Posted on Oct 23, 2020
KENNEY’S SHAM REVIEW OF PUBLIC HEALTH ACT ENDS IN FARCE
EDMONTON - The committee formed by Premier Jason Kenney to take a “deep dive” into Alberta’s key public health legislation quietly released its absurd final report this week, the last act of a sham process that failed to improve Alberta’s public health system, failed to address Kenney’s unconstitutional Bill 10 power grab, and achieve little more than waste Alberta taxpayers’ money.
Committee chair and UCP MLA Nicholas Milliken refused to call meetings for weeks on end, refused to call key witnesses including the Minister of Health, refused to hold public hearings, refused to discuss urgent public health issues such as the deadly opioid overdose crisis and, incredibly, refused to allow the committee to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“This whole episode was a clumsy and costly attempt to deflect attention away from Jason Kenney’s illegal Bill 10 power grab,” said David Shepherd, NDP Opposition Critic for Health. “The UCP members wasted a great deal of Albertans’ time and money, failed to improve Alberta’s public health system, and embarrassed themselves with votes that were clearly dictated to them from the Premier’s Office.”
On September 29th, UCP MLAs on the committee voted unanimously in support of Bill 10, which gives government ministers the power to change laws or write whole new laws without the consent or even the knowledge of the legislature. Then on October 15th, facing an embarrassing revolt at the UCP convention, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced he planned to repeal Bill 10.
UCP MLA Miranda Rosin, who voted in favour of Bill 10 at the committee, proudly took to social media to announce that it was “officially repealed.” This is a lie - Shandro announced plans to repeal it sometime in the spring of 2021. Bill 10 and its unconstitutional powers remain in force today.
The NDP Official Opposition attached a scathing minority report to the committee’s final report, calling out the committee as a waste of time and taxpayers’ money:
“Significant public expense was incurred within the Ministry of Health to support the Committee’s work, and looking at the anemic recommendations ultimately adopted by the UCP- dominated Committee in the Final Report, these funds were largely wasted.
“Significant expense was also incurred by the dedicated staff of the Legislative Assembly to support the Committee’s work. Parliamentary Counsel – the lawyers who support MLAs in drafting technical motions – worked overtime to support the Official Opposition. However, when it came to doing the public’s business at the Committee, UCP members voted to prevent these motions from seeing the light of day. Again, dozens of hours of legal work were undertaken with no meaningful return on public investment.
“Most importantly, by failing to truly consider submissions from the public, and by failing to hold meetings to discuss their proposals, the UCP members of the Committee disrespected Albertans and their constituents.
“In summary, the Select Special Public Health Act Review Committee should serve as a quintessential and cautionary example of Committee failure and wasted financial resources. Albertans deserve better.”