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Province of Alberta

The 30th Legislature
First Session
Alberta Hansard

Monday afternoon, November 25, 2019

Day 46

The Honourable Nathan M. Cooper, Speaker


Legislative Assembly of Alberta
The 30th Legislature
First Session
Cooper, Hon. Nathan M., Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills (UCP), Speaker
Pitt, Angela D., Airdrie-East (UCP), Deputy Speaker and Chair of
Committees
Milliken, Nicholas, Calgary-Currie (UCP), Deputy Chair of Committees

Aheer, Hon. Leela Sharon, Chestermere-Strathmore (UCP)
Allard, Tracy L., Grande Prairie (UCP)
Amery, Mickey K., Calgary-Cross (UCP)
Armstrong-Homeniuk, Jackie,
Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville (UCP)
Barnes, Drew, Cypress-Medicine Hat (UCP)
Bilous, Deron, Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview (NDP),
Official Opposition House Leader
Carson, Jonathon, Edmonton-West Henday (NDP)
Ceci, Joe, Calgary-Buffalo (NDP)
Copping, Hon. Jason C., Calgary-Varsity (UCP)
Dach, Lorne, Edmonton-McClung (NDP)
Dang, Thomas, Edmonton-South (NDP)
Deol, Jasvir, Edmonton-Meadows (NDP)
Dreeshen, Hon. Devin, Innisfail-Sylvan Lake (UCP)
Eggen, David, Edmonton-North West (NDP),
Official Opposition Whip
Ellis, Mike, Calgary-West (UCP),
Government Whip
Feehan, Richard, Edmonton-Rutherford (NDP)
Fir, Hon. Tanya, Calgary-Peigan (UCP)
Ganley, Kathleen T., Calgary-Mountain View (NDP)
Getson, Shane C., Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland (UCP)
Glasgo, Michaela L., Brooks-Medicine Hat (UCP)
Glubish, Hon. Nate, Strathcona-Sherwood Park (UCP)
Goehring, Nicole, Edmonton-Castle Downs (NDP)
Goodridge, Laila, Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche (UCP)
Gotfried, Richard, Calgary-Fish Creek (UCP)
Gray, Christina, Edmonton-Mill Woods (NDP)
Guthrie, Peter F., Airdrie-Cochrane (UCP)
Hanson, David B., Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul (UCP)
Hoffman, Sarah, Edmonton-Glenora (NDP)
Horner, Nate S., Drumheller-Stettler (UCP)
Hunter, Hon. Grant R., Taber-Warner (UCP)
Irwin, Janis, Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood (NDP),
Official Opposition Deputy Whip
Issik, Whitney, Calgary-Glenmore (UCP)
Jones, Matt, Calgary-South East (UCP)
Kenney, Hon. Jason, PC, Calgary-Lougheed (UCP),
Premier
LaGrange, Hon. Adriana, Red Deer-North (UCP)
Loewen, Todd, Central Peace-Notley (UCP)
Long, Martin M., West Yellowhead (UCP)
Lovely, Jacqueline, Camrose (UCP)
Loyola, Rod, Edmonton-Ellerslie (NDP)
Luan, Hon. Jason, Calgary-Foothills (UCP)
Madu, Hon. Kaycee, Edmonton-South West (UCP)
McIver, Hon. Ric, Calgary-Hays (UCP),
Deputy Government House Leader Nally, Hon. Dale, Morinville-St. Albert (
UCP)
Neudorf, Nathan T., Lethbridge-East (UCP)
Nicolaides, Hon. Demetrios, Calgary-Bow (UCP)
Nielsen, Christian E., Edmonton-Decore (NDP)
Nixon, Hon. Jason, Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre
(UCP), Government House Leader
Nixon, Jeremy P., Calgary-Klein (UCP)
Notley, Rachel, Edmonton-Strathcona (NDP),
Leader of the Official Opposition
Orr, Ronald, Lacombe-Ponoka (UCP)
Pancholi, Rakhi, Edmonton-Whitemud (NDP)
Panda, Hon. Prasad, Calgary-Edgemont (UCP)
Phillips, Shannon, Lethbridge-West (NDP)
Pon, Hon. Josephine, Calgary-Beddington (UCP)
Rehn, Pat, Lesser Slave Lake (UCP)
Reid, Roger W., Livingstone-Macleod (UCP)
Renaud, Marie F., St. Albert (NDP)
Rosin, Miranda D., Banff-Kananaskis (UCP)
Rowswell, Garth, Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright (UCP)
Rutherford, Brad, Leduc-Beaumont (UCP)
Sabir, Irfan, Calgary-McCall (NDP)
Savage, Hon. Sonya, Calgary-North West (UCP),
Deputy Government House Leader
Sawhney, Hon. Rajan, Calgary-North East (UCP)
Schmidt, Marlin, Edmonton-Gold Bar (NDP)
Schow, Joseph R., Cardston-Siksika (UCP),
Deputy Government Whip
Schulz, Hon. Rebecca, Calgary-Shaw (UCP)
Schweitzer, Hon. Doug, Calgary-Elbow (UCP),
Deputy Government House Leader
Shandro, Hon. Tyler, Calgary-Acadia (UCP)
Shepherd, David, Edmonton-City Centre (NDP)
Sigurdson, Lori, Edmonton-Riverview (NDP)
Sigurdson, R.J., Highwood (UCP)
Singh, Peter, Calgary-East (UCP)
Smith, Mark W., Drayton Valley-Devon (UCP)
Stephan, Jason, Red Deer-South (UCP)
Sweet, Heather, Edmonton-Manning (NDP),
Official Opposition Deputy House Leader
Toews, Hon. Travis, Grande Prairie-Wapiti (UCP)
Toor, Devinder, Calgary-Falconridge (UCP)
Turton, Searle, Spruce Grove-Stony Plain (UCP)
van Dijken, Glenn, Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock (UCP)
Walker, Jordan, Sherwood Park (UCP)
Williams, Dan D.A., Peace River (UCP)
Wilson, Hon. Rick D., Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin (UCP)
Yao, Tany, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo (UCP)
Yaseen, Muhammad, Calgary-North (UCP)

Party standings: United Conservative: 63 New Democrat: 24

Officers and Officials of the Legislative Assembly

Shannon Dean, Clerk
Teri Cherkewich, Law Clerk
Stephanie LeBlanc, Clerk Assistant and
Senior Parliamentary Counsel
Trafton Koenig, Parliamentary Counsel Philip Massolin, Clerk of Committees
and
Research Services
Nancy Robert, Research Officer
Janet Schwegel, Managing Editor of
Alberta Hansard Chris Caughell, Acting Sergeant-at-Arms
Tom Bell, Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms
Paul Link, Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms


Executive Council

Jason Kenney Premier, President of Executive Council,
Minister of Intergovernmental Relations

Leela Aheer Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women

Jason Copping Minister of Labour and Immigration

Devin Dreeshen Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

Tanya Fir Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism

Nate Glubish Minister of Service Alberta

Grant Hunter Associate Minister of Red Tape Reduction

Adriana LaGrange Minister of Education

Jason Luan Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

Kaycee Madu Minister of Municipal Affairs

Ric McIver Minister of Transportation

Dale Nally Associate Minister of Natural Gas

Demetrios Nicolaides Minister of Advanced Education

Jason Nixon Minister of Environment and Parks

Prasad Panda Minister of Infrastructure

Josephine Pon Minister of Seniors and Housing

Sonya Savage Minister of Energy

Rajan Sawhney Minister of Community and Social Services

Rebecca Schulz Minister of Children's Services

Doug Schweitzer Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

Tyler Shandro Minister of Health

Travis Toews President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance

Rick Wilson Minister of Indigenous Relations

Parliamentary Secretaries

Laila Goodridge Parliamentary Secretary Responsible for Alberta's
Francophonie

Muhammad Yaseen Parliamentary Secretary of Immigration


STANDING AND SPECIAL COMMITTEES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ALBERTA

Standing Committee on the
Alberta Heritage Savings
Trust Fund

Chair: Mr. Orr
Deputy Chair: Mr. Getson

Allard
Eggen
Glasgo
Jones
Loyola
Nielsen
Singh Standing Committee on
Alberta's Economic Future

Chair: Mr. van Dijken
Deputy Chair: Ms Goehring

Allard
Barnes
Bilous
Dang
Gray
Horner
Irwin
Issik
Jones
Reid
Rowswell
Stephan
Toor Standing Committee on
Families and Communities

Chair: Ms Goodridge
Deputy Chair: Ms Sigurdson

Amery
Carson
Ganley
Glasgo
Guthrie
Long
Neudorf
Nixon, Jeremy
Pancholi
Rutherford
Shepherd
Walker
Yao Standing Committee on
Legislative Offices

Chair: Mr. Ellis
Deputy Chair: Mr. Schow

Goodridge
Gray
Lovely
Nixon, Jeremy
Rutherford
Schmidt
Shepherd
Sigurdson, R.J.
Sweet

Special Standing Committee
on Members' Services

Chair: Mr. Cooper
Deputy Chair: Mr. Ellis

Dang
Deol
Goehring
Goodridge
Gotfried
Long
Neudorf
Sweet
Williams Standing Committee on
Private Bills and Private
Members' Public Bills

Chair: Mr. Ellis
Deputy Chair: Mr. Schow

Glasgo
Horner
Irwin
Neudorf
Nielsen
Nixon, Jeremy
Pancholi
Sigurdson, L.
Sigurdson, R.J. Standing Committee on
Privileges and Elections,
Standing Orders and
Printing

Chair: Mr. Smith
Deputy Chair: Mr. Schow

Carson
Deol
Ganley
Horner
Issik
Jones
Loyola
Neudorf
Rehn
Reid
Renaud
Turton
Yao Standing Committee on
Public Accounts

Chair: Ms Phillips
Deputy Chair: Mr. Gotfried

Barnes
Dach
Feehan
Guthrie
Hoffman
Nixon, Jeremy
Renaud
Rosin
Rowswell
Stephan
Toor
Turton
Walker

Standing Committee on
Resource Stewardship

Chair: Mr. Hanson
Deputy Chair: Member Ceci

Dach
Feehan
Getson
Loewen
Rehn
Rosin
Sabir
Schmidt
Sigurdson, R.J.
Singh
Smith
Turton
Yaseen


November 25, 2019 Alberta Hansard 2477

Legislative Assembly of Alberta
Title: Monday, November 25, 2019 1:30 p.m.
1:30 p.m. Monday, November 25, 2019

[The Speaker in the chair]

head: Prayers

The Speaker: Hon. members, the prayer. Lord, the God of
righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and to her government,
to Members of the Legislative Assembly, and to all in positions of
responsibility the guidance of Your spirit. May they never lead the
province wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or
unworthy ideas but, laying aside all private interests and prejudice,
keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition
of all. Amen.
Hon. members, ladies and gentlemen, we will now be led in the
singing of our national anthem by the Glendon school choir. I would
invite you all to participate in the language of your choice.

Hon. Members:O Canada, our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

The Speaker: Please be seated.

head: Introduction of Visitors

The Speaker: Hon. members, it's my pleasure. This morning I had
the opportunity of meeting with the consul general of the
Netherlands, Mr. Henk Snoeken. He's accompanied by the
honorary consul general of the Netherlands in Edmonton, Jerry
Bouma. It's particularly special having these gentlemen here this
year as it is 75 years of freedom in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Canada and Holland share a deep and meaningful bond stemming
from the results of the Second World War, that continues to be a
rewarding relationship all these decades later. Thank you for
coming, and welcome to Alberta.
Also in the Speaker's gallery this afternoon a special guest: the
Member of Parliament for Lethbridge, Ms Rachael Harder. She is
accompanied by a number of constituents of hers and of the
members of Lethbridge-West and Lethbridge-East. Please rise and
receive the warm welcome of the Assembly.

head: Introduction of Guests

The Speaker: Hon. members, this afternoon, here for the School at
the Legislature: from the constituency of St. Albert, students of
Muriel Martin school.
Also, our anthem singers this afternoon, as I previously
mentioned, guests of the hon. Member for Bonnyville-Cold LakeSt.
Paul: from Glendon school grades 2, 4, and 7, a range of
students. A huge thank you to their teacher, Ms Amy Charter.
Thanks for doing such an amazing job.
Also, guests of the MLA for Sherwood Park: Gunjan Mehta and
Kashyap Pandit from the Hindu BAPS organization. Welcome.
Guests of the Member for Brooks-Medicine Hat: welcome the
Newell Christian School all the way from Duchess today. Last but not least,
joining us and visiting the Official Opposition
caucus are Wallis Kendal and Jasmine Nepoose.
Hon. members, please welcome our guests today.

head: Members' Statements

BAPS Charities

Mr. Walker: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize BAPS, which
is a Hindu religious and social organization. It is a Gujarat, India
based global spiritual organization that is dedicated to community
service, peace, and harmony. As a world-wide Hindu organization
BAPS actively engages in a number of endeavours aimed at
spirituality, human development, and welfare. BAPS has more than
50,000 volunteers and 1,100 Hindu temples, with 100 centres right
here in North America.
I have had the honour of attending BAPS events in Edmonton
and Sherwood Park along with visiting the BAPS temple in
Calgary. Most recently in Edmonton I along with the Minister of
Municipal Affairs attended the BAPS Annakut Mahotsav event.
Hindu community temples celebrate Annakut Mahotsav after the
Diwali festival. The event had an exhibition stall that promoted the
message of the Hindu Vedic literature: the world is one family,
unity and tolerance. What an incredibly positive and inclusive
message.The inspiration behind the activities of BAPS in Edmonton is His
Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and His Holiness Mahant
Swami Maharaj. The Premier has had the opportunity to personally
meet His Holiness and has a long-standing friendship with BAPS.
The Minister of Infrastructure and the Minister of Community and
Social Services have been to the BAPS temple in Calgary, too.
Mr. Speaker, BAPS is a great example of a faith-based civil
society group that greatly contributes to Alberta through
volunteerism, charity, spirituality, and social welfare supports. It is
my sincere honour to recognize and salute BAPS in the Legislature
today.Thank you.

Campaign Investigations and Bill 22

Mr. Nielsen: Mr. Speaker, numerous members of this
government's cabinet and caucus have been interviewed by the
RCMP in their ongoing investigation into voter fraud and identity
theft that appear to have plagued the UCP leadership race. The
Minister of Justice, the Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and
Status of Women, the Minister of Infrastructure, the Minister of
Seniors and Housing, the Associate Minister of Mental Health and
Addictions, also the Member for Cardston-Siksika and the Member
for Sherwood Park were all interviewed by the RCMP as part of
this scandal.
Let's keep in mind that the Premier tried to shrug this off as
Twitter gossip at one point. But before the Justice minister turns his
all-caps rant at me, let's make one thing clear: Albertans know that
Twitter gossip doesn't result in over $200,000 in fines. Albertans
deserve a government that is up front with them. They deserve a
government that doesn't try to hide from accountability or the rule
of law, they deserve a government that doesn't fire those
investigating them, and they deserve a government that takes their
responsibilities under the Conflicts of Interest Act seriously. Just
how many of the members I listed off earlier checked with the
Ethics Commissioner before voting on Bill 22? My guess is none,
Mr. Speaker.
I implore my colleagues on the other side of the House: take a
stand. You know what this government is doing isn't right, and I


2478 Alberta Hansard November 25, 2019

know that your constituents are telling you that, too. This is your
chance. Listen to the people who elected you instead of the
Premier's office. I hope you take it.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tax Policy

Mr. Guthrie: I'm not sure if you've heard, Mr. Speaker, but the
NDP are claiming a $4.7 billion corporate tax giveaway. The NDP
claims: tax cuts don't work; the only way to help the economy is to
continue increasing taxes. They say that they would balance the
budget and would do so while ramping up their spend-and-tax
policies. I am so looking forward to the NDP shadow budget that
shows their path to balance in the next three years.

1:40
But let's talk numbers as we do have four years of NDP
governance to look at for the effects of tax increases. First, we have
the surprise-of-a-lifetime tax, called a $1.4 billion carbon tax, that
caused every Albertan to suffer; followed up with a 20 per cent
increase in corporate taxes, increases to personal taxes, and a $350
million increase to provincial property taxes. But it didn't stop
there. They agreed to increasing CPP and WCB premiums. They
packed on regulations and red tape which further reduced business
competitiveness. As Alberta's only single-term government the
NDP decimated the resource sector and drove capital investment
out of the province in every sector by double-digit numbers. They
shrunk the private sector and reduced our provincial earnings
growth to the slowest in Canada by a country mile. Unemployment
skyrocketed, vacancies grew, private-sector wages plummeted, and
bankruptcies erupted.
The NDP claimed that they would gain $6 billion in tax revenues,
but all they did was realize an $8.5 billion tax revenue shortfall,
average over $12 billion in debt each year they were in office,
proving through their own doing that tax increases hurt all
Albertans.So, Mr. Speaker, it is our intention to reverse this
catastrophic
economic failure by the NDP. It will not be easy, and it will take
time, but we will not be deterred.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Campaign Investigations and Bill 22

Ms Sweet: Mr. Speaker, Bill 22 has passed, and I'm sure this
government has moved at record speed to fire the Election
Commissioner and any trace of his investigation into the UCP
leadership race. For those wanting justice, we hope and assume the
RCMP investigation into UCP voter fraud soldiers on.
Let's be clear that Bill 22 is the most undemocratic and unethical
act this Legislature has ever seen. Albertans won't forget, neither
will this Official Opposition, and neither will I as the opposition
critic for democracy and ethics. Albertans won't forget that these
days just before the spring election the Member for Calgary-East
had his business raided by RCMP officers in connection with the
voter fraud investigation. Albertans also won't forget that the
Member for Calgary-Glenmore was specifically named in a letter
provided to the RCMP about the voter fraud that occurred. The
letter detailed offshore e-mail servers and voting kiosks being run
specifically to put the campaign by the current Premier over the top.
Albertans also won't forget that despite being Members of this
Legislative Assembly for seven months, neither of those members
have come clean about what they know and whether they believe
it's acceptable to remain as MLAs while under RCMP
investigation. To both members: your silence is deafening. The Premier,
for his part, has dismissed all these allegations and
called them Twitter gossip, but Bill 22 indicates that there is much,
much more at play. And this Premier hopes that he can change the
channel after his Texas hideout. I promise him this, that neither
myself nor the 23 other MLAs on this side of the House will let
Albertans forget what occurred last week, because it was shameful.
Still, I believe in my heart that justice will be served someday.
Thank you.

The Speaker: I recognize the hon. Member for Calgary-North.

High School Construction in North Calgary

Mr. Yaseen: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I rise to speak to
declare my commitment to education in our province and
investment in public infrastructure. Education is the most basic
right for our children, and an educated Alberta is better for all of
us. Our province is known for being innovative and
entrepreneurial. That is because we value education and
investment in our youth.
I want to express my excitement and appreciation regarding the
recent announcement to build the north Calgary high school. For
more than 15 years the families of Calgary-North have been
advocating for a high school, and I am so pleased that our
government has listened to their voices. In fact, Mr. Speaker, while
I was door-knocking last spring, this was a high priority for parents
in my constituency, among other things like jobs, economy, and
pipelines. The new high school will have the capacity to serve about
1,800 students from north Calgary. A high school in Calgary-North
was a growing need for the community and is well received by its
residents. The announcement of a new high school shows Albertans
that our government is committed to education. Having a high
school closer, too, will increase a student's ability to participate in
extracurricular activities and be more active in the community
involvement. A new high school in Calgary-North will give
students not only the opportunity to go to school closer to their
home but also offer them excellent learning opportunities and better
community participation.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I want to express my sincere thanks to
the Northern Hills Community Association, who worked tirelessly
for the past 15 years advocating for a high school, as well as all the
residents of Calgary-North. Their commitment, hard work, and
dedication paid off.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Climate Change

Ms Renaud: According to the UN's World Meteorological
Organization the concentration of climate-heating greenhouse
gases has hit a record high. The rising concentration of greenhouse
gases follows inevitably from the continued surge in global
emissions. We know that the world's scientists have calculated that
emissions must fall by half by 2030 to give us a good chance at
limiting heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius, beyond which hundreds of
millions of people will suffer more heat waves, droughts, fires,
floods, and extreme poverty.
Our planet is undergoing one of the largest changes in climate
since dinosaurs went extinct. Although some of the changes our
planet will undergo in the next few decades are already baked into
the system, how different the climate looks at the end of the 21st
century will depend largely on how humans respond now.
In April Environment and Climate Change Canada released
Canada's Changing Climate Report, and the report states that
Canada's north has started melting. It's projected that Canada


November 25, 2019 Alberta Hansard 2479

overall will warm almost twice the global average regardless of
what we do to fight it.
UCP members like to point out other bad-actor countries when
trying to deflect from their dismal action on climate change mitigation,
energy efficiency, and climate leadership. Whataboutism
will not solve the massive climate change challenges ahead of us.
Swearing allegiance to one type of energy producer and plastering
their signs on the people's House, our Legislature, will do nothing
to address the massive challenges ahead of us. The only way that
we as a province and country address the massive challenges and
opportunities ahead of us is to unite behind the science and to act
like our house is on fire.
Thank you.

