The dog days of summer have arrived

In a usual year, it’s a time in which life seems to slow down. Too many summer barbecues will have taken their toll. Vacations are taken. Productivity declines. Relaxation peaks.

But, this is no usual year. Many are only now finding a sense of normalcy in the world of COVID-19, and for the Government of Alberta, hardly a beat has skipped since the end of the Legislative session last month. Dozens of announcements were rolled out, primarily in support of the Government’s economic recovery efforts. Expect the pace to continue.

Many Albertans were affixed to the province’s announcement of protective measures in schools when students return to in-class studies this Fall. Each province appears to be taking a slightly different approach, and it will be crucial for the Alberta government to continue to respond quickly to emerging evidence and best practices as they evolve.

As of August 6, Alberta has 11,430 total COVID cases, including 1,125 active cases, 10,097 recovered cases, 208 deaths and over 740,000 completed tests.

The Alberta legislature will hold a special one day debate August 27 when Finance Minister Travis Toews tables the first quarter fiscal update, covering the months of April, May and June. Opposition and backbench MLAs will be able to ask questions following a presentation by Toews that Premier Kenney has warned will be a “fiscal reckoning.” Following the one day session, the Legislature will adjourn until the fall sitting, which is currently scheduled to begin on October 26. This of course, like everything else in Alberta politics, is subject to change.

Below you’ll find a summary of government announcements and Orders in Council passed since our last edition.

Government of Alberta Announcements

  • Phase 2 of the Masks for Albertans program has ended, with 40 million non-medical masks being distributed to Albertans, more than half of which were handed out at A&W, McDonald’s Canada and Tim Hortons locations.
  • Alberta’s Government is working with shelters in Edmonton to transition to 24/7 access including day services for people experiencing homelessness as they move away from the COVID-19 solution of providing services at the EXPO Centre. Alberta’s government is also providing an additional $48 million to continue providing supports for people struggling with homelessness during the pandemic.
  • The governments of Canada and Alberta, through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, are helping the Eastern Irrigation District with up to $100,000 in funding to complete a dam safety review.
  • The government touted the success of the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant one month after it was launched, with more than $25 million being issued to thousands of Alberta businesses.
  • The GoA is using CIHI data to support their calls for a new approach to dealing with physicians in the province. The data shows the number of physicians in Alberta has increased twice as fast as the population, and the province has more doctors per capita than the national average.
  • Applications are now open for the Alberta Artist in Residence with the successful artist to be announced in September.
  • Any pharmacy in the province that wants to participate and is able to meet the safety requirements can now offer testing to Albertans who have no symptoms and no known exposure to COVID-19.
  • A new $5,000 scholarship has been created for Alberta veterans who wish to pursue post-secondary education. Up to 200 awards will be available annually.
  • A new framework to manage oil and gas liabilities will enable industry to better manage the cleanup of oil and gas wells, pipelines and facilities at every step of the process, from exploration and licensing, through operations, reclamation and post-closure. The new framework will be implemented over the coming months.
  • Energy Minister Sonya Savage issued a statement regarding a new U.S. Presidential Permit that will increase shipping capacity on the existing Keystone pipeline and additional statement on Total’s decision to write down a significant amount of Canadian assets.
  • Expanded eligibility in the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) regulation will be available for dozens of additional industries, allowing the businesses to be exempt from the federal carbon tax.
  • 10,000 outdated commercial carrier permits have been eliminated to reduce red tape for truckers, meaning that commercial drivers in the province will no longer be required to get permits for some standard equipment and practices.

Orders in Council

OC 239-243/2020: Proclaims the Alberta Investment Attraction Act in force on July 31, 2020, adds the Invest Alberta Corporation to the list of Agencies, Boards and Commissions, includes the board under the compensation and conflict of interest regulations and effective July 31, 2020, appoints R. Scott Hutcheson as a member and designates him as Chair of the board of directors of Invest Alberta Corporation for a term to expire on July 30, 2023, appoints The Honourable A. Anne McLellan, P.C., as a member and designates her as Vice-chair of the board of directors of Invest Alberta Corporation for a term to expire on July 30, 2023, and appoints Bob Dhillon, T. Chen Fong, Ashif Mawji, Janet Riopel and Adam Waterous as members of the board of directors of Invest Alberta Corporation, each for a term to expire on July 30, 2023.

OC 244-245/2020: Designates The Honourable Madam Justice June Ross to act as an adjudicator for the purposes of section 75(1) and section 75(1)(a) and (e) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

OC 246/2020: Appoints Debby Carreau as a member of the board of The Governors of The University of Calgary for a term to expire on July 28, 2023.

OC 247/2020: Makes the Healthcare Protection Amendment Regulation with language changes including from care protection to facilities and from taking an action in writing to making an order.

OC 248/2020: Makes the Alberta Cancer Foundation Amendment Regulation with a small clerical correction.

OC 249/2020: Amends Order in Council numbered O.C. 125/2019 to amend the Terms of Reference of the public inquiry to investigate foreign funding of anti-Alberta energy campaigns.