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Provincial Government Developments

British Columbia

  • BC government supports improving labour skills and conditions – Premier John Horgan announced the BC government will eliminate tuition fees for adult basic education and English learning programs in the province. The previous government introduced tuition fees with a $1,600 cap in 2015, and since then enrolment in those programs has dropped almost 35 percent. The fee change is expected to help more people gain the skills and knowledge required to participate in BC's economy. The BC government will also be increasing the minimum wage by 50 cents to $11.35 an hour, starting September 15, 2017. The increase will give BC the third highest minimum wage in Canada. Some small business owners voiced concerns with the announcement but are hopeful for tax breaks next year that may offset some of the increased costs

  • BC government receives intervener status in TMX court case – The BC government is following through on its opposition to Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline (TMX) by outlining the legal and consultation steps it will be taking. The province has hired Thomas Berger as external counsel to provide the government with legal advice related to TMX. There are 19 separate lawsuits seeking to overturn the project's environmental approval, including from BC First Nations, local governments, and environmental organizations. The BC government applied for and received intervener status for the case against TMX, with the stated intent of holding the project to the highest standards in terms of environmental protection and Indigenous consultation. Hearings have been scheduled for October 2017.

 

Alberta

  • Alberta releases its First Quarter Fiscal Update – The Government of Alberta (GoA) released its First Quarter Fiscal Update on August 23. Real GDP is forecasted to grow at 3.1 percent in 2017, up from the 2017 budget forecast of 2.6 percent. Growth is largely being attributed to an increase in oil drilling, which doubled compared to the same period in 2016, and to housing starts which increased 23 percent from the same period in 2016. In addition, around 17,000 jobs have been added to the economy so far this year, raising the employment rate to 1.3 percent from the 0.9 percent forecast in the budget. The current deficit remains at $10.5 billion.

  • Alberta invests additional money in Indigenous construction program – The GoA announced that it will invest an additional $1.9 million over two years to support the Alberta Indigenous Construction Career Centres (AICCC) at NorQuest College (Edmonton) and Bow Valley College (Calgary). The AICCC is expected to help approximately 1,700 individuals receive training in the construction industry and acquire greater connections with employers by providing career coaching, resume development, safety courses, job search support, as well as workshops and training.

  • Alberta modifies its liquor licence policies– Effective August 15, the GoA and the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) have modified their policies to add a new license category which will effectively allow manufacturers to expand their local market sales, including allowing them to sell their products in local farmers markets.

 

Saskatchewan

  • Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall to retire from politics – Premier Brad Wall announced that he will be retiring from politics once the Saskatchewan Party elects a new leader. First elected to the provincial Legislative Assembly in 1999, Mr. Wall has served as leader of the Saskatchewan Party for 14 years and as Premier of Saskatchewan since 2007. Former cabinet ministers who resigned their posts and have announced plans to run for the leadership of the Saskatchewan Party include Tina Beaudry-Mellor (Minister of Social Services), Ken Cheveldayoff (Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport), Gordon Wyant (Minister of Justice and Attorney General), and Scott Moe (Minister of Environment). Jeremy Harrison (Minister of the Economy) who had also resigned and announced his intention to run for leadership of the party, has since withdrawn his name and said he will back Scott Moe. Senior government official Alanna Koch, Deputy Minister to the Premier and Cabinet Secretary, has also announced her intentions to run for the leadership. The election of a new leader for the Saskatchewan Party will be held on January 27, 2018.

  • Government of Saskatchewan releases budget update for first quarter – On August 25, 2017, Finance Minister Kevin Doherty released the province's first quarter budget update. There was no change to the government's deficit forecast of $684.7 million. Revenue at first quarter is expected to increase by $42 million (0.3 percent) from the budget forecast, while expenses are projected to increase by $82 million (0.6 percent) compared to the budget forecast. Roughly $40 million of the government's $300 million contingency is being used to offset larger than forecast expenses, and a further $125 million will be used to offset planned savings in compensation that will not be realized this year. In its 2017-18 budget, the Saskatchewan government proposed a reduction of $250 million in public sector compensation, representing a savings of roughly 3.5 percent.

  • Saskatchewan Health Authority names its first CEO– Saskatchewan's new single health authority has named Scott Livingstone as its first CEO. The province is transitioning from twelve regional health authorities to a single authority beginning this fall. Previously, Mr. Livingstone served as the CEO of the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.

 

Manitoba

  • Manitoba Government launches new portal for community development programs – The Manitoba government has centralized its community development programs and created a new single portal for intake, assessment, and awarding support. Programs that can be accessed include: Neighbourhoods Alive! Community Places, Community Planning Assistance, Hometown Manitoba, and Partner 4 Growth.

  • Canada and Manitoba invest in dairy industry research technology – The governments of Canada and Manitoba are partnering to invest more than $1.4 million to expand scientific research capacity at the University of Manitoba's Glenlea Research Station dairy barn. Funding will allow the University of Manitoba to expand its dairy facility through a repurposed swine barn and to install a new automated milking system, free stalls for dairy cattle, dedicated spaces for calves, milk collection tanks, above-ground manure storage, new flooring, and related laboratory equipment.