Parliamentary Democracy

Ms Rosin: Mr. Speaker, I have a massive amount of respect for our
democracy in this province, and part of my respect for our
democracy, of course, includes its processes. That's why I'm
always a little amazed when I witness members of this Assembly
completely disrespect the institutions that make this province so
great. Every time I enter this House, I'm overwhelmed and humbled
by the opportunity I have been granted to represent BanffKananaskis
and to make decisions that will hopefully make life a
little bit better for Albertans, but it's becoming increasingly obvious
that some enter this House and see it as an opportunity and a
platform to spread fear and division instead of promoting
constructive dialogue and cohesion.
I'm particularly unimpressed by the calls of the Official
Opposition and their leader to pressure the Lieutenant Governor
into behaving in a way that undermines our democracy and
disregards the voices of Albertans. Last week the Leader of the
Opposition demanded that the Lieutenant Governor block and
barricade Bill 22 from becoming law. You see, Mr. Speaker, I'm
proud to live in a province where we can't demand that democratic
institutions be overturned just because we don't like them or
personally agree with them. I'm proud that we can't bully our way
around the processes or make unfounded demands of those
involved in it.
For those on the other side of the aisle who feel like they can bend
the process for their own agenda, do these members not remember
what they themselves said about a man who attempted to petition
the Lieutenant Governor in 2016? Twitter was overwhelmed by the
hashtag #kudatah and the widespread mockery of the NDP, who
lambasted the very idea that someone would petition the Lieutenant
Governor. Yet here today it seems that that opposition has decided
to take a page right from the playbook and make kudatah the official
NDP policy.
Let me be clear, Mr. Speaker. I for one don't stand for this
hypocrisy, nor do I stand for political moves that erode our
democracy and undermine our institutions. The opposition can
stomp their feet and bully and tweet all they want, but it won't
change the outcome of this democracy.

The Speaker: The hon. Member for Edmonton-Strathcona would
like to address the House.

Member's Apology

Ms Notley: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to address my
comments from question period last Tuesday. Last week we
witnessed an unprecedented attack on Alberta's democracy, namely
the firing of the Election Commissioner while he was actively
investigating members and associates of the government caucus. During
question period I used unparliamentary language to describe
the Government House Leader's actions when he claimed that Bill
22 does not fire the Election Commissioner. In fact, the bill did
specifically fire the Election Commissioner, and he has now been
fired. In the face of the contradiction that appeared between the
statement of the House leader and the words within the act, I used
unparliamentary language when I said that the House leader was
misleading the House.* While I retain my position that the House
leader was incorrect when he suggested that Bill 22 did not fire
anyone, I respect the rules and traditions of this Chamber, and as
such, I withdraw my comment.

The Speaker: Hon. members, I consider this matter dealt with and
concluded.

1:50 head: Oral Question Period

The Speaker: The Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition.

Election Commissioner and Bill 22

Ms Notley: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's good to be back, and I
also offer a welcome back to the Premier. Bill 22, jammed through
the Legislature while the Premier was in Texas, is an abuse of
power that breaches the rule of law. The Premier fired the Election
Commissioner in the midst of active investigations into him,
members of his caucus, and members of his party. The House leader
had the gall to tell this House, “No one is firing anybody,” but the
bill says that Mr. Gibson is “terminated.” To the Premier: if you
believe you did the right thing, will you at least correct the record
and admit that as of today Lorne Gibson is no longer the Election
Commissioner? Please tell the truth.

The Speaker: The hon. the Premier.

Mr. Kenney: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the Leader of the
Opposition knows full well, the position of Election Commissioner
carries on within the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, which
has been responsible for the administration and enforcement of
Alberta election law from 1905 until July of 2018, analogous to the
system that exists in every other province. As the Chief Electoral
Officer said last Friday, “All investigations begun by the Office of
the Election Commissioner will continue under Elections Alberta's
statutory mandate.” Nothing could be more clear than that.

Ms Notley: Well, Mr. Speaker, the Premier is wrong. The folks
over there are not telling the truth, and they know it. There is no
Election Commissioner right now, and this public firing has
intimidated anybody tasked with holding this Premier accountable.
The investigation has already been compromised. This is classic
political interference, intimidation, and abuse of power. This is not,
however, the classic behaviour of democratic leaders. The House
leader said there was no panic, but they passed the bill with an
urgency of someone on the run from the law. To the Premier: what
are you hiding?

Mr. Kenney: Absolutely nothing, Mr. Speaker. In fact, Bill 22
received more hours of debate than any other bill before the
Legislature in this fall session. Let me carry on quoting from the
Chief Electoral Officer, who says:
Prior to July 2018, when the Office of the Election Commissioner
was created, Elections Alberta was responsible for receiving
complaints and conducting all investigations regarding noncompliance
with the Election Act and the Election Finances and
Contributions Disclosure Act. Elections Alberta is once again
tasked with performing this regulatory role. It will resume the

*See page 2328, right column, paragraph 4


2480 Alberta Hansard November 25, 2019

role in accordance with its duty to act independently and to apply
the election and election finance legislation consistently and
fairly.

Ms Notley: Well, thanks to Bill 22, Mr. Speaker, there's no such
thing as anybody having a duty to act independently. The Supreme
Court of Canada defines the rule of law as “supreme over officials
of the government . . . and thereby preclusive of the influence of
arbitrary power.” This Premier thinks he's above the law and that
he can fire those who would hold him to account on a whim. Last
week the Premier forced this House to serve as his tool for this
abuse of power. What is so damaging that this Premier has to abuse
his power, corrupt this House, and break the rule of law to keep it
secret?

Mr. Kenney: Mr. Speaker, all of that sounds like the campaign of
fear and smear we heard in the spring election that Albertans
rejected. Instead, I'll quote from an independent officer who has
been independently administering Alberta elections law for several
years, who was in fact appointed by the previous NDP government,
when he said on Friday, “All investigations begun by the Office of
the Election Commissioner will continue under Elections Alberta's
statutory mandate.” All that's changed is that instead of the
commissioner being accountable to the Legislature or the
government, the commissioner is now accountable to an
independent, arm's-length official.

The Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition for her second set of
questions.

Ms Notley: What's changed, Mr. Speaker, is that the guy that has
fined those guys over $200,000 just got fired by those guys, but you
know what? Let's go into quotes because it's not just me and some
of the folks at the Grey Cup who were worried about this Premier.
The Star says that Bill 22 “amounts to an abuse of power” and “an
affront to democracy that will not be easily swept under the rug.”
The Globe and Mail says it “raises serious questions about
democracy in Alberta.” The Edmonton Journal says this
commissioner should have been allowed to finish the job. To the
Premier. Albertans don't believe you. Why won't you come clean
with them?

Mr. Kenney: Well, Mr. Speaker, many commentators remarked on
how the real violation of the democratic spirit came from the Leader
of the Opposition when she wrote to Her Honour the Lieutenant
Governor asking that she violate our Westminster parliamentary
constitution by effectively vetoing a law duly passed by the elected
representatives of Albertans. I know that the leader of the NDP has
had a hard time coming to terms with Albertans firing her last
spring, but here's the reality. Albertans' elected representatives
passed this law to restore . . .

Ms Notley: Mr. Speaker, what I have a hard time coming to terms
with is the attack on democracy by this Premier.
But let's keep going in terms of what other folks think. Graham
Thomson calls it dangerous. Ryan Jespersen calls it disgraceful.
Rick Bell says that it stinks. Jason Markusoff asks, “How the
(expletive) does he think he can get away with this?” And Charles
Adler says, quote, we've just witnessed goons laying a beating on
democracy and then denying they did. Premier, are all of these
people wrong, too?

Mr. Kenney: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you what's wrong: the
opposition leader violating our Constitution by seeking to have the
representative of the Queen refuse to pass into law a law duly adopted by
the elected representatives of the people of Alberta to
strengthen the independence of the Election Commissioner so that
he or she will in the future be accountable to the Chief Electoral
Officer, an independent officer of this place, as opposed to directly
to the government. This is common sense, what every other
province in Canada does. It's what Alberta did for 114 years.

Ms Notley: No other government in Canada or anywhere in the
Commonwealth has presumed to fire someone who's in the midst
of investigating them, Mr. Speaker.
Now, more people. Mount Royal professor Duanne Bratt calls it,
quote, a cover-up, plain and simple, and a travesty of democracy
and justice. U of C political scientist Lisa Young says that the
Premier is “trying to lay the groundwork for those who have
[already] been fined for breaking election law to walk away.” U of
C political scientist Melanee Thomas says, quote, the Premier is
using the power of the state to silence an independent body, and this
is corrupt. Premier, a simple question: why do so many Albertans
think you are corrupt?

Mr. Kenney: It's so sad over there that they're now resorting to
quoting NDP candidates like Ms Thomas as objective sources.
Mr. Speaker, for 114 years this province had one bureaucracy
administering the elections law until the NDP decided to create an
entirely redundant office. We have restored the same independent
implementation of election law that existed for the first 114 years
of our history, the same model that exists in every other province
and at the federal level. It's going to save taxpayers' money and
will strengthen the independence of the office of the commissioner.

Bill 22 Votes

Ms Notley: Quote: I don't see a conflict of interest. End quote.
That's the Premier telling the Ethics Commissioner that he, the one
under investigation, is the best judge of whether or not he can fire
his investigator. This Premier fled the province to avoid voting on
this bill. He knows that he's in conflict. Clearly, this plan to abuse
their power was cooked up behind closed doors within his cabinet.
The question is: did the Premier recuse himself, did he hide from
those discussions, or did he in fact orchestrate those discussions?
We need an answer.

Mr. Kenney: Again, Mr. Speaker, Bill 22 was principally about the
consolidation of agencies, boards, and commissions per our
government's budgetary mandate to reduce unnecessary
duplication. We did this with respect to dozens of agencies, boards,
and commissions. I will remind the NDP leader that both of our
legacy parties opposed the creation of the separate Election
Commissioner's office because it was completely unnecessary and
redundant bureaucracy, so we have followed through on the
position that we took two years ago and during the last election.
Now the Chief Electoral Officer says that “all investigations begun
by the Office of the Election Commissioner will continue
under . . .”

Ms Notley: Mr. Speaker, most people do not believe that their
accountability to the law is redundant.
The Ethics Commissioner warned these folks that anyone under
investigation and anyone with direct associates under investigation
would likely be in breach of section 2 of the Conflicts of Interest
Act had they voted. Since this Premier is under investigation,
discussing this bill with his whole cabinet, who would consider this
Premier their direct associate, not to mention the many other UCP
operatives under investigation, will this Premier admit that this


November 25, 2019 Alberta Hansard 2481

corrupt bill is an attempt to further his own political interests by
making his cabinet break ethics laws?

2:00
Mr. Kenney: Mr. Speaker, the NDP leader is just reaching beyond
the point of desperation now. The truth is that she was seeking to
break the Constitution of Canada by encouraging the Lieutenant
Governor to ignore the democratic will of the elected people of
Alberta. [interjection] The NDP leader is heckling angrily. You
know why? She's still upset that she was fired by Alberta voters a
few months ago.
We are keeping our word to consolidate redundant agencies,
boards, and commissions and the position we took, consistently
opposed to two separate election bureaucracies. [interjection]

The Speaker: The hon. Member for Edmonton-Ellerslie will be
cautious with what he chooses to heckle or not heckle.
The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Ms Notley: Mr. Speaker, our Constitution is founded on the rule of
law, and the member opposite is now the absolute textbook case of
what it looks like when you break the rule of law. Now, the Ethics
Commissioner said that several members of the UCP either are or
likely would be in breach of conflict of interest if they voted on Bill
22. Now she will have to investigate serious breaches of the law
over there as a result of this rushed vote. To the Premier: with new
investigations under way, how can we be sure that you're not going
to be firing the Ethics Commissioner next?

Mr. Kenney: Mr. Speaker, once again, the enforcement of the
elections law now continues with the Election Commissioner
consolidated within the office of the Chief Electoral Officer. That
is effectively the system that Alberta had in place for 114 years, that
exists in every other province. It's the position that the two legacy
parties of this government took in opposition. It's consistent with
the position we took with Albertans, and it's consistent with the
continuation of any investigations with the office of the Chief
Electoral Officer.

The Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition for her fourth set
of questions.

Bill 22 and Public Service Pension Changes

Ms Notley: You know, Mr. Speaker, this Premier loves to brag
about his mandate, but he does not have a mandate for corruption,
and he also doesn't have a mandate for stealing control of people's
pensions, two things in Bill 22 he never consulted on, never ran on,
never told anyone he was planning to do. Unlike this Premier, these
public servants weren't handed a golden pension from Ottawa.
They earned it by paying into it their whole career. Why does this
Premier think his opinion is more important than theirs when it
comes to their retirement savings?

Mr. Kenney: Well, Mr. Speaker, the leader of the NDP should
know that all public-sector pension plans in Alberta have been
managed, in terms of their assets, by the Alberta Investment
Management Corporation. There was one outlier, which is costing
taxpayers and teachers $42 million a year for redundant
administration. Taxpayers contribute 50 per cent of the premiums
to that plan. The ATRF board will continue to oversee its
administration by AIMCo. The chair of that ATRF board will be an
ATA representative. This is consistent with how all other public
pensions are managed. Ms Notley: Well, you know, Mr. Speaker, historically
AIMCo has
been a reasonably safe bet because they're free from political
interference, but as we see with this Premier, all he does is
politically interfere. No laws apply to him. He'll fire his own
investigator, and he'll start telling the experts at AIMCo how to
invest Albertans' retirement savings, too. Bill 22 says that the
government can dictate 10 per cent of AIMCo funds, billions of
dollars. To the Premier: what gives you the right to make risky
decisions with the retirement savings of regular Albertan families?
Who do you think you are?

Mr. Kenney: Well, Mr. Speaker, first of all, the entire preamble of
the question was false. Secondly, who did she think she was when
she had AIMCo investing all of the public-sector pensions in the
province save one?
We are able now to take the $20 million of government savings
by consolidating asset administration at AIMCo and put that to the
front lines of the education system. The NDP would rather use that
money to offer seven-figure salaries to investment managers for a
redundant public-sector pension plan. It makes no sense.

Ms Notley: The Premier seems to be struggling. Let me help. The
Premier gets a sweet six-figure pension from Ottawa when he turns
55. I'm sure he's looking forward to it. Let me help you understand
what it is you're doing. Imagine Justin Trudeau took control of your
pension without your permission and started investing it in SNCLavalin.
I think you'd be a touch upset. You would want to defend
your pension from greedy politicians, just like these workers do.
Why won't you listen to these Albertans and leave their retirement
savings alone?

Mr. Kenney: Mr. Speaker, it is becoming shameful to hear the
leader of the NDP raise totally unfounded and irrational fears
amongst people about their retirement savings. Let me remind her
that as Premier she maintained a policy where AIMCo was
managing the assets for every public-sector worker in the province,
save one group, which is spending $42 million in redundant
administrative costs, which can be saved to provide greater
resources for front-line education and, in due course, to also reduce
premiums for teachers.

Gender-based Violence Prevention

Ms Glasgo: Mr. Speaker, Alberta has the third-highest level of
reported domestic and intimate partner violence. It is reported that
a dozen Alberta women are killed every year in domestic disputes.
We also know that coming forward can be frightening due to
stigma. Can the Minister of Community and Social Services tell us
what the government is doing to empower survivors of domestic
violence and ensure that Alberta women can make informed
decisions about their domestic partners?

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Community and Social Services.

Mrs. Sawhney: Thank you to the member for that question. Mr.
Speaker, Alberta has one of the highest rates of domestic violence
among Canadian provinces, and we're committed to protecting
vulnerable Albertans who may be at risk or affected by this
pervasive issue. In fact, Alberta had 10,000 victims of domestic
violence in 2017 alone. In October we introduced Bill 17,
disclosure to protect against domestic violence legislation, that will
give people the ability to request information about an intimate
partner's violent past. We believe this law could save lives and
empower people at risk to make informed decisions.


2482 Alberta Hansard November 25, 2019

The Speaker: The hon. Member for Brooks-Medicine Hat.

Ms Glasgo: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the Minister
of Community and Social Services for her advocacy. Given that
today is recognized as the first day of the 16 days of activism
against gender-based violence and given that this government has
prioritized the prevention of intimate partner violence and given
that there are community stakeholders doing significant work to
prevent violence, what is this government doing to engage, inform,
and educate Albertans about this important issue?

The Speaker: The minister of the status of women.

Mrs. Aheer: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It's been an
absolute privilege, especially this past weekend, working with the
CFL commissioner, Mr. Ambrosie, along with the work that we're
doing to really shine a very, very bright light on domestic violence
through their programming. I'm very proud to work with the Premier
and the Minister of Community and Social Services, who are so
completely dedicated to making sure that we attack this absolutely
abhorrent act and that we shine bright lights on it as soon as possible.

The Speaker: The hon. member.

Ms Glasgo: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Given that there are many
types of gender- based violence that go widely underreported and
given that there have been reports of Canadian women taken abroad
for female genital mutilation and given that this barbaric practice
permanently maims women and vulnerable girls and given that our
government is taking action on gender-based violence, can the
Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women tell us
how we can all get involved in raising awareness on this important
issue.

The Speaker: The Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status
of Women.

Mrs. Aheer: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you for the
question. We begin this 16 days of activism against gender-based
violence, and this is a vital tool that encourages people every single
day to be able to go out into their communities and to stand beside
each other, especially acknowledging bystanders and what the
importance is of what people can do. We are going to be having a
free screening of a very, very important documentary on Wednesday,
and we would invite all members of the Legislature to join
us to learn about female genital mutilation.

The Speaker: The hon. the Leader of the Official Opposition.

Public- and Private-sector Layoffs

Ms Notley: Well, Mr. Speaker, Albertans didn't vote for this
corruption and abuse of power. They thought they were voting for
job creation. Well, let's check in on that. On Wednesday 125
workers at Alberta Innovates got the news that this Premier had
fired them. That's about 20 per cent of the workers at an agency
that created 2,000 new private-sector jobs over the past year alone.
Why is this Premier firing people from an agency that was creating
private-sector jobs and diversifying our economy just to pay for this
Premier's $4.7 billion corporate handout?

The Speaker: The hon. the Minister of Economic Development,
Trade and Tourism.

Ms Fir: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Layoffs are always challenging,
especially for the families affected. The decision was made due to the
fiscal situation the previous NDP government left us. Their
reckless spending policies have required us to clean up their mess.
Alberta Innovates, as all government departments, is in an effort of
restructuring, finding efficiencies, and finding ways to deliver more
effectively.

