Emergency Review Panel Releases Final COVID-19 Report and Recommendations for the Alberta Government
The Public Health Emergencies Governance Review Panel, led by Preston Manning, delivered its final report to the Government of Alberta, which includes over 90 recommendations for consideration.
The Panel was tasked by Premier Danielle Smith with undertaking a detailed review of the legislation and governance employed during the COVID-19 crisis, and to recommend changes and additional legislation to better prepare the province to meet future public emergencies. The mandate of the Panel was not to conduct an overall inquiry into the government’s response to COVID-19, but strictly to review the statutes that provided the legal basis for the government’s response to COVID-19.
Drawing upon the expertise and research of advisors and contractors commissioned for the study, the Panel arrived at a series of conclusions and recommendations for the Alberta Government to consider.
The recommendations of the Panel fall into three main categories, and included:
- Improving the focus and performance of the administrative and regulatory framework used to respond to provincewide public emergencies, including:
- Strengthen the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) through legislative amendments and budgetary provisions to make it the lead government agency responding to and coordinating the response of the Alberta government to future provincewide public emergencies, including health emergencies.
- Develop and maintain a broadly-based Inventory of Scientific Advice and Scientific Advisors that can be drawn upon in the event of a public emergency.
- Mandate by legislation that preliminary, interim and post-emergency impact assessments be conducted in response to any future provincewide public emergencies.
- Reject provincewide school closures as a policy option in responding to a provincewide public emergency, except in the most exceptional of circumstances, and then only for the shortest possible period of time.
- Balancing the protection of Albertans from the harms caused by public emergencies with the protection of their basic rights and freedoms during an emergency period, including:
- Amend the Alberta Bill of Rights and Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Health Professions Act to protect the rights and freedoms of all Albertans, including workers and healthcare professionals, and the freedom of expression during public emergencies.
- Increasing the overall capacity of Alberta’s healthcare system to respond to surges in demand caused by a public health emergency. Here, the Panel recognized that the government has already taken numerous incremental steps to increase the overall capacity of the healthcare system. The Panel commends those initiatives and recommends additional incremental steps, all compatible with the principles of universality and the Canada Health Act, including:
- Expanding the use of nurse practitioners and licensed practical nurses.
- Reducing or eliminating barriers to labour mobility for healthcare workers.
- Exploring options for attracting more healthcare providers into medical training
- Incentivizing medical graduates to serve in the most needed areas.
- Utilizing pharmacists to their full scope of practice.
- Expanding and improving the organization of home care services.
- Expanding the capacity of the Alberta healthcare system to deal with mental health.
- Expanding and supporting the use of virtual medicine and telemedicine.
- Streamlining system administration.
The panelists include Michel Kelly-Gagnon (President Emeritus of the Montréal Economic Institute), The Honourable John C. (Jack) Major CC KC (Former Supreme Court of Canada Justice), Preston Manning, PC CC AOE (former MP for Calgary Southwest and Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons), Dr. Jack Mintz (president’s fellow of the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary and a distinguished senior fellow of the MacDonald-Laurier Institute), Dr. Martha Fulford (Infectious Disease Specialist and Retired Chief of Medicine, McMaster University), and Dr. Robert Tanguay, Psychiatrist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Surgery at the Cumming School of Medicine).
“The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting global turmoil was unprecedented. Alberta, like the rest of the world, had to make decisions quickly and with limited, changing and even conflicting information. It is my hope that by adopting these recommendations, the Government will be better equipped to cope with future emergencies, and that the impacts on Albertans – their personal livelihoods, civil liberties, and mental health can be mitigated to the greatest extent possible.” – Preston Manning, Chair
“For the credibility of the study and our final recommendations, I felt it was important to select panelists and advisors with varied areas of expertise and perspectives on the key issues. For that reason, while there were certainly differences of opinion, I am thrilled that we were ultimately able to arrive at a consensus on the recommendations put forward.” – Preston Manning, Chair
Read the full report here.
