Alberta Minute: COVID Controversy, Budget Estimates, and a Long Awaited Modernization
Alberta Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.
This Week In Alberta:
- First up this week, we've heard there will be an emergency UCP Caucus meeting this morning to discuss the government's surprise recent move to what can only be called "Step 1.1" in their COVID recovery plan, rather than the "Step 2" that had been expected (see below). Apparently, even most UCP MLAs were unaware of the change in plans and dissent has been spreading through the ranks.
- Next, the Legislature is back in session today from 1:30 pm until Thursday at about 4:30 pm. As the government didn't deliver a new Throne Speech, any Private Members Bills from the previous session continue in this session, so the Standing Committee on Private Bills and Private Members' Public Bills will also meet today from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm.
- Finally, all other committees will be busy this week too, considering Main Estimates (aka debating last week's budget). Each committee will debate the portion of the budget that affects their respective Ministries, and there are 16 meetings, so rather than trying to summarize them all here, we've added all the details on our website here. There will be further Ministries covered by each Committee next week too.
Last Week In Alberta:
- The provincial government found itself in even more hot water after suddenly (again) moving the COVID goalposts. Despite hospitalization rates being low enough to meet the criteria the government had set for moving to Step 3, the government decided against moving even to Step 2. Instead, Step 1.1 allows Libraries to open at 15% capacity and permits gyms to be used for "low intensity" exercise (whatever that means).
- The Province also announced changes to the Disaster Recovery Program which includes a 90%-10% cost-sharing arrangement with municipalities and a one-claim limit per property. The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, having had two natural disasters in recent years, came out strongly against the change saying that there had been zero consultation with municipalities about the changes.
- Finally, - no really, finally! - Alberta is ditching paper health cards and adding the same information to existing identification cards. We would have preferred Alberta go with lour suggestion to implement a system available in some Australian states that allows for either ID cards, or fully-digital IDs on cell phones, but at least this is a step in the right direction.
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