Supporting Albertans throughout the holidays

While the holiday season is a festive time, for many it can also be a stressful time of year and add additional pressures.

“If any Albertan is facing difficulties over the holidays, we want them to know they’re not alone. Help is available any time, day or night. Please reach out if you’re in need and support will be there.”

Irfan Sabir, Minister of Community and Social Services

Important phone numbers

If you require help to meet emergency basic needs over the holidays, call the Emergency Income Support Contact Centre at 1-866-644-5135 or visit Alberta.ca for a list of all government services available over the holiday season. 

For those facing a situation of family violence, call the Family Violence Info Line at 310-1818. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and in more than 170 languages, or through online chat daily, from noon to 8 p.m. There are also more phone lines that can help:

  • Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-387-KIDS (5437)
  • Bullying Helpline: 1-888-456-2323

The Mental Health Help Line is also available 24/7 and can provide support to anyone with mental health concerns at 1-877-302-2642.

During the holiday closure – from Dec. 24, 2018 to Jan. 1, 2019 – essential services and resources that support the health, safety and security of Albertans will continue to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Non-urgent services will resume on Jan. 2, 2019.


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New Innisfail seniors lodge on the way

Red Deer-South MLA Barb Miller joins community members for the groundbreaking of the new Autumn Glen Lodge in Innisfail.

Sixty new lodge units and 30 self-contained apartments will provide flexible housing options that mean members of the community will be able to stay close to home as they grow older.

Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), along with Barb Miller, MLA for Red Deer-South, on behalf of Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing, made the announcement.

“We’ve heard from families in rural communities across Alberta of the need to help their loved ones stay closer to home and connected to their support networks as they age. By investing in the Autumn Glen Lodge, we’re fighting for the needs of seniors and their families from Innisfail and neighbouring communities. This project is also creating construction jobs for dozens of hard-working people in the trades.”

Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Alberta Seniors and Housing

“I am happy to announce that our government is making a significant investment for seniors here in Innisfail. Soon, the new Autumn Glen Lodge will provide important fellowship, and safe and affordable homes to these people who have contributed so much to this tight-knit community over the years. This is one way we can give back to them – to help ensure they are able to age in place close to family and friends.”

Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

“We are so pleased to see this new lodge and seniors independent living facility break ground and begin to take shape. It’s an exciting time for all of us as we prepare for a new building and all that entails. We thank the governments of Canada and Alberta for believing in the communities we serve and investing in a project that will serve seniors for many years to come.”

Connie Huelsman, chair, Parkland Foundation

Quick facts

  • The governments of Alberta and Canada contributed approximately $24.2 million, under the Investment in Affordable Housing Agreement.
  • The new Autumn Glen Lodge replaces an existing 57-year-old facility with a new complex with a 60-unit lodge and 30 self-contained apartments for seniors.
  • Last year, the Government of Alberta launched its first Provincial Affordable Housing Strategy, including a $1.2-billion commitment to build affordable housing across the province.
  • The Government of Canada is currently rolling out its National Housing Strategy (NHS) – an ambitious 10-year, $40-billion plan that will create 100,000 new housing units and lift 530,000 families out of housing need, as well as repair and renew more than 300,000 housing units and reduce chronic homelessness by 50 per cent.
  • The NHS is built on strong partnerships between federal, provincial and territorial governments, and on continuous engagement with others, including municipalities, Indigenous governments and organizations, and the social and private sectors, to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Canadians.

Associated links

The Government of Alberta ministry of Seniors and Housing fosters the development of affordable housing and supports access to housing options for Albertans most in need. The ministry works with seniors, Albertans who require housing supports, their families and caregivers, communities and other government partners. A more detailed description of the ministry and its programs and initiatives can be found at seniors-housing.gov.ab.ca.

Learn more about the Provincial Affordable Housing Strategy.

As Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need and offers unbiased housing research and advice to all levels of Canadian government, consumers and the housing industry. For more information, please visit cmhc.ca or follow us on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook.

To find out more about the National Housing Strategy, visit placetocallhome.ca.

Editor’s Note: the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation also issued this news release on Dec. 12, 2018.

Government of Canada logo


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Midwives to offer more services closer to home

Minister Hoffman chatting with new mom Salima Versi about the expanded scope of practice for midwives in Alberta.

The Government of Alberta has expanded midwives’ scope of practice, allowing them to use their knowledge and skills to the fullest extent. This brings the scope of practice for Alberta midwives in line with many other provinces and territories.

