Keystone-XL, Coal Leases, Vaccines and COVID-19


Some bad news came for Alberta’s long term fiscal sustainability this week with President Joe Biden cancelling the permit for the Keystone-XL pipeline on his first day in office. Premier Kenney has issued a statement following a phone call with the Prime Minister and written a subsequent letter with calls for economic retaliation and compensation to TC Energy and the Government of Alberta for billions spent already on the project. The call for economic retaliation reportedly received support from the Premiers of Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. The UCP government agreed to a $1.5 billion equity investment in 2020 followed by a $6 billion loan guarantee in 2021 touting the construction jobs and increased stable supply once the pipeline was operational.

Minister of Energy Sonya Savage issued a statement on the decision to cancel 11 recently issued coal leases and pause any future coal lease sales in former Category 2 lands following heightened attention from the public.

The UCP caucus has been reduced in size by one with the removal of embattled Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn after he was accused by municipal politicians from being absent in the riding and also taking a trip to Mexico over Christmas break. He will sit as the only independent in the Legislature when the House resumes with Budget Day on February 25 and will not be permitted to run for a UCP nomination in the future. Rehn will also pay back unauthorized meal expenses submitted after admitting they were an error.

A relaxing of certain COVID-19 restrictions have taken effect following a steady decrease in transmission in the province. Outdoor gatherings for up to 10, personal and wellness services by appointment only and funeral attendance being increased to 20 were brought in Monday. Provincial and regional trends will continue to be monitored and assessed over the coming weeks to determine if further easing of restrictions may be considered. The easing of restrictions stands in stark contrast to Ontario which began a stay-at-home-order last week.

As of January 21, Alberta has 10,256 active COVID-19 cases with 678 new cases, 726 in hospital, 119 in intensive care and 1,500 deaths. COVID-19 units have been added to the vaccine priority list but vaccines are in short supply as the Pfizer vaccine gets delayed further with only one-fifth of the vaccine promised from the company being delivered the first week of February. You can read New West Principal Monte Solberg’s thoughts on the vaccine rollout here.

Government of Alberta Announcements

  • Alberta’s government is expanding its relaunch grant to ensure new businesses have access to the supports they need. By expanding applications to businesses that started operating between March 1 and October 31, 2020, up 5,000 more Alberta businesses will be eligible for this funding.
  • Language describing case numbers of COVID-19 in schools is being updated based on feedback from education partners so that one to four cases in a school will be called an alert, while five or more will be called an outbreak (removing the term watch from the vernacular).
  • Minister of Energy Sonya Savage issued a statement on the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ projected 2021 energy sector capital investment increase of almost $3.4 billion.
  • Nominations are open for the Alberta Order of Excellence with the deadline for 2021 submissions being February 15.
  • Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer issued a statement on December’s job numbers which saw Alberta have a reduction in part time employment but an increase of 30,000 full time jobs.
  • A contract has been awarded to PCL Construction to build the South Bow River Bridge in Calgary with the contract being touted for coming in under the previously anticipated cost by $10 million.

Orders in Council

OC 1/2021: Appoints Cabinet Minister Rebecca Schulz and MLA Nate Horner as members of the Treasury Board, removing MLAs Jason Stephan and Tracy Allard.

OC 2/2021: Effective January 18, 2021, appoints former Sergeant-At-Arms Brian Hodgson as a member of the Council of the Alberta Order of Excellence for a term to expire on December 31, 2023.

OC 3/2021: Appoints Shannon Marchand as Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry; appoints Cynthia Farmer as Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services; appoints Andre Tremblay as Deputy Minister of Education; appoints David James as Deputy Minister of Service Alberta and appoints Stephanie Clarke as Associate Deputy Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity.

OC 4/2021: Orders that the transaction under which the fee simple interest in certain land is acquired by Can-Tex Western Land ULC is, for the purpose of settling an estate, excluded from the operation of the Foreign Ownership of Land Regulations, except for sections 22 and 25.

OC 5/2021: Orders that the transaction under which Viterra Inc. or any affiliate of Viterra Inc. acquires the fee simple interest in certain land for the construction of a loop track and upgrades to a grain elevator facility is excluded from the operation of the Foreign Ownership of Land Regulations, except for sections 22 and 25.

OC 6/2021: Orders that the transaction under which fee simple interests in certain lands are acquired by Sandra Constance Craig and by Elizabeth Patricia Homes is, for estate planning purposes, excluded from the operation of the Foreign Ownership of Land Regulations, except for sections 22 and 25.

OC 7/2021: Makes the Franchises (Expiry Date Extension) Amendment Regulation extending the expiry to November 30, 2023.

OC 8/2021: Makes the Metric Conversion (Expiry Date Repeal) Amendment Regulation repealing the expiry from the regulation.

OC 9/2021: Appoints Dr. Margaret Rourke as a member of the Alberta Review Board for a term to expire on January 19, 2024, and appoints Dr. Theresa Girvin as a member of the Alberta Review Board for a further term to expire on January 19, 2024.

OC 10/2021: Makes the Justice of the Peace (2017 Compensation Commission Report) Amendment Regulation.

OC 11/2021: Makes the Mediation Rules of the Provincial Court – Civil Division Amendment Regulation outlining processes for mediation in provincial court.

OC 12/2021: Makes the Procedures Amendment Regulation to include language regarding First Nation bylaws.

OC 13/2021: Makes the Land Use (Expiry Date Extension) Amendment Regulation extending the expiry to May 31, 2024.

OC 14/2021: Reappoints Garth Rowswell, MLA, as a member of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities for a term to expire on May 31, 2023; appoints Michaela Glasgo, MLA, as a member of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities for a term to expire on May 31, 2023.

OC 15-17/2021: Extends the expiry of rules and forms related to the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, Children First Act and Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act.

OC 18/2021: Makes the Alberta Investment Attraction Regulation regarding indemnities that the corporation may provide as an appendix to the Alberta Investment Attraction Act.

OC 19/2021: Appoints Alethea Austin as a public member to the council of the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors for a term to expire on March 31, 2024.

OC 20/2021: Reappoints Terence Bunce and Wilma Slenders as public members to the council of the Alberta College of Medical Diagnostic and Therapeutic Technologists, each for a term to expire on December 4, 2023; effective February 3, 2021, appoints John Liu, to succeed John Martin Jossa, as a public member to the council of the Alberta College of Medical Diagnostic and Therapeutic Technologists for a term to expire on February 2, 2024; effective April 1, 2021, appoints John Pantazopoulos as a public member to the council of the Alberta College of Medical Diagnostic and Therapeutic Technologists for a term to expire on March 31, 2024.

OC 21/2021: Effective May 15, 2021, reappoints Christine Maligec as a public member to the council of the Alberta College of Pharmacy for a term to expire on May 14, 2024; effective April 1, 2021, appoints Dr. Aquaeno Ekanem as a public member to the council of the Alberta College of Pharmacy for a term to expire on March 31, 2024.

OC 22/2021: Effective April 1, 2021, appoints Nuvyn Peters as a public member to the council of the Alberta Dental Association and College for a term to expire on March 31, 2024.

OC 23/2021: Appoints Tamara Jones as a public member to the council of the College of Acupuncturists of Alberta for a term to expire on January 19, 2024.

OC 24/2021: Reappoints Elaine Maria Andrews as a public member to the council of the College of Alberta Psychologists for a term to expire on November 20, 2023; effective April 1, 2021, appoints Michele Stanners as a public member to the council of the College of Alberta Psychologists for a term to expire on March 31, 2024.

OC 25/2021: Makes the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation Amendment Regulation to permit the corporation to provide indemnities.