Canada-wide Update | Highlights

April 1, 2024


Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly Canada-wide newsletter:


Smith defends provincial gas tax hike, hints legal challenge on carbon tax could be coming

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith defended Alberta’s promised increase to the provincial fuel tax while urging Ottawa to pause the upcoming carbon tax hike during a House of Commons committee appearance. She argued that the federal carbon tax only leads to higher costs and questioned the government’s commitment to making life more expensive for Canadians. The Alberta government is considering legal action against the federal carbon tax, with Smith stating that the tax is not being applied equally across the country. Smith also faced questions about her appearance at Poilievre’s “axe the tax” rally in Edmonton and on the provincial gas tax hike.

Atlantic Canada

Atlantic Premiers raise concerns, call for meeting with Trudeau over federal infrastructure plans

The Council of Atlantic Premiers has written to Prime Minister Trudeau in advance of the federal budget to share their concerns and express a need for greater collaboration and clarity around federal plans to address the ongoing housing crisis, federal infrastructure and labour market funding, as well as the proposed international student cap and national pharmacare program.  In particular, Premiers are concerned with the proposed changes to the Canada Community Building Fund and whether new funding will be on a per capita basis or not, and the lack of clarity around incremental Labour Market Transfer Agreement funding, which could put programs, services, and the construction season at risk.  In response to the Prime Minister’s challenge to Premiers to ‘come up with a credible alternative’ to the federal carbon tax, Premier Houston says his government is ‘considering doing that,’ while questioning how genuine the offer really was. Premier Blaine Higgs argued exporting liquified natural gas from New Brunswick is a better solution, which would help shut down coal plants around the world.

British Columbia

‘I’m frustrated, too,’ health minister Adrian Dix says of Prince Rupert ER closures

Health Minister Adrian Dix expressed frustration over the failure to fill 130 staff vacancies in the Prince Rupert area of the North Health region, emphasizing the need to keep the emergency room open 24/7. The Prince Rupert hospital’s emergency room has faced multiple closures due to physician shortages, with the nearest alternative hospital being two hours away in Terrace. In response to the situation, the Health Ministry is updating the payment scheme for staffing emergency rooms, moving from a fee-for-service model to salary contracts to ensure consistent staffing. Additionally, B.C. Emergency Health Services has deployed extra paramedic crews to Prince Rupert to mitigate the impact of the emergency room closures, with renovations to the emergency room underway to improve recruitment efforts.


Ontario unveiled its Budget 2024: Building a Better Ontario

Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy unveiled the 2024-2025 provincial budget on Wednesday, highlighting government priorities in infrastructure, housing, jobs, and affordability. The province anticipates $205.7 billion in revenue, with $214.5 billion allocated for spending, resulting in a deficit of $9.8 billion. Opposition leaders critiqued the budget, stating it lacks sufficient relief for Ontarians.


Trudeau announces renter-focused measures ahead of 2024 budget

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced several measures aimed at assisting renters as part of the upcoming 2024 budget, including a $15-million tenant protection fund and the development of a Canadian renters’ bill of rights. These initiatives, announced alongside Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland in Vancouver, are intended to address issues such as rising rent prices, renovictions, and a national housing shortage. Additionally, the government plans to amend the Canadian Mortgage Charter to encourage landlords, banks, credit bureaus, and fintech companies to consider rental history when assessing credit worthiness. The announcement emphasized a focus on better opportunities for youth, as the Liberals struggle to regain support from younger voters ahead of the next election.


Toronto could lose thousands of new housing units unless the Ford government steps up, city manager says

Toronto’s city manager, Paul Johnson, warns that Toronto’s ability to facilitate the construction of new housing units will suffer dramatically unless Premier Doug Ford’s government compensates for the loss of development charges and other building fees. Johnson explains that city staff are currently assessing the potential cost to Toronto over the next decade, emphasizing, “It’s going to be a massive amount of units. It would be thousands of units over the ten-year period.” Additionally, Johnson highlights the need for funding for new subway cars for the Bloor-Danforth line in the federal budget to be tabled on April 16.


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