Alberta government to introduce 3 bills amid COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video: 'Jason Nixon lays out plans for Alberta COVID-19 legislation' Jason Nixon lays out plans for Alberta COVID-19 legislation
WATCH ABOVE: Alberta government house leader Jason Nixon announced Tuesday COVID-19 legislation to be debated in the legislature. – Mar 31, 2020

Three pieces of legislation will be introduced in the Alberta legislature Tuesday to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

Government House Leader Jason Nixon said the government will propose two bills aimed at protecting Albertans amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The third bill is meant to support the energy sector, he said Tuesday morning.

Bill 10 — the Public Health Emergency Powers Amendment Act 2020 — proposes changes to the Public Health Act. Nixon said the changes would give law enforcement agencies the full authority to enforce public health orders during the pandemic.

“Community peace officers in addition to police are able to issue tickets to enforce COVID-19 public health orders related to mandatory self-isolation, restrictions on gatherings and businesses and other measures to protect the safety of Albertans,” Nixon said.

While these measures were announced by Premier Jason Kenney last week, Nixon said this legislation would put the regulations into effect.

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Bill 11 – the Tenancies Statutes Emergency Provision Amendment Act 2020 — would ensure no Albertan will be retroactively charged for rent increases or late fees while the state of public health emergency is in effect.

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“This bill will also protect mobile home site tenants who might own their units but rent the spaces,” Nixon said.

Bill 12 — the Liabilities Management Statutes Amendments Act 2020 — will take additional steps to reduce the number of orphan wells across the province and create jobs, Nixon said.

“If passed, the act will enable orphan well associations to better manage and accelerate the clean-up of wells or sites who do not have a responsible owner across the province, fast-tracking work that will boost employment in our oil service sector and protect jobs during these challenging economic times,” Nixon said.

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Nixon said he will call first reading on all three bills on Tuesday.

Nixon said he will also move a motion Wednesday that will create rules around COVID-19 debate.

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“This motion will just put parameters around an update. IE: How long the premier will speak, how long the leader of the opposition will respond, how long cabinet ministers who have updates for the house in regards to COVID-19 will speak and then how long a back and forth period… will take place in the house.”

READ MORE: Alberta MLAs to be called back to legislature Tuesday to debate COVID-19 legislation

Nixon also noted that the legislature has been exempt from recommendations from the chief medical officer of health to limit group gatherings to 15 people or less.

He said the government will try to keep the house at 20 members in the chamber plus the speaker. He said that will likely be a split of 14 government caucus members and six opposition members in the chambers at one time.

Nixon also said changes have been made so that people can sit and speak from any chair, to allow for safe social distancing practices.


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