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Alberta

UPDATE: Mikisew Cree Nation announces their support for the Teck Frontier project

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Update – Premier Kenney on the announcement

Premier Kenney had this to say about the announcement: The Government of Alberta made a promise to ensure our First Nations partners are true partners in prosperity. The Mikisew Cree, and every other First Nation looking to create new opportunities for their people are a part of this effort, and that is why we must highlight their voices. Our Indigenous partners understand that while we utilize the resources we inherit, we also must protect the land, which they have depended on for time immemorial.” – Premier Jason Kenney

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Background:

 from The Mikisew Cree First Nation

February 21, 2020

Wood Buffalo, AB – ​The Mikisew Cree First Nation have announced their support for the approval of the Teck Frontier Project. This decision was made using a community-based decision making framework aimed at ensuring a healthy future for our people and the Peace Athabasca Delta.

The First Nation reached this decision by evaluating the proponent’s environmental and social commitments and the mitigation and accommodation measures being brought to federal and provincial decision-makers against Mikisew’s Nikechinahonan Framework. That framework is aimed at ensuring the project is consistent with the health of Wood Buffalo National Park, the health of traditional resources, and the cultural, physical and social health of the Mikisew community.

Chief Archie Waquan noted that this moment came after a rigorous review of environmental and cultural studies in a 10-year consultation process led by elders and staff. “We applaud Teck, Canada and Alberta for working with us to identify ground-breaking measures to safeguard Wood Buffalo National Park, wood bison and our community. With the long term commitments from Teck, Alberta and Canada, we see a strong path for protecting Wood Buffalo National Park, the Ronald Lake Bison Herd and our culture and community if the project proceeds. That is how we got to today’s decision to confirm our support.”

In making its decision today, Mikisew leadership noted its appreciation for the hard work done by federal officials and the Government of Alberta to take Mikisew’s concerns seriously and contribute meaningful solutions to resolving them. Among other things, this includes actions relating to bison, community well-being, water quality and quantity and the creation of a new protected area. Mikisew urges both governments to commit to uphold and fully endorse the important commitments that have been developed to preserve the environment and culture if the project is approved.

Mikisew also urges both governments to use this process as a blueprint for future resource development decisions. The federal government, through a cabinet decision, stands to make a decision on the project next week.

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Alberta

Alberta announces extra $1B to create jobs repairing roads, bridges, schools

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EDMONTON — Alberta is adding $1 billion to its budget to repair more roads, schools, bridges and potholes as a way to create jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Jason Kenney says the plan will create thousands of jobs and that the work will strictly follow health protocols to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

He says the extra cash means a total of $13 billion is being directed to help Albertans during the pandemic, through either direct subsidies or deferrals on taxes and other payments.

Kenney says there will be more stimulus programs to come, as the United Conservative government determines the best way to restart the economy after the virus peaks, projected to happen in mid to late May.

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley lauded Kenney’s announcement as a smart way to get money out the door to quickly to boost employment.

But she says more has to be done, such as an emergency rent subsidy of up to $10,000 per renter, insurance premium freezes and reductions, and $5,000 for each small business to help them keep operating and adapt to technology.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2020

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta doctors file lawsuit against province after changes to billing

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EDMONTON — The Alberta Medical Association has filed a lawsuit against the province after the United Conservative government went ahead with changes to how doctors can bill for their services.

The association’s president, Dr. Christine Molnar, says in a letter to physicians that the statement of claim was filed this morning.

Molnar says it’s “incredulous” that the association had to file a constitutional challenge on behalf of its members in the middle of a pandemic.

But she says the province has left the association with few alternatives.

The government went ahead with changes to the physician funding framework on March 31.

Premier Jason Kenney declined to comment on the lawsuit, but maintained that Alberta physicians are the best compensated in Canada.

“We want to support our physicians. We believe they should not only be paid fairly but generously,” he told reporters Thursday.

“What we need to do is prevent that kind of compensation from getting even more out of whack with the rest of the country in the future.” 

Total physician compensation remains flat at $5.4 billion in the government’s 2020-21 budget, but the new funding framework will change how doctors are paid for their work.

Doctors have said that the changes will force hundreds of clinics across the province, particularly in rural areas, to reduce staff or close their doors. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 9, 2020

The Canadian Press

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