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Alberta taking back control of federal agreements

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Alberta has introduced legislation requiring provincial entities to obtain approval before entering, amending, extending or renewing agreements with the federal government.

The introduction of the Provincial Priorities Act, 2024 will support Alberta’s government in pushing back against the federal government’s ongoing overreach into areas of provincial jurisdiction. Alberta’s government will ensure federal funding is aligned with provincial priorities, rather than with priorities contrary to the province’s interests. Under the legislation, agreements between the federal government and provincial entities, including municipalities, that have not received provincial approval would be invalid.

As an example, the federal government’s unrelenting and ideological push toward electric buses in Canadian cities including Calgary does not acknowledge mounting evidence of significant problems with their effectiveness during harsh Alberta winters. Alberta’s government believes the funds that Ottawa allocated for unreliable and impractical electric buses would have been better spent on Alberta priorities including strengthening the province’s economic corridors with improved roads and commuter rail, or advancing the province’s hydrogen strategy as an alternate clean-energy source for transportation.

If passed, the legislation would also support Alberta’s government in getting its fair share of funding when it comes to roads, infrastructure, housing and other priorities. Nowhere is this more apparent than in housing. In summer 2023, Alberta received only 2.5 per cent of the total $1.5 billion in federal housing funds, despite having 12 per cent of the country’s population and, by far, the fastest population growth.

The legislation would also work to prevent taxpayer dollars being wasted on duplicative programs like pharmacare and dental care when what the province really needs is envelope funding to expand existing provincial programs in these areas.

“It is not unreasonable for Alberta to demand fairness from Ottawa. They have shown time and again that they will put ideology before practicality, which hurts Alberta families and our economy. We are not going to apologize for continuing to stand up for Albertans so we get the best deal possibleSince Ottawa refuses to acknowledge the negative impacts of its overreach, even after losing battles at the Federal and Supreme Courts, we are putting in additional measures to protect our provincial jurisdiction to ensure our province receives our fair share of federal tax dollars and that those dollars are spent on the priorities of Albertans.”

Danielle Smith, Premier

Currently, the Government Organization Act requires intergovernmental agreements to be approved by the Minister of Intergovernmental Relations for Alberta government departments and some public agencies, such as Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis; Alberta Securities Commission; and Travel Alberta.

However, this requirement does not extend to all Alberta public agencies or broader public sector organizations including municipalities, public post-secondary institutions, school boards and health entities, which has created gaps that could result in federal agreements contradicting provincial priorities and investments. By introducing the Provincial Priorities Act, Alberta’s government is working to close those gaps.

Under the proposed legislation, provincial entities include Alberta public agencies and Crown-controlled organizations, as well as public post-secondary institutions, school boards, regional health authorities, Covenant Health, municipal authorities and housing management bodies.

“For years, the federal government has been imposing its agenda on Alberta taxpayers through direct funding agreements with cities and other provincial organizations. Not only does Alberta not receive its per capita share of federal taxpayer dollars, the money we do receive is often directed towards initiatives that don’t align with Albertan’s priorities. Albertans from all corners of the province expect our federal share of taxes for roads, infrastructure, housing and other priorities – not federal government political pet projects and programs in select communities.”

Ric McIver, Minister of Municipal Affairs

Currently, Quebec is the only other province or territory with similar legislation that requires provincial approval of intergovernmental agreements between a broad scope of public sector organizations and the federal government. During a federal-provincial-territorial meeting in November 2023, Premiers from across the country demanded that the federal government work with them, not around them when it came to agreements with municipalities. Additionally, the Premiers committed to exploring the need for provincial authorization on federal agreements.

Related information

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Defending Provincial Priorities

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News release from Free Alberta Strategy

The recent debate around zoning across the province is a prime example of federal encroachment.

The federal government offered money to cities to help with housing affordability challenges, but only made the money available if cities promised to change zoning policies.

As you are aware, The Free Alberta Strategy was built on the concept that the federal government needs to keep out of provincial jurisdiction.

For years, Ottawa has been watering down the constitutional delineation of duties between the federal government and the provincial government.

Bill 18 – the Provincial Priorities Act – is anticipated to pass in the Alberta Legislature this week, and represents a huge step in the direction of greater provincial jurisdictional autonomy.

The Provincial Priorities Act has been dubbed the “Keep Out of Our Backyard” law by Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.

Under the Provincial Priorities Act, any agreements between the federal government and any provincial entities – including municipalities – must receive provincial approval to be considered valid.

Agreements between the federal government and provincial entities lacking Alberta’s endorsement will be deemed illegal under this legislation.

When the legislation was announced, Smith was not mincing words:

“It is not unreasonable for Alberta to demand fairness from Ottawa. They have shown time and again that they will put ideology before practicality, which hurts Alberta families and our economy. We are not going to apologize for continuing to stand up for Albertans so we get the best deal possible.

“Since Ottawa refuses to acknowledge the negative impacts of its overreach, even after losing battles at the Federal and Supreme Courts, we are putting in additional measures to protect our provincial jurisdiction to ensure our province receives our fair share of federal tax dollars and that those dollars are spent on the priorities of Albertans.”

