Alberta Minute: Pandemic Response, Madu Out, and a Possible Balanced Budget
Alberta Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.
This Week In Alberta:
While the Legislature remains on break, it’s a busy week for committees. The Standing Committee on the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund meets tomorrow from 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm to discuss the fund’s 2021-2022 second quarter report and to prepare the Committee’s annual report to the Legislative Assembly.
On Wednesday, the Special Standing Committee on Members' Services will meet from 9:00 am to 11:30 am to discuss 2022-2023 Legislative Assembly Office budgetary estimates, while concurrently from 9:30 am to 11:00 am the Standing Committee on Public Accounts will meet to set their 2022 meeting schedule for the Legislature’s next session.
- Starting today, Alberta will have additional “pandemic response units” in Edmonton and Calgary to deal with a projected surge in hospitalizations as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 nears its expected peak. There will initially be 18 beds added in Edmonton, and 12 in Calgary, with the same amount added again next week. The beds will be located in Calgary’s South Health Campus and Edmonton’s Kaye Clinic.
Last Week In Alberta:
Provincial Justice Minister Kaycee Madu was relieved of his duties pending an independent investigation into his phone call to Edmonton’s Chief of Police. Madu placed the call after receiving a distracted driving ticket back in March of 2021. Madu said he phoned the Police Chief to ensure that he was not being “unlawfully surveilled” following recent Lethbridge Police Service surveillance scandals. Interestingly, this hit the news the same week that normal Albertans had their right to appeal traffic tickets restricted.
- Many countries around the world (including England, Ireland, Spain, and more) announced they are ending all COVID-19 restrictions and life will be returning to normal for their citizens shortly, with few exceptions. Ontario is planning on loosening some restrictions in the coming weeks too. When will Alberta join in? Even the Edmonton Journal is calling for a return to freedom.
- An unexpected boost in oil prices has Alberta looking at a potentially balanced budget this year. While this is certainly good news, we need to live within our means and pay off our 10+ years of accumulated deficits. A new fiscal blueprint will be announced by the provincial government on February 24th which may show a surplus instead of the initially projected $18 billion deficit. We got lucky this year for sure, but let’s not count on it lasting forever.
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