2:10
Ms Notley: Well, Mr. Speaker, given that on day 2 of the Premier's
trip to Texas 300 teachers in Calgary found out that the Premier had
fired them, too, and given that that's what happens when you cut
more than $30 million from a district budget and given that the
Education minister actually told this House that she doesn't
understand what's going on, I'll ask the Premier: why are 300
classrooms full of children losing their teachers to pay for this
Premier's $4.7 billion corporate handout, and does the Premier
think that that's what Albertans voted for?

Mr. Toews: Mr. Speaker, I'm surprised that a school board with a
$1.2 billion operating budget wouldn't be able to find enough
efficiencies and be able to optimize to ensure that layoffs didn't
occur. The Education minister announced that she will be
conducting a financial review and a governance review of the
Calgary board of education, a school division that, quite frankly, in
the past has been known to not make financially responsible
decisions. We will get to the bottom of that.

Ms Notley: Well, Mr. Speaker, given that on Thursday, day 3 of the
Premier's Texas trip, Calgarians rallied at the U of C to protest the
Premier's firing of 250 workers there and given that that adds up to
675 public-sector jobs lost in three days to pay for the Premier's
$4.7 billion corporate handout, what does the Premier have to say
to those hundreds of Albertans who were working to make their
communities stronger, and did he go to Texas just to avoid looking
them in the eye?

Mr. Toews: Mr. Speaker, I recognize the challenge when jobs are
lost and the hardship experienced by families. We recognize that
that is true, but in October there were over 20,000 private-sector
jobs created, which we find encouraging. We're confident that the
policies that we're implementing will attract investment and create
good jobs for Albertans. This government was elected to bring
financial responsibility back to the province, and that's what we're
doing.

The Speaker: The hon. the Leader of the Official Opposition.

Ms Notley: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Since this government
was elected, we've lost over 10,000 jobs. Now, clearly the Premier
thinks his government gets a pass on corruption if his $4.7 billion
corporate handout creates jobs, but while the Premier was in Texas,
Lowe's Canada announced the closure of six stores across Alberta,
more than 300 job layoffs, and this, of course, follows Husky and
EnCana and others who took the Premier's handout and laid off
hundreds of Albertans. How much evidence does this Premier need
before he admits that his no-jobs corporate handout is a complete
and utter failure?

Ms Fir: Mr. Speaker, it's strange to see that the member opposite,
the Leader of the Opposition, suddenly cares about the economy
after their government raised taxes on job creators by 20 per cent,
took in less revenue from those taxes, and drove tens of billions of
dollars in investment out of our province. We take no lessons from
any of the members opposite on how to grow an economy after they
spent four catastrophic years destroying it. If what they were doing


November 25, 2019 Alberta Hansard 2483

was so right and they knew what they were doing, why did
Albertans put them on that side of the bench?

Ms Notley: Well, given that the members opposite have broken
pretty much every promise they made to Albertans since the
election and given that also last week Federated Co-operatives
announced the closure of its warehouse in northeast Calgary and the
layoffs of more than 200 Calgary workers and given that Federated
Co-ops is closing that warehouse because its main customer can get
a better deal from a B.C.-based company, how does the Premier –
the Premier – explain the failure of his $4.7 billion corporate
handout to those 200 Calgary warehouse workers?

Ms Fir: Mr. Speaker, once again, we take no lessons on job creation
from the NDP government, that oversaw the loss of 170,000 jobs
and the loss of tens of billions of private-sector investment. As was
mentioned, October job numbers show an increase of 20,000
private-sector jobs in Alberta. The members opposite didn't care
about layoffs in Calgary when they brought in their job-killing
carbon tax and raised taxes on job creators. Once again, if they
knew what they were doing, and if what they were doing was in the
best interests of Albertans, why did Albertans put them over there?

Ms Notley: Well, Mr. Speaker, given that “We won; they lost,” is
not actually an economic plan and given that just last week, while
the Premier was in Texas, we saw retail sales in Alberta fall
significantly even as they rose everywhere else in the country and
given that's hardly a surprise since this Premier is sacking
thousands of Albertans, who have then less money to spend in their
local stores, causing more private-sector job losses, why won't the
Premier spend more time creating jobs, less time firing people, less
time abusing his power, less time attacking democracy, and less
time breaking the rule of law for the first time in history?

Ms Fir: Mr. Speaker, our government and our Premier and our
entire team are working hard to bring jobs back to Alberta. Our
Associate Minister of Natural Gas was in Japan and South Korea,
the Premier was in Houston, and I was in Chicago and Minneapolis,
taking a team approach to bringing investment back to Alberta, not
spending four years sitting behind a desk, raising taxes, and driving
investment out of this province. [interjections]

The Speaker: Order. [interjections] Order. Order.
The hon. Member for Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland is the only one
with the call.

Traffic Safety

Mr. Getson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When travelling our roads
and highways, we feel safe and with good reason: we have good
infrastructure. When something happens to us motorists, we feel
safe because only a cellphone call away there is a tow truck driver
to help us when we need them the most. It has come to my attention,
however, that we've recently lost another tow truck driver while
performing his job. Such a loss cannot be acceptable, and the safety
of these hard-working men and women must be ensured. I and many
of my constituents want to ensure that such a tragedy is prevented
in the future. To the Minister of Transportation: can you advise
what is being done to assist our tow truck drivers so that they can
be safe on the road while doing their jobs?

The Speaker: The Minister of Transportation.

Mr. McIver: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thanks to the hon.
member for the question. First of all, I'd like to express my concern and
sympathy for the tow truck driver that lost his life, for his
family, and loved ones. I want people to know that we take safety
on Alberta highways very, very seriously. We are constantly
looking for ways to improve safety on Alberta roads, and right now
we're actually spending some time thinking about how we might
make life more safe for tow truck drivers and other people working
on Alberta's roads. When they're keeping the rest of us safe, we
need to look after them, too.

The Speaker: The hon. Member for Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland.

Mr. Getson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To the same minister: given
that another vital part of our economic growth is transporting goods
and services in a timely manner and given that the Acheson business
park is a major economic hub for the capital region and given that the
transportation of goods and investment in the area is stifled due to the
movement of 50 trains a day crossing highway 60 and given that we
are also concerned about safety, committed to job growth, and
growing opportunities and investment for Albertans, can the minister
please advise the Assembly on what we are looking to do for the
solution in Acheson regarding the highway 60 overpass?

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Transportation.

Mr. McIver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the hon.
member. Safety on every road in Alberta is an issue that just doesn't
sleep, and we need to be constantly vigilant. Budget 2019 commits
$8 million to major improvements on highway 60, west of
Edmonton. It will twin highway 60 between highway 16 and 16A
and construct an overpass over the Canadian National Railway
tracks, when they get back to work, and realign the interchange at
highway 16A. This is a safety issue, as every construction project
is, one of many that we are considering.

The Speaker: Hon. Member for Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland, I'm sure
that there will be some connectivity here in the third supplemental.

Mr. Getson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'll connect the dots quickly.
On anything that has highway or train traffic, we're talking about
safety here. In my constituency we have a bunch of them, sir.
The third question that I have here is given that rural communities
are intersected by and often have major highways running through
them and folks need more time to transition and slow down while
they're going through these communities and that out in my area
we have Gainford, where they're looking to have their speed limit
sign moved to the east approximately 500 metres, which will give
the traffic that's travelling through that area ample time to slow
down, can you please advise, Minister, what can be done out in
Gainford?

The Speaker: The hon. the Minister of Transportation.

Mr. McIver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you for the third
question on highway safety. I wanted to let the hon. member know
that the speed limit review completed in October 2019 found that
the existing 80-kilometre-per-hour zone through Gainford is
appropriate. However, the review also recommended that the 80kilometre
zone be extended at both the east and west ends of
Gainford in order to enhance safety. So I'm hoping that the hon.
member's constituents will be pleased to know that we expect to
have the extended 80-kilometre zone done by the end of this year.

2:20 Support for Youths Transitioning Out of Care

Ms Pancholi: Mr. Speaker, according to the Children's Services
website at least two former foster children have died in the past 11


2484 Alberta Hansard November 25, 2019

days. We have learned as well that there may actually be three
deaths and that all came as a result of suicide. In light of these
tragedies I rise in this House with the hope of convincing this
Premier and the Children's Services minister to reverse their
heartless cuts to the support and financial assistance agreements
program that support these young people. To the Minister: what can
you tell us about these tragic deaths, and will you now reconsider
the cuts to these vital supports?

The Speaker: The hon. the Minister of Children's Services.

Ms Schulz: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Any time a young person in
our province dies, it is a tragedy, and my heart goes out to their
families. We post all deaths publicly and are committed to being as
transparent as we can, although the member opposite would know
that I can't speak to specific cases. I rely on the great work being
done by the office of the Child and Youth Advocate to point out
where we can make continuous shifts in policy and practice to better
support children and youth in care in our province, and a large part
of that is working to identify ways we can work with the Associate
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to better support young
people who have gone through such trauma.

The Speaker: The hon. Member for Edmonton-Whitemud.

Ms Pancholi: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Given that long-time
advocate and outreach worker Wallis Kendal said today that this
government is playing Russian roulette with the lives of these
former foster children by cutting their age of eligibility for supports
from 24 to 22 and given that the Premier can somehow find $4.7
billion to hand over to big corporations but is turning his back on
young adults attempting to get their lives on track, once again to the
Premier or the minister: will you please reverse the cuts to supports
for these young people?

The Speaker: The hon. the Minister of Children's Services.

Ms Schulz: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Currently part of
the work that our ministry is undertaking is reviewing all support
and financial assistance agreements. Ultimately, a number of these
young people past the age of 22 choose to end their connection with
the Ministry of Children's Services. A number of these young
people between the ages of 22 and 24 are making a transition into
other lifelong adult supports through government. We are working
as the Ministry of Children's Services along with the Ministry of
Community and Social Services to ensure that at whatever age
those young people transition, it is seamless.

The Speaker: The hon. member.

Ms Pancholi: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Given that a number of the
young people who recently lost their lives were actually above the
age of 22 and on the support and financial assistance agreements
and given that the Child and Youth Advocate released a report
today on six young people transitioning out of government care
who died in 2018 and given that the advocate in response to these
deaths made recommendations to strengthen supports such as safe
housing and staff training and given that it's clear the advocate
believes that the age of eligibility should remain at 24 and that these
people need more supports, not less, to the Premier and the minister.
The budget hasn't passed yet. I'm begging you. Will you reverse
the cuts to supports for these young . . .

The Speaker: The minister. Ms Schulz: Mr. Speaker, we are reviewing these
programs and
identifying where there are ways where policy and practice can shift
to better support these transitions into adulthood. The reality is that
oftentimes some of the most important supports are the social and
emotional supports for these young adults as they transition into
adulthood. We are going to continue to fund mentoring. We have
increased the advancing futures program by a million dollars. This
is a program that doesn't exist anywhere else in Canada. We are
going to continue to support these young people as they transition
out of the child intervention system.

Seniors Advocate
Health Advocate Appointment

Ms Sigurdson: “What steps will this new government take to
answer the Wildrose call to create an independent advocate for our
seniors?” That was the Member for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo.
I did answer his call and appointed a dedicated advocate for seniors.
That member must be crushed to learn that his own UCP
government is undoing that and merging the job into the Health
Advocate. Did the minister of seniors explain her decision to this
member before she went back to the failed PC-era plan?

The Speaker: The hon. the Minister of Seniors and Housing.

Ms Pon: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank the current
Seniors Advocate for her service to seniors and their families and
wish her well as she returns to teaching, her academic career. The
current office of the Seniors Advocate will continue to support
Albertans until December 24. Health and Seniors and Housing staff
will develop a transitional plan for continued service to Alberta's
seniors, their families, and service providers who are asking for
information and referrals on issues of concern.

Ms Sigurdson: Given that the Health Advocate is also taking on a
third job, the Mental Health Patient Advocate, and given that
seniors will now have at best a third of the advocacy that they got
under our government, again to the minister: why do you have
money for private planes, energy war rooms, and five-star London
hotels but no money for seniors?

The Speaker: The Minister of Seniors and Housing.

Ms Pon: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The service currently provided
by the office of the Seniors Advocate will continue. Funding for the
office of the Seniors Advocate staff will be transferred from Seniors
and Housing to Health, and a combined office can address concerns
more efficiently given that in 2018-19 almost one-third of inquiries
were health related.

Ms Sigurdson: Given that this government is already deep into PCstyle
patronage appointments for their cronies, donors, and
supporters and given that the appointment of former PC Party and
United Conservative Party executive director Janice Harrington to
be the advocate for health, mental health, and now seniors is
perhaps the greasiest patronage appointment of them all, did the
minister look for a qualified person at all, or is she content to reward
her partisan friends at seniors' expense?

The Speaker: The hon. the Minister of Health has risen.

Mr. Shandro: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We were pleased to
appoint Janice Harrington as our new Health Advocate. She is
highly qualified and will serve Albertans well. With an extensive
background in leading organizations through rapid transformation
and change, Janice is uniquely qualified to advocate on behalf of


November 25, 2019 Alberta Hansard 2485

Albertans for positive health and mental health outcomes.
[interjections] The incumbent Seniors Advocate as well will be
returning to her job at the University of Alberta. A combined office
will result in annualized savings of close to half a million dollars,
and this matters at a time when we must be very mindful of the
costs. [interjections]

The Speaker: Order. Order.
The hon. Member for Camrose has a question.

Rural Crime, Biosecurity, and Property Rights

Ms Lovely: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker. My constituency of
Camrose recently hosted the Minister of Justice on his tour around
the province to discuss rural crime. There was an outcry from the
community about the heinous crimes that had been committed
against them in rural Alberta. Recently, while at the RCMP
Regimental Ball in Viking, members and constituents shared with
me their frustration regarding dropped charges after an extensive
effort to catch criminals. To the Minister of Justice: what proactive
initiative is our government taking to correct this injustice?

The Speaker: The Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

Mr. Schweitzer: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you for the
question. Our prosecutors simply have too high of a caseload.
That's why I'm proud that today we announced the fact that we're
doubling our articling class of law students for the next year, 2020.
We will be increasing it by 150 per cent in 2021. This will give us
a pipeline of young students and Albertans to come and be part of
Alberta Justice. We're also encouraging many of them to take up
positions in rural Alberta. Once a lawyer sets up roots in a
community, we will be making sure that those members also build
relationships in the community, and then they will have a higher
likelihood of staying.

The Speaker: The hon. Member for Camrose.

Ms Lovely: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the minister
for his answer. Given that protesters are causing crosscontamination
by trespassing from regular farmland onto organic
farmland, a massive issue in my constituency, and given our
government's recent announcements about rural crime and given
the difficulty in being recognized as an organic farm and given our
government's commitment to protecting farmers and their property,
to the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General: what is our
government's plan to protect the biosecurity of Alberta's environment?


The Speaker: The Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

Mr. Schweitzer: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. One of the things we
heard loud and clear from Albertans is that they want the strongest
property rights possible. We've worked with the minister of
agriculture to bring forward Bill 27, and that right there is going to
provide Albertans with the security they need to know that they
have the strongest property rights possible. We're going to make
sure that we have fines for people that trespass: $10,000 for the first
instance and up to $25,000 for a follow-up and also jail time if they
repeat. Albertans deserve clarity that we stand with law-abiding
Albertans. We stand with our farmers. They do amazing work.

The Speaker: The hon. Member for Camrose.

Ms Lovely: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, Minister.
Given the importance of maintaining accreditation to many of the local
organic farmers in my constituency and given the risk that
trespassers pose via the risk of cross-contamination and given there
seems to be no ability for farmers to protect their property under
current legislation and given our government's promise to take
action in regard to the protection of rural property rights, can the
minister please elaborate on what kinds of changes are being
considered for the protection of my constituents and other lawabiding
Albertans?

2:30
The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Justice.

Mr. Schweitzer: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In addition to making
sure we have the strongest property rights possible, we're also
providing enhanced powers to our sheriffs, our fish and wildlife
officers, and also our commercial vehicle officers. That's what
we're calling our RAPID force, an additional 400 law enforcement
boots, with enhanced powers, on the ground to help keep lawabiding
Albertans safe. We heard this loud and clear. We consulted
with Albertans, and we've taken action based on their
recommendations. This isn't done. We're not spiking the football.
These are concrete steps that we're taking. It's the beginning of
helping to right the wrongs of rural Albertans. Many of these people
have felt like they haven't had a voice for years. They have a voice
now in this government.

Speaker's Ruling
Supplementary Questions

The Speaker: I might just provide a cautionary note to private
members who are asking questions. Traditionally the lead question
and two supplementals all connect. I think I've provided significant
latitude in the past. Perhaps today that latitude has been stretched
beyond the point of what a supplementary question is. We can do
better in the future.
The hon. Member for Lethbridge-West.

Government Photography Contract

Ms Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, communications and
public engagement is an agency within Treasury Board and
Finance. It's supposed to be nonpartisan. It's supposed to follow
government rules for competitive bids for contracts, but in July a
small Calgary company called Vek Labs got a $73,000 sole-source
contract for “photography and video services.” Why did the
Minister of Finance approve this lucrative sole-source contract for
Vek Labs?

Mr. Toews: Mr. Speaker, our government was elected to bring
fiscal responsibility to this province. We've delivered a budget that
will do just that. We're confident that our four-year fiscal plan is
the plan that Albertans elected us on. We will deliver on that plan.
Careful procurement is very important to us and part of our plan
going forward. We will look into the member's question.

Ms Phillips: Given that I might have a partial answer for the
minister, Mr. Speaker, and given that the young man who owns Vek
Labs is the son of a generous UCP donor, given that Vek Labs made
several campaign videos for the UCP on the party side, including a
short documentary film about the Premier visiting his hometown
that was shown at the UCP convention in February, isn't it true that
the Finance minister handed a $73,000 no-bid contract to this
company because of its close partisan ties to the UCP and to the
Premier himself?


2486 Alberta Hansard November 25, 2019

Mr. Schweitzer: Mr. Speaker, the hypocrisy of the other side needs
to stop. Let's take a tour down NDP lane, this time in advanced
education. Athabasca University: we have a donor here of $3,000
to the NDP, appointed to the board; $4,000 donation to the NDP,
appointed to the board; $3,000 donor to the NDP, appointed to the
board. Stop the hypocrisy.

Ms Phillips: Given that, Mr. Speaker, if the Justice minister wants
to attack the judiciary, he should just come out and say so, but given
that the film industry is reeling from this government cancelling
their tax credits in order to pay for the Premier's $4.7 billion
corporate handout, given that Alberta's hard-working and talented
filmmakers and videographers should have been able to put in a
competitive bid for that government contract, to the Minister of
Finance: please explain to Albertans why this government has
returned to Tory-land tactics and reserved fat, no-bid contracts for
donors and friends.

Mr. Jason Nixon: Mr. Speaker, this is just more fear and smear
from the Official Opposition. You want to talk about appointments.
That member was the environment minister for an NDP
government who appointed Tzeporah Berman to an official panel
associated with the oil sands, a person who is dedicated to stopping
the entire energy industry. We will not be lectured by that side of
the House when it comes to appointments. We will not tolerate the
fear and smear over and over from the NDP. This is why Albertans
fired them seven months ago.

Bill 207

Member Irwin: Mr. Speaker, a few days ago four UCP MLAs
stood with our caucus to vote down the repugnant Bill 207 in
committee. This bill posed a real threat to the health care of many
Albertans, so I thank those UCP MLAs for standing up to protect
Albertans' access to reproductive health services and medical
assistance in dying. A few ministers also declared their opposition,
including the minister responsible for status of women, but she did
so without mentioning women's reproductive rights, abortion, or
LGBTQ2S-plus rights. Will she now acknowledge that Bill 207
was an attack on those rights?

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and
Status of Women.

Mrs. Aheer: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you for the
question. Bill 207 was redundant and unnecessary, and that is why
I did not vote for it.

Member Irwin: Given, Mr. Speaker, that a majority of UCP MLAs
on the committee voted to uphold the rights of Albertans to access
abortion and other reproductive health services, but given that the
MLA for Cardston-Siksika did vote in favour of this terrible bill and
that during debate he even tried to compare reproductive health to
eugenics – shameful – will the Minister of Health reject the
shocking and hurtful statement from the MLA and call for him to
publicly apologize?