“We want to provide Albertans with easier access to maternal and reproductive health services closer to home. Expanding midwives’ scope of practice and maximizing their skills enables us to offer more essential services to families in their communities. I’m proud to see midwives playing a bigger role in primary health care as well as the journey toward parenthood.”

Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health

“This is a recognition of the important role midwives play in maternal and newborn care in our province. AHS is continuing to work with Alberta communities, providers and midwives to expand this service in communities across Alberta.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services

Midwives who complete additional training and are authorized by the College of Midwives of Alberta can now prescribe, dispense and administer a broader range of prescription drugs, contraceptives and contraceptive devices and, in a hospital, benzodiazepines and narcotics. They can also prescribe and administer vaccines, insert intrauterine contraceptive devices, provide prescription drugs to induce labour and use ultrasounds to determine fetal position.

“This means a new era in professional status for Alberta’s registered midwives. This change will allow midwives to make fuller use of their knowledge and skills in the provision of high-quality, cost-effective maternity care for Alberta’s child-bearing families, and increase access to primary care in rural, remote and underserved communities.”

Cassondra Evans, president, College of Midwives of Alberta

The expanded scope of practice will also help women in rural and remote communities access maternal health services.

“We are so excited that this change to regulation will allow midwives to practise to a fuller scope. This will help increase access to primary care in rural, remote and underserved communities.”

Nicole Matheson, president, Midwifery Association of Alberta

For women with low-risk pregnancies, midwifery is a safe option for maternity services. Research has shown that women who give birth with the assistance of a midwife tend to have shorter hospital stays, are more likely to breastfeed and require fewer medical interventions, such as caesarean sections.

“My midwife is one of the most experienced, professional and compassionate care providers I have ever worked with. She was with me every step of the way through two very different birthing experiences, providing evidence-based information, support and guidance, ensuring that I always felt heard and respected as I made decisions. I am thrilled that she and other midwives will be able to provide more services to women and families, allowing for Albertans to benefit from the wealth of knowledge and experience they bring to their areas of health care.”

Salima Versi, midwifery client

Quick facts

  • Midwives serve individuals with low-risk pregnancies. Care starts during pregnancy and continues after birth.
  • As part of Budget 2016, an additional $11 million was allocated for midwifery services over three years, for a total of $49 million:
    • 2016-2017: $14.6 million
    • 2017-2018: $16.3 million
    • 2018-2019: $18.1 million
  • In the last two years, funding increases have resulted in year-over-year growth of 400 midwife-assisted births – a 30 per cent increase in the number of midwife-assisted births in Alberta.
  • There are 133 midwives practising in Alberta.


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Premier seeking industry interest in oil refining

Premier Notley greets members of the Building Trades of Alberta while announcing a new Expression of Interest for refining in the province.

As part of a made-in-Alberta strategy to get more value for our energy resources, Premier Rachel Notley announced the government is issuing a Request for Expression of Interest to determine business cases for investing in a new refinery in Alberta or tied to Alberta production.

“For decades, Albertans have been talking about getting more value for our oil here at home. So let’s stop the talk, end the decades of dreaming and start making more of the products the world needs here at home. It’s time to grab the bull by the horns and to do more refining and upgrading that adds value and creates jobs here. The future is coming and it will be made in Alberta.”

Rachel Notley, Premier

Building a new refinery would create good-paying, long-term jobs for Albertans. New refining capacity would also help lower the oil price differential over the long term, protecting the province from a lack of capacity to export oil, and making sure we get full value for the energy resources owned by all Albertans.

Large industrial value-add energy investments help provide economic resilience and diversification, and create highly skilled, well-paying jobs for decades. Alberta has abundant feedstock, skilled labour and the ability to refine our resources to high-value products the world needs. There is significant international competition for these projects and for Alberta to compete, government and industry must work together. We commend the government’s focus on ensuring that the value of Alberta’s resources stays with Albertans.”

David Chappell, chair, Resource Diversification Council

“Building Trades of Alberta has always believed you should refine it where you mine it. By doing that, you maximize the value of our resources for the people of Alberta, while creating good jobs for skilled trades workers in our province. We thank the government for exploring new options for refining and upgrading here in Alberta.”

Terry Parker, executive director, Building Trades of Alberta

“The work of the Energy Diversification Advisory Committee was focused on securing Alberta’s future in a more diversified oil and gas sector. It’s good to see another action that builds on Alberta’s strengths, including a highly skilled workforce and world-class resources. This is another sign the government is focused on made-in-Alberta solutions to ensure Alberta’s energy economy is built to last.”

