Alberta Phase 2 COVID-19 Plan, Government Announcements, and Legislation Recap

As mentioned in the last edition of the Roundup, the Alberta Legislature resumed “business as usual” sittings last Wednesday. The first day was devoted to a debate on the Alberta government’s COVID-19 response. Premier Jason Kenney disclosed that Alberta does not intend to extend the state of public health emergency when it lapses on June 15, a positive sign about the province’s handling of COVID-19. The Premier has also indicated that phase 2 of the province’s relaunch strategy will proceed, perhaps even on an accelerated timeline. It was also revealed that Alberta’s Auditor General will review Alberta’s response to the pandemic with initial findings being reported to the Legislature in the fall.

As of June 4, Alberta has 7,091 total cases of COVID-19 including 334 active cases, 6,611 recovered cases and 146 deaths.

New pieces of legislation were introduced by the UCP government and are outlined in detail below. The Premier also indicated that the Fair Deal Panel report can be expected after the public health emergency ends in mid June. To give a better sense of Alberta’s fiscal situation, an outline of the provincial economy recovery strategy will be presented in June, with a comprehensive fiscal update delivered in August and a full budget presented in February 2021. All three reports are sure to be full of red ink as a result of crashing energy prices, decreased tax revenue and social packages delivered to Albertans during the pandemic.

Below, you’ll find a recap of government Legislation, key announcements and Orders in Council made in the past week.

Government Legislation Recap

Bill 1: Critical Infrastructure Defence Act

Stage: Third Reading passed on division May 28

Bill 2: Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Amendment Act, 2020
Stage: Second Reading passed June 2

Bill 4: Fiscal Planning and Transparency (Fixed Budget Period) Amendment Act, 2020
Stage: Second Reading passed June 3

Bill 7: Responsible Energy Development Amendment Act, 2020
Stage: Second Reading passed June 1Notes: Bill 7 makes changes to the approval process for oil and gas projects in the province through giving government the power to set deadlines for the Alberta Energy Regulator. Maximum timelines aren’t included in the legislation, but would be set through regulation.

Bill 15: Choice in Education Act, 2020
Stage: Second Reading adjourned June 3
Notes: Bill 15, would protect and strengthen choice within Alberta’s education system through amendments to the Education Act. The legislation follows through on a campaign commitment from the UCP and is sure to be a major point of debate between the government and opposition NDP.

Bill 16: Victims of Crime (Strengthening Public Safety) Amendment Act, 2020
Stage: Second Reading adjourned June 4
Notes: If passed, Bill 16 would expand the scope of the Victims of Crime Fund to include public safety initiatives that deter crime to prevent victimization while continuing to provide supports to victims of serious crimes.

Bill 17: Mental Health Amendment Act, 2020
Stage: First Reading passed June 4
Notes: Alberta’s Mental Health Act currently allows for individuals with serious mental health disorders to be involuntarily detained for treatment. Proposed amendments in Bill 17 would strengthen the rights of patients. The amendments would also modernize the act and reduce red tape, providing for more timely and responsive care.

Bill 18: Corrections (Alberta Parole Board) Amendment Act, 2020
Stage: Second Reading passed June 2
Notes: Following through on a campaign commitment from the UCP, the legislation would result in the creation of the Alberta parole board.

Bill 19: Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Amendment Act, 2020
Stage: Second Reading passed June 3
Notes: The Act would make changes to the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act to further reduce the health harms associated with smoking and second-hand smoke, and in particular address the rising rates of youth vaping. The act proposes amendments that strengthen existing tobacco control measures and introduces aligned vaping provisions.

Bill 20: Real Estate Amendment Act, 2020
Stage: Second Reading adjourned June 4
Notes: Bill 20 continues the work started last fall with Bill 15, which addressed problems with the Real Estate Council of Alberta by dismissing the full council. The changes proposed in Bill 20 will allow for a restructuring of RECA to ensure greater transparency, increased accountability, and improved governance of the real estate regulator.

Bill 21: Provincial Administrative Penalties Act
Stage: First Reading passed June 4
Notes: Bill 21 would amend the Traffic Safety Act to give Alberta some of the strongest impaired driving penalties in the country. It would also create an administrative procedure that would be used for first time impaired driving offences and in the future traffic tickets and potentially other provincial regulatory contraventions.