Mr. Jason Nixon: Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons why I'm so
proud to be part of this government is that we committed to being
able to respect the private members' process of this place and
respect free votes. Albertans were clear to us that they wanted their
MLAs to be able to have free votes when it comes to private
members' business before this House. I'm proud of this government
for enshrining that within the standing orders of this Legislature.
We will continue to stand up for the right of each individual member of
this place to be able to exercise their conscience when
it comes to private members' business because that's what we
promised Albertans. Promise made, promise kept.

Member Irwin: Given, Mr. Speaker, that many members of the
UCP caucus relied on support from antichoice groups like
RightNow and The Wilberforce Project and given the Premier's
long-standing opposition to abortion, including statements in the
past comparing it to slavery, and given that voting against Bill 207
could maybe indicate a potential fresh start for this government on
women's rights, will the Premier confirm that he himself will vote
against any further attempts from his colleagues to limit
reproductive rights?

The Speaker: The hon. the Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism
and Status of Women.

Mrs. Aheer: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and thank you for
the question. I'm very honoured to be part of a very diverse caucus.
It's a huge privilege to be able to debate in this House, but I will
not, nor will anybody else on this front bench, be commenting on
potential legislation that has not crossed our desks yet.

The Speaker: The hon. Member for Lethbridge-East.

Postsecondary Education System

Mr. Neudorf: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Alberta's postsecondary
system is broken. Costs are through the roof on spending per
student. Alberta spends nearly double on administration than
Ontario and B.C., and despite all this spending, our province
underperforms in participation and completion. Albertans are not
graduating and not getting jobs. To the Minister of Advanced
Education: just how serious is this situation, and how does this
spending impact services to students such as those at Lethbridge
College and the University of Lethbridge?

The Speaker: The Minister of Advanced Education.

Mr. Nicolaides: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker. The member is
absolutely correct. The situation that we've inherited is quite
problematic and quite dire, and we are absolutely intent on
addressing the real systemic problems with the system. To give you
some perspective, over the last 15 years enrolment in our
postsecondary system has increased by 21 per cent. However,
funding to our postsecondary institutions has increased by 106 per
cent. What's more troubling is the amount that we spend on
administration. We spend $8,000 per student on administration here
in the province of Alberta. B.C. does it for $4,000 and Ontario for
$5,000. We believe we can do better.

The Speaker: The hon. Member for Lethbridge-East.

Mr. Neudorf: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the
minister. Given the commitment for a funding model change and
given the necessity of finding a solution for tuition that makes sense
for students and for the public purse, can the minister elaborate on
how the current funding method contributed to this fiscal situation
and how a new funding model will correct it while ensuring access
to services is not inhibited for students like the ones who choose to
study in Lethbridge?

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Advanced Education.

Mr. Nicolaides: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again the member is
correct. The current funding mechanism that we have for our


November 25, 2019 Alberta Hansard 2487

postsecondary education system is not working. There's a wide
discrepancy between the amount that's distributed per student – for
example, there are some institutions where the amount of funding
is upwards of $30,000 per student, and in other places much less –
so we are really looking at addressing this situation. We'll be
moving forward, implementing a new funding model that will help
us be more diligent with our tax dollars.

Mr. Neudorf: Given that Alberta has a long-standing spending
problem that spans multiple governments and given our
government's commitment to sort our fiscal situation out, to the
same minister: will reform in our postsecondary system give
institutions more flexibility to generate their own revenue, while
maintaining consumer protection for students, in order to create a
system that is more innovative in its delivery of postsecondary
education and more independent from relying on taxpayers?

Mr. Nicolaides: Well, Mr. Speaker, I know that the Associate
Minister of Red Tape Reduction will be quite happy. We're looking
at taking a series of different approaches to reduce red tape in our
postsecondary institutions so that they can be free to innovate and
compete and continue to generate high-quality research and, by the
same token, be innovative in their revenue generation, engage in
commercial activities without having to get drawn down in red tape.

2:40
The Speaker: Hon. members, in 30 seconds or less we will proceed
to Members' Statements.

head: Members' Statements
(continued)

Bangladesh

Member Loyola: Mr. Speaker, on October 7, 2019, Abrar Fahad,
a 21-year-old student at the Bangladesh University of Engineering
and Technology, was brutally murdered for taking a stand on
Bangladesh's interests through a social media post. His attackers
were members of the student wing of the ruling party. Before
perishing, he was tortured for seven hours. Abrar's right to free
speech was upheld by the Bangladeshi Constitution and the
universal declaration of human rights, but this right and Abrar's life
were still undermined and coldly discarded by his assassins.
That anyone should fall victim to crime or fear for their safety for
exercising their fundamental human rights is absolutely
unacceptable. In solidarity with the Justice for Abrar movement,
Bangladeshi community members gathered on the steps of this very
Legislature yesterday to form a human chain and demand that
justice be served, and I was proud to stand with them. At their event
they stated that the systemic use of violence to suppress free speech
is unfortunately commonplace in Bangladesh and is often
sanctioned by political doctrine. The tragedy that befell Abrar
Fahad is not an isolated incident.
In solidarity with them I bring this injustice to the attention of the
Alberta Legislature to heighten public awareness of human rights
violations in Bangladesh and to urge not only us but the Canadian
government as well to take action in addressing this internationally.
Abrar Fahad was a young student with a promising future who
meant only to think critically and to express his opinion. For this,
he lost his life. By raising our voices against this oppression and
encouraging others to do the same, we aim to inspire and lay the
foundation for a brighter future in which civil discourse and
exchange replace senseless violence and conflict.
Free speech is likewise protected by the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms, and to have this value violated in one country is to
have it violated in all. The Bangladeshi community believes
that it is imperative that we all stand united in calling for
accountability and prompt action, united in calling for principles for
which we stand, and that the perpetrators of this heinous crime be
brought to justice.

The Speaker: The hon. Member for Grande Prairie.

Scleroderma

Mrs. Allard: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Scleroderma: hard word,
harder disease. Affecting approximately 1,700 Albertans,
scleroderma is a rare, chronic, multisymptom autoimmune disease
that affects the body's connective tissue. In scleroderma, cells start
making collagen as if there was an injury that needs repair. The cells
do not turn off as they should and end up making too much. The
extra collagen in the tissues can prevent the body's organs from
functioning normally. In simple terms, the disease creates a
thickening and hardening both internally and externally. It's like
your organs are slowly turning to stone. The cause of scleroderma
is unknown, and currently there is no cure.
Mr. Speaker, there are treatments that can help slow the process
down and improve the quality and quantity of life for persons affected
by the disease, but these can be costly or difficult to access. Albertans
living with this rare and debilitating condition face significant physical
and emotional challenges, often resulting in feelings of helplessness,
hopelessness, and being a burden to others. At first glance those living
with scleroderma can seem perfectly healthy, which makes the
disabling condition even more challenging. The fatigue alone can be
debilitating and misunderstood. Those suffering will face unwitting
comments like: yeah, I had a bad sleep last night, too.
But with despair, there is still hope. The scleroderma society of
Canada is an organization focused on raising awareness, funds, and
support for those with this disease in an effort to find a cure. Mr.
Speaker, I'd like to thank the entire team at the scleroderma society
of Canada, who joined us last week here at the Legislature. They
are terrific leaders in the fight to find a cure for this little-known but
disabling disease. In particular, I'd like to thank Maureen Sauvé for
sharing so openly her personal and painful journey of living these
past 18 years with scleroderma. Currently there is no co-ordination
of support groups in Alberta, and the society is working to change
that. To those in Alberta living with this debilitating condition: they
want you to know that you are not alone.
Thank you.

The Speaker: I, too, would like to thank the team for scleroderma.
I've been practising the word all weekend.

head: Notices of Motions

The Speaker: The Minister of Transportation.

Mr. McIver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to provide oral notice
of Government Motion 38. Shall I read it into the record?
Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly urge the government
of Canada to take all steps necessary to immediately introduce
emergency legislation to compel Canadian National Railway
employees to return to work in order to prevent the potentially
devastating impact of a strike on not just Alberta's economy but
Canada's economy as a whole.

head: Tabling Returns and Reports

The Speaker: Are there tablings? I see the hon. Member for St.
Albert is rising.


2488 Alberta Hansard November 25, 2019

Ms Renaud: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have copies of some of the
correspondence that I've received at our constituency office from
teachers in St. Albert talking about the pressures of classroom sizes.
I'd like to table those as well as an article from Stanford University
entitled Climate Change on Pace to Occur 10 Times Faster than
Any Change Recorded in Past 65 Million Years, Stanford Scientists
Say. I referred to it in my member's statement today.

The Speaker: Are there other tablings? Someone circle the calendar.

head: Tablings to the Clerk

The Clerk: I wish to advise the Assembly that the following
documents were deposited with the office of the Clerk. On behalf
of the hon. Mr. Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry,
pursuant to the Farm Implement Act the Farmers' Advocate Office
annual report 2018-19.
On behalf of the hon. Mrs. Sawhney, Minister of Community and
Social Services, pursuant to the Protection Against Family Violence
Act the Family Violence Death Review Committee 2018-2019
annual report.

The Speaker: Hon. members, we are at Ordres du jour.

head: Orders of the Day

head: Public Bills and Orders Other than
head: Government Bills and Orders
Second Reading

Bill 204
Election Recall Act

[Debate adjourned November 18: Mr. Bilous speaking]

The Speaker: Hon. members, is there anyone wishing to join in the
debate this afternoon? The hon. Member for Edmonton-Decore has
risen.

Mr. Nielsen: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate you
recognizing me this afternoon to be able to speak to Bill 204, the
Election Recall Act. As you're probably aware, I was a part of the
committee that initially reviewed this bill. We, of course, decided
to send this back to the House so that we get a chance to talk about
this bill today. At this moment I'm not in a position that I would be
able to support the bill. However, if there were some changes that
were made around this bill, I might have the opportunity to take a
second look and possibly put my support behind it.

[Mr. Milliken in the chair]

Of the concerns I have, one of the biggest ones, of course, is
language. We see some language in here, and just based on some of
the debates that we've had in this House and the bills that we've
seen passed, including such things as Bill 22, where we seem to
have had a bit of a discussion around what the word “may” entails
and how, apparently, according to the Minister of Municipal
Affairs, that's interchangeable with the words “will” and “shall” –
keeping that kind of thing in mind, I have some concerns around
Bill 204 and around how some of the wording may play out.
Some questions that I think I might have, moving forward, would
be around corporate and union donations. Certainly, when we look
at the recall act, it excludes those within it, but should the
government of the day decide to repeal those kinds of things, how
would that, then, affect this recall act? 2:50
I think that when you're looking at the topic of recalling an MLA,
certainly I think that is a situation that exists solely between the
constituents of that MLA and, of course, themselves. When I start
seeing, potentially, some loopholes here around third-party
advertisers getting involved, I get a little bit concerned around that,
Mr. Speaker. So I would like to see some language that maybe
inhibits third-party advertisers to participate. Again, this should be
between the constituents and the MLA. I mean, if they're that angry
as to recall the MLA for whatever their actions may or even may
not be, then certainly I don't think third-party advertisers need to be
involved in that sort of thing.
We've seen some things around some of the timelines, things like
that, and some of the discussion that ensued around maybe some of
the fees. Obviously, we're going to have to have a bit of a deeper
debate, going forward, on that.
I didn't want my comments to go too long here. I just wanted the
opportunity to get up and point out some things that I would like to
see potentially adjusted and some further debates around some of
the other language. Like I said, when I'm seeing things like the
Election Commissioner being terminated, around that language,
and then not being rehired immediately – you know, the word
“may” is supposed to now mean the same as “will” and “shall,” and
that certainly doesn't seem to be the case – then I would be very,
very concerned, potentially, around some of the language that's
contained in 204.
So at the moment I'm not prepared to support this moving
forward, but I do look forward to maybe more debate further on,
including in Committee of the Whole, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you.
Are there any other hon. members looking to join debate?
Seeing none, the hon. Member for Drayton Valley-Devon to
close debate.

Mr. Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's an honour today to rise
and speak to Bill 204, the Election Recall Act. It's my belief that
this bill will strengthen Alberta's democracy by enabling Albertans
to recall an elected official should the need arise. The right of recall,
I believe, helps to ensure that a member of the Legislature stays
truly accountable to their constituents.
Mr. Speaker, this important piece of legislation is crucial for
keeping our democracy thriving and our members truly serving the
needs of Albertans. By definition we are a representative
democracy, and that's the very core of what we are called to do, to
represent. That means that we must embody the needs of our
constituents.Trying to ensure that representatives actually represent
their
constituents has a long history in Alberta. Sir Frederick Haultain,
Premier of the North-West Territories, successfully lobbied for
provincial status but was not successful in creating a Legislature
where party politics and party solidarity would not dominate the
Legislature.Recall was introduced to me when I became a member of the
Reform Party. This party espoused a grassroots vision of
democracy that spoke to myself and to thousands of Albertans and
Canadians.Recall should not be easy, but allowing for recall brings the
benefits of accountability to the electorate and provides a positive
way forward for the electorate when it realizes that their
representative must be replaced. This Election Recall Act is an
attempt to rebalance our representative system of democracy so that
the people of Alberta will be able to hold the MLA accountable


November 25, 2019 Alberta Hansard 2489

when they stray too far from their primary responsibility of
representing their constituents.
The use of recall legislation is a just and proper tool to hold those
elected officials accountable for their actions, and it reminds
everyone in their party that individual MLAs are ultimately
accountable to their electorate. Recall legislation exists in over a
dozen countries, including the United Kingdom, and most states in
the United States have recall legislation, but B.C. is the only other
Canadian jurisdiction to have recall legislation in place. B.C.
adopted the Recall Initiative Act in 1995. Mr. Speaker, recall should
not be easy, and it does need to be crafted in such a way as to reduce
the likelihood of recall for partisan reasons.
In B.C. 26 recall petitions have been requested, with only six
petitions returning to the Chief Electoral Officer within the 60 days
and only one petition having achieved the threshold for recall.
However, the MLA in question resigned office before the recall
petition came into effect. We can conclude from the example of
B.C. that recalling an elected member has not been easy to achieve,
and therefore it has not resulted in partisan politics disrupting an
MLA's four-year term.
Secondly, B.C.'s recall history demonstrates that the recall
legislation, in one sense, is a last resort to be used when an elected
representative has lost their way and is no longer representing the
high standards of elected office.
Private member's Bill 204, the Election Recall Act, is based on
the thresholds of the B.C. legislation. It will require a petition
numbering more than 40 per cent of the total number of electors
that appeared on the post polling day list of electors from the last
general election, and it has to be gathered within 60 days. Only
those currently eligible to vote within the riding can sign the
petition, and as done in B.C., there will also be a buffer before a
recall petition can be started. Constituents will have to allow their
elected MLA the chance to perform their duties; therefore, no
petition can be started until 18 months following the election. In
addition, no petition can be started within six months of the
beginning of an election window, and only one petition can happen
at a time.
Five hundred dollars will be required as a fee to initiate a recall,
which will be refundable upon filing the financial statements, and
donation limits are set to $4,000 a person. Lastly, unexpended funds
must be given to a charity to prevent political parties from using
recall to pad their bank accounts.
Mr. Speaker, Bill 204, the Election Recall Act, will add one more
needed piece of accountability into our system of democracy.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.

[Motion carried; Bill 204 read a second time]

Bill 206
Workers' Compensation (Enforcement of Decisions)
Amendment Act, 2019

The Acting Speaker: I believe that the hon. Member for
Livingstone-Macleod has the call. Should the hon. Member for
Livingstone-Macleod wish to move second reading on Bill 206, he
has the call.

Mr. Reid: Absolutely. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is my honour to
rise today on my private member's bill, Bill 206, the Workers'
Compensation (Enforcement of Decisions) Amendment Act, 2019.
Over the years I have worked through various professions and for
various companies, and I understand the reality of what happens in
the workplace. One of my favourite places that I've worked and one
of my favourite jobs was with a great Alberta company, WestJet. WestJet
prides itself on being a company that embraces and works
hard on what we called our culture of safety. There are inherent
risks in working in the airline industry, and the company worked
very hard, right from the CEO all the way down, to ensure that a
culture of safety was not only maintained but continued to be
developed day after day.
However, even in the midst of those cases, I met many colleagues
who had been injured in the line of work. Having the right mindset,
having the right procedures, and having the right type of equipment
all worked to reduce workplace accidents, but we also realized that
sometimes they just are inevitable, and it happens. I've heard the
tragedy of lives that were tragically changed by a simple
overlooking of safety issues or just the fact that there are hazards
that are present in almost every job in our society.
My understanding of workplace accidents grew more after I
became a small-business owner and was responsible myself for
developing that very same type of culture of safety in our
workplace. We worked with hot ovens, sharp knives, hot beverages.
We worked with a mix of young and old in a very fast-paced
environment. Again, as much as we worked hard to make sure that
accidents did not occur, sometimes they were unavoidable.
Fortunately, they often tended to be minor burns, minor cuts, but
sometimes slips and falls also happened as well.

3:00
As a small-business owner I had a great interest in making sure
that my staff were well looked after. As a small-business man in
Alberta we work very hard alongside those that are employees of
our companies, and they become like family. I know we often had
conversations with folks in the workplace when something would
happen. We'd say: we need to make sure we do an incident report;
we want to have the paperwork in place just in case this isn't as
simple as we think. I wanted them to be able to make sure that they
were compensated should the injury take them out of the workplace
for a while.
As a business owner we pay our dues to WCB, and our
expectation was that when our employees needed those benefits,
those would be paid out to them in a timely manner. As I came into
this role, I learned that that's not always the case for all workers in
Alberta, and I think that's a tragedy. I was really excited to be able
to bring forward this piece of legislation, which was actually started
by a predecessor in the previous session, to really ensure that
workers in Alberta that are injured in the workplace are properly
taken care of. Those of us that run and own small businesses know
that workers are our greatest asset, and to make sure that they and
their families are taken care of well should be important to all of us.
The goal of my legislation is simple. It's to ensure that those who
are forced to take a leave of absence because of a workplace injury
can continue to put food on the table for them and their families.
Difficulty in receiving money duly owed by a public agency should
not mean a missed mortgage or credit card payment. Again, as a
business owner I saw this all too often, employees who had missed
time and were left abandoned by a system that we as business
owners pay into for their protection. As a result, employees can feel
pressured to return to work before they are really healthy enough to
do so or will take out loans or put on extra credit card debt just to
keep their heads above water.
There is an emotional toll on families who don't know where
their next paycheque is coming from. We have seen that far too
clearly over the last number of years as families struggle to make
ends meet. Whether through the rapidly expanding opioid crisis in
Alberta or increasing rates of suicide and depression, the last couple
of years have demonstrated the large effect that economic issues
can have on social issues. This bill does not claim that it will reverse


2490 Alberta Hansard November 25, 2019

these issues en masse in any way, but if we can prevent even one
family from facing that kind of economic uncertainty, the kind of
uncertainty that breeds these issues, then it's worth it.
You may or may not be aware that there are five steps to any
WCB claim. Hopefully, no one in this House has had to go through
those procedures, but if you have, let me just bring you up to date.
First, you need to report your injury. Next, your claim is classified
as either a lost-time or no-time-lost claim. The third step is where
my bill starts to have some effect. At the third stage a decision is
made on whether a claim will be accepted, denied, or needs further
medical investigation. If a claim is denied, an appeal can be made
through the Appeals Commission. The Appeals Commission,
should they reverse the decision of the WCB, then hands the
decision back down to WCB, who is forced to comply. The Alberta
Workers' Compensation Act, the legislation which oversees the
Workers' Compensation Board, already puts a 30-day deadline on
WCB to implement a decision of the Appeals Commission.
While a claimant could go to the courts already, Bill 206
reaffirms the rights of the claimant to go to the Court of Queen's
Bench and ask for a court order directing the WCB to pay the due
compensation immediately. This common-sense solution that
prevents greater losses for families is a small change that I believe
can have a large positive impact. The bill also grants claimants the
ability to seek remuneration for legal costs related to any appeal
made under section 13.3(2). This allows workers to proceed with a
greater level of certainty. Again, Mr. Speaker, this is a very small
change.Bill 206 simply addresses a gap in the legislation that can and
should be addressed. Chances are it will only affect a handful of
decisions each year, but the scale of the change doesn't determine
the importance of this legislation. Bill 206, should it pass, ensures
that a family going through what is already a tough stretch of time
has a little bit more stability.
Mr. Speaker, my final point is about accountability. I, like many
on this side of the Assembly, ran on bringing accountability back to
government, and this is one way we can do that. I believe that both
of these changes can do much good for families going through
trying times. Albertans who have been injured at work deserve to
have peace of mind and know that they will be compensated on
time. While small, I believe this change has potential to have wideranging
positive impacts around the province.
I'd like to thank you all for your debate, and I'd like to thank all
members for the support that they've expressed for this bill. I hope
that we will see support from both sides of this House when we go
to vote today.
Thank you.

