On Monday, June 15, 2015, Alberta's newest Lieutenant
Governor, Her Honour Lois Mitchell, C.M., delivered the Speech from
the Throne, kicking off the First Session of the 29th Legislature
The Speech was consistent with Premier Notley's previous
announcements: that the new government will move