Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly newsletters:
Smith secures seat
Premier Danielle Smith is the newest Member of the Legislative Assembly after winning the Brooks—Medicine Hat by-election with 54.5 per cent of the popular vote. Smith defeated NDP candidate Gwendoline Dirk (26.7%) and Alberta Party leader and former Brooks mayor Barry Morishita (16.5%).
The Official Results for the Brooks-Medicine Hat by-election will be available at 10:00 am on November 18, 2022.
Smith will take her seat in the legislature when session resumes on November 29 with a Speech from the Throne that will outline her government’s legislative priorities
VPD Report Widely Panned
Staying with the DTES, a report commissioned by the Vancouver Police Department that concludes $5 billion a year is being spent on the city’s “social safety net” is facing widespread criticism. The report, “Igniting Transformational Systems Change Through Policing,” claims that $5 billion a year – including $1 million a day in the DTES – is spent on managing social challenges in the city. However, the $5 billion figure includes $2 billion in direct federal transfers to citizens across the city (things old age security, employment insurance, disability, and social assistance), the entire police and fire budget for the City of Vancouver, and a wide range of charitable funding for social service agencies, housing providers, and other not-for-profit organizations. The report was slammed by Ken Sim, the new Mayor of Vancouver, as well as provincial Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, several city councillors, and many others as flawed and misleading. It is further damaging the Vancouver Police Department’s reputation as non-partisan after it weighed into the mayoral race with an endorsement of Ken Sim, who promised to ramp up police budgets and hire 100 new officers in Vancouver.
Several municipalities received provincial funding under the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund. $500 million was allocated to regions facing the most challenging fiscal problems and limited property assessments ahead of the municipal budget planning cycle.
The province has opened a call for proposals for a 2+1 highway pilot project on Highway 11 north of North Bay on Thursday. The three-lane highway draws a center passing lane that changes direction every 2 to five kilometers. Proposals for this project will be accepted until December.
Canada Health Transfer funding talks end with no agreement as the feds walk away, blaming Premiers.
Health Ministers across the country met in Vancouver last week to address the current national health crisis. Last week’s meetings come after Canada’s Premiers met in Victoria last July where they had asked Ottawa to boost the Canada Health Transfer, the money each jurisdiction gets for health care, to 35 percent up from what they said amounts to 22 percent. Despite the federal government promising to provide the provinces with sufficient funding prior to the beginning of the meetings, no agreement was reached. Federal Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos blamed Premiers for giving them “marching orders” to stop negotiating.
Toronto Mayor John Tory wrote a letter appealing for urgent financial aid to Premier Doug Ford and Canada’s Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to offset pandemic-related financial commitments by the end of the month. The letter outlined that Toronto faces an $815-million budget deficit and further could face a deficit of $1.5-billion next year prior to any property tax increases or other funding commitments. Tory noted that without additional assistance, Toronto could face program cuts, a halt in essential services and that it would pose a threat to the city’s economic recovery.