Session Schedule & Activities
- Fall session is scheduled to begin October 30.
- United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership vote on October 28.
Government of Alberta News & Announcements
- Joe Ceci, President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Finance announced Tuesday that the province will appeal the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) panel decision earlier this month on the Alberta Small Brewers Development Program. The panel ruled that the government needed to repeal or amend measures in the program including graduated beer mark-ups and a rebate program that benefits specifically Alberta’s smaller brewers as they violated the national trade agreement.
- The first quarter fiscal update and economic statement was released this week and the Alberta government has forecast the economy will grow by 3.1% in 2017, an increase from Budget 2017 estimates of 2.6%. At the same time lower than expected revenues, including nonrenewable resource revenue $377 million less than budgeted, led the government to use $250 million of the budgeted $500 million risk adjustment. Personal income tax revenue is also forecast to be $312 million lower than budgeted. Despite the revenue drop the government continues to maintain the $10.5 billion deficit forecast in Budget 2017.
- Minister of Justice Kathleen Ganley announced the government is launching community consultations with 100 community groups about their interactions with police and street checks to help the province draft a provincial guideline. Groups will have six weeks to respond.
- UCP Leadership candidate Brian Jean earned the endorsement of three more former WRUCP MLAs this week bringing his total to eleven. Jason Kenney has the endorsement of four UCP MLAs who were elected as WR.
- The Alberta Advantage Party, formed by former Wildrose party members, will have its first AGM on October 21. The party is not yet formally registered with Elections Alberta but the name has been reserved.
- The UCP application to participate in the September 3 Calgary Pride parade was denied by organizers as the organization does not yet have a clear policy on LGBTQ issues and they were not able to complete the 3-hour training workshop that is recommended at the Calgary Sexual Health Centre. UCP members were invited to attend the parade as spectators. In response, the UCP board of directors has passed a motion affirming the boards support of LGBTQ Albertans. Calgary Pride announced in July they would not have uniformed police offers take part in the parade due to “potentially negative association” from “historical oppression”.
MLA Expense Inquiry’s Continue
In the wake of the expense issues raised by former UCP MLA Derek Fildebrant, all parties in the Alberta legislature have been conducting internal audits of their member’s expenses and looking for any instances in which doubling filings may have occurred due to error. To date MLAs from both the government caucus and the UCP caucus have had instances when amounts of less than $600 were double billed and in all cases the MLAs have reimbursed the Crown.
MLAs can either claim a receipt when traveling on business or a per diem. Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark has also called for an overall examination of the procedures and rules around MLA expenditures.
New Dental Fee Guide Released
Late last week the Alberta Dental Association and College released its first new fee guide since 1997. Both the province and the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association have commented that the recommended prices in the guide represent just a three percent reduction from average current rates being charged and the province is currently 26-32% higher than in other provinces. The new guide is also not mandatory so it is unclear what impact it may have on how dentists set prices.
Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman said publically she was not satisfied with the new guide and would like the group to “get back to the drawing board”. Hoffman also hinted she would be willing to use the powers granted to her as Minister under the Health Professions Act to impose new regulations on dentists to ensure the rates are more affordable. Additionally, there has been increased pressure on the province split up the Association and College into two separate entities as is the case with many other health related professions.
- Edmonton City Council voted to create a draft Access Without Fear policy that will prevent city staff from asking for or sharing information on immigration status to ensure basic services can be accessed by residents with few documents. The policy was draft in response to community agencies who said the new federal four-year cap for temporary foreign work permits means more permits are being denied and as a result more families, with children born in Canada, are afraid to access services. According to estimates Edmonton has 10,000 to 25,000 undocumented immigrants. The policy will come back for final approval in the new year.
- Edmonton City Council endorsed a new 10-week paid parental leave policy for new parents in hopes of increasing diversity on council. Currently there is only one women, Councillor Bev Esslinger, on the thirteen-person council. New parents will also be able to take up to 26 weeks of full or part time leave and receive compensation. It would be required they work with colleges and the city clerk’s office to arrange for cover off their duties. The policy will apply for male or female councilors who give birth or adopt a child. The policy will go to a vote on Tuesday and if approved will take effect after the new MGA changes take effect later this fall.