The Acting Speaker: Sorry. To the hon. Member for LivingstoneMacleod:
I just want it to be clear for Hansard because I'm not sure
that I heard it. Just to be clear, you are moving second reading of
Bill 206. If you could just say yes.

Mr. Reid: I am moving second reading of Bill 206.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you very much, hon. member.
Are there any hon. members looking to join in this debate? I see
the hon. Member for Edmonton-Decore has a thought.

Mr. Nielsen: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's certainly a pleasure
to be able to rise in support of Bill 206. Of course, I would highly
encourage all members of this House to support this as well, but I
think we should talk a little bit about what we're seeing here with
this. With the Member for Livingstone-Macleod bringing this
forward on behalf of some constituents that, unfortunately, had a problem
with WCB – my background being in labour, I'm always
about the front-line worker. It's very, very, I guess, disappointing
when I hear cases like this happen and constituents are not actually
able to get a judgment that was due to them. I mean, when WCB
was originally created, it was meant as a safety net for workers and,
to some degree, as a safety net for businesses as well when workers
get injured. We've heard that sometimes no matter what you do, the
odd accident occurs. Thankfully, most of the time, hopefully, it's a
cut finger, maybe a small sprain, something, you know, not too
serious. But when there are serious injuries, that needs to be there
to take the burden off workers while they're away from work and,
of course, to be able to take the burden off employers as well. I
mean, that's what they pay their premiums for.
I guess when I'm looking at this bill, as somebody who sat on not
only my workplace health and safety committee – I sat on my
union's provincial health and safety committee – I see a very
genuine commitment from the Member for Livingstone-Macleod.
You had talked about your time at WestJet. I do, of course, know
that they place very high standards on their safety, trying to reduce
the risk at the work site. I don't know if you remember, Mr.
Speaker, on some other pieces of legislation where I'd be talking
about how we're doing one thing over here, yet we're making
decisions over here which may be a little bit counterproductive to
that. So when I do see the government benches bringing in a
government motion around legislating back to work for CN
workers, promoting that, who are currently out on strike because of
safety concerns, just like the folks from WestJet that work in a very,
very dangerous situation – I mean, I don't know if I'd be willing to
walk around on a tarmac with active aircraft driving around on it,
but, you know, our CN workers are actively walking around with
trains moving around that, quite honestly, just like a jet engine on a
plane, could kill them, Mr. Speaker. It's unfortunate: such a great
piece of legislation coming forward to help workers, yet some
decisions by the government are being counterproductive to that.
I also noticed the one comment you made around how workers
are our greatest asset, and I couldn't agree more with that statement.
But then I see, unfortunately, again, decisions. You know, we're
taking away overtime pay potentially to workers who earned it
deservedly. We're potentially pulling back on holiday pay, which
is counterproductive to our greatest assets to businesses. Again, in
my time back in labour, your business probably would have been
one of the ones that I would have promoted as the way to do it. You
were the example of how well you looked after your employees.

3:10
You'd also mentioned around accountability. Again, a great
piece of legislation, you know, talking about how we need to be
accountable to our workers. Decisions around, you know, firing the
Election Commissioner potentially removes that kind of
accountability. So in a way I really feel for the Member for
Livingstone-Macleod, who has these types of legislation pieces
coming forward, which is counterproductive to the spirit in which
he is bringing this legislation forward.
You know, when we talk about standing up for ordinary working
Albertans, making sure they're protected, we see $4.7 billion
corporate handouts for companies like Walmart. Again, a little bit
counterproductive. Of course, we heard a little bit earlier, you
know, around that figure. I guess I'll just remind everybody that it's
on page 144 of the budget.
I think that when we're crafting legislation, Mr. Speaker, we
always have to look at how workers fit into that because Alberta
workers build this province – they're currently building it – and I
think government needs to do more to respect that. Bill 206


November 25, 2019 Alberta Hansard 2491

certainly, absolutely does that. It's unfortunate that we actually
have to enshrine in legislation that they even have to go to court at
all. It should just absolutely happen, especially when they get a
judgment in their favour. But to just simply delay it because that
just seems to be the easiest thing to do – again, WCB was never
meant as an adversarial system. It was supposed to be there as a
safety net for workers that get injured.
I just struggle, Mr. Speaker. Seeing such a great piece of
legislation brought forward like this to close an unfortunate
loophole, again, sometimes it takes something to happen before we
realize that there might be a little bit of a hole that needs to be
plugged up. But I'm seeing pieces of legislation that are just
completely counterproductive to this: a youth minimum wage for
people just because they're not 18 years old. That's very
counterproductive to workers. You know, we see other things like
maybe potentially studying the minimum wage as a whole and
considering bringing back a liquor server wage, which is, again,
counterproductive to the well-being of workers here in the province
of Alberta, which, of course, primarily will affect women in that
industry. Again, I can't commend, you know, this legislation
enough around standing up for workers, but I see legislation that's
counterproductive to that, which is trying to actually drag them
down and bring them backwards.
I know there'll be others that want to get up and share their
support for this legislation, Mr. Speaker, and I do look forward to
getting the chance to talk about this more later on. I will support
this legislation wholeheartedly, and I would certainly encourage all
members of this Assembly to support this legislation as well.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.
Are there any other hon. members looking to join debate? I see
the hon. Member for Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright has
risen to speak.

Mr. Rowswell: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to rise
to discuss Bill 206, presented by my friend and colleague from
Livingstone-Macleod. This legislation will ensure that Albertans
who have been through the rigorous process of appealing a
wrongfully refused Workers' Compensation Board claim are not
put under further stress by being subject to additional costs when
asking the Court of Queen's Bench for assistance in receiving the
compensation. In these cases the individuals undergoing the
stressful process have already been subject to workplace injury,
undergone the disappointment of their claim being refused prior to
undergoing the process of appealing that claim. At the very least I
think it's only proper for WCB to provide them with the
compensation they are owed within 30 days of being advised to do
so.Mr. Speaker, the injured person is not alone in being penalized in
this situation. Clearly, this process is unfair and discouraging to the
injured worker, but the process can also put strain on the employers.
This lengthy appeal process and the uncertainty, whether the WCB
will provide compensation within the 30-day time frame granted,
can also leave employers unsure about the future of their
employees, and in the cases involving small businesses with a few
employees, they may be left unsure about the future viability of
their business. While the legislation, Bill 206, would help to provide
the certainty that business owners and employers need, the real
purpose of the legislation is to protect the injured individuals,
individuals whose families are relying on them. These people have
been working hard for their families, and in some cases the appeal
process has left them without resources to support their families.
At this point their next course of action is to appeal to the Court
of Queen's Bench for a court order. The proposed legislation would ensure
that workers who follow through with this process would be
remunerated for their legal costs following obtaining an order. If
this legislation is passed, my hope would be that the WCB would
manage to implement more if not all of the advised compensations
within a 30-day time frame. Their incentive will be to avoid being
held accountable for additional court costs.
This is a modest proposal. The cost impact of this isn't large as,
in truth, there are not many cases brought to the Court of Queen's
Bench. But, Mr. Speaker, for the families who do have to take this
step, the costs associated are significant. In some cases workers
have had to wait for 90 days after the Appeals Commission
rendered their decision advising that the claim should be
compensated. That's 90 days of potential financial hardship, 90
days of not knowing how and if they're going to pay their bills or
perhaps put food on the table. To add insult to injury, literally, they
will likely incur additional fees if they choose to pursue a court
order. This is unacceptable.
Although this bill is unlikely to affect many of the people here in
this Assembly today, we need to stand up for the individuals who
at a low ebb find it difficult to stand up for themselves. Accidental
injury in the workplace could happen to anyone. No family is
prepared for this to occur. The WCB is an important service
legislated to protect Albertans sustaining an injury in the course of
working to earn a living.
The value of this program must not be taken for granted. The
WCB fulfills a valuable social function. Therefore, Mr. Speaker,
it's disappointing that the WCB on occasion appears to not meet
fully the expectations we place upon them. These people deserve to
be dealt with in a timely and fair manner. They do not need financial
or bureaucratic issues adding to the physical problems that they're
already dealing with.
When I first heard about this situation, I found it hard to
comprehend. How is it that a public body like the Workers'
Compensation Board, when advised by another public body such as
the Appeals Commission that they owe money and should within
30 days pay, is unable to comply? This is a flaw in our bureaucracy
which can have a deleterious impact on families.
If we look to our colleagues in Ottawa, the federal government
has a similar issue in their Department of Public Services and
Procurement. This issue can be summed up in one word, Phoenix.
Many have heard about the Phoenix pay system, which has created
a poor reputation for itself by persistently paying federal
government employees incorrectly, neglecting to distribute pension
and vacation pay, and failing on a number of other administrative
fronts, impacting negatively on people. Like Phoenix, the current
system of appeals deemed successful by the Appeals Commission
has failed Albertans. These government agencies are withholding
money from hard-working Canadians, releasing it to them at a
leisurely pace of their choosing.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I'm sure that neither the employees at the
WCB nor those at Phoenix are doing this maliciously. We all
experience problems created by system errors, as in the case of
Phoenix. However, in this case we're not dealing with a system
error. This is something our government can regulate, and I believe
we owe it to Albertans to do so.
So, Mr. Speaker, I stand today to invite all colleagues in the
House to support my colleague's bill. I invite you to support both
the workers and the employers who face difficulty in these rare but
nonetheless disappointing circumstances. If this legislation moves
forward, my hope is that all deserving workers will be compensated
fairly and in a timely manner with the compensation they truly
deserve and are entitled to.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


2492 Alberta Hansard November 25, 2019

3:20
The Acting Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.
Are there any others? I believe I see the hon. Member for
Edmonton-Mill Woods has risen to speak.

Ms Gray: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'm very pleased to
rise to speak to Bill 206, Workers' Compensation (Enforcement of
Decisions) Amendment Act, 2019. Over the last several years the
operation of the workers' compensation system and ensuring that
there is fair and adequate compensation for injured workers as well
as support for an overall sustainable system has been very, very
important to me and to the work that was done under the previous
government in completing the first comprehensive review of the
workers' compensation system in 15 years.
Through that work, the review that was undertaken, to my
knowledge there was a very in-depth consultation process where
workers were able to come to in-person sessions. As well, we
received over 1,700 online submissions. The issue with workers not
receiving payments that had been ordered by the Appeals
Commission did not make it into the report and into the work that
we did. Bill 206 is a bill that I will give my support to. As the
member who has moved second reading spoke to, it reaffirms the
rights of the claimant, potentially closing a gap here, and adds
something that I agree with, which is simply that if an applicant is
incurring costs to get the compensation that was ordered for them,
there should be a clear opportunity for the courts to award those
costs, because the family that is fighting for adequate compensation
should not be the ones paying for that fight that they are having.
That being said, Mr. Speaker, I think Bill 206 really reinforces,
to me, something that I know. Our workers' compensation system
is incredibly important. Albertans, both workers and employers,
place a very high value on this system, and we've heard that from
the speakers who've spoken already today. We know that the WCB
covers, when I last looked at the numbers, nearly 2 million workers
here in the province and over 160,000 employers. Both workers and
employers rely on this system, that was based on a historic
compromise to make sure that there's fair and adequate
compensation, that should be delivered in a timely way. The timely
compensation when there is an appeals award is what Bill 206 ties
into.Now, I do want to emphasize that through the very large
consultation that we undertook, we heard many, many times about
the vast majority of claims being handled well by the system and
usually being resolved within a couple of weeks. But we also know
that when claims start to get complicated, when there is something
that isn't straightforward, because worker injuries can have
multiple factors playing into them, that's when we start to see parts
of the system break down. The consequences for workers not
getting fair compensation and the consequences for employers who
have workers out on injury who are not able to get the rehabilitation
they need to get back to work can be quite devastating. It can be
very, very life impacting if the WCB system is not assisting people
as best as it possibly can. That was one of the reasons why we
revised the workers' compensation legislation, the system.
More importantly, Mr. Speaker, I was very proud of some of the
changes, things like establishing the Fair Practices office to help
Albertans navigate, to provide resources and support to workers and
employers using the system, addressing part of the concern around
how complex WCB can be. Some of those changes were great. I
think we were able to identify and resolve some major issues with
the system, but the thing that I think is even more important is that
we actually put into the Workers' Compensation Act a review of
the act, where we will not let 15 years elapse without a thorough review
of something that is so critical to both workers and
employers in the system.
Right now in the WCB act it says that on or before February 1,
2021 – so, likely, our minister of labour is already starting to hear
about this from the department as they put together timelines and
plans for what the next review might look like – the WCB act needs
to be reviewed by a panel of experts representative of worker
interests and employer interests and then every five years thereafter.
This first review, mandated by the legislation, is happening at a
little bit of a faster pace because, of course, we want to check in on
the system and all of the systems that have been touched by the
work that our government did to do things like implement the Fair
Practices office; establish the code of rights and conduct; change
supports and improve supports for young workers, who can often
have very, very negative, life-changing impacts when they incur an
injury when they're just starting out in their career; and improve the
benefits for surviving spouses and children.
All that said, Mr. Speaker, I think the workers' compensation
system is incredibly important to workers and employers. I think
that it can and often works very well. When it doesn't, we need to
address that because of the huge negative impacts that that has on
both workers and their families as well as the employers, who
genuinely want to see their workers rehabilitated, supported, and
returned to the workplace whenever possible. In Bill 206 the
reaffirmation of rights of the claimant – I will be supporting Bill
206, and I hope that through the work mandated by the legislation,
this government will undertake to continue to review and improve
the workers' compensation system and that this important system
will be there to support all of Alberta's workers.
In my opinion, I will just mention, that should include workers
who work in farming and agricultural industries. I think that will be
something we debate under other pieces of legislation, but in this
case I will support Bill 206, this clarification and this amendment
act, and will thank the MLA for bringing it forward to make sure
that workers are getting the compensation that has been deemed
appropriate and ordered for them in a timely way.
Thank you for this opportunity to respond to Bill 206.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.
Are there any other hon. members looking to join the debate? I
see the hon. Member for Lethbridge-East has risen to speak.

Mr. Neudorf: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm proud to stand in this
House today and voice my support for Bill 206, brought forward by
the Member for Livingstone-Macleod. Workplace accidents are
stressful and difficult to manage regardless of the type of injury or
incident. The pain and stress of these incidents often extend far
beyond the initial occurrence and can have a lifetime of
consequences for those that are injured. The last thing that someone
working their way through the workers' compensation process
needs to be dealing with is an unnecessarily long and tedious route
to receiving the compensation they have proven to need from the
WCB. Those that follow the due process, ensure the accuracy and
thorough completion of their claim, do not deserve to be
additionally hindered by arduous disbursement processing times.
There are several examples we can point to throughout our
country of how negatively long disbursement processing times
impact individuals and their families. One stands out to me in
particular. Not too long ago we witnessed the hardships that the
federal government's Phoenix pay system caused for employees
paid through that process. Under the Phoenix pay system federal
public employees were experiencing delays in pay, overpayment
and underpayment, and this wasn't just a select few. It impacted
many federal public service workers and negatively impacted their


November 25, 2019 Alberta Hansard 2493

families in a demonstrable way. Families couldn't put food on the
table or keep the power on without a consistent paycheque. In some
cases questions of foreclosure and eviction were raised.
We cannot allow space for similar occurrences to happen in our
province. Granted, I consider this example to be a worst-case
scenario, but the undue stresses of having questions and vague areas
when it comes to receiving remuneration are visible here. More than
that, it seems fairly obvious to me that an increasing waiting period
for compensation would be detrimental to anyone or their family.
Getting behind on bills often leaves families in a hole that can take
months or even years to climb out of. It is simply not enough to tell
those who are waiting for compensation to just keep waiting.

3:30
The rest of the world keeps going if you're not ready for it, Mr.
Speaker. It's not like any of us can politely ask the bank to please
wait a few more weeks until we get our mortgage payment to them.
Albertans who are hurt shouldn't be left in the dark or left hoping
for disbursement. This is a process that should be clear and without
any guesswork or hope involved. When it comes to remuneration,
a few days late is often too late for many, let alone weeks beyond
that. The data speaks for itself here. The change proposed in this
bill will only affect a handful of individuals as 97 per cent of WCB
claims are not appealed and are paid out on time according to what's
set out. But those that are not living in this 97 per cent need to be
noticed and addressed as well. Of those that appealed their WCB
ruling, 67 per cent of decisions made by the Appeals Commission
were implemented on time, with those individuals seeing
disbursement on schedule.
There is, then, still a relevant proportion of individuals who are
not seeing disbursement in the time that they need. We have an
opportunity through this bill to become the first jurisdiction to
legislate a time limit on when these decisions must be implemented
by. This bill is not creating red tape or providing the opportunity for
future burdening through the introduction of such a change; instead,
it is providing a concrete and viable solution to the issues that
injured Albertans face when receiving the remuneration that they
are duly entitled to. When an injured worker goes through the
tedious appeals process and wins, they have fought for longer than
required to justify their disbursement. It doesn't make sense to
allow these processes to drag out for an individual to receive what
they have proven they are entitled to.
There are many negative assumptions and stereotypes discussed
when a worker is injured on the job and must go to WCB for help.
The system isn't meant to be adversarial and isn't meant to be an
added stress on workers who are already facing struggles from their
injuries that may likely impact their careers and their lives. It is
wholly unfortunate that when these Albertans are needing aid, they
are meeting roadblocks and red tape instead. These are Albertans
who have fought and proven that they require more assistance than
initially assessed. For many, filing a WCB claim is a first step in a
long journey of healing and reintegration. When injured in the
workplace, there is enough stress and panic inherent in these
incidents. We do not need to add to these stressors by allowing their
compensation to be an unpredictable variable.
Therefore, I am proud to speak in support of this bill. I urge my
colleagues to consider supporting it as well as it is one piece of
holding WCB to account as we set a new standard of excellence.
We have an opportunity to trail-blaze in this area and help this small
sector of injured Albertans who need our assistance the most when
navigating through this process.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. Hon. members, are there any wishing to
speak on this matter? I
see the hon. Member for Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood has risen.

