Alberta Minute: Hockey Relaxed, Gyms Restricted, and a Possible Separation Referendum
Alberta Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.
This Week In Alberta:
- The Legislature is still on break until February 25th, when it's expected the Province's budget will be presented. There are also no Committee meetings scheduled for this week either.
- Starting today, restaurants and gyms will finally be able to reopen in Alberta, having been closed for in-person dining or working out since December 8th. While this tiny slice of good news is welcome, restaurants are still restricted to only members of the same household at each table, while gyms are only allowed to offer one-on-one training sessions - no individual or group fitness allowed.
- The extreme cold of the last few days is also expected to last all this week - at a minimum! The ongoing polar vortex has already seen temperatures in the -30s across most of the province, with Fort McMurray hitting a low of -47C that felt like -60C with the wind chill.
Last Week In Alberta:
- Sadly, on Tuesday, Hockey Alberta announced that the remainder of the minor hockey season has been cancelled due to COVID. However, on Saturday, the Province unexpectedly announced that hockey practice (though not games) will be allowed after all, subject to certain restrictions. This took the various hockey associations by surprise, leading to much last-minute scrambling to secure ice time, made even more difficult by the removal of ice from many facilities last week based on the government's previous announcement.
- In a similar vein, the Alberta coalition of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) which represents almost 200 fitness facilities in the Province explained that being restricted to one-on-one training sessions during the gradual re-opening is not viable as many gyms would pay more for electricity for heating and lighting than they could make from these sessions and they estimate more than 50% of businesses in the coalition won't survive another two months of restrictions. This must be particularly galling, given the Province's last-minute change of plans for sport (above), gymnastics, and dance.
- Tensions over Alberta's place in Confederation sprung back in to focus, despite recent COVID distractions, after Drew Barnes - a government MLA - broke ranks and called for Premier Kenney to announce a referendum on separation should this year's equalization referendum receive strong support. Barnes and Danielle Smith, former Wildrose leader, both claimed that setting a referendum date would put pressure on Ottawa to take any re-negotiation of equalization more seriously.
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