Alberta Minute: Exerting Influence, Funding Flurry, and Pension Plan Exploration
Alberta Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.
This Week In Alberta:
Alberta will continue to explore its own pension plan and tax collection agency. A mandate letter from Premier Danielle Smith to Finance Minister Nate Horner tasked him with releasing the Alberta Pension Plan report and consulting with Albertans about its findings, as well as assessing the feasibility and advantages of establishing an Alberta Revenue Agency.
Nine solar power projects in the province will receive funding from the federal government. Jonathan Wilkinson, the federal Minister of Natural Resources, announced a $160 million investment into the projects located in Cypress County, Vulcan County, Starland County, and Métis Nation Region 3, among others. More on Wilkinson below!
- Alberta is grappling with a shortage of veterinarians. With approximately 60% of Albertans owning pets, the demand for veterinary services has surpassed the current staffing capacity. The University of Calgary is the sole institution in the province with a veterinary medicine program. The Province increased funding for the program in 2022, with the goal of admitting 100 more students by 2025. However, those students likely won’t reach the workforce until 2029, and there are calls to bring in more foreign-trained veterinarians and ensure they can more easily receive credentials to practice in Alberta.
Last Week In Alberta:
- Premier Danielle Smith attended the annual Premiers’ Conference. She expressed her frustration - which she says is shared by other Premiers - with federal intrusion into provincial jurisdiction. Smith also noted that the federal government is failing in its own jurisdiction, notably with regard to Indigenous health, and called on Ottawa to support Indigenous people in the mental health and addictions crisis. She also suggested that the federal government could help alleviate the healthcare crisis by streamlining the recruitment of workers from abroad and ensuring they can move between provinces seamlessly.
At the Premier’s Stampede Breakfast in Calgary, Danielle Smith made it clear that the Province is “just not going to do anything that is going to damage our economy or do anything that's going to indicate that our oil and gas sector is going to be phased out”. Jonathan Wilkinson, the federal Minister of Natural Resources, didn’t appear to get the message. He said that a net-zero electricity grid by 2035 is possible, despite Alberta’s claims to the contrary. Wilkinson claimed that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Danielle Smith’s agreement to form a working group on energy-related issues is proof that the federal government is listening to Alberta. He said that Ottawa will try and address any concerns, ideally within the 2035 time frame. So, the federal government is listening, as long as we agree to do exactly what they say. Got it.
- The federal government continued spending money in Alberta - and attempting to exert its authority. Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Medicino was in Calgary to announce funding for community gun crime and gang prevention programs in the city and on the Tsuut’ina Nation. But Mendocino also took the opportunity to stress that it’s his government which has jurisdiction over firearms regulation. He said that Ottawa won’t hesitate to move forward with its controversial gun grab, despite opposition by the province. Alberta has previously taken the position that the federal gun buyback program is unconstitutional and has suggested requiring a provincial licence for anyone participating in gun seizures in the province.
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