Member Irwin: Thank you, Mr. Chair. It's an honour to rise today
on Bill 206, Workers' Compensation (Enforcement of Decisions)
Amendment Act, 2019. This bill, as we've heard from some of the
speakers today, ensures that the Workers' Compensation Board is
accountable to complaints.
I've risen in this House multiple times to stand in support of
workers' rights, and I will always stand in support of workers'
rights and working people. We've heard from countless working
Albertans over the last little while. In particular, I've heard from a
lot of folks on some of the previous legislation wherein their rights
were being attacked, whether it was pensions, whether it was their
constitutional right to collectively bargain, the list goes on. This bill
aims to address a challenge, but I would argue that it really doesn't
make up for a lot of the attacks that we've seen on workers.
While I support this bill, I find it troubling that this government
continues to sort of pick and choose when they're in support of
workers. I'm not talking about a small segment of the population;
I'm talking about tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of
Albertans, the same workers who built and are building this
province. Like I said, I've heard from a lot of them, and not just
constituents in the beautiful riding of Edmonton-HighlandsNorwood
but across the province. Some of my hon. colleagues have
risen today and tabled the piles and piles of letters that they've
received from teachers and nurses and others. Again, I just really
want to point out that I'd ask this government to think about the
many conflicting messages that they're sending to workers of this
province.Now, one of the things that I also want to highlight is the fact
that
I'm so proud of the work that our NDP government did to ensure
worker safety. In fact, the previous speaker from our side, the hon.
Member for Edmonton-Mill Woods, did an incredible job as our
Minister of Labour. One of the things that she did was that she
brought in An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working
Albertans, the point of which was to improve workplace health and
safety and provide compensation and meaningful support to injured
workers and their families. The point in doing so was to ensure that
workers would have the same protections as other Canadians. I
appreciated them, and I quote what she said. This was in 2017, and
I can provide it to Hansard. She said:
Every Albertan should be able to go to work and come home
healthy and safe at the end of the workday. When they don't, they
deserve to have access to the medical and financial supports they
need to get healthy, care for their families and return to work.
This bill would better protect hardworking Albertans and provide
fair compensation to Albertans injured on the job.
I so much appreciated the work that that hon. member did to
ensure worker safety. She didn't just focus on one aspect of
workers, such as worker safety; she focused on increasing the
minimum wage; she focused on ensuring that workers would be
fairly compensated for overtime, for instance.
As I said, while I support this – and I've heard actually from folks
in my own constituency about their concerns around WCB, and we
know that there are a number of stories that have come forward
about concerns around workers' compensation – I just wanted to
get it on the record that I really want to urge this government to
think about the message they're sending to Alberta's workers: while
on one hand we want to support their health and safety, on the other
hand we're attacking pensions; we're decreasing the minimum
wage, cutting overtime. We're trying to bring in American-style
labour laws to Alberta.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


2494 Alberta Hansard November 25, 2019

The Acting Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.
Are there any other hon. members looking to speak to this matter?
I see the hon. Member for St. Albert has decided to rise.

Ms Renaud: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's my pleasure to rise and
speak to Bill 206, Workers' Compensation Act (Enforcement of
Decisions) Amendment Act, 2019. Just to sort of echo some of the
comments of my colleagues, it's my understanding that the bill
ensures that WCB is accountable to complainants. Of course, I will
always stand in support of workers' rights, as will my colleagues.
I think we can expand that a little bit to say that we'll always
stand in support of ordinary working people. Although I do
appreciate that this particular bill looks at perhaps a weakness in the
system or a piece of the system that really has the potential to harm
people in terms of their well-being and their family's well-being –
you know, I guess that's the point of legislation like this: when you
find loopholes or difficulties, you fix them through legislation when
you have the ability to do so.
While I appreciate this effort and I appreciate that it is important
to deal with the issues that the member opposite has identified
through his constituency work or his outreach, I think it's really
important to back up a little bit and look at the larger problem.
Unfortunately, some people don't get to this place and won't be
able to use this piece of legislation. I think that it's really
disingenuous, I guess, for me to even talk about this and say why
it's a good idea when you back up and look at the larger problem
around worker safety and around WCB.

3:40
Of course, like most of us do in this place, I think that we use the
lens of what is familiar to us to try to understand sort of the
implications of legislation or the implications of legislation that's
missing or pieces that are missing, so I'm going to use the lens of
disability workers. I would like to say that it is one thing to protect
the rights of people who've been injured and who have gone
through due process and have gone through all of the stages that
they need to, but it's quite another to not do your part to prevent
these problems from happening. I'm actually a firm believer in
prevention. Certainly, you need to have the safeties in place after
the fact, but I'm a firm believer in prevention in that if we can
prevent some of these things from happening, perhaps one day we
won't need any kind of legislation like this. Who knows?
I did want to talk about disability workers. I think that it's
important for the government to understand that some of the
things they've done in the very short time that they've been in
power do have the ability to harm workers. They might not harm
them this week, but there is a potential for great harm to happen.
For those of you that don't know, disability workers are highly
underpaid, in my opinion. Actually, I think that they provide one
of the most important and vital services to Albertans. They work
with young people with disabilities. They work with youth with
disabilities. And by disabilities I don't just mean developmental
disabilities or somebody with, let's say, Down syndrome. I'm
talking about perhaps someone that's been diagnosed with FASD,
somebody who is on the autism spectrum, somebody that might
have behavioural difficulties. They provide essential services that
allow people to live in their community, to live as independently
as possible, hopefully to go on to postsecondary education and
inclusive employment. The problem is that when you erode the
funding or the support for these particular workers, if you erode,
let's say, the minimum wage of these workers or you erode the
earning capacity around overtime of these workers or if you cut
funding to individual contracts for these workers, you create an
environment that is actually quite dangerous. I'm sure that most of you
know or have heard of – I'm sure it's
been in the news. Actually, there's one that's been in the news quite
recently of a woman who was supporting somebody with quite
challenging behaviours. And I'd like to add a note that during my
time as a disability worker I supported a number of people with
very, very complex disabilities who perhaps had the ability to be
aggressive. But when you properly train staff and you train them
around safety and you train them around how to de-escalate a
nonviolent crisis intervention – of course, you have to train them
around first aid as well. But when you train people properly, you
put in the time and put in the money to train people properly, and
you staff these individuals properly. Sometimes that requires, you
know, not having just one person there with them. When you train
disability workers properly, you allow them to maybe focus on one
job.You may not know this, but a lot of community disability workers
have to work more than one job to be able to support their family.
So very often you will have somebody show up for a shift who has
already done maybe an overnight shift that was supposed to be a
sleep shift, but they were unable to sleep because somebody that
they were supporting was having difficulty.
You can see that all of these things are risk factors, and if indeed
you want to prevent a WCB claim or an injury or a fatality, these
are the things that you have to do. You have to invest in prevention.
For anybody that's interested – I could tell that there are people
just riveted right now – there was a case in 2011, I believe, and it
was a woman from Camrose. I believe it was Valerie Wolski.
Valerie Wolski was supporting a young man who was about 25
years old. It's not unusual to have smaller in stature women
supporting larger men. When you're trained properly in nonviolent
crisis intervention or you're not tired because you've had to work a
couple of jobs or you are not always working alone because you
have adequate funding, when these things are in place, tragedies
like Valerie's are less likely to happen. As you may know, Valerie
was, I believe, strangled and died in her workplace, which is tragic,
but what's even more tragic than this is that this isn't the first time
that it's happened. What's even more tragic is that it happened again
quite recently in Calgary.
There was a fatality inquiry that happened after this, and there
were a number of recommendations that really focused on some of
the issues that I'm talking about, about the need to prevent these
kinds of tragedies from happening.
I guess I continue to go back to this, that I think it is, again,
wonderful using a private member's bill to close a loophole that the
member identified for people going through that system, that appeal
system or that judicial system. I think it's really important to back
up and to look at: what are the things that we can do to prevent these
injuries and these fatalities from ever happening in every sector, not
just the disability sector but in construction, whatever it is?
I'd like to also, you know, focus on another area. I'm sure most
members in this place have been inundated by letters from teachers.
Let me first say that for the rest of my life I will be eternally grateful
for the teachers that participated in raising my children, that taught
them at every phase of their life, that actually created a solid
foundation for them and, more than anything, inspired confidence
and curiosity. I am thankful for the teachers, but I want to talk about
these teachers. In the letters that I tabled earlier today, they focused
on class size. What the teachers did that was really quite interesting
was talk about: what were the risks associated with the increase in
class size? Very often those risks focused on not being able to meet
the very complex needs of the students that were joining their
classrooms.For example, with a grade 3 class – already difficult if you've
ever tried to corral a bunch of grade 3 children – it's challenging.


November 25, 2019 Alberta Hansard 2495

Add to that mix more children than you anticipated, then add to that
mix the loss of an educational assistant, and add to that mix a child
or two with very complex learning needs or behavioural needs, and
what you do is that you increase the risk of that teacher being
injured. I don't just mean a physical injury. You add the risk of a
really serious injury. I continue to focus on these examples because
it's really important to prevent these things from ever happening.
There are absolute savings in terms of cost if you are preventing
this: costs to WCB, costs to the system afterwards.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.
Are there any other hon. members wishing to join debate on this
matter?Seeing none, should he choose to take it, the hon. Member for
Livingstone-Macleod to close debate.

Mr. Reid: I rise and close debate on Bill 206, Mr. Speaker.

[Motion carried; Bill 206 read a second time]

Mrs. Savage: Mr. Speaker, I rise to seek unanimous consent to
waive Standing Order 8 to allow the Assembly to immediately
resolve itself into Committee of the Whole to consider Bill 206,
Workers' Compensation (Enforcement of Decisions) Amendment
Act, 2019.

[Unanimous consent granted]

3:50 head: Public Bills and Orders Other than
head: Government Bills and Orders
Committee of the Whole

[Mr. Milliken in the chair]

The Deputy Chair: I would like to call the committee to order.

Bill 206
Workers' Compensation (Enforcement of Decisions)
Amendment Act, 2019

The Deputy Chair: Are there any comments, questions, or
amendments to be offered with respect to this bill? I see the hon.
Member for Edmonton-Whitemud has risen to speak.

Ms Pancholi: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm pleased to rise in
Committee of the Whole to speak to Bill 206, a private member's
bill, Workers' Compensation (Enforcement of Decisions)
Amendment Act, 2019. I had the opportunity to hear a little bit
about this bill as a member of the private members' bills committee,
which heard from the member sponsoring the bill, as well as had
the opportunity to receive a technical briefing from the ministry of
labour with respect to this bill. That was a great opportunity to hear
a little bit more, and I appreciated the words from the sponsor of the
bill, the Member for Livingstone-Macleod, who spoke to why he
brought it forward.
I'll begin by saying that I support the idea, of course, of us as
private members in this House bringing forward the concerns of our
constituents. I think that's a very important and most fundamental
role that we serve as representatives of our ridings. The opportunity
to hear from your constituents is something I know we all take very
seriously. We spend a lot of time responding to their concerns and
meeting with them. Having this chance to bring forward a bill to
speak to concerns that we've heard from our constituents is a very
meaningful process. I know that as a new member of this Assembly
myself I'm looking forward to the opportunity, when my name gets
drawn, for a private member's bill and that I can bring something forward
myself. I certainly am very respectful of the chance that the
Member for Livingstone-Macleod took to bring forward his
constituents' concerns.
Of course, I will echo the comments from a number of my
colleagues to say that, of course, I absolutely support the idea that
for workers who are entering into and engaging with the Workers'
Compensation Board, that process should be as simplified and easy
as possible, particularly because we know that when a worker is
injured on the job, it's always a very challenging time, both for the
employer and the employee and the employee's family as well. So
in resolving those matters and moving forward quickly and seeking
to address as timely as possible the injury that the worker suffered
– and we know that in seeking supports from appropriate health care
professionals to get back to work, because everybody wants to get
back to meaningful work, it's in the best interests of all that that
happens as quickly as possible – I certainly support the process or
any measure that would certainly expedite the workers'
compensation process, because we know it is a process that has
historically been very challenging for both workers and employers.
I commend the work that my colleague the Member for
Edmonton-Mill Woods did, when she was the former minister of
labour, to really make some substantive changes to the Workers'
Compensation Act with those objectives in mind, of seeking to
protect those employees but also the employers so that everybody
can get back to work. I really respected the very meaningful
engagement and review that the member did, when she was the
minister of labour, to engage with all stakeholders who are invested
in the process to find ways to improve that. You know, Bill 30,
which was a former bill brought forward by the former minister of
labour, went a long way to addressing a lot of those concerns.
Certainly, again, I speak to the value of improving the process.
I will say that I do have a bit of a hesitation with Bill 206, only
because I take to heart some of the comments from the technical
briefing that we received from the ministry of labour when we were
in the private members' bills committee. In that briefing the
representative from the ministry of labour did go through and talk
about what was currently in the Workers' Compensation Act, and
in particular he pointed to section 13.3(2) of that act, which speaks
to the implementation by the Workers' Compensation Board of a
decision from the Appeals Commission. Actually, built right into
the existing Workers' Compensation Act in 13.3(2)(b) – and I am a
lawyer, so I like to talk about the subclauses of sections – it does
actually already prescribe a 30-day timeline for the implementation
of a decision of the Appeals Commission. That's currently already
in the act, so while I support the bill and what it's bringing forward,
I will say that I'm not certain that it is achieving the objective that
was originally laid out by the sponsor of the bill, which was to
implement Appeals Commission decisions in a timely fashion, only
because it appears that the act already has that provision.
In fact, the representative from the ministry of labour gave a great
overview – unfortunately, I can't recall the statistics at this time –
about how many of those Appeals Commission decisions are
implemented within the 30-day timeline that's set out already in the
act. I only speak to this because I have a bit of a hesitation around
making changes to legislation where those changes are actually not
completely necessary. In this case it does say that the existing act
already requires the Appeals Commission to implement decisions
within 30 days or within the prescribed timeline limits that are set
out within the decision of the Appeals Commission on a matter
before them.
What I see Bill 206 doing is not actually implementing that 30day
timeline, but in looking at the specific provisions of Bill 206, it
says that if the board has not implemented the decision within 30
days, that person may then seek an order from the Court of Queen's


2496 Alberta Hansard November 25, 2019

Bench to implement the decision. It doesn't actually introduce a 30day
time limit. That actually already exists in the act. What it does
say is that if the board does not implement the Appeals Commission
decision within 30 days, the applicant has another 30 days to go to
the Court of Queen's Bench to enforce that order.
Again, for me, this is simply about: if the goal was to make sure
that the Appeals Commission is implementing its orders within 30
days, that's already in the act. What Bill 206 really does is simply
say that they have a right to seek an order enforcing that from the
Court of Queen's Bench. It doesn't necessarily move the process
forward. It simply adds another layer, within which the applicant
can then make an application to the Court of Queen's Bench, which,
as we know, can in and of itself be a bit of an onerous process. I do
note, though, that Bill 206 also does allow that for an applicant who
seeks an order enforcing that decision from the Court of Queen's
Bench, the applicant may recover their solicitor-client costs. Again,
that's a notable thing, because we do know that it is a great burden
for an injured worker to take on to then have to continue to advocate
for themselves. They often do retain legal counsel, so to be able to
recover those costs is an important element to that.
I do support this bill, but what I do see is that I'm not sure it's
achieving the objectives the sponsor had in mind. It does still send
a message – and I think that that perhaps is the greater objective of
Bill 206 – which is that decisions of the Appeals Commission
should be implemented in a timely fashion and that it is important
to that worker, to that employee that that takes place. Certainly, I
think that's a valuable message. I'm not sure that the content of the
bill changes the process as much as we would like to hope or believe
that it would, but certainly I am proud to consistently stand up in
this House and advocate on behalf of workers and employees.
While I commend the sponsor of the bill, the Member for
Livingstone-Macleod, for bringing this forward, particularly
because it is in the best interests of injured workers, I have to echo
the comments of my colleagues on this side of the House, which is
to say that we have seen already in the short time of this 30th
Legislature a number of attacks on workers. We've seen attacks on
their overtime pay. We've seen attacks on the minimum wage. We
know that there is a review of the minimum wage going on for
serving staff in restaurants, and we know that that's probably
coming as well, because, quite frankly, a number of these review
panels that have been established by the government have
predetermined outcomes. We all know what's going to happen.

4:00
We've seen the attacks on minimum wage employees. We've
seen the attacks on overtime. We've seen the complete attack on
workers' pensions. Without consultation, without a mandate, this
government has transferred their pensions. While I will continue to
stand up – I'm proud to see that my colleagues are of course also
going to stand up for workers' rights, and I'm happy to see a
member from the government side stand up and seek the protection
for workers in this specific way – I really think that this government
has a bit of a credibility issue when it comes to standing up for
workers' rights because we've seen an unmitigated attack on
workers' rights so far.
This is a small change. I go back to the fact that I'm not even
sure it's a necessary change or that it's going to achieve the
objectives set out by the member. Really, if the government and
the members of the government caucus want to have some
credibility and actually stand up for workers' rights, they should
rethink a lot of the decisions that have already been made by this
government. Perhaps they have an opportunity going forward to
amend some of the things that they have done already to attack
workers' rights. So while I will support Bill 206, it is certainly not an
endorsement
of the government's approach to workers thus far. I'm proud that
we will continue to stand up for workers' rights on this side of the
House.Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The Deputy Chair: Thank you, hon. member.
Are there any other members looking to speak on this matter?
Then I am prepared to call the question.

[The clauses of Bill 206 agreed to]

[Title and preamble agreed to]

The Deputy Chair: Shall the bill be reported? Are you agreed? All
those in favour, please say aye.

Hon. Members: Aye.

The Deputy Chair: Any opposed, please say no. That is carried.

Mrs. Savage: I move that we rise and report Bill 206.

[Motion carried]

[Mr. Milliken in the chair]

The Acting Speaker: The hon. Member for Bonnyville-Cold
Lake-St. Paul.

Mr. Hanson: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The
Committee of the Whole has had under consideration a certain bill.
The committee reports the following bill: Bill 206.

The Acting Speaker: Does the Assembly concur in the report? All
those in favour, please say aye.

Hon. Members: Aye.

The Acting Speaker: Any opposed, please say no. Carried.

head: Motions Other than Government Motions

The Acting Speaker: I see the hon. Member for Cardston-Siksika
has risen to speak.

Economic Diversification in Rural Alberta

510. Mr. Schow moved:
Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly urge the
government to identify and eliminate red tape that prevents
innovative private-sector economic diversification in rural
Alberta's communities for the economic benefit of these
communities and Alberta as a whole.

