Historic agreement protects northern boreal forest

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The Ronald Lake Bison Herd in the newly established Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland.

The wildland will preserve more than 160,000 hectares of land just south of Wood Buffalo National Park, protecting the Peace-Athabasca watershed and increasing ecological integrity and habitat for species at risk such as woodland caribou and the Ronald Lake Bison herd. Kitaskino Nuwenëné means “our land” in both Cree and Dene.

“This is a truly remarkable accomplishment and I’m thrilled that industry, government and Indigenous communities worked together to make this boreal protection plan a reality. The Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland will help sustain local wildlife, protect critical watersheds and ensure the exercise of treaty rights and traditional uses for future generations to come.” 

Shannon Phillips, Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks and Minister responsible for the Climate Change Office

Initially proposed by Mikisew Cree First Nation, the wildland will safeguard their way of life while addressing concerns raised in a 2016 UNESCO report on Wood Buffalo National Park. It adds to the largest contiguous area of boreal protected land in the world.

“I am excited to be working together with the Province of Alberta, Mikisew Cree First Nation, industry partners and other Indigenous communities on this Quick Start project as part of Canada’s Nature Legacy. This is a great example of what can happen when we work together to protect important habitat for species at risk, like caribou and bison. This is an important milestone in creation and conservation which will help us reach our goal of doubling the amount of nature we’re protecting in Canada’s lands and oceans.”

Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“We applaud the establishment of the Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland. Protecting this area is part of Mikisew’s stewardship vision for our lands and waters. This new park will help conserve areas that are important to our people and provide greater certainty that Mikisew ancestral lands can be monitored and better protected. We appreciate the collaborative efforts by industry and the provincial and federal governments to make this park a reality and their recognition of our inherent commitment to protecting our rights, Wood Buffalo National Park, the Peace Athabasca Delta and resources like the Ronald Lake Bison Herd. Articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are more clearly visible with this successful collaboration.” 

Chief Archie Waquan, Mikisew Cree First Nation

By voluntarily relinquishing oilsands and mining leases in response to Indigenous Peoples’ concerns, industry champions Teck, Cenovus Energy and Imperial played a vital role in securing the land base for the new wildland.

“The creation of this new protected area shows what is possible when Indigenous communities, government and industry build strong relationships and work together. Teck is honoured to have worked closely with Indigenous communities, especially the Mikisew Cree First Nation and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, to preserve this culturally – and ecologically ­– important region.”

Kieron McFadyen, senior vice-president, Energy, Teck Resources Ltd.

“Imperial is pleased to support the work by the Mikisew Cree First Nation to champion this significant community-industry-government initiative leading to the creation of this new protected area. This area of high biodiversity potential supports the ecological integrity of Wood Buffalo National Park and promotes the long-term stewardship of areas and resources that are critical to the continuation of Indigenous rights and cultures.”

John Whelan, senior vice-president, Upstream, Imperial

Previously proposed as the Biodiversity Stewardship Area, the new wildland is the result of months of collaborative discussion between Indigenous groups, industry and other stakeholders, and federal and provincial governments, as well as public consultation.


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Better protecting consumers with bill of rights

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Minister Malkinson (L) introduces Alberta’s first consumer bill of rights with Scott Stolee and Jeff Loomis.

The one-of-a-kind Consumer Bill of Rights follows four years of work to strengthen consumer protection rules in Alberta. The simple two-page document is the first of its kind in Canada. It summarizes the main protections in the Consumer Protection Act into an easy-to-digest format that will help people understand their rights, be protected from potential financial losses and know where to turn if they’re treated unfairly.

“We know that educated consumers are confident consumers. The Consumer Bill of Rights will help educate people making purchases in Alberta. It’s another example of how our government is standing up for everyday Albertans. From cracking down on payday lending to banning door-to-door energy sales and ticket bots, we’ve spent four years beefing up consumer protection in Alberta. This new Consumer Bill of Rights is a step forward that ties together much of our recent work on this file.”

Brian Malkinson, Minister of Service Alberta

“Albertans often turn to payday loans, pawn loans and rent-to-own schemes to deal with emergency expenses or to bridge a gap when their income isn’t enough to cover the rising costs of living. Many of our program participants struggle with high-cost debt. When we reviewed their pawn loan and rent-to-own contracts, we were shocked to see them being charged annual interest rates well over 100 per cent. Alberta consumers are better protected thanks to the steps taken by the Government of Alberta to lower the interest rates on payday loans and to license and regulate all high-cost lenders.”

