Government of Alberta Releases 2-Stage Economic Recovery Strategy
Since our last edition, the government has released their ambitious two-stage Economic Recovery Strategy that includes a substantive plan to invest in infrastructure and diversify the economy, including dropping the corporate tax rate to 8 per cent. In March, the Premier convened an Economic Recovery Council to provide advice to the government as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and collapse in oil prices, with the Council completing their work June 18.
At a time when elected officials would normally be networking at Stampede or attending local parades and pancake breakfasts, the Legislature continues to sit. And, as often happens when MLAs stay gathered under the dome for too long, there are increased tensions between the UCP and NDP caucuses.
As of July 16, Alberta has 9,114 total cases of COVID-19, with 807 active cases, 8,142 recovered cases and 165 deaths. An outbreak at the Misericordia Hospital in Edmonton including seven deaths has resulted in the hospital closing its doors to new patients and cancelling all surgeries.
Below, you’ll find a summary of government legislation debated and introduced, key government announcements and Orders in Council.
Government Legislation Recap
Government of Alberta Announcements
- Landslides have forced the closure of two highways in northwest Alberta. Highways 64 and 743 are closed to traffic in both directions.
- An audit into the ARCHES supervised consumption site in Lethbridge has found serious financial mismanagement and as a result of its findings, the government will be ending its grant funding agreement with the organization.
- Eligible apprentices under the Apprentice Training Award will now receive $1,500 during their classroom instruction period, up from $1,000 offered when the program began in 2016.
- The province will fund an additional $3.35 million worth of capital maintenance and renewal work at Lethbridge College.
- Ambulance regulations have been updated in the province in order to provide more timely and appropriate access to emergency medical services by allowing stretcher vans and other vehicles to safely respond to non-urgent patient needs, keeping ambulances available for more critical situations.
- The GoA announced the building of five recovery communities for the holistic treatment of mental health and addiction. This will add 400 treatment beds to the province.
- Several measures are being taken in order to strengthen Indigenous participation in Alberta’s $1-billion Site Rehabilitation Program (SRP), including appointing an Indigenous liaison and establishing a working group.
- The Alberta Government is enhancing financial literacy in schools through grant partnerships with Enriched Academy and Junior Achievement.
- Residents of the Northwest Territories can now join the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry, increasing the number of potential donors and helping save lives.
- The government is seeking third party proposals to conduct a review of the Alberta response to the pandemic and enhance the province’s ability to respond to a potential second wave.
- Northern Lights Gas Co-op Ltd. has received a grant to construct a natural gas supply line to support Mackenzie County.
- The Premier released a statement on the Shell Quest Facility for reaching a carbon capture and storage milestone.
- The Alberta government has filed its statement of defence in response to the Alberta Medical Association’s statement of claim. The statement of defence outlines that the government implemented a new physician funding framework only after engaging in good faith, meaningful negotiations and consultation. The Health Minister has also released a fiery statement on physician compensation in the province and the AMA has run full page ads in the paper claiming their side of the story (with another statement in response from Shandro).
- Seniors and Housing Minister Josephine Pon has appointed 10 experts to an independent panel, led by MLA Mickey Amery, to conduct a review that will provide recommendations to transform affordable housing.The panel’s final report will be submitted to Minister Pon by September 30.
- $20 million is being provided by the GoA to upgrade the University of Lethbridge’s district heating and cooling centre, creating about 112 jobs in the Lethbridge area.
- A major new program to make Alberta a “petrochemicals powerhouse” has been announced. The Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program is part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, providing grants to companies to attract investment in new or expanded market-driven petrochemical facilities. The program will launch in early fall 2020.
- As part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, the government is investing up to $120 million to complete the expansion of Terwillegar Drive and upgrade other road infrastructure projects in southwest Edmonton.
- Former PC/UCP MLA Dave Rodney, who gave up his seat for Jason Kenney to run in a by-election, has been appointed as Houston agent general on a three-year assignment.
- Another 20 million masks are now available for distribution at Alberta fast food restaurants following the success of the first phase in June.
- Seven Albertans, including former Premier Ed Stelmach, are joining the Alberta Order of Excellence.
- Shovels are in the ground for the Alberta segment of the Keystone XL pipeline.
- Health Minister Tyler Shandro has ordered an independent third-party investigation into Alberta Health Services’ response to a racist act in 2016.
- Highway 3 between Taber and Burdett will be twinned over the 46-kilometre stretch beginning in 2021.
- Nurse practitioners will now be eligible to administer driver medical exams, expanding beyond the previous requirement of physicians completing them.
- Highway 40 in the Yellowhead Region will be widened over a 36-kilometre stretch with a price tag of $50 million.
- Overwhelmed parents of newborns will have one less antiquated step to take care of with the announcement of online registration for newborn’s birth information and to order birth certificates.
- The outdoor gathering limit has been increased from 100 to 200 for events like parades, festivals and fireworks.
- The Aboriginal Business Investment Fund has been created to provide eligible Indigenous community-owned businesses with up to $500,000 in funding for ventures that demonstrate social and economic benefits for their communities.
- The Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant of up to $5,000 has been created to offer financial assistance to Alberta businesses, cooperatives, and non-profit organizations impacted by COVID-19.
- Construction of Grande Prairie Hospital is now complete, a project that spanned the PC, NDP and now UCP governments. The hospital was handed over to AHS July 1.
- Alberta now offers asymptomatic COVID-19 testing at community pharmacies, making it easier for Albertans to access testing and help stop the spread. The pilot is at 20 community pharmacies located primarily in Edmonton and Calgary to ensure the flow of materials and data works well before expanding further.
- The contract for the final portion of the West Calgary Ring Road has been awarded to Calgary Safelink Partners for $277 million. Construction will get underway this summer on the south portion of the road, which is expected to be completed in 2024.
- The government has approved a disaster recovery program (DRP) for the cities of Calgary and Airdrie, and Rocky View County following a severe storm in early June.
- Alberta is investing $10 million into targeted serology testing to help track the spread of COVID-19 in the province. Alberta is the first province in Canada to make this targeted serology testing available.
- Environmental testing paused due to COVID-19 resumed on July 15, four weeks earlier than originally planned.
- Premier Kenney celebrated the announcement that Michels Canada will construct the Alberta portion of the Keystone XL pipeline with construction set to begin this summer near Oyen.
- Alberta is expanding the telehealth option to treat opioid use disorder and temporarily covering the costs of opioid treatment medications with an additional $4 million over years.
- Until August 10, Albertans are invited to provide their feedback on infrastructure planning while the government develops the Alberta Infrastructure Act and the government’s 20-year strategic capital plan.
- Premier Noah or Olivia are likely to be leading the province in 2050 with the annual release of the most popular baby names in Alberta. Other popular names for boys were Liam, Oliver, Ethan and Jack, while Charlotte, Sophia, Emma and Ava rounded out the top five names for girls.
- $200 million in grants have been awarded to municipalities to assist in upgrading local bridges, roads, community airports and to make improvements to water supply and treatment facilities.
Orders in Council
Upcoming Committee Meeting Dates
July 17, 2020
- Select Special Public Health Act Review Committee (Agenda)
July 20, 2020
- tanding Committee on Private Bills and Private Members’ Public Bills – Bill 204: Voluntary Blood Donations Repeal Act (Agenda)
July 21, 2020
- Standing Committee on Public Accounts – Ministry of Municipal Affairs (Agenda)