Mr. Schow: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's an honour to rise today.
I'm pleased to rise and move Motion 510. Now, this motion is
important to draw attention to rural Alberta. As many of you know,
41 seats in this Chamber are considered to be rural Alberta seats,
seats that are representing areas that are not part of our major city
centres, you know, places where agriculture is our main economic
driver and where people toil outside for hours at a time. They're the
kind of people who shower after work, not before work. Some of
these men and women are the backbone of Alberta. They're the
people that I'm proud to represent in Cardston-Siksika.
I wanted to start with a bit of a story about one such type of
business. I live in Cardston, Mr. Speaker, as you know. It's a
beautiful place to be. You should come visit some time. I highly
recommend it. I think you'd love the view, especially of Chief


November 25, 2019 Alberta Hansard 2497

Mountain. In Cardston there is this clothing store. It's called Atkins,
and Atkins can be traced back to 1893, at the time of the arrival of
the Card family. Now, when the Card family came – as you can
imagine: Cardston, Card – they came with a shoemaker, and that
shoemaker ended up leaving. They needed one, so they sent off for
Frederick Walter Atkins and offered him $16 to come to Cardston
and make shoes.
He was making shoes and making boots for the mountains, and
he travelled, as I understand it, by horse to Cardston. Later, in 1947,
his son Henry Harwood Atkins constructed the building that is the
current location of Atkins. He built this building, and it still stands
today as a staple of the community of Cardston. Later on Bert and
Shirley Gibb took over in the 1960s. They held this business in their
care and maintained it for years, until 1997, when their daughter
Kris MacDonnell took over the business.
This is an example of a southern Alberta success story, the way
that businesses can thrive and they can succeed in what others might
consider to be difficult economic or climatic, you know, parts of the
province. I know that people don't come to Alberta necessarily for
the weather but for the opportunity, and they make the most of it.
When I was talking to Kris MacDonnell about Atkins, she said
that one of the greatest pieces of advice she had ever heard was
something that her grandfather said to her dad. As you can imagine,
through the over a hundred years of its history Atkins has gone
through some difficult times, times when, you know, they could
have considered closing their doors because maybe it just wasn't
going quite as well as they would have liked it to. He said: “When
you owe people money, send them bits of money over time. Don't
just disappear on them. Maintain a relationship with those you owe
money to even if it's just a little bit. That will improve your credit
and your credibility with those you owe money to and show good
faith to the people that you do business with.” Now, it's my belief
that the people in Cardston-Siksika in general all operate in good
faith, and I think this lesson is a great example of that.
The point here is that there are lots of opportunities that aren't
being realized in Cardston-Siksika and, I believe, across the
province, and that is why I think that we need to look at
opportunities to remove red tape, Mr. Speaker, to remove barriers
that hold back these businesses, some of the great ideas that could
be fostered right here in Alberta. It's no secret that Alberta is
heavily dependent upon our oil and gas sector, the most ethical oil
and gas sector, I think, around the world. It's a world-class product
that we should be getting to market, but we're having a difficult
time there. While that's happening, I think that there are
opportunities here, and we should be exploring those.
So I was pleased during the campaign when I heard our Premier
talk a lot about getting rid of the barriers that are standing in the
way, this red tape, and setting up an Associate Ministry of Red Tape
Reduction, something that my colleague to the left here is working
tirelessly to execute. Mr. Speaker, the saddest thing in life is wasted
potential, and while that is a quote from one of my favourite movies,
it is the truth not only in life but also in business. Are we realizing
our potential in rural Alberta? I think that there are opportunities
there that we're not quite exploring.
I want to talk about one of those opportunities that comes to my
office, comes to my attention quite often, and it is the fact that in
Alberta we have only one border crossing that's open 24 hours a
day – it's in Coutts – whereas just south of Cardston we have a
border crossing that closes at about 11 o'clock. This poses a bit of
a problem, a bit of a barrier for those who live in the area. Cardston
has just a wealth of history. There's so much to offer in Cardston
and southern Alberta in general. Those coming to southern Alberta
might have a bit of a concern about the ability to get home at the end of
an evening if they stay a little bit late. They're always
checking their watches.
One opportunity – and I know it's not entirely within our control
– is to look at an option of supporting a 24-hour border crossing at
Carway. Carway is only 20 minutes from Glacier national park in
the United States. This is a park that sees between 3 million and 3
and a half million visitors each year. It's also not far, again, like I
said, 20 minutes from us. So, you know, if you want to come across
the border into Canada, you can do that, but if you want to stay,
there might be the concern of not getting home in time. Going to
visit places like Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump or plays in
Cardston or visit the Remington Carriage Museum or Writing-OnStone
or beautiful Waterton is another reason, Mr. Speaker, that you
should most certainly – and I encourage everyone else in this
Chamber – come down to Cardston. If you have not been to
Waterton, you are sure missing out on a real treat.

4:10
Another part here is the reality that there is a lot of truck traffic
that comes through southern Alberta and goes through Coutts, and
that truck traffic, if they're not going to make it through the border,
is going to be diverted all the way through Coutts. That's an extra
hour on your drive time when you could be going straight through
Carway as opposed to going to Coutts. When you think about
trucking, as someone who did drive a truck for a while in a previous
career, time is money, Mr. Speaker. Time is money. Tick-tock. I'll
tell you that it's important we save money where possible. That's
an opportunity to look at.
This red tape reduction is so important because there are so many
people who are looking at Alberta as this beacon of hope and
opportunity, this place where you can come and start something
fantastic, something you can be excited about, something that I'm
excited about. But what's in the way? Oftentimes, red tape and
bureaucracy.To use a bit of an example about how that gets in the way,
growing up in the rural part of the country, my friends and I got our
hands on a mid-90s Honda Accord. It was a manual transmission.
That's when I learned how to drive a manual. This was long before
I turned 16. We would drive this car – not on the road, of course,
Mr. Speaker; that would be illegal – in the field. It was a field car.
Driving it around – we were getting used to driving a manual stick
shift there – we noticed that between two of the fields, as they
connected, there was a bit of an incline. It was a bit of a bumpy ride
as you went over it, and I thought: well, what if you go a little faster;
what would happen?
You can imagine that if you go a little faster, maybe the front tires
come off the ground. Naturally, we began to explore this more, with
seat belts on of course, and realized that there was a real opportunity
to jump this car and really catch some serious air in this field car of
ours. It just weighed a lot. Between the passengers and everything
in the vehicle, it was really hard to maximize that air time, that hang
time, in this vehicle. But as we started jumping it more and more,
we realized that parts started falling off. As the parts fell off, we
reduced the weight. As we reduced the weight, we got more hang
time. It was a nice little cause and effect there.
So we got to thinking: what else can we take off this vehicle? We
parked this thing in my garage, and we went to work on it. We
started taking out the spare tire. We took out any other unnecessary
weight, even parts of the exhaust pipe. We took out some of it; other
parts of it just fell off, bumpers, Mr. Speaker. Now, these are all
integral pieces for the road, but if you're trying to get maximum
hang time in this field car, you've got to take them off. We did just
that, and lo and behold you get going at about 90 kilometres and hit
this incline and – bam – air time like you wouldn't believe.


2498 Alberta Hansard November 25, 2019

Now, I relate this back to the point that I'm trying to make here:
what's holding Alberta back? What's holding Alberta back from
getting that maximum hang time, all that potential? I'll tell you what
it is. It's red tape and regulation, and I encourage us to get rid of it.
Well, that's all my remarks.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.
Are there any members looking to join the debate on this? I see
the hon. Member for Edmonton-Decore has risen to speak.

Mr. Nielsen: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate your
recognizing me. I was listening intently to the story there, and I
must admit, Member, that I'm glad you didn't remove the seat belts.
We don't even want to think about what might have happened with
that.Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I rise this afternoon on private member's
Motion 510, which, of course, says:
Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly urge the government
to identify and eliminate red tape that prevents innovative
private-sector economic diversification in rural Alberta's
communities for the economic benefit of these communities and
Alberta as a whole.
I have to say that I rise at this moment with a bit of confusion, to
say the least. I just talked about some of these things in the last
discussion on a bill. I've talked about these things in previous bills
where we see something being brought forward in terms of
legislation, but the actions and the bills that we've brought forward
previously are counterproductive to that.
When we're talking about trying to create an atmosphere for
innovative private-sector economic diversification, I would of
course be remiss – the Member for Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview
would want me to mention these things. Cancelling things like the
capital investment tax credit, cancelling things like the AITC and
the digital media tax credit: these were things that were going to
allow small and medium-sized businesses to be innovative, to be
able to grow. When we take these things away, it's
counterproductive to what we're asking to do right here in this
motion.I guess I'm looking at the Member for Cardston-Siksika. He's
trying to, you know, work hard for the businesses that call his area
home, allowing them to grow, to prosper, to be able to create jobs,
hire more people, grow their businesses. Yet we see things going
on within the government that are counterproductive and that are
actually hurting your businesses and their ability to be able to grow.
We've heard comments, like from the Finance minister, that these
types of economic diversification are just a long-term luxury. I
would highly disagree. I think your businesses trying to grow,
create jobs, and be prosperous is not a luxury. I think it's a
necessity. That kind of a comment is counterproductive to how we
can move these things forward.
Of course, you were talking about red tape, and the government
did create an Associate Ministry of Red Tape Reduction. That is
going to cost Albertans over the next four years $10 million. We've
seen the government moving, cancelling, you know, things like the
Election Commissioner because that's going to help save us a
million dollars, yet what I've found, Mr. Speaker, during estimates
when I was talking to Treasury Board and Finance, when I was
talking to Municipal Affairs, when I was talking to Labour – I've
seen other critics when they were talking to their ministries – is that
there are clearly red tape reduction strategies going on within those
ministries that didn't need the help of the red tape reduction
ministry. Right there, just in terms of efficiencies, I think we could
maybe take that $10 million that we're going to spend, and maybe
we could do things that could invest in, like, Cardston-Siksika and its
businesses to allow them to grow, to be innovative, and to start
playing on a larger scale or maybe even the world scale. Wouldn't
that be great?
I mean, we've seen things – I'm sure that the Member for
Lethbridge-East would be very, very aware of this – like Cavendish
Farms, a fantastic business that wants to grow here in the province,
yet we are seeing things that are working against them to be able to
do that. I mean, we were talking about them investing $360 million
in the plant, $430 million in the facility where full production
capacity is going. I was astounded at this, quite honestly. I mean,
processing 735 million pounds of potatoes: I can't even imagine
what that looks like. That's a lot of potatoes. That is a lot of
potatoes, Mr. Speaker. You know, in creating the French fries to be
able to ship them around the world, what would have helped them
to do that would have been things like the capital investment tax
credit, like the Alberta investment tax credit. That would have
helped them to be able to scale up and do those types of production
levels. Again, it's counterproductive to what this motion is trying
to do. It just really feels like the government is actually working
against the Member for Cardston-Siksika with his motion and him
trying to advocate so hard for his businesses.

4:20
You know, in terms of budget cuts, Mr. Speaker, that again are
going against rural Alberta and their ability to be innovative, to be
able to prosper, Agriculture and Forestry saw a budget cut of 9.1
per cent. Environment and Parks was ending the Alberta
community resilience program, which provides flood and drought
mitigation funding for municipalities, First Nations, Métis
settlements, improvement districts, special areas. All of these things
would have been able to help rural Alberta to be able to prosper, to
be able to protect their investments from things like floods. We've
certainly seen some of the floods in this province getting much,
much worse. We've all heard that term about 1-in-100-year events.
It seems like we've had three or four of those 1-in-100-year events
just in the last decade alone. It's taking away those types of funding
to be able to provide things like flood mitigation, which will protect
the assets of rural Albertans and their businesses to be able to
continue to innovate and prosper.
We've seen Transportation cutting highway funding
maintenance by 25 per cent. I mean, if rural Alberta businesses are
going to try to innovate and grow, create jobs, not only service
Alberta but the world as a whole – I've always believed that our
businesses can all work on the world stage. I've always, always
believed that. But how are they going to be able to get their products
to market, to that world stage, if we're cutting back on
maintenance? Again, it's counterproductive to what the Member for
Cardston-Siksika is trying to do, advocating hard for his businesses.
The government is working against him. I'm very, very confused
with regard to this.
I think that, unfortunately, because of that, it's incumbent upon
the government to be able to step up, to back up the Member for
Cardston-Siksika. I think we can take that $10 million from the
ministry of red tape, invest it in your businesses to be able to prosper
and grow because, clearly, red tape reduction is happening within
the ministries themselves. I have yet to see any red tape reductions
create jobs. Well, except for one. We've created one job, probably
the minister himself.
Unfortunately, I'm not prepared to be able to support this motion
at this time. I do hope that the member's businesses will be backed
up by maybe some different policies from this government,
hopefully other investments that will allow them to prosper, but
right now the indication that I'm getting from the government is
that they don't care about that member's businesses. I would like to


November 25, 2019 Alberta Hansard 2499

see that $10 million invested in your riding and your businesses and
in my businesses as well in Edmonton-Decore. I'm known as the
shopping district, Mr. Speaker. I have three major malls. I have so
many businesses within my riding. They're fantastic. I would invite
you to Edmonton-Decore as well. We've got some great
restaurants. I'm sure you'd love them.
But I'm going to urge other members to not support this at this
time.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.

Mr. Hunter: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in favour of this motion
and would like to just comment a little bit about the last member's
speech, from Edmonton-Decore. There was a word that he used,
“confused.” I have to say that that is a fairly appropriate word that
he used. I think that it's interesting. I see the confusion probably in
that there are a few words in there that would confuse him like
“innovative private-sector” jobs. Obviously, something that we've
seen for the last four years from this government is that their whole
strategy has been that they believe that injecting the government
and the government's role into society in a free-enterprise society
is actually the solution. In fact, if you read through their appendix
in their constitution, you'll see that their job, they believe, is to
actually micromanage and that they think that they're smarter than
the economy.
What we've learned through years of trying different types of
economic models is that a free economy, where it has the minimal
interference by the government, is the most prosperous. This is
really why I'm in favour of this motion. I think that the Member for
Cardston-Siksika has gotten it bang on when it comes to the need
to be able to have government get out of the way, get out of the way
of our job creators and our innovators.
It always amazed me listening to the members opposite when
they were in government not too long ago, Mr. Speaker, argue that
they were confused why so many private-sector jobs – I think there
were at one point over 180,000 private-sector jobs that had fled our
markets. It confused them. They were confused because they didn't
seem to understand that there is a direct relationship between the
government's intervention and taking away that incentive for our
job creators to actually get in and to start a business, to take on that
risk. I actually do understand why the Member for EdmontonDecore
is confused, but that is actually no excuse.
The truth is that we were hired on April 16 to get Albertans back
to work and to jump-start our economy. They hired us not to get in
the way of our job creators and innovators but to get out of the way.
I think that the member needs to realize that. I would have to say
that I don't know if the member has gotten out enough and talked
to our job creators and our innovators, because what he wouldn't
hear from them is: “You know what? We need you to hold our hand
and we need you to actually make us into this successful business.”
No. The number one thing that I hear, Mr. Speaker, is: “The
government needs to get out of our way. The government needs to
let us be so that we can actually do what we feel is the right way to
be able to create wealth, to be able to start a small business, and to
risk and to become an innovator and to hopefully knock it out of the
park.” The sky is the limit for entrepreneurs.
It's interesting, Mr. Speaker, that there are many, many
immigrants that come to this province. A lot of the immigrants
come to this province because they think that this is the place where
they can actually make something of their lives, that, again, the sky
is the limit here, that Alberta would be a place where they could
come and start a business, that they can actually provide for their
families better than they could where they were living. Now, when
the government gets in the way and when the government, through continual
red tape, heaps on layers and layers of red tape, it takes
away the incentive for those newcomers to come to this province
and to try to start a business. I've said this many times in this House.
Small businesses are disproportionately affected by red tape, so it's
extremely important for us to be able to turn back that tide.
There's an interesting study that was done down in the States that
showed that had the United States curbed red tape or regulatory
increases since 1980, they would have seen an increase of almost
32 per cent in the size of their economy. An eight-tenths of a per
cent increase year over year they would have seen. That's a
substantial amount, Mr. Speaker. Think about the size of our
economy, what we would have done had we also tried to curb this
thing called red tape.
You know, Mr. Speaker, I like how the Member for CardstonSiksika
is talking about innovative private-sector economic
diversification in rural Alberta. What I think is important to
recognize is that, really, of our job creators and innovators in rural
Alberta, a lot of them are farmers and ranchers, and we made a huge
step forward – I have to take my hat off to the agriculture minister
and the labour minister for being able to come together in repealing
Bill 6, that devastating NDP bill that added, again, so many layers
of red tape onto our rural job creators and innovators, our farmers
and ranchers.

4:30
I want to tell you a story, Mr. Speaker, about how those
unintended consequences have really affected a member from my
constituency. I won't use names. This family has asked me not to.
They're humble people, as you often find in rural Alberta. This
family had a very small farm. It wasn't a big farm, but they had the
option of – when Bill 6 was introduced, they didn't really know
what was expected. They had to figure out whether they were going
to hire another person and become completely occupational health
and safety compliant or – the wife was going to be going and getting
a hip replacement. Now, she could no longer help her husband on
the farm, so they had to make a choice. The choice was either they
hire another person to help take care of what she was normally
doing or she goes and gets a hip replacement done. She had been
waiting for about a year and still no hip replacement.
They did like everybody does. They just basically said: well, our
option for getting a hip replacement is going to cost us X amount;
our option to become occupational health and safety compliant so
that we can have another person come to our farm and work is going
to cost us this much. Well, Mr. Speaker, they had a consultant come
in. I haven't been able to verify or validate their numbers, but they
said that this consultant told them that it was going to cost them
$200,000 to bring their farm up to occupational health and safety
compliance – $200,000 – whereas they could go down to Kalispell
and get a $39,000 hip replacement done. Guess what they did? They
mortgaged their house, they went down, and she got a hip
replacement done in Kalispell.
What a terrible option for them, Mr. Speaker. On one hand,
you're going to have to spend $39,000; on the other hand, you're
going to have spend $200,000 because of some unintended
consequences of a government that was more interested in piling on
red tape than they were interested in actually helping our job
creators and innovators do what they do best, create jobs. This is
the reason why job creators rejected them en masse on April 16 of
this year. They rejected their approach. They said: no, you do not
have any interest in being able to help our job creators jump-start;
you're interested in being able to maybe start increasing publicsector
jobs. They did a lot of that, but they certainly were not
interested in private-sector jobs.


2500 Alberta Hansard November 25, 2019

Mr. Speaker, this is a legacy that the NDP will have to wear. The
legislators opposite will have to remember that instead of them
being able to actually jump-start the economy through intervention
by the government, in reality they actually destroyed the economy
by government intervention.
So I am all in favour of this motion. This motion speaks to a truth,
which is that when the government gets out of the way of our job
creators and innovators, they know best how to be able to jumpstart
the economy and get Albertans back to work, and that is the
solution, Mr. Speaker. It's not anecdotal. It is the solution. We've
seen numerous examples in different parts of the world where
they've done this right. In fact, there are some studies done in
Scandinavian countries that did this right and found that they can
get up to a 2.3 per cent increase in GDP by just focusing on red tape
reduction.This is something that I'm very much in favour of, and I'm
grateful for the member bringing it forward.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.
I see the hon. Member for Drumheller-Stettler has risen to speak.

Mr. Horner: Yeah. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's an honour to rise
today and speak in support of Motion 510, brought forward by the
field-car-driving Member for Cardston-Siksika. I just would say
that I learned to drive the same way, drive a stick, and I appreciate
his analogy. As the car loses parts, you definitely get more air on
the incline of opportunity, so I think it's quite fitting.
Mr. Speaker, if you ask farmers around Canada, they'll tell you
that Albertan farmers are some of the luckiest in the world – maybe
not this fall, though; it has been a challenging harvest – a wealth of
land turned into a wealth of resources. As the subsurface of Alberta
was mapped and analyzed for oil and gas, many did well by
becoming partners of industry, leasing surface rights to companies
that wished to further explore the subsurface or install infrastructure.
Others found work and participated directly as this new
economy demanded more and more labour. These jobs were high
paying and easy to get.
Those days appear over for now. The easiest resources to find
and to extract were targeted first, and through 2014 a high price
created an opportunity for further growth in more unconventional
plays such as SAGD and more marginal oil sands deposits. As the
price of oil has stagnated in recent years, the jobs have dried up and
the investment has fled.
This is not our province's first experience with the cyclical nature
of the energy industry. Energy is a global commodity, and the price
is subject to forces outside our control. This means that when the
price is low, our province is hard hit. The energy industry remains
the main economic driver of our province, and I'm certainly not
downplaying its importance. When we discuss economic
diversification, we must therefore place it in terms of
supplementing the industry rather than replacing it.
Albertans' hard work exploiting our world-class energy reserves
has been so successful that it shifted our entire country's economy.
Mature labour markets like those of the Maritimes, where jobs were
often hard to find and far lower paying on average, saw an exodus
of people moving westward seeking prosperity.
The creation of economies of scale in the oil sands has
incentivized companies to invent and deploy innovative
technologies that have given Albertan engineers a reputation as
some of the most versatile and qualified globally. While the oil
sands remain innovative and productive, opportunities for rural
populations to share in the prosperity have evaporated as companies
have stopped drilling. They're asking for help, and they deserve it.
They're not asking for a handout but a hand up. The previous NDP
government often paid lip service to
diversification of the economy, but their efforts were doomed to
failure. Albertans have created new industries before through hard
work, innovation, and prudent governance. Burdensome taxation,
overregulation, and complex red tape stand in the way of
entrepreneurs and businesses from setting up operations in rural
communities. Our government must be prudent and stand behind
Albertans that are working to meet these ends.
The labour market has become increasingly bloated as layoffs
have continued and the need for service companies dwindled. This
is a highly skilled labour base that would be a tremendously
valuable asset to any industries that choose to call Alberta home. I
do not know the specific industry we should be courting, but what
I do know is that the skills and talents of Albertans go far beyond
the oil and gas industry.
Alberta has world-class business and postsecondary programs in
forestry, agriculture, mining, and technology. Innovative
companies like Shaw Communications, WestJet, ATCO, and SportChek
were all started right here in Alberta. There is no reason that
we should not be fostering an environment in which small
companies with big ideas can thrive. New opportunities for
business in fields like ag tech, energy efficiency, cannabis, and
many more must not be passed up. We as a government must be
actively working to be sure that Albertan businesses are not overly
constrained by red tape as they try to innovate and Alberta competes
with other jurisdictions to draw in business. We have always been
a province in which entrepreneurs can thrive.
Mr. Speaker, we must find a balance between diversification and
a strong energy industry. The previous government could not find
this balance. When the bottom fell out of the oil industry, the NDP
was left with a $6 billion hole in their budget. A diverse economy
is an essential step towards smoothing the boom-and-bust cycle of
the energy industry, but that does not mean we should forgo the
next peak. Energy has always paid the bills in Alberta, whether
privately or providing the means for expansive government
services. Our province is uniquely positioned in Canada, still
managing to create a sizable sovereign wealth fund as eastern
provinces claimed a piece of the pie. This is a savings account for
every Albertan.
Rather than raising tax rates and creating additional regulatory
burden for small businesses and entrepreneurs, as our previous
NDP government did, we must rely on rational decision-making to
set them on the path to success. We must attract investment, both
foreign and domestic, and incubate small businesses so that those
who innovate can quickly scale right here in our province. It is
imperative that we work to cut the red tape that has kept businesses
from basing themselves in rural Alberta so that our next recession
is less deep than the last.
Our government has already put forward several programs to
help improve conditions in rural Alberta. The rural entrepreneur
immigration program in tandem with the rural renewal program will
help our province to direct skilled labour to rural communities, with
the intent of starting or taking over existing businesses. We have
also committed to expanding our programs which incentivize media
production in rural areas, which follows the lead of Manitoba's film
tax credit.

