Canada-wide Update | Highlights

May 13, 2024


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


Spring Emergencies Prompt Alberta to Shift Fixed Election Date from May to October

The Alberta government is proposing to shift the province’s fixed election date from spring to fall through Bill 21, the Emergency Statutes Amendment Act, to avoid election campaigns clashing with emergency situations such as wildfires. The bill aims to move the election date from May to October to minimize disruptions and improve emergency response efforts. Critics, including Opposition Leader Rachel Notley, argue that the government is exploiting the crisis to extend its time in office. The bill also aims to streamline emergency management by giving the provincial government greater authority in directing wildfire and water-related emergency responses.

Atlantic Canada

Federal funding cuts affect Atlantic programming

Funding cuts revealed in the 2024 federal budget are affecting programming offered throughout Atlantic Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador announced it has suspended the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Job Grant for employers and workers indefinitely after losing $16.8 million in federal top-ups previously provided under the Labour Market Transfer Agreements. Meanwhile, P.E.I.’s Human Rights Commission will continue to fund a project to encourage discussion of workplace sexual harassment, despite the conclusion of federal funding from the Department of Justice.

British Columbia

Hundreds of jobs affected as Canfor makes cuts in northern B.C.

B.C.’s forestry giant Canfor has announced significant changes impacting communities in northern B.C., affecting hundreds of jobs. They’re curtailing a production line at the Northwood pulp mill in Prince George due to a decline in available wood. They’re also permanently closing the Polar sawmill in Bear Lake and delaying plans to invest in their Houston facility due to timber shortages. About 400 existing jobs and 200 potential replacements are affected. The Polar sawmill closure means 180 employees will lose jobs in Bear Lake. Additionally, a production line closure at Northwood will impact 220 jobs. In Houston, plans for a new facility are on hold, affecting anticipated 200 jobs. Canfor cites reduced available wood, policy changes, and regulatory complexities for the decisions. The closures follow previous shutdowns in Chetwynd and Houston, resulting in hundreds of lost jobs. Stephen Mackie, from Canfor, points to natural disturbances like beetle infestations and wildfires, along with policy changes, as reasons for reduced wood supply. Blacker blames industry and government mismanagement for the crisis, emphasizing rapid harvesting without adequate planning. B.C. Minister of Forests Bruce Ralston expressed disappointment, pledging support for affected workers and communities, stressing the need to stabilize the sector.


Ford government introduces the Working for Workers Five Act

The fifth Working for Workers Act increases the minimum wage to $17.20 and requires employers to disclose whether an open position is vacant. The bill provides new protections for women at work and extends trades apprenticeships to secondary students. It also forces regulated professions to create plans for registering internationally trained workers.


Decrease number of temporary residents by making them permanent, federal immigration minister suggests

On Friday, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller suggested that one of the ways Canada plans to reduce the number of temporary residents was by offering some the opportunity to stay permanently, but not all will be eligible. The goal is to decrease the temporary resident population to five per cent of Canada’s population over the next three years, down from 6.2 per cent in 2023. Provinces are asked to expand their immigration programs to accommodate those seeking permanent residency. The government is also considering limits on new temporary visas and measures to speed up asylum claim processing. This could lead to labor shortages, and economists suggest a more predictable path to permanent residency to address these issues.


Toronto’s impending infrastructure decline

Toronto requires an extra $26 billion over the next decade to halt the deterioration of its infrastructure. Mayor Olivia Chow is emphasizing the importance of prioritizing maintenance over new projects to prevent escalating costs and diminishing service quality. Even with some financial relief from the upload of infrastructure costs to the province, the city still needs federal funding commitments. The report underscores that a considerable portion of Toronto’s assets, including the TTC and Toronto Community Housing, are in poor condition and necessitate $40 billion over ten years for maintenance. Notably, the TTC needs an additional $2.4 billion annually to sustain its good repair state, and without increased funding, a decline in service levels is expected. Moreover, more than 70% of the city’s library infrastructure is also in poor or very poor condition, requiring a significant increase in annual maintenance spending to avoid further degradation.

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