Although the federal government has limited direct authority in provincial jurisdiction, it can leverage its substantial financial resources to prompt or pressure provincial governments into specific actions.

The recent debate around zoning across the province is a prime example of federal encroachment.

The federal government offered money to cities to help with housing affordability challenges, but only made the money available if cities promised to change zoning policies.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek tried to claim that the federal housing funds were not contingent on the city’s rezoning efforts, but federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser posted a pretty strong response on social media platform X (formerly Twitter):

“If Calgary, or any other city, does not meet the conditions they have agreed to, we will withhold funding under the agreement.”

The federal government played the same trick in many other provinces, too.

But, notably, in Quebec, the federal government just gave the Quebec government the cash and let them distribute it to their municipalities without conditions.

It’s tempting to think this is just more federal bias towards Quebec.

But, actually, this is a great example of how pushing back can have results.

You see, the Provincial Priorities Act in Alberta is modeled after existing legislation in Quebec, known as “An Act Respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif,” which prohibits any municipal body from negotiating or entering into agreements with the federal government or its agencies without explicit authorization from the Quebec government.

If Ottawa wants to meddle in Quebec’s jurisdiction, it must first seek Quebec’s approval.

And it works – the federal government got back in line.

Now, with the Provincial Priorities Act, if Ottawa wants to meddle in Alberta’s jurisdiction, it must first seek Alberta’s approval.

It’s time for Ottawa to recognize Alberta’s autonomy and respect our right to determine our own future.

At the Free Alberta Strategy, we understand that constant vigilance is necessary – every time we establish a boundary, the federal government tries to circumvent it.

We will continue to inform you about what’s happening in Alberta and fight to keep Ottawa out.

But we need your support.

With your help, we can continue our work to defend Alberta’s sovereignty and serve the best interests of all Albertans.

Enough is enough – we will not stand by while our interests are disregarded.

If you are in a financial position to contribute to our work, please donate!

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Alberta

Alberta’s government honours the province’s top athletes, teams, coaches and officials with 2023 Sport Recognition Awards

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Minister of Tourism and Sport Joseph Schow presents the 2023 Alberta Sport Recognition Awards, honouring the province’s top athletes, teams, coaches and officials.

Celebrating excellence in Alberta sport

Alberta is a global leader in sport, and it’s thanks to the athletes, coaches and officials who dedicate themselves to excellence in their craft. The Alberta Sport Recognition program was established in 1987 to acknowledge the outstanding achievements and commitment of coaches, officials and volunteers in the province.

Recipients of the 2023 Sport Recognition Awards represent the best in sport from across the province, from exceptional athletes to hard-working coaches and officials. Through their unwavering dedication to sport, these individuals are contributing to Alberta’s reputation as a global leader in sport and help make our province the best place in the world to live, visit and play.

“These high-performance athletes, coaches, and officials have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in international and national competitions and are deserving of recognition for their efforts. I am proud of their contributions and grateful for their leadership in making Alberta a province that lives the spirit of sport.”

Joseph Schow, Minister of Tourism and Sport

“The award recipients have demonstrated dedication, passion and excellence which have set them apart as true champions in their respective fields. Many have reached the pinnacle of performance and each of the recipients has demonstrated unparalleled commitment and skill, inspiring others to reach for excellence in all they do.”

Dale Henwood, chair, Alberta Sports Hall of Fame

The 2023 award recipients are:

  • Junior Male Athlete of the Year – Nikita Ciudin – Sprint Canoe
  • Junior Female Athlete of the Year – Julia Bartlett – Biathlon
  • Junior Team of the Year – Team Tao – Curling – Johnson Tao, Jaedon Neuert, Ben Morin, Adam Naugler, Zach Davies and Skip Wilson (coach)
  • Open Male Athlete of the Year – Jeremiah Lauzon – Athletics
  • Open Female Athlete of the Year – Alexandria Loutitt – Ski Jumping
  • Open Team of the Year – Team Canada 3×3 Basketball – Michelle Plouffe, Katherine Plouffe, Paige Crozon, Kacie Bosch, Jamie Scott, and Kim Gaucher (coach)
  • Coaching Recognition Award: Rachel Koroscil – Biathlon
  • Coaching Recognition Award: Marty Birky – Basketball
  • Technical Official Recognition Award – Barb Bush – Springboard Diving
  • Technical Official Recognition Awards – Matthew Kallio – Basketball

Quick facts

  • In 2002, the Athlete and Team of the Year awards were added to the awards program to acknowledge high performance athletes and teams who are promoting Alberta on the national and international stage, and recognize their pursuit of sport development goals.
  • The Coach Recognition Award recognizes coaches for their outstanding achievements in developing Alberta’s amateur athletes.
  • The Official Recognition Award recognizes outstanding achievements in and commitments to officiating.
  • Award recipients were selected by a committee and considered results from the 2022/2023 competition season.
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