4:40
Mr. Speaker, Alberta's economy is one of the best in the world
when hydrocarbon prices are high. When they are low, milk and
honey are harder to find. I want a province for my kids where they
have opportunities of all kinds. By the time they grow up, I'm
hopeful that whatever their passion is, there will be an opportunity
for them to thrive right here at home.


November 25, 2019 Alberta Hansard 2501

I have heard criticism related to Alberta pension funds that
Alberta is just too small to have world-class financial services
expertise. This is absolutely ridiculous, and Albertans should be
livid about this patronizing attitude. We're no longer the expansive
and empty prairies. It is time we built an integrated and diverse
economy which reflects that. Cutting red tape on rural businesses is
the first step in the right direction.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.
I see the hon. Member for Calgary-Mountain View has risen to
speak.

Ms Ganley: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It's my pleasure
to rise and speak to this bill. I don't believe, in substance, that the
idea of allowing economic diversification – I think that that's a very
good thing. I think my main objection is that this government's
approach to that has been incorrect. I mean, over a number of years
it has been tried many times, to reduce the general corporate tax rate
and hope that that spurs innovation, but that hasn't had that effect.
The reason for that is because a corporate tax rate is paid only on
profits, and in fact it's paid only on profits in excess of half a million
dollars.A lot of businesses, when they start up, are not in that position,
so they need a different sort of assistance, assistance that I think the
Alberta investor tax credit was providing, and I think it was doing
a very good job of that. In fact, I've certainly heard from a number
of individuals and from members of the legal community that they
were working with companies who had planned to come here, to
open offices or to open up here, who are no longer going to do that
because those opportunities are no longer available to them,
whereas programs like that exist in other jurisdictions.
I think that that is a huge concern because, really, the point here
is to diversify the economy, to assist businesses in other areas to
spring up, and I don't think that this rhetoric that the members
across the way put out, that if we're in support of other industries,
we can't possibly be in support of oil and gas, is correct. I think you
can be in favour of both of those things at the same time. I don't
think they are anything resembling mutually exclusive.
I think, you know, this idea that somehow that plan wasn't going
to work: I mean, not only had it begun to work already, but it would
have only increased in the future. We'll never see that now because
it's been cut off. We have credible reports of all sorts of industry
folks that could have come here, particularly in the tech sector, that
won't be doing that now. I think that is a real shame because I think
that those were good, solid, mortgage-paying jobs, which, at the end
of the day, is really what we're after.
I think, Mr. Speaker, that while I'm on my feet, it's worth
commenting on some of the comments made by the Associate
Minister of Red Tape Reduction because I do think that it is possible
for us to disagree in this place without becoming personal or
without becoming insulting. To see that member rise in his place
and suggest that when the Member for Edmonton-Decore says that
he's confused about how this is supposed to work, which is a
legitimate question – and he laid it out on a number of legitimate
bases – that's just because he's confused about life generally is
deeply inappropriate, especially coming from someone who has
risen in this place and suggested that potable water is red tape, who,
when asked what red tape he plans to reduce, couldn't provide a
single example of a bill, couldn't provide anything resembling an
operational definition, and to date hasn't provided anything
resembling an operational definition.
I think that if one is confused by that, one is rightly confused by
that, because it's confusing. When you say, “Oh, well, it's things that
harm business, but we won't in any way reduce it in such a way
that it impacts the lives or livelihoods of Albertans,” well, I mean,
that's not a definition that anyone can sort of operationalize in a
way that's important. Those are my comments on those comments.
You know, I think that when we're talking about attracting
investment to rural Alberta, the Cavendish facility in Lethbridge is
definitely worth mentioning. That was an investment that was
attracted by our government. We did that by working with the folks
there. They made that investment, and it will produce a lot of jobs,
jobs in an area that could use jobs.
I must actually say that I met recently with the folks from Team
Lethbridge. Their municipality and their businesses and their
nonprofit organizations all tend to come up here together to talk to
MLAs, which is actually a very effective strategy, in my view. They
had some fantastic ideas having to do with economic diversification
and what sectors they wanted to attract and how to attract
investment from outside the province rather than attracting it from
other municipalities.
I think there's a lot of good evidence that there are a lot of ways
to go forward with a strategy that isn't based on trickle-down
economics. Honestly, you know, we hear the members across the
way saying that the problem is that we think we're smarter than the
economy. I mean, setting aside for a moment the fact that an
economy isn't anthropomorphic, that it's not the sort of thing that
has an intelligence, I think it's entirely possible – and I do hear the
member laughing. I realize he thinks it's impossible for someone
like me to have something relevant to say in this place, Mr. Speaker,
but fortunately we have the opportunity for all of us to debate here.
The members across the way and I have a fairly deep
disagreement. We have a deep disagreement over whether trickledown
economics works, and I think there's an enormous amount of
evidence on our side. I think that in the last 20 or 30 years the entire
field of economics has done a lot to change from being based on
theories to being based on evidence, and I think that's a really good
change, a positive change in the world. I realize that the members
over there appear to think that it's hilarious that anyone would think
that that's a good thing, but it is a good thing.
I think that as it becomes more and more the case that economics
is based on actual evidence in the world, we're seeing more and
more that the trickle-down theory just doesn't work. That's not a
method that's effective, and it's certainly not a method that's
effective under certain circumstances. Having now dropped the
corporate tax rate 1 per cent, if we continue to drop it – we're
already at the bottom, so that's not going to attract any additional
investment, and I think that generally that's been clear. The aim of
attracting investment specifically intended to diversify our
economy is a good aim. What we have seen under this new
government's policies is companies taking the money and running
to other jurisdictions to invest the money. I don't think that's an
effective strategy, and I think that the numbers bear out my
conclusion that it's not an effective strategy because all we have
seen is more and more job losses under this government.
I think, Mr. Speaker, you know, that spending particularly $10
million over the next four years on a ministry that is, in my view,
redundant is probably not a really good use of taxpayer dollars,
especially at a time when we're talking about cutting educational
supports in classrooms, when we're talking about cutting health
care funding, when we're talking about cutting funding to police.
Why it is that we would be spending $10 million on a ministry that,
as far as I can tell, isn't actually doing anything is entirely beyond
me.I think, Mr. Speaker, that that will end my comments with respect
to this matter. The members across the way and I are obviously
going to disagree rather strongly in terms of whether economic


2502 Alberta Hansard November 25, 2019

diversification is a priority or whether it ought to be, as they say, a
long-term luxury. I don't think it's a long-term luxury. I think it's
something that we have to do. I think it's something that we have
to do now, and I think it's incredibly important.
Mr. Speaker, I will not be in favour of this motion, and as we
move forward, I hope that we see a level of debate in this place that
is perhaps a little bit more elevated. Thank you.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.
I see the hon. Member for Camrose has risen to speak.

Ms Lovely: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It was my pleasure to spend
time over the last number of months in my constituency consulting
with constituents. One of the main issues that continues to arise is
the excessive red tape that is strangling our economy. This is
especially true when speaking to business owners. Rural
entrepreneurs face an increasing number of challenges in a rapidly
changing world. On top of the struggles caused by the NDP
mismanagement of Alberta's economy and those faced by urban
entrepreneurs, rural business owners face declining populations,
high transportation costs, and the fear of vandalism, pushed by a
rural crime crisis in our province.

4:50
Mr. Speaker, in talking to my constituents, they have outlined a
number of regulatory issues that hinder the success of small-town
entrepreneurs. I'd like to highlight just one of them now.
Interference with project management makes jobs take longer.
Project management is less efficient, and it becomes harder for
small businesses operating in areas with fewer customers to turn a
profit. Because of this, jobs become harder to come by and families
are forced to relocate to cities, further exacerbating the problems.
Because of this difficulty in moving projects forward, business has
left Alberta. The regulatory burdens imposed by all levels of
government have led to a hurry-up-and-wait problem and a failure
to guarantee anything our job creators strive for.
Maybe I'll use a large-scale familiar example to explain this
problem. As I'm sure everyone in this House is aware, the Trans
Mountain pipeline has struggled with moving regulatory goalposts
for years. It has been approved and reapproved over and over again.
Recently the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau has introduced
Bill C-69, the no more pipelines law, a new framework for
infrastructure projects. The issue, Mr. Speaker, is that C-69 fails to
address any of the real issues and allows the goalposts to be moved
indefinitely. As a result, Albertans have suffered. A failure to get
this project completed has real effects on the daily lives of
Albertans.Now imagine this happening to multiple projects in rural areas.
These delays all have an effect on the health of our rural
communities. This is a major barrier that rural areas need to address.
This isn't to say that urban areas don't also face issues with
regulatory barriers placing roadblocks in the way of major
infrastructure, but there is a massive difference in a delay in road
construction adding a couple of minutes to a commute in
comparison to a rural road adding half an hour to your drive into
town. As our towns shrink, it becomes even more difficult when
businesses promising employment are delayed in opening their
doors by red tape and excessive regulation.
One area where we saw regulations threaten our rural areas was
the imposition of the previous government's seriously flawed Bill
6. Thanks to the organization of a number of farmers the bill was
significantly amended, but as I along with many of my colleagues
have heard, this did not go far enough to protect our farmers from
more regulation. That's why I was so glad to see the Minister of
Agriculture and Forestry bring forward Bill 26 as a replacement to
ensure worker safety while also reducing the regulatory burden on
family farms, who don't have the tools to navigate red tape that
large corporate farms do.
As you can see, Mr. Speaker, regulations can have a devastating
impact on small rural communities. This is something that our
government should be taking very seriously. I'm glad that my
colleague from Cardston-Siksika has brought this issue to the
forefront, and I look forward to advocating for further red tape
reduction in rural areas alongside him.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.
I see the hon. Member for Calgary-Buffalo has risen to speak on
this matter.

Member Ceci: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I think I'll keep
my remarks with regard to Bill 25 to the municipal affairs areas if I
maybe could just ask a number of questions or concerns that have
been brought forward.

The Acting Speaker: I hesitate to interrupt the hon. member. We
are currently discussing Motion Other than Government Motion
510. If you would like to speak on that matter, please feel free.

Member Ceci: With regard to the red tape reduction . . .

The Acting Speaker: And I will also just mention to the member
that in about three minutes we will have reached 55 minutes of
discussion on this matter.

Member Ceci: Yeah. Okay. Thanks.
With regard to Motion 510, then, you know, red tape is certainly
something that's important for all of us to address. We, of course,
endeavoured as government, when we were in government, to
ensure that only the regulation that was important and necessary
was put into place. The fact that we're talking about red tape
generally helps out other orders of government, particularly the
local levels of government. When we get to Bill 25, I'll have the
opportunity to address it in more detail. But, Mr. Speaker, the
importance of generally addressing red tape is obviously brought
forward in an actual bill that's before us, including the one that's
with regard to the farm areas, farm implementation, farming.
We, of course, are getting feedback from the different
organizations, RMA in particular. I've been reading their website
with regard to this. They speak specifically to Bill 25. They don't
talk about this motion that's before us. They do say about Bill 25
that they would like to find out more information. When we get to
that, I'll talk to the associate minister.
We, of course, worked very hard to make sure that projects like
the Cavendish Farms had the infrastructure in place, got that put in
place as quickly as possible, so there was no real issue there.
We, of course, want to make sure that we're not standing in the
way of economic diversification throughout Alberta, including the
rural areas. We see a benefit to addressing red tape.
I do have many questions about the municipal affairs area and
Bill 25, and I'll wait to get there for that discussion.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.
About one more minute, if there are any hon. members looking
to speak quickly on this matter.

Mr. Rowswell: I've got, like, 50 seconds to talk. Is that right?
Okay. I'll start. Mr. Speaker, no one can deny the positive effect of
our energy sector. The point I want to make is that, you know, it


November 25, 2019 Alberta Hansard 2503

sustains our province, and therefore any discussions about
economic diversification must remain focused on supplementing
our energy sector, not replacing it or shrinking it. We should follow
the lead of the hard-working oil and gas workers and be proud of
our rich energy resources, which, through the hard work of
Albertans, we developed into the greatest wealth-generating asset
in the country.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you, hon. member. Given the time I
hesitate to interrupt the hon. member, but under Standing Order
8(3), which provides for up to five minutes for the sponsor of a
motion other than a government motion to close debate, I would
invite the hon. Member for Cardston-Siksika to please close debate
on Motion 510.

Mr. Schow: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's an honour to close debate
on Motion 510. If there's one message that I can get across through
the debate that we've had in the last hour, it is: don't forget about
rural Alberta; don't forget about rural Alberta and the hard-working
men and women who live there.
I represent one of the most southern constituencies and live in
one of the most southern parts of this province, right by the U.S.
border. We have so much to offer Alberta. We have so much to
offer this province and this country. Any opportunity that we have
to start something great: we'll snatch that opportunity, and we'll
make the most of it. That's what we do in the south. While I know
that the urban parts of this province play an integral part of our
success and our prosperity and I'm grateful for those places – I'm
grateful for Calgary and Edmonton and Red Deer and all the other
major cities, Medicine Hat, where my own parents live – we cannot
forget about rural Alberta.
I feel like some of these messages that have been sent are that
rural isn't as important. I can't speak to the logic behind the
committee that redrew the boundaries for this Chamber, but we lost
four rural constituencies, Mr. Speaker. That suggests that there are
four fewer voices in this Chamber on behalf of rural Alberta. For
anyone living in the urban parts of this province, I encourage you,
as I do all the time when I stand up and speak on behalf of my
constituents, to step out of the urban bubble. Step out of that bubble,
and come visit for an extended period of time rural Alberta, and see
the kind of men and women and the families we're raising and the
way that we do business out there. Then you'll recognize why we
advocate so hard for what rural Alberta has to offer this province.

5:00
You know, we talked a great deal though the campaign and even
in this Chamber now, with all the things that were passed in
legislation, about how important it is to support small businesses
and the agriculture industry out in these rural parts. We promised
that we would cut taxes on small businesses, and we've done that with our
job-creation tax cut, that will result in a sustainable growth
and diversification of this economy.
One piece of red tape in other provinces that we've seen that drew
people to Alberta was that medical professionals could incorporate
here in Alberta. A number of people have come from other
jurisdictions to Alberta because it's a more favourable place to do
business.Now, like the member who just previously spoke said, you know,
we don't want to replace our oil and gas industry, but we'd like to
supplement it with other economic opportunities. That is exactly
what I'm hoping to do.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business even gave the
red tape costs per employee as $6,744, which gave us a failing
grade. I'm not looking to throw shots across the aisle, but what I am
trying to say is that we do have barriers here, Mr. Speaker, and they
cost real money. They cost real money. It costs businesses, and the
reality is that it costs jobs.
When you live in a community of 3,500 people, like I do, or other
communities across Cardston-Siksika, where the town sizes range
between, well, I guess, very small to 1,800 people, 2,000 people,
3,500 – they're not all bedroom communities for Lethbridge. These
are all communities that need support, that have hard-working men
and women there who just want to make the most of their
opportunities, and they're there.
I encourage this government and I encourage the Associate
Minister of Red Tape Reduction to keep along this path to
supporting economic diversification in Alberta. Don't forget about
rural Alberta, Mr. Speaker, because rural Alberta plays such an
integral part in this province. We contribute so much to the country.
We produce, we work hard, and all we ask in return is for a little bit
of support, to not be forgotten when the time comes when policies
are developed. I implore the government to do that. I've received a
lot of feedback. In fact, when the Associate Minister of Red Tape
Reduction just spoke, I was greatly encouraged by the continued
direction of his ministry.
If I can close by simply saying, Mr. Speaker, how grateful I am to
have this opportunity to move this motion, to speak on behalf of the
fine people of Cardston-Siksika, and to have it echo through this
Chamber as many times as possible: don't forget about rural Alberta.

The Acting Speaker: Thank you, hon. member.

[Motion Other than Government Motion 510 carried]

The Acting Speaker: I see the hon. Deputy Government House
Leader has risen to speak.

Mrs. Savage: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move that we adjourn
until this evening at 7:30.

[Motion carried; the Assembly adjourned at 5:04 p.m.]


2504 Alberta Hansard November 25, 2019






Table of Contents

Prayers
..........................................................................
2477

Introduction of Visitors
.........................................................................
2477

Introduction of Guests
.........................................................................
2477

Members' Statements
BAPS Charities
..........................................................................
2477
Campaign Investigations and Bill 22
..........................................................................
2477
Tax Policy
.........................................................................
2478
Campaign Investigations and Bill 22
..........................................................................
2478
High School Construction in North Calgary
..........................................................................
2478
Climate Change
.........................................................................
2478
Parliamentary Democracy
.........................................................................
2479
Member's Apology
..........................................................................
2479
Bangladesh
.........................................................................
2487
Scleroderma
..........................................................................
2487

Oral Question Period
Election Commissioner and Bill 22
..........................................................................
2479
Bill 22 Votes
..........................................................................
2480
Bill 22 and Public Service Pension Changes
.........................................................................
2481
Gender-based Violence Prevention
.........................................................................
2481
Public- and Private-sector Layoffs
.........................................................................
2482
Traffic Safety
..........................................................................
2483
Support for Youths Transitioning Out of Care
.........................................................................
2483
Seniors Advocate, Health Advocate Appointment
.........................................................................
2484
Rural Crime, Biosecurity, and Property Rights
.........................................................................
2485
Government Photography Contract
.........................................................................
2485
Bill 207
..........................................................................
2486
Postsecondary Education System
.........................................................................
2486

Notices of Motions
.........................................................................
2487

Tabling Returns and Reports
.........................................................................
2487

Tablings to the Clerk
.........................................................................
2488

Orders of the Day
.........................................................................
2488

Public Bills and Orders Other than Government Bills and Orders
Second Reading
Bill 204 Election Recall Act
..........................................................................
2488
Bill 206 Workers' Compensation (Enforcement of Decisions) Amendment Act,
2019............................................................... 2489
Committee of the Whole
Bill 206 Workers' Compensation (Enforcement of Decisions) Amendment Act,
2019............................................................... 2495

Motions Other than Government Motions
Economic Diversification in Rural Alberta
.........................................................................
2496


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