Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly newsletters:
Opinion research round-up
New polling from Abacus Data suggests a tight race between Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and Opposition Leader Rachel Notley. The two are tied province-wide, with both parties garnering 35% support. However, 25% of voters remain undecided, and their eventual voting choices will decide the race for either major party. Compared to last month’s polling, support for the UCP is down 2% among decided voters, whereas support for the NDP remains consistent. The UCP and NDP are statistically tied in Calgary, the NDP leads by 19 points in Edmonton, and the UCP leads by 14 points outside the province’s two major cities.
Islanders are headed to the polls on April 3, 2023, six months earlier than required under fixed-date election legislation. While Opposition parties accused the Premier of political opportunism, Dennis King says it’s time for Islanders to have their say on the future direction of the province. The first week of the campaign focused heavily on healthcare with the Progressive Conservative party announcing plans to expand access to care, enhance primary care services, reduce pressures on emergency departments, bolster ambulance services, help aging residents stay in their homes longer, and grow PEI’s frontline healthcare team. Liberal Leader Sharon Cameron outlined the party’s Health Care First platform, which promises to expand physician access through virtual services, doubling scholarships and financial incentives to attract PEI students studying medicine in other provinces, doubling the number of medical residency seats, and conducting an overall review of the Island’s medical system. Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker also outlined his plan to get ‘healthcare out of crisis’ which includes free access to virtual care, more walk-in clinics, creating a physician assistant training program, and taking the politics out of healthcare. With high approval ratings entering the election, King is expected to secure another majority government, making this election a battle for the role of Official Opposition between the Liberals and the Greens. Cameron and Bevan-Baker are both running in District 17, New Haven-Rocky Point.
Province Introduces Pay Transparency Legislation
Finance Minister Katrine Conroy introduced the long-awaited Pay Transparency Act last week, which the government says will help address the gender pay gap. The Opposition BC Liberals have introduced similar private members bills on the topic dating back to 2018, and every subsequent legislative session. The legislation will require employers to publicly post employee salaries on an annual basis, including information about pay gaps between male and female workers doing the same job, as well as bonuses. Employees’ names will not be listed but the demographic information will be included with salary data. The province plans to hire a director of pay transparency to guide employers through respectfully collecting sensitive data and educate them about what they can do to reduce the gender pay gap. Once passed, the bill will require employers to include pay scales in job postings.
The BC Liberals welcomed the bill, joking that “the sixth time’s the charm” in reference to their previous private members bills, while gender equity advocates said the bill does not go far enough and lacks accountability measures.
Monte McNaughton, the Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development announced that the province is expanding its new employment services. The expansions to employment services are intended to focus on helping Ontarians to become leaders in their community. Early results have shown that of the 63,233 people on the path to employment, over 23,000 are social assistance recipients.
Government of Canada to release Budget on March 28, 2023
Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, announced that the government will table its 2023 budget on March 28, 2023, in the House of Commons, at approximately 4:00 p.m. ET. Budget 2023 will outline the next steps in the government’s plan to build a stronger and more resilient economy. Freeland signaled that the budget will focus on “our plan to make life more affordable, strengthen public health care, and create good middle-class jobs in a growing, clean economy.” The announcement comes after Freeland said in the fall economic statement in November 2022 that the government would “keep its powder dry” and reserve major spending items for the budget in the spring. The Conservatives are calling for lower payroll taxes, financial incentives to spur housing construction, and an end to deficit-spending and carbon tax hikes in the coming federal budget.
On behalf of the City of Toronto, Deputy Mayor Jennifer Mckelvie has sent budget request letters to the federal Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland and the provincial Minister of Finance, Peter Bethlenfalvy, pleading both governments for more than $ 1 billion in COVD-related financial aid. Both levels of government are expected to table their respective budgets in the coming weeks. In her letter to Minister Freeland, Deputy Mayor McKelvie urges Ottawa to provide $423 million in pandemic-related funding for this year and $235 million to cover a still-outstanding COVID-19 shortfall for 2022. Toronto also wants $171 million in federal money to cover shortfalls for both years in refugee and newcomer support. In her letter to Minister Bethlenfalvy, Deputy McKelvie calls on the province to fulfill its commitment to keeping Toronto “whole” from the impacts of Bill 23 and to provide critical funding for other City needs, including $423 million in COVID-related money and $87 million in public-health costs.