Alberta Minute: Rural Internet, Carbon Tax, and Public Health Recommendations
Alberta Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.
This Week In Alberta:
There are afternoon sittings of the Legislature this week, today through Thursday. MLAs will give second reading to Bill 3 (the Opioid Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Amendment Act) and Bill 5 (the Public Sector Employers Amendment Act). There are also two Committee meetings - the Standing Committee on Private Bills meets today at 7:00 pm, and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts will meet on Tuesday at 10:00 am.
The province will be launching a new Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit in Lethbridge. The six-unit team will work with the Lethbridge Police Service to investigate crime at problem properties. Currently, there is a SCAN unit in Calgary, and that unit has responded to almost 500 calls since 2019 that would now be directed to the Lethbridge unit. The new unit will serve the southern region, reaching Vulcan to the north, Crowsnest Pass to the west, the U.S. border to the south and the provincial boundary with Saskatchewan to the east.
- The Province is bringing Starlink satellite internet to three rural communities as part of a new pilot program. The Province is aiming to bring high-speed internet to all areas of Alberta by 2027. The County of Forty Mile, County of Warner No. 5, and Cardston County are eligible for the pilot, which will test the use of satellite internet technology instead of fibre or fixed wireless.
Last Week In Alberta:
- In yet another defeat for the Trudeau Liberals, the Federal Court overturned Ottawa's single-use plastics ban. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, and Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Rebecca Schulz issued a statement applauding the decision, noting that the federal government’s decision to label plastic consumer products as “toxic” has had “wide-ranging consequences for Alberta’s economic interests and has put thousands of jobs and billions of investments at risk”. We’ve been calling for an end to the ban for the last year, and this is a big win for all Albertans. Now, we’ve launched a campaign with our friends at Common Sense Calgary and Common Sense Edmonton to help overturn the bans in those cities.
The panel tasked with reviewing Alberta’s COVID-19 response has released its report, consisting of more than 90 recommendations as to how the Province can better structure itself for any future health emergencies. The major recommendation put forth by the panel is that all provincewide emergencies should be directed by Cabinet and implemented through the Alberta Emergency Management Agency. Alberta Health Services would make recommendations related strictly to health matters, but the government would make all political decisions through the emergency agency. No decisions have been made yet on whether to implement any of the recommendations.
- Premier Danielle Smith urged Canadian Senators to pass a Bill which would exempt farmers from paying carbon tax on natural gas and propane used to heat barns and dry grain. Smith estimates Bill C-234 will bring down food prices for Canadians by saving farmers close to $1 billion by 2030. The Bill passed the House of Commons in March with support of the Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois, NDP and Greens. Smith expressed concern over potential delays or rewrites to the bill and emphasized its importance as a lifeline for farmers and ordinary Canadians.
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