Most Important Conclusions/Recommendation Per Chapter
- Strengthen, through legislative amendments and budgetary provisions, the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) – whose members are specifically trained in emergency management – to make it the lead government agency for co-ordinating the response of the Alberta government to any and all future provincewide public emergencies. (Chapter 2)
- Appoint a Senior Science Officer, with multidisciplinary training and experience, to the AEMA, responsible for developing and maintaining a broadly based Inventory of Scientific Advice and Scientific Advisors that can be drawn upon in the event of public emergencies. (Chapter 3)
- Increase the effectiveness and accountability of the Alberta regulatory framework by increasing its evidence- based decision-making capacity, transparency, consistency, fairness, and self-correctability via feedback. (Chapter 4)
- Reject provincewide school closures as a policy option in responding to a provincewide public emergency, except in the most exceptional of circumstances and only then for the shortest possible period of time. (Chapter 5)
- Mandate by legislation the conduct of impact assessments prior to, during and after promulgation of orders and regulations for adoption in response to a declared provincewide public emergency. (Chapter 6)
- Recognize that public emergencies generate additional and exceptional pressures on governments to limit the exercise of rights and freedoms, and thus amend theAlberta Bill of Rights to specifically strengthen the protection of rights and freedoms under such circumstances. (Chapter 7)
- Increase the protection of the rights and freedoms of workers and healthcare professionals, during public emergencies, in particular their freedom of expression, through amendments to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Health Professions Act. (Chapter 8)
- Increase the overall capacity of the Alberta healthcare system, thereby increasing its capacity to meet surges in demand caused by public health emergencies, through the incremental measures proposed, while respecting the principle of universality and the provisions of the Canada Health Act. (Chapter 9)
- On the belief that Alberta can always learn from others, invite representatives from countries having healthcare systems that outperform Canada/Alberta to a Colloquium on 21st Century Healthcare Best Practices to identify the policies, legislation and features of their systems responsible for superior performance. (Chapter 9)
- The recommendations of this report are based on the general consensus of Panel members as to how best to prepare Alberta to cope with future public emergencies. But “preparing for future public emergencies” is an evolving process, subject to unforeseen factors and considerations. Therefore, alternative perspectives and narratives on how to best cope with future emergencies should also be welcomed, appreciated and examined.
Premier Smith reacts to Liberal Government’s announcement on new methane reduction targets at COP 28
Federal methane emissions targets: Joint statement
“Once again, the federal government is setting unrealistic targets and timelines. Infrastructure can only be updated as quickly as technology allows. For example, Alberta will not accept nor impose a total ban on flaring at this time, as it is a critical health and safety practice during production. Any regulation that completely prohibits this is putting lives at risk”
Premier Danielle Smith and Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Rebecca Schulz issued the following statement on the federal government’s proposed methane emissions regulations:
“The federal government has unilaterally established new methane emissions rules and targets to help win international headlines. Instead of building on Alberta’s award-winning approach, Ottawa wants to replace it with costly, dangerous and unconstitutional new federal regulations that won’t benefit anyone beyond Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault’s post-office career.
“Managing emissions from Alberta’s oil and gas industry is our constitutional right and responsibility, not Ottawa’s, and we are getting the job done. Using a province-led approach, Alberta has already reduced methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 45 per cent – hitting our target three years early – and we’re just getting started.
“Meanwhile, not only is it illegal for Ottawa to attempt to regulate our industries in this manner, Ottawa also hasn’t even hit one of its past arbitrary and unscientific emissions targets largely because it has little to no credible expertise regulating the natural resource, agricultural and other industry sectors in this space.
“Ottawa could have helped us keep reducing emissions with joint incentive programs in line with Alberta’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan. It could have listened to the Supreme Court’s declaration that the Impact Assessment Act was unconstitutional and abandoned this kind of arrogant and ineffective scheme. Instead, these new regulations threaten our successful province-led approach and impede good work that’s already underway.
