillion-dollar ad campaign touting the benefits of quitting the Canada Pension Plan. NDP Leader Rachel Notley says the $7.5-million advertising and engagement campaign is rife with false facts and coupled with a delusional demand that the province is owed half the assets of the CPP on its way out the door.

  • An American right-wing political commentator is set to have a conversation with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith in January when he’s scheduled to speak in Calgary. Tucker Carlson, who was fired by Fox News in April, is scheduled to appear at a luncheon at the Telus Convention Centre on Jan. 24. An itinerary posted on Carlson’s website said he will make remarks, before being interviewed by a local businessman and then having a conversation with Smith. The premier’s office confirmed Tuesday that Smith will attend the event in Calgary.

  • Alberta is proposing legislation to make it easier to change dollar limits and rules surrounding gifts for elected officials. It’s a move the Opposition NDP calls a self-serving ploy by Premier Danielle Smith’s United Conservative government to better position itself on the receiving end of perks. Currently, non-monetary gifts to politicians are capped at $200, and elected officials can accept tickets from any one source up to $400 a year.

British Columbia

  • Some B.C. mayors are frustrated by Premier David Eby’s support for legislation that would stop Ottawa from giving housing cash directly to municipalities. The mayors of Burnaby and Surrey say they desperately need more funding for housing and infrastructure to support growing populations and the province shouldn’t meddle if Ottawa is willing to provide that money.

  • The premier of British Columbia was in St. John’s Tuesday to sign a commitment to work with Newfoundland and Labrador to advance green energy solutions. David Eby and Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey signed what was described as a statement of cooperation with green energy in mind. The three-year partnership involves sharing information to help advance projects, accelerating hydrogen and wind energy development, and working with the federal government to stimulate private investment among other points.

  • British Columbia’s Green Leader Sonia Furstenau says she fired her deputy for liking a social media post that compared provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to Josef Mengele, an infamous Nazi doctor who experimented on concentration camp victims during the Second World War. She said Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi’s actions were “unacceptable” and she had also accepted his resignation as the Green candidate in the 2024 B.C. election in the newly formed provincial riding of Vancouver-Renfrew.

  • B.C. Premier David Eby voiced his frustrations over a lack of communication with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday and outlined the impacts it could have on planning and funding for housing issues. The first minister’s meeting wrapped up on Monday with premiers threatening to pass legislation preventing Ottawa from making housing and infrastructure deals directly with cities. Eby says Canada’s premiers haven’t sat down with Trudeau face-to-face in a meeting since 2018. As he explains, there were Zoom calls about COVID through that gap, but there hasn’t been enough since.

Northwest Territories

  • Internet and TV service is down in Yellowknife and some other N.W.T. communities, according to Northwestel. The telecommunications disruption began around 1 p.m. on Friday. The company suspects it’s been caused by damage to the fibre infrastructure. It’s affecting Yellowknife, Behchoko, Whati and Fort Providence. Northwestel spokesperson Andrew Anderson said phone and cellular service is still working, but the system is heavily congested.

Yukon

  • Yukon Energy officials say the utility will be hard-pressed to produce enough renewable power to meet the territory’s emissions targets. Under terms of the government’s Confidence and Supply Agreement, the territory’s climate change plans call for emissions to drop 45 percent by 2030. But the utility also forecasts that overall non-industrial demand for power will grow by 36 percent over the same time. Hitting emissions targets requires widespread electrification, especially for the energy-intensive transportation and home heating sectors. And if that power isn’t coming from renewable sources, it won’t help bring emissions down nearly as much.

  • Yukon Party health critic Brad Cathers says the Liberal government is suppressing a report on financial management at the Yukon Hospital Corporation. And he’s accusing Premier Ranj Pillai of violating the territory’s access to information law in the process. “Now that the report is done, for some reason, he really doesn’t want the Official Opposition to see it,” Cathers said of Pillai. “And so far they have refused to release it, even though that should be public information.”

Nunavut

  • Healthcare workers in the Government of Nunavut will see wage increases and retention bonuses, among other perks, in a new agreement the government is hoping will build up staffing. The Government of Nunavut and the Nunavut Employees Union signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Iqaluit on Friday with measures to boost the recruitment and retention of health-care staff. The agreement comes amid a shortage of nurses and health-care staff across Nunavut, as well as a rotation of health centre closures and reductions in communities.

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