Jeanette Patell & Gil McGowan, co-chairs, Energy Diversification Advisory Committee

Projects must have a strong return on investment for Albertans. Any proposed facility will consume Alberta-produced oil feedstock and produce marketable refined products.

The government will consider interest in new greenfield investments or an expansion of facilities at an existing brownfield site. Submissions will be accepted until Feb. 8, 2019, with the results helping inform next steps that may include issuing a Request for Proposals to construct a new refinery.

Companies will be required to submit their engineering design and technical feasibility, project timing and execution plan, plans for sales points and transportation to market, participation of Indigenous communities, expected environmental performance, financing to complete the project, and identification and estimates of revenues to benefit Albertans.

Expressions of Interest have been used in the past to obtain industry and public suggestions on major projects and how the government can utilize existing interest to maximize the value for Albertans.


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New support for Indigenous tourism

Minister Feehan watches Mackenzie Brown from Warrior Women perform a traditional song in her Cree language.

The Government of Alberta is providing a grant to fund the start-up of Indigenous Tourism Alberta (ITA) with $575,000 over three years. The grant will provide the association the start-up support it needs to grow Indigenous tourism in Alberta.

“Travellers to Alberta want to experience authentic Indigenous culture. This funding will help Indigenous entrepreneurs meet the growing demand. We are thrilled to help share Indigenous stories and grow Alberta’s suite of tourism offerings.”

Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism

“This is a great opportunity to continue to grow Indigenous tourism in our province. We are proud to support Indigenous Tourism Alberta and enable Indigenous stories, authentic cultural offerings and tourism experiences to flourish, while furthering our commitment to reconciliation and providing opportunities for job creation and growth in Indigenous communities throughout the province.”

Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations

The formation and incorporation of ITA this year marks an important milestone for Indigenous tourism development in the province. The government’s investment in ITA will ensure the new association has the foundation and tools it needs to develop resources that will help Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities recognize their tourism potential.

“The key to success for the future of Indigenous tourism in Alberta is the ability to foster and build collaborative relationships with key partners. Our partnership with the Government of Alberta supports Indigenous Tourism Alberta’s mission to provide leadership and a coordinated approach to support the development and marketing of authentic Indigenous tourism experiences in this growing industry.”

Tarra Wright Many Chief, executive director, Indigenous Tourism Alberta

Travel Alberta signed a three-year agreement with Indigenous Tourism Alberta to promote indigenous tourism. Travel Alberta is investing up to $65,000 during fiscal 2018-19 to support this effort. 

“Travel Alberta continues to support initiatives designed to grow and promote Indigenous tourism throughout the province and work with individual tour operators to develop new experiences and share them with the world. This is an important part of Travel Alberta’s ongoing work with our tourism partners to sustain industry momentum and support the Government of Alberta’s goal to grow the provincial tourism economy.”

Royce Chwin, CEO, Travel Alberta

Indigenous tourism development is part of government’s continued investment to help diversify the economy, create jobs and generate investment in communities across the province.


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Human Rights Day: Statement from Premier Notley

“It was 70 years ago when all countries of the United Nations, including Canada, enshrined a universal set of values in the declaration of human rights.

“The principle that every person regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or race has the right to equality, justice and dignity is fundamental to the progress, safety and security of our society.

“At times, it may seem like these values are under attack. Hate and intolerance continue to challenge our communities and threaten the safety and health of the individuals who live there.

“Here in Alberta, we are taking action to safeguard the rights of every person. We strengthened human rights protections through legislation, and are fostering diversity and inclusion by standing up against racism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. And we are helping women achieve the same social and economic opportunities as men.

“Human rights empower each and every one of us. They grant us the opportunity to reach our potential. Today and every day, let us work together to defend the inherent worth of every person and advance equality in Alberta.”


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Fighting for full value of Alberta’s natural gas

The announcement responds to a key recommendation of Alberta’s Natural Gas Advisory Panel, appointed in May 2018 to provide advice to the Minister of Energy on short- and medium-term actions Alberta can take to address persistently undervalued natural gas and extreme price volatility due to transmission, storage and market access challenges.

“Whether we’re talking about oil or natural gas, the details are different but the story is the same. Albertans are getting pennies on the dollar because we can’t get our resources to international markets, and our biggest customer has become our biggest competitor. We can’t sit on the fence like previous governments did. We must take the bull by the horns and fight for the full value of our natural gas.”

Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, Minister of Energy

The LNG Investment Team is part of a broader made-in-Alberta oil and gas strategy that includes the aggressive expansion of energy upgrading opportunities within the province as the government takes short-term action to address the oil price differential crisis.