Government of Alberta Announcements

Premier Kenney marked the 90th anniversary of National Resources Transfer Acts that transferred full control over natural resources from the federal government to the four Western provinces in 1930.
The Government of Alberta is establishing the Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee to provide recommendations on how Alberta can better assert areas of provincial jurisdiction while respecting law-abiding Albertans’ long history of responsible firearms ownership.
Twenty-six playground projects across Alberta that had not previously been funded will now move forward thanks to a boost of $5 million.
The government is committing $7.1 million to help build a new 75-space continuing care facility in the northwestern community of Hythe.
Do you want fries with that? Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced Friday morning that 20 million masks will be distributed for free to Albertans through A&W, McDonald’s and Tim Hortons locations across the province beginning in early June.
Residents of northern Alberta who were evacuated due to spring floods have until 5 p.m. on June 5 to apply for an emergency evacuation payment. To date more than 12,000 Albertans have accessed the funds.

Removal of red tape in partnership between the Government of Alberta and the CRA means Alberta businesses can now incorporate and get their federal business number and federal tax program account number in one easy step and use the number for both levels of government.
Changes made to Alberta’s Food Regulation will enable Albertans to sell low-risk home-prepared foods from home and at special events. Home-based businesses will not require food-handling permits or be subject to inspections for foods that present a low risk for food-borne illness.
A fire ban in the Forest Protection Area has been reduced to a fire advisory following much needed rainfall.
At a time when getting a haircut is a focus for many Albertans, the province has expanded the hairstylist apprenticeship program to include barber certification with condensed timelines.
A new survey was launched by government for tenants and landlords to gauge any challenges they may be experiencing while working together to develop a payment schedule, paying their rent, or meeting other financial obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Orders in Council

OC 164/2020: Appoints Stanley Church, Q.C., Patricia Henderson and Julie Stitt as members of the Alberta Agricultural Products Marketing Council, each for a term to expire on May 26, 2023, and designates Doug Sawyer as chair and Stanley Church, Q.C., as vice-chair of the Alberta Agricultural Products Marketing Council.

OC 165/2020: Renominates Daniel Heaney, Keith Leggat and Sandi Roberts as persons from among whom acting members of the Natural Resources Conservation Board may be selected, each for a term to expire on September 30, 2025.

OC 166/2020: Repeals a section of the Specified Enactments (Jurisdiction) Amendment Regulation regarding Exception of Officials’ Powers, Duties and Functions as it pertains to Environmental Protection and Enhancement Enactments and Water Enactments and replaces it with Remediation Regulation (AR 154/2009).

OC 167/2020: Approves the sale by the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission to Kota Contracting of certain land located within the City of St. Albert.

OC 168/2020, OC 170/2020: Proclaims the Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Amendment Act, 2020 in force on June 1, 2020 and makes the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service Amendment Regulation.

OC 169/2020: Makes changes to the Condominium Property Amendment Regulation, including uses of reserve funds during emergency.

OC 171/2020: Makes the Order annexing land from Lethbridge County to the Town of Picture Butte.

OC 172/2020: Proclaims the Liabilities Management Statutes Amendment Act, 2020 in force on June 15, 2020.

OC 173/2020: Authorizes the Minister of Energy, on behalf of the Crown in right of Alberta, to enter into an Assignment and Novation Agreement with 1333002 Alberta Ltd., as successor in interest to Dominion Exploration Canada, Ltd., Baytex Energy Ltd. and Canadian Natural Resources Limited, respecting the Alberta Lindbergh Crown Agreement.

OC 174/2020: In alignment with Bill 12 passed earlier this session, delegates powers, duties and functions to the Alberta Oil and Gas Orphan Abandonment and Reclamation Association.

OC 175/2020: Makes the Nursing Homes General Amendment Regulation to make permanent changes expanding the role of nurse practitioners in nursing homes, effective August 15, 2020.

OC 176/2020: Appoints Joshua Gogo and Jamie Hotte as members of the Automobile Insurance Rate Board, each for a term to expire on May 31, 2023, and reappoints Jay Jeworski as a member of the Automobile Insurance Rate Board for a term to expire on July 22, 2023.

Our New West Public Affairs team has worked hard to adjust to this ‘new normal’ as well as we can. We have implanted work from home procedures and are in constant contact with those making real time policy decisions in this unprecedented time.

We have been providing comprehensive, daily updates on COVID-19’s impact here in Alberta and across the country, how orders of government are responding, and most importantly, how to effectively advocate in this environment.

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