Transport Canada has provided informationfor municipalities regarding the Grade Crossings Regulations (GCR). As the local road manager, municipalities are responsible for assessing their grade crossings and for determining whether any modifications are required for items that are within their area of responsibility, such as the road approach. They should also contact the respective railway companies to engage on what upgrades, if any, might be necessary to comply with the GCR. These upgrades have a completion deadline of November 28, 2021.
To help municipalities complete this work, Transport Canada has funding available through the Rail Safety Improvement Program(RSIP). For more information on RSIP funding and the GCR, municipalities are encouraged to participate in one of six teleconference information sessions. The two first sessions are scheduled for later this month, whereas sessions for April and June will be scheduled at a later date depending on level of interest:
French session on February 25 from 9:30 to 11:00 am (MST)
English session on February 25 from 12:30 to 2:00 pm (MST)
Other sessions will be scheduled for April and June (dates will follow)
Please register or express interest to one of the sessions by emailing Parvina Ramsahok with Transport Canada atParvina.Ramsahok@tc.gc.ca. After emailing, Transport Canada will provide a WebEx confirmation with instructions for that session. Attendance is on a first-come, first-served basis with a maximum of 40 participants per session. Transport Canada anticipates that reservations will fill up quickly. Please don’t hesitate to reserve your preferred session today.
Read RMA’s full submission to Alberta’s Fair Deal Panel
RMA has submitted input to the Fair Deal Panel, which has been an initiative by the Government of Alberta to consult with Albertans on measures to secure a fair deal from the federal government for the province. The Fair Deal Panel is exploring nine specific areas:
Establishing a provincial revenue agency to collect provincial taxes directly by ending the Canada-Alberta Tax Collection Agreement, while joining Quebec in seeking an agreement to collect federal taxes within the province
Creating an Alberta Pension Plan by withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan
Establishing a provincial police force be ending the Alberta Police Service Agreement with the Government of Canada
Emulating Quebec’s practice of playing a larger role in international relations, in part by seeking Alberta representation in treaty negotiations that effect Alberta’s interests
Emulating Quebec’s legal requirement that public bodies, including municipalities and school boards, obtain the approval of the provincial government before they can enter into agreements with the federal government
Using the existing provincial power to appoint the Chief of Firearms Office for Alberta
Opting out of the federal cost share programs with full compensation, such as the federal government’s proposed pharmacare program
Seeking an exchange of tax points for federal cash transfers under the Canada Health and Social Transfers
Establishing a formalized provincial consultation
Some of the proposals being considered by the Fair Deal Panel are outside the scope of relevance for rural municipalities, but RMA has provided feedback on three of the areas:
Establishing a provincial police force by ending the Alberta Police Service Agreement with the Government of Canada.
The emphasis of RMA’s submission on this area was to receive information on how the establishment of a provincial police force would improve public safety in rural areas, given that ending the Alberta Police Service Agreement would presumably result in a reduction or elimination of the federal financial contribution to policing in Alberta.
Emulating Quebec’s legal requirement that public bodies, including municipalities and school boards, obtain the approval of the provincial government before they can enter into agreements with the federal government.
RMA does not support this proposal as increased oversight will limit municipal access to federal funding as a result of increased administrative delays and create additional red tape for both municipalities and the province. This proposal also negatively impacts municipal autonomy.
Opting out of the federal cost share programs with full compensation, such as the federal government’s proposed pharmacare program.
RMA stated concern surrounding the impacts that this proposal may have on federal funding programs that require projects to be cost-shared among federal, provincial and municipal levels of government (such as the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program), or that rely on federal funding to “flow through” the province to municipalities (such as the Gas Tax Fund).
Click hereto read RMA’s full submission to the Fair Deal Panel.
RMA encourages members to share their thoughts with the Fair Deal Panel, who have extended their consultation timelines into February. Click here to submit feedback.
The Honourable Kaycee Madu, Minister of Municipal Affairs, is pleased to announce the 2020 Minister’s Awards for Municipal Excellence. The 19th annual awards recognize municipal government excellence and promotes knowledge sharing among municipalities.
Award will be given for an innovative initiative involving a local or regional partnership that achieves results that could not have otherwise been accomplished by the municipality alone. This could involve cooperation, coordination, and collaboration with other municipalities, businesses, Indigenous communities, non-profit organizations, community groups, and other orders of government to achieve a specific outcome.
Building Economic Strength (open to all municipalities)
Award will be given for an innovative initiative involving the municipality and business community that addresses a challenge affecting community economic strength.
Service Delivery Innovation (open to all municipalities)
Award will be given for an innovative initiative that improves the delivery or reduces the cost of a program or service through a more efficient process or through the use of an alternate delivery approach.
Enhancing Community Safety (open to all municipalities)
Award will be given for an innovative initiative that engages the community to address a safety issue. This could involve crime prevention, infrastructure enhancements (e.g. lighting, accessibility, traffic calming measures), and community services initiatives.
Smaller Municipalities (open to municipalities with populations less than 5,000)
Award will be given for a municipal initiative that demonstrates leadership, resourcefulness, and/or innovation to better the community.
Submission forms and additional details can be found on the Minister’s Awards webpage. The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2020.
Questions regarding the Minister’s Awards for Municipal Excellence can be directed to the Municipal Excellence Team:
Report provides recommendations intended to provide long-term sustainability in the healthcare system
Alberta Health released a performance review report of Alberta Health Services (AHS) conducted by Ernst & Young. The report contains 57 recommendations and 72 savings opportunities. The report has been delivered to AHS, who will have 100 days to develop an implementation plan. As a result, the details of which recommendations will be implemented, and how, are not yet available. There will be more clarity on the impacts of the recommendations when AHS delivers their implementation plan. The forthcoming 2020 provincial budget will also likely provide more information on the future of rural healthcare.
The report does identify, but not specifically name, five hospitals in Alberta that are recommended for closure. However, RMA appreciates Minister Shandro’s commitment to reject this recommendation and not close any hospitals. Additionally, RMA is pleased that AHS has stated they will maintain air ambulance bases, despite the report’s recommendation to consolidate some of them. RMA will continue to monitor for updates regarding:
Details of the reconfiguration of rural hospitals and how this will affect the services they provide
Changes to the availability of obstetrics care
The use of virtual health initiatives, which will require reliable highspeed internet
RMA recognizes that the presence of hospitals, primary care facilities, and emergency services in rural communities provides not only health benefits, but broader community benefits. These include attracting new residents, stimulating economic growth, and providing opportunities to educate the new generation of health professionals. RMA will continue to advocate for the importance of rural healthcare as the results of this review are implemented.
To view the full report or summary report, click here.
As of January 31, 2020, Alberta’s Farm Freedom and Safety Act comes into effect. This legislation creates new workplace safety rules for farmers and ranchers. The new rules will apply to waged workers who are the owner or related to the owner of a farm. Family members, unpaid help from neighbours, and children doing chores or participating in 4-H are exempt from these new rules.
Farms and ranches with at least one waged, non-family worker are covered by the basic safety standards set out in the Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Act. The OHS Regulation and OHS Code do not apply to farms and ranches. Regarding OHS rules, the following are not considered farms or ranches:
Food processing operations
Greenhouses, mushroom farms, nurseries, or sod farms
Raising or breeding of pets
OHS rules only apply to an operation if a waged, non-family worker is present on the farm or ranch, and then only to those individuals.