“Once again, the federal government is setting unrealistic targets and timelines. Infrastructure can only be updated as quickly as technology allows. For example, Alberta will not accept nor impose a total ban on flaring at this time, as it is a critical health and safety practice during production. Any regulation that completely prohibits this is putting lives at risk. A total ban would also be costly, resulting in shut-ins and loss of production.
“This approach will also cost tens of billions in infrastructure upgrades, yet Ottawa has provided virtually no financial support to do so. Thousands of Albertans could be put out of work in the coming years due to these costly regulations. A federal government willing to invest $37.7 billion into just three battery plants in Ontario and Quebec cannot credibly refuse to provide tax credits and financial incentives for producers in Alberta and Saskatchewan to assist with achieving a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.
“For years, Alberta, not Ottawa, has done the hard work and achieved results. We strongly support reducing methane emissions and have invested tens of millions into developing these technologies. Minister Guilbeault must work with us, and not against us, to keep cutting methane emissions and charting a course for carbon neutrality by 2050.
“Given the unconstitutional nature of this latest federal intrusion into our provincial jurisdiction, our government will use every tool at our disposal to ensure these absurd federal regulations are never implemented in our province.”
Alberta’s Methane Target Reached Early
Gas processing plant in northwest Alberta, courtesy of EnergyNow
Courtesy of ENERGYminute
See more articles and infographics from ENERGYminute HERE
In a pat-yourself-on-the-back moment, Alberta’s oil and gas industry successfully achieved a 45 percent reduction in methane emissions, surpassing the province’s mandated target ahead of schedule.
Background: Alberta was the first province in Canada to commit to a 45 percent reduction in methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 2025, based on 2014 levels. Spoiler alert: Alberta achieved its methane mission three years early.
- Their targeted approach to reducing methane emissions from flaring, venting and fugitives has become an example globally, earning national and international awards for its effectiveness and cost-efficiency.
Alberta strong: The government credited the early success to close collaboration with the industry, implementing early action programs such as carbon offsets, tough regulations for all facilities, and enhanced leak detection and repair methods.
Minister of Environment Rebecca Schulz highlighted that this made-in-Alberta approach not only achieved the goal three years ahead of schedule but also resulted in roughly $600 million in savings for the industry compared to the proposed federal program.
Getting the job done: Alberta allocated $57 million from the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction fund for methane emissions programs, including:
- $25 million in rebates to companies adopting emissions reduction equipment.
- $17 million supporting alternatives to detecting and quantifying emissions.
- $15 million to help small- and medium-sized operators assess methane reduction opportunities.
Overall, the initiatives eliminated 16.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere.
Looking ahead: Alberta is committed to building on this momentum and collaborating with industry experts to determine the next steps in their emissions reduction journey, aligning with the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
Pfizer documents challenge Health Canada COVID-19 vaccine narrative
Trudeau signs partnership with EU to promote digital IDs, counter ‘disinformation’
Trudeau gov’t appears to back down on ‘digital services tax’ plans
Christian attorney sues Law Society of Alberta for mandating left-wing trainings
Health1 day ago
Canadian medical college suggests doctors prioritize ‘social justice’ over ‘expertise’
Bruce Dowbiggin1 day ago
Could AI Make Yesterday Into Today For Culture, Sports & Politics?
Community1 day ago
Conservative MP Leslyn Lewis condemns MAiD in Parliament as targeting nation’s most vulnerable
Alberta1 day ago
City of Edmonton has a spending problem
Business1 day ago
Indigenous loan program must include oil and gas
Canadian Energy Centre1 day ago
Reality check: Global emissions from coal plants
Business1 day ago
Budget update proves Trudeau isn’t serious about federal finances
Business1 day ago
King’s coronation cost taxpayers $534,000 and counting