Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly newsletters:
A new poll puts Premier Smith’s UCP significantly behind the NDP. According to the data, health care is now the dominant issue over inflation, which legitimizes concerns about the potential for a direct conflict between Premier Smith’s “culture war fights” and the concerns of all Albertans.
Premier Smith did not receive a bump in approval ratings typical of a new leader, and instead the NDP have increased their lead. The poll was conducted between October 12-30 and shows the UCP at 38%, trailing a resurgent NDP – who now lead with 47% – placing Notley into majority territory. Notably, almost 10% of the province feel as though they are “orphaned” and don’t have a political party they can support – but numbers suggest that the orphaned 10% could end up determining the results of the next election if the numbers continue in their current trajectory.
Last week’s federal Fall Economic Statement provided some of the tools that companies looking to develop wind and hydrogen in Atlantic Canada say they need to compete with the United States. Measures included a refundable tax credit of up to 30% of qualifying capital expenses for renewal energy production, including wind power, and a tax credit ranging from 10-40%+ for clean hydrogen.
Select Standing Committee on Health Releases Overdose Report
The all-party legislative committee tasked by Premier John Horgan to study the overdose crisis has released its final report after six months of consultations, expert presentations, and deliberations. The committee, chaired by Vancouver NDP MLA Nikki Sharma, heard from 118 presenters and received 881 written submissions. The Committee makes 37 recommendations aimed at saving lives and moving BC out of the current public health emergency. The Committee calls for urgent expansion or acceleration of efforts currently underway and a more co-ordinated “continuum of care” across the system overall.
Key recommendations include: (1) expanding prevention measures for “upstream drivers” such as income or housing insecurity, unresolved trauma, mental health challenges, and untreated chronic pain, which can all contribute to people using substances; (2) expanding harm reduction measures such as overdose prevention sites and drug checking, which the committee says are critical to preventing death; (3) expanding safe supply access and considering the possibility for non-prescribed safe supply, which advocates have long called for; (4) substantial increase in access to any number of publicly funded and accredited treatment and recovery beds and detox services; and (5) the committee acknowledges that law enforcement resources are limited, and as such recommends that overdose and mental health calls be redirected to more specialized responders where possible, as well as working with the federal government to combat organized crime groups that are behind illicit toxic drugs.
The Keeping Students in Class Act passed last Monday, invoking the notwithstanding clause to limit the jurisdiction of the Ontario Labour Relations Board and effectively place CUPE strikers under offence. It also establishes a new, four-year agreement for education workers, which includes a 2.5 per cent salary increase and other benefits.
Chrystia Freeland presents Canada’s Fall Economic Statement.
On Thursday, November 3, Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland tabled the federal government’s Fall Economic Statement. The 92-page mini-budget sets out Canada’s fiscal situation and outlines new policies to tackle the current cost of living crisis. The fiscal update offers key details that shed light on the Liberal government’s priorities. Some of these include Hurricane Fiona relief, infrastructure funding, cryptocurrency consultations, truckers’ rights, and immigration support. Freeland also announced that federal student and apprenticeship loans will be interest-free permanently and unveiled a multi-billion dollar plan to automatically send Canada Workers Benefit (CWB) payments to people who qualified in the previous tax year.
Toronto Public Health (TPH) calls for a $9 million budget cut in COVID-19-related expenditures in their recent preliminary budget submission, shedding 423 jobs overall. Councillor Gord Perks, a Toronto Board of Health member, expressed his concerns about how proposed staff reductions will affect operations and approval of key budget requests by the province, some of which, like opioid crisis-related funding, were ignored by the province in 2022.