CSG Weekly Review- June 1, 2018

Posted by | July 12, 2018 | News

Session Schedule & Activities

  • 11 months until expected provincial election
  • Spring session of the Legislature is scheduled to conclude Thursday June 7, 2018.

Government News and Announcements

Federal Government Buys Trans Mountain
On Tuesday Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that the Federal Government will buy Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and all Kinder Morgan’s core Canadian assets for $4.5 billion. This would include the 2130 km pipeline, pumping stations, the marine terminal in Burnaby and rights of way between Edmonton and Vancouver.

Until the sale is finalized, likely in August, Kinder Morgan will proceed with work and then the federal government will take over. Morneau has said ultimately once market conditions allow for a fair sale the government will look for a buyer for the $7.4 billion project.

Additionally, the Government of Alberta will provide up to $2 billion to cover any unforeseen costs if needed, that would be payable once oil flows through the expansion. Any funds given by the Government of Alberta will result in the province getting an equity stake in return for the investment. Premier Rachel Notley is pleased the project now has the strong support of the federal government and said this deal met her three conditions: immediate resumption of construction; concrete guarantees of project completion; and the people of Alberta getting value for investing any funds.

Premier of BC John Horgan has said this decision does not change his opposition to the project and his court reference case on jurisdiction of what flows through pipelines will continue. Additionally, other groups in opposition to the pipeline including the Union of BC Indian Chiefs have said they will continue to protest its construction.

Doctor’s Compensation Deal Details Released
Last month Alberta Health and the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) announced a compensation deal had been reached for two years. Recently the AMA ratified the agreement with 89% support from doctors. According to the AMA President about 30% of Alberta’s doctors participated in the vote, which is similar to votes on previous agreements.

Under the two-year deal, doctors will receive no fee increases, however two key programs will continue until the spring of 2021, a year after the compensation deal is set to expire and negotiations have begun on a new deal. These programs are the Rural and Remote Northern program (which provides additional funds to Doctors in small communities) and the Business Costs Initiative (which helps community physicians with overhead). One benefit program that will end is the retention benefit which paid doctors between $5000-$12000 each year as an incentive to stay in the province.

New Occupational Health and Safety Laws Come into Force
Last December, Bill 30, An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans was passed, and the law came into force on June 1, 2018. This is the first time in 40 years Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Laws (OHS) have been updated. Changes impact the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Workers now have three new rights: the right to refuse dangerous work, to know potential hazards and participate in their health and safety. Other changes

  • Joint work site health and safety committees will be required for work sites with 20 or more workers, while worker health and safety representatives will be needed for work sites with five to 19 workers.
  • The creation of an independent medical panel office so injured workers have access to an impartial, independent decision-making body to resolve medical issues that affect their right to compensation.

Province Cuts Pay for Superintendents
The province has announced there will be new rules for school superintendent salaries that will see 10% cuts impacting 67 of 74 superintendent contracts in the province. Education Minister David Eggen had previously indicated that changes would be coming, and the province was reviewing compensation. The review found benefits in some contracts, ranging from gym memberships to post-secondary tuition payments and one contract with $25,000 per year in an “executive compensation” fund — money that could be withdrawn as cash, or go to an RRSP or Health Spending

The changes amount to $1.5 million in cuts.

Government Legislation

The following details status updates on key pieces of legislation as of May 18, 2018

Bill 2 — Growth and Diversification Act (Hon. Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade)

This legislation will create 3,000 new spaces for technology programs in Alberta’s colleges, polytechnics and universities through a $43 million-dollar commitment. An additional $7 million (over 5 years) will be allocated for a scholarship program focused on encouraging women to join the sector.

  • Passed committee of the whole on May 30, now awaiting third reading.

Bill 5 — An Act to Strengthen Financial Security for Persons with Disabilities (Hon. Irfan Sabir), Minister of Social Services)

This act would amend current Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped legislation (AISH) to enable families, guardians and AISH recipients to set up trusts to provide for persons with disabilities without impacting their eligibility for the program.

  • Passed third reading on May 30, 2018.

Bill 6 — Gaming and Liquor Statutes Amendment Act, 2018 (Hon. Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice)

This bill introduces amendments to the Gaming and Liquor Act in preparation for the legalization cannabis and gives the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) the tools to oversee and enforce the cannabis market.

  • Passed third reading on May 30, 2018.

Bill 9 — Protecting Choice for Women Accessing Health Care Act (Hon. Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health)

This bill establishes a 50 meter “access zone” at Alberta’s two non-hospital abortion clinics- Kensington Clinic in Calgary and Woman’s Health Options in Edmonton

  • Passed third reading on May 30, 2018.

Bill 11 — Lobbyists Amendment Act, 2018 (Hon. Christina Gray, Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal)

This bill introduces several changes aimed at strengthening the rules that regulate lobbying activity to enhance transparency.

  • Passed third reading on May 30, 2018.

Bill 12— Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act (Hon. Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, Minister of Energy)

This bill enables the province to restrict the export of natural gas, crude oil and refined fuels across its borders.

  • Received Royal Assent on May 14, 2018 and came into force on May 14, 2018.

Bill 13 — An Act to Secure Alberta’s Electricity Future ($) (Hon. Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, Minister of Energy)

This act empowers the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) to penalize electricity and natural gas service providers for breaches of customer service.

  • Currently in committee of the whole as of May 31, 2018.

Bill 14 — An Act to Empower Utility Consumers (Hon. Stephanie McLean, Minister of Service Alberta)

This bill expands the mandate of the Alberta Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA) to allow consumers to resolve disputes with utility bills.

  • Passed third reading on May 31, 2018.

Bill 16 — Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Statutes Amendment Act, 2018 (Hon. Christina Gray, Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal)

This bill aims to prevent associated political parties from using a multi-party structure to collude with one another to bypass the legal spending limit of $2 million during elections and by-elections. The legislation also increases fines for parties that exceed the limit to $100,000 from $10,000 and doubles the penalties for candidates, nomination contestants and CFOs to $10,000

  • Passed third reading on May 31, 2018.

Political News

United Conservative Party Begins Nominations
The United Conservative Party has begun to open nominations across the province in anticipation of the 2019 election. Seven nominations are now open in various ridings, the first two opened on May 22 with the most recent opening on May 30th. Once a nomination is opened contestants have 14 days to submit nominations packages to the party to compete in the race. Following the close of nominations if there is only one contestant they will be acclaimed as the candidate. If there are multiple candidates a nomination event must be held within a period of 21-28 calendar days following the close of nominations.

Applications must be accompanied by the signatures of 50 party members who reside in the constituency. Applicants must also provide:

  • A $500 application fee to the United Conservative Party;
  • A $500 application fee to the UCP Constituency Association; and
  • An additional $1000 refundable performance deposit

Current nomination races:

  • Cardston-Siksika * Incumbent MLA Grant Hunter
  • Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville
  • Calgary-Edgemont * Incumbent Prasad Panda
  • Calgary Hays * Incumbent MLA Ric McIver
  • Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills * Incumbent MLA Nathan Cooper
  • Cypress- Medicine Hat * Incumbent MLA Drew Barnes
  • Edmonton-Gold Bar

Alberta Weekly Review- 06-01-18 Weekly Review