The investment team brings diverse experience and knowledge to this important work:

  • Greg Stringham of GS3 Strategies
  • John Carruthers of the University of Calgary School of Public Policy

They will be meeting one-on-one with industry leaders to understand their needs and advise government on steps to advance final investment decisions on LNG projects. They will report back to the Minister of Energy in early 2019. The appointment of the investment team follows the release of a report from the government’s Natural Gas Advisory Panel, Roadmap to Recovery: Reviving Alberta’s Natural Gas Industry.

The report outlines 48 technical and specific recommendations to grow the natural gas sector, including ways to improve pipeline capacity, regulatory standards and metrics, time frames for project approvals, transparency and accountability, and setting a vision for Canada’s natural gas industry. Government has accepted the report and will continue to consult with industry on priorities going forward.

“I want to thank Hal Kvisle, Brenda Kenny and Terrance Kutryk for this important work. It’s clear that Canada has taken a back seat when it comes to LNG development as our neighbours to the south move ahead at full speed. While the U.S. has more than 20 projects under review or already operating, Canada only has one moving forward. We cannot afford to be left behind in this investment window – the time to act is now. The experience and knowledge of the investment team we have created will help us secure long-term LNG investments that will create lasting jobs and value for Albertans.”

Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, Minister of Energy

LNG investment team biographies

Greg Stringham

Greg Stringham is a well-known leader within Alberta and Canada’s oil and gas sector. For 20 years, he served as a vice-president with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. He also spent six years with Alberta’s Department of Energy and is currently the president of GS3 Strategies, where he advises companies and governments.

John Carruthers

John Carruthers is an industry leader with extensive experience in business development, finance negotiation, commercial agreements, Indigenous partnerships, public and government affairs and regulatory approvals. He is the executive fellow for the University of Calgary School of Public Policy.

Natural Gas Advisory Panel biographies

Hal Kvisle

Hal Kvisle has over 35 years of experience as a leader in the oil and gas, pipeline, and power industries. Kvisle served as CEO of TransCanada Corporation from 2001 to 2010. He is chair of ARC Resources and a board member for Cenovus Energy and Finning International.

Terrance E. Kutryk

Terrance Kutryk is the former president and CEO of Alliance Pipeline Ltd. Previously, Kutryk served as senior vice-president of Midstream and Refined Products with Husky Oil Operations Ltd. He maintains an active management, commercial, operations, and due diligence consulting practice.

Brenda Kenny

Brenda Kenny is the former president and CEO of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association and has extensive experience in energy regulation, sustainability and strategy development. Kenny also spent a number of years with the National Energy Board and serves on a number of boards, including Emissions Reduction Alberta, and is board chair of Alberta Innovates.


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Victims of Genocide: Statement from Premier Notley

“On this day, Albertans mourn victims of genocide throughout the world.

“Genocide is without justification. No religion, ethnicity, racial or national identity is more foundational than our shared humanity.

“Each of the millions of lives lost in the Holocaust, Holodomor and other genocides has been violently separated from family, from hopes and from a better future. The reverberations of these losses are still felt many generations later.

“We think today of those who have had to flee state-sanctioned violence, persecution and infringements of basic rights. We pray for and worry about those who have had no choice but to endure.

“While many have vowed ‘never again,’ we recognize that intolerance, violence and hatred are always among us. We have no choice but to do what we can each day to prevent these darkest feelings from festering and growing.

“We unite as Albertans today to recognize the dignity and value of every human being. We do our best to mourn with those who mourn, to endure with those who must endure.

“Above all, we strive to never forget.”


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Taking action on opioids crisis in Lethbridge

A new permanent supportive housing complex for Lethbridge will support adults experiencing homelessness who have complex issues such as substance use. The $11-million project will provide safe accommodations for 42 people.

In addition, the Alberta government is investing $1.6 million to create up to 30 new intox spaces in the city. These spaces will provide a safe place for people to stay while they sober up, and will include access to services like housing programs and health care, reducing disruption to neighbourhoods and businesses.

“The opioid crisis is having an urgent and severe impact on families in Lethbridge and southern Alberta. We will continue to help Albertans receive greater access to health services for substance use by applying the latest medical evidence and the expert advice of the dedicated first responders serving our communities.”

Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health

“Providing people affected by substance use a safe, welcoming place to live is a crucial step on their path to recovery. This new permanent supportive housing development for Lethbridge and the wrap-around supports it will offer is key in our government’s work to address the root causes of poverty and to support vulnerable Albertans on their path to security.”

Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing

“Our government is committed to helping people with complex needs break the cycle of homelessness. This project will ensure people can live in dignity and get the support they need for mental and physical challenges, addictions and other issues. We will continue to work closely with the City of Lethbridge.”

Irfan Sabir, Minister of Community and Social Services

In the first six months of 2018, 17 people in Lethbridge died of an apparent opioid overdose. Since opening, the supervised consumption services site in Lethbridge, operated by ARCHES, has seen more than 71,000 client visits – one of the highest numbers in Canada. As of Sept. 30, over 620 overdoses have been reversed by staff at ARCHES.  

“Thank you to the Government of Alberta, our partner, for listening to Lethbridge’s concerns and for providing funding in areas that are beyond municipal responsibility. We can finally place greater focus on treatment and recovery and do what is needed to fight back against this drug crisis.”

Chris Spearman, mayor, Lethbridge

The government is also expanding an option for people to receive opioid agonist therapy (OAT), such as methadone and Suboxone, in Lethbridge and other areas. The Virtual Opioid Dependency Program (VODP) connects patients wanting to start OAT with prescribers in other parts of the province through videoconferencing. OAT treatments can help people who use opioids stabilize their lives.

“In addition to ongoing enforcement efforts, this investment in harm reduction, treatment and permanent housing opportunities is a welcome step to help break the cycle of addiction and reduce the impacts of the drug crisis.”

Robert Davis, Chief, Lethbridge Police Service

“As first responders, we have seen first-hand the impact this drug crisis has had on our residents and their families. This crisis has also, at times, stretched our resources and abilities to the maximum. We strongly support all initiatives that can ultimately help to resolve these issues and reduce some of the pressures that have been placed on our first responders.” 

Richard Hildebrand, Chief, Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services

Alberta Health also announced a new safe withdrawal management site on the Blood Tribe reserve that will provide addiction treatment services. This model of care will see Blood Tribe paramedics give patients who have overdosed the option of going to the safe withdrawal management site to receive health assessment and intervention and connect them to local resources and programs.

Quick facts

  • The actions announced today build on the Government of Alberta’s action plan to better combat opioid use in the city. The plan includes:
    • providing an additional $2.6 million to add new booths to meet the demand for supervised consumption services
    • new funding of $160,000 to increase needle collection, including new needle disposal boxes and increasing the reach of the clean sweep program to pick up discarded needles
    • providing $1.9 million to support eight new medical detox beds at the Chinook Regional Hospital
    • funding new community-based public awareness projects, including $100,000 to Alberta Addicts Who Educate and Advocate Responsibly for community workshops and performances involving individuals with lived experience
  • In Budget 2018, the government committed $63 million to continue its work on the opioid crisis, including opening new opioid dependency treatment spaces across the province which help an additional 4,000 Albertans every year. The funding has also supported the distribution of more than 113,000 free naloxone kits, with more than 6,500 voluntarily reported overdose reversals.

*Editor’s note: This email contains an updated version of the news release.


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New employment standards for youth under 13

The new standards only apply when there is an employment relationship, such as jobs where employers make mandatory deductions or provide benefits such as vacation pay. They do not apply to volunteer activities or casual work such as babysitting, lawn-mowing, snow-shovelling or farm and ranch work.

The changes mean that youth aged 12 and under will only be able to be employed in artistic endeavours such as film, stage or television productions, and only with parental/guardian consent and a government-issued permit.

Government consulted with more than 100 individuals and organizations, including employers, parents, students, volunteer groups, worker support centres and farm representatives in its work to update the standards.

“By providing clarity on the standards for employing youth under age 13, the updated legislation will ensure stronger protection for children, while still offering them the choice to gain valuable life experience through their first jobs.”

Christina Gray, Minister of Labour

The changes complete the revisions to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Regulation that took effect Jan. 1, 2018.

Employers must provide proper training and supervision for young employees and inform parents/guardians of any workplace risks. The revised youth employment standards take effect Jan. 1, 2019.

  • Rules have not changed for youth aged 13 and up.
  • Youth aged 13-14 can be employed in such jobs as a store clerk, server, delivery person, dishwasher and food assembler, or in other jobs with a permit and parental consent.
  • Youth aged 15-17 can be employed in most occupations; however certain requirements for supervision and restrictions on hours of work apply.
  • Youth employment rules do not apply to farms and ranches.
  • Employment standards do not generally apply to casual work such as babysitting, lawn-mowing or snow-shovelling.


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