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  • MLA report April 27

    Hello Chestermere-Strathmore readers, 

    I wanted to discuss the recent update on the coal policy engagement and the suspension of all coal exploration in category two lands. An independent Coal Policy Committee was appointed to ensure that Albertans develop a current coal policy that is for Albertans. We are committed to having an open and honest conversation with Albertans on coal development. We have been working with companies to halt all coal exploration projects in Category 2 lands, effective immediately. This decision is based on input from Albertans, the initial survey results, and a recommendation from the Coal Policy Committee. The Minister of Energy has contacted all companies currently conducting coal exploration on category two lands and directed them to halt these activities until public engagement is completed this fall and the results of the consultations are released. Coal companies have indicated they recognize the need for government to conduct public engagement on the province’s approach to coal development and have been supportive of the process. The process is focused on how the province manages coal resources and development. Albertans are encouraged to share all their thoughts related to coal development. And to be clear, no one will be restricted from sharing their concerns about environmental issues related to coal development to inform the Minister regarding a current coal policy. Thank you for sharing your comments. For further inputs on coal policy or the consultation process, please contact energy.coalpolicy@gov.ab.ca . 

    I would also like to chat about the AgriStability program. Last November, the federal government brought forward proposed changes to the AgriStability program. These changes include removing the reference margin limit and increasing the compensation rate from 70 percent to 80 percent. However, these changes do not address the significant issues within AgriStability and are focused solely on the short-term. While negotiations are ongoing, all three Prairie Provinces have formally requested that the next FPT (Federal Provincial Territorial) meeting be scheduled as soon as possible. At this meeting, ministers will continue to negotiate and vote on the agreed-upon changes to the program.

    In Alberta, AgriStability has seen declining enrollment over the last five years, with only 21 percent of producers enrolled. In comparison, crop insurance, as the most successful business risk management program (BRM), continues to see high enrollment rates of approximately 72 percent. That is why the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry has proposed a new, margin-based insurance program that will be timely, reliable, and equitable for all producers. 

    Finally, I would like to chat about Bill 66, Public Health Amendment Act. Often governments give themselves new powers during extraordinary events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Very rarely do you see the government give those powers up when they no longer need them. We are removing the powers we gave to ourselves to help manage the early stages of the pandemic. If passed, Bill 66 would make updates to existing legislation that include:

    • Removing unnecessary government powers to order mandatory vaccinations;
    • Removing all sections in the Act that authorize a minister to modify legislation by order;
    • Establishing clear checks and balances on government authorities;
    • Requiring orders that apply to the public or groups be published online; and,
    • Requiring a periodic review of the Act every ten years.

    As conservatives, my colleagues and I have a deep respect for individual rights, freedoms, and the ability of Albertans to make their personal choices regarding their health. We know that the decision to get vaccinated should be made by individuals and families, not the government. Although we’re encouraging all Albertans to get their vaccinations when they’re able, my colleagues and I will never support mandatory vaccinations. With Bill 66, we ensure that our government and future governments will be bound by legislation preventing the vaccination of any Albertan against their will. We will continue fighting the COVID-19 pandemic with a plan that balances the urgent need to protect lives while upholding the individual rights that Albertans rightfully cherish. 

    As always, we love to hear from you.