Jeff Loomis, executive director, Momentum

“I’ve run a general contracting firm for several years and I’ve seen first-hand how important it is for both consumers and contractors to know their rights and responsibilities. There are shady operators in this field and, as someone working hard to run a legitimate business, the more educated my potential customers are, the better it is for both them and me.”

Scott Stolee, owner, Northstar Design & Construction

“As a new business owner, I think this new bill of rights is a great initiative. It seems so simple but it will help both consumers and businesses. People coming into my store deserve to know their rights and feel confident when deciding to make a purchase. And, as a consumer myself, this helps me protect my new business. It’s a win across the board.”

Harrison Clark, owner, Murphy’s Mid-Century

The Consumer Bill of Rights can be viewed online, and businesses are encouraged to print the document and share it with consumers.

The government’s consumer protection record includes:

  • Consumer protection laws: Strengthened protections in areas consumers said were the highest priority including:
    • Banning the use of ticket-buying bots and improved consumer access to refunds from resellers.
    • Introducing industry-wide standards for vehicle sales and repairs to improve accountability in the sector and better protect consumers from unexpected or unauthorized charges.
    • Introducing a licensing framework for high-cost lenders to ensure responsible operations and help consumers better understand the nature of high-cost credit products.
  • Payday lending: Put an end to 600 per cent interest rates on payday loans to help prevent people from becoming trapped in a cycle of debt. Today, payday loan borrowers pay lower fees, have more time to pay off their loans and are paying them off in smaller installments.
  • Door-to-door sales: Put an end to misleading, aggressive sales tactics by banning door-to-door sale of energy products and services. The ban includes furnaces, hot water tanks, air conditioners, windows, energy audits, and electricity and natural gas contracts.
  • Electricity price cap: Introduced a price cap to make life more affordable and ensure electricity bills are fair and reasonable.
  • New home buyer protection: Introduced a builder licensing framework to protect consumers as well as the reputation of good builders.
  • Condominium living: Introduced condo regulations to improve buying and living in a condo.
  • Utilities Consumer Advocate: Expanded the advocate’s free mediation services to water bills and improved the advocate’s ability to report on the performance of gas and electricity companies to help consumers make well-informed choices.

Quick facts

  • Twelve statutes and 46 regulations make up Alberta’s consumer protection laws.
  • The Consumer Protection Act is the primary legislation that ensures transactions between businesses and consumers are conducted fairly.
  • Service Alberta’s Consumer Investigations Unit investigates potential violations of consumer protection laws, reviews complaints about transactions between businesses and consumers, and recommends enforcement action where legislative breaches have occurred.
  • Service Alberta’s Consumer Investigations Unit concluded more than 800 cases during the last fiscal year. As a result of these investigations, the courts ordered roughly $960,000 in restitution be paid back to consumers, and levied $340,000 in fines to individuals and businesses for contraventions such as misleading consumers, operating without licences or failing to refund consumers.
  • In addition to court-ordered penalties, Service Alberta undertook a number of administrative actions, including issuing nearly $40,000 in fines and ordering multiple businesses to comply with laws and regulations.


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Genesis Centre gets new pitch

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Minister Miranda announces funding to upgrade the outdoor soccer field at Calgary’s Genesis Centre.

Government is investing $2 million to help the centre install artificial turf and upgrade lighting, scoreboards, walking paths, portable bleachers and leisure areas.

“Recreation, active living and sport are essential to the health, well-being and social needs of Albertans. The upgraded field at the Genesis Centre will be an outstanding addition to the local community and will help more people get active.”

Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism

The current pitch is a natural field that is expensive to maintain due to extensive use. Up to 10,000 community members use the field annually.

The new artificial turf will reduce operating costs and improve the field for players. It will also add much-needed space, as the growing community has the highest minor soccer enrolment in the Calgary region.

“We are truly excited about this crucial project for northeast Calgary, which will enable users to play, train and participate in outdoor field sports. Along with other site enhancements, we are confident the new field will help inspire our community to enjoy outdoor spaces and activities in their own backyard.”

Marc Iturriaga, executive director, Genesis Centre

“The Calgary Minor Soccer Association is happy to support this amazing initiative. We believe it will grow and develop soccer, strengthen the community and increase sports access and opportunities for youth and community members.”

Susan Cress, executive director, Calgary Minor Soccer Association

The project is estimated to cost nearly $6 million. The City of Calgary has committed $2 million, and the North East Centre of Community Society, which operates the Genesis Centre, is contributing nearly $2 million. The project is scheduled for completion in 2020.

The Genesis Centre is a multi-purpose complex in northeast Calgary. In addition to offering sport and recreation amenities, the venue acts as a cultural, social and educational community hub. More than 1.6 million people have used the centre since it opened in 2012.


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