Canada-wide Update | Highlights

April 15, 2024


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


New legislation mandates Alberta municipalities to secure provincial approval for federal funds

Alberta’s United Conservative Party government has introduced Bill 18, the Provincial Priorities Act, aimed at controlling federal funding agreements with municipalities and other provincial entities. Premier Danielle Smith stated that the bill would require federal consultation before entering funding agreements with entities like municipal governments, school boards, health authorities, and housing organizations, similar to legislation in Quebec. The bill seeks to align federal funding with provincial priorities and address concerns about “ideological strings attached” to federal funds, such as the push for electric buses deemed impractical by the province. Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek criticized the bill, arguing that it jeopardizes the city’s relationship with the federal government and could hinder Calgary’s economic growth. Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi also criticized the new legislation, arguing it creates unnecessary red tape and could harm Edmonton’s economy by slowing or stopping important projects.

Atlantic Canada

Nova Scotia teachers vote in favour of strike mandate

An overwhelming majority of the Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union (NSTU) have voted in favour of a strike mandate. The vote will not trigger an immediate strike but is intended to signal to the provincial government that they need to take negotiations with the union seriously. NSTU represents more than 10,000 educators who have been without a contract since last August; negotiations have been ongoing since last June. The union is asking for more engagement from the government on issues such as school violence, teacher retention and higher wages for substitute teachers. Talks will resume today and tomorrow. In a statement released Thursday, Becky Druhan, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, called the vote a “distraction that has caused confusion and anxiety for students and their families,” and affirmed the government’s commitment to “working toward a negotiated agreement on the terms and conditions of teachers’ employment.”

British Columbia

Two blows to B.C.’s credit status, as S+P cuts rating and Moody’s turns negative

B.C.’s credit status suffered a double setback as S&P downgraded the province’s credit rating from AA to AA-minus due to the risk of “outsize” deficits and big government spending, and Moody’s revised its outlook for B.C. to negative while maintaining its AAA rating. This is the third rating drop for B.C. since 2021, with S&P citing continued extensive investment and record levels of capital spending in the 2024 budget leading to significant after-capital deficits and a steep increase in debt through to fiscal 2027. B.C. Finance Minister Katrine Conroy attributed the S&P ratings drop to factors such as the slowing global economy and defended the capital investments as necessary due to a deficit of infrastructure inherited from the previous government. S&P warned that a reversal of the province’s fiscal trajectory and stronger economic growth are needed for the outlook to be revised to stable, while the opposition criticized the NDP’s fiscal management and the impact of credit downgrades on taxes and loan costs for British Columbians.


Ontario is introducing a series of legislative changes under the Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, 2024

The Ontario government has introduced the Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, as part of its pledge to streamline processes and enable the construction of 1.5 million homes by 2031. The legislative initiatives seek to improve service delivery and save time and costs for both individuals and businesses. Key measures include granting municipalities the authority to offer incentives for housing projects, prioritizing infrastructure for stalled developments, and simplifying approval procedures for different housing types. In addition to these legislative changes, Ontario is investing in housing-enabling infrastructure and equipping municipalities with tools to expedite approvals, fostering a more robust housing market across the province.


Federal government releases its multi-billion dollar housing plan to boost supply and address affordability.

The federal government has unveiled a new multi-billion dollar housing plan aimed at addressing the ongoing housing crisis in the country. This plan includes various spending and policy changes designed to stimulate construction and assist individuals struggling with housing affordability and homelessness. The plan encompasses initiatives such as infrastructure funding, support for renters, loans for affordable housing construction and repair, and measures to address homelessness, including erasing homeless encampments nationwide. It also includes proposals to restrict the purchase of single-family homes by large corporate investors and incentivize the construction of secondary suites. Additionally, the plan allocates funds for training programs in the skilled trades and aims to promote innovative homebuilding methods. The total cost of the plan will be revealed in the upcoming federal budget. This initiative marks the government’s second major housing strategy following the 2017 National Housing Strategy, which promised over $80 billion in loans and grants.


Chow calls for overhaul of Toronto’s vacant home tax

The future of the Toronto’s vacant home tax appears it will be decided by city council next week, with Mayor Olivia Chow saying the levy needs a complete overhaul, while some city councillors are moving to scrap it altogether. Chow criticizes this year’s tax administration for causing confusion and anxiety among tens of thousands of homeowners. She pledges fundamental changes while supporting the tax’s purpose of addressing the housing crisis by targeting vacant residential properties, discouraging their owners from leaving them unoccupied and thus increasing housing supply.


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