Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly Canada-wide newsletter:
Alberta Medical Association calls for updates to doctor incentives to help address hospital crisis
The Alberta Medical Association (AMA) president, Dr. Paul Parks, has urged the government to update incentives to retain hospital physicians, pointing out that incentives within the funding deal signed in 2022 haven’t been updated for 10 years or more. Parks emphasized the urgency, stating that the funding system needs to be competitive to recruit and retain physicians. The AMA proposed five measures to address the acute care crisis and contends that adopting their proposals could significantly improve various aspects of healthcare, including ER wait times and patient outcomes.
The call for action comes after Premier Danielle Smith announced a $200 million infusion to support struggling primary care and rural doctors in Alberta. The funding, split into $100 million in early 2024 and another $100 million later, aims to address challenges faced by primary care practices and hospitals. In a year-end interview with Postmedia, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith expressed her expectation of significant and swift results from the ongoing health-care overhaul.
Hospitals throughout Atlantic Canada ‘bursting at the seams’
Hospital resources are stretched to their limits across the region. All P.E.I. emergency departments are experiencing longer than usual wait times and there are growing concerns over ER capacity in N.B., while emergency room shutdowns and overcrowding are causing concern among N.L. residents. The Nova Scotia Nurses Union reporting a near-double increase in patients seeking care over the holidays, exacerbated by rising flu and COVID-19 cases. With many acute care centres at more than 100 per cent occupancy, health care workers are frustrated with working conditions, and patients are speaking out about lengthy waits, reaching over 30 hours in certain cases. Health care leaders in Nova Scotia met throughout the weekend to assess the situation and determine how to address it.
Vancouver’s Teck Resources Ltd. Closes sale of minority stakes in coal business to Nippon, Posco
Teck Resources Ltd. has finalized the sale of minority interests in its coal business to Nippon Steel Corp. and Posco. Nippon Steel acquired a 20% stake in Teck’s coal business, Elk Valley Resources, by exchanging its prior 2.5% interest in one of Teck’s coal operations and providing US$1.7 billion in cash. Posco exchanged its interest in two of Teck’s coal operations for a three percent stake in the overall steelmaking coal operation. These transactions are part of a broader deal, with Glencore set to acquire a 77% stake in Teck’s coal business for US$6.9 billion, pending regulatory review and expected to conclude in Q3 2024. Upon completion of the Glencore deal, Teck will no longer be involved in coal, allowing the company to focus on expanding copper and zinc production to meet rising global demand for these metals.
New Ontario laws and regulations come into effect in 2024. Here’s what you should know
Effective January 1, 2024, the Ontario government implemented daycare safe-arrival rules, fines for unauthorized access to health information, and changes in the tow-truck industry – granting customers new rights and shifting licensing control to the province. Construction safety regulations are updated for crane operators, and alcohol purchasing rules are extended until January 1, 2026.
Government of Canada Approves HSBC Sale to RBC
The Canadian government approved Royal Bank of Canada’s $13.5 billion acquisition of HSBC Canada, with conditions such as maintaining job protections and financing for affordable housing. Despite objections, this landmark deal, RBC’s largest, aims to expand its domestic reach through HSBC’s assets and customer base. RBC plans to finalize the acquisition in early 2024, integrating HSBC clients and employees into its systems. The move has faced opposition over concerns about mortgage rate influence, increased borrower costs, and RBC’s fossil fuel investment policies. However, RBC sees this as an opportunity to grow, leveraging HSBC’s branches and approximately 800,000 customers, primarily located in Toronto and Vancouver.
‘Substantial’ property tax increase coming to Toronto, city’s budget chief warns
The budget chief in Toronto is cautioning that a “significant” property tax hike will be included in the city’s upcoming spending package, addressing a longstanding fiscal crisis. When questioned about potential property tax increases, Councillor Shelley Carroll, appointed as the budget chief by Mayor Olivia Chow last year, confirmed that they are indeed on the horizon. The city’s budget process kicks off this week with city staff presenting proposed operating and capital spending packages during the month-and-a-half-long deliberation. The council is set to make the final decision on the budget package on Feb. 14.