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
- Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange announced the procurement of 1.7 million reusable masks for students and staff for the 2020-21 school year with the contracts being awarded to Alberta-based IFR and Old Navy.
- Six rural Alberta infrastructure projects were announced Friday as part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, with more than $43 million in work with funding from the provincial and federal governments targeted in Taber, Raymond, Brooks and Acadia Valley. The work includes upgrading or replacing water/wastewater treatment systems, an emergency spillway, a wetlands area, and a community hall.
- Highway and wastewater work in Plamondon were also announced by the Premier on Friday as part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan.
- Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism Tanya Fir issued a statement on the most recent Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada showing job increases in Alberta for the third straight month.
- Five First Nations colleges will receive one-time funding of $100,000 for COVID-19 supports including Wi-Fi access and online programming development.
- Alberta will enter into an agreement with Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Ontario to explore emerging, small-scale nuclear technology that could lower emissions and help diversify the energy sector.
- Getting back to basics, the Alberta government reiterated their commitment to ending discovery math and returning to a focus on literacy and numeracy. A new ministerial order has been developed following consultation.
- The GoA is investing $10 million into three projects through the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) system which came into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
- Alberta is updating the Wildlife Regulation to improve wildlife conservation, enhance opportunities for hunters and trappers, and provide economic relief for outfitters.
- $3.8 million in updates announced this week will go towards maintaining the Hinton Training Centre.
- A grant of more than $2.6 million to improve irrigation in Southern Albertaand $1.1 million in Lethbridge were announced this week as part of the Irrigation Rehabilitation Program.
- Additional school health measures were announced by Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange this week, with masks use now mandatory for Grade 4 to 12 students and all school staff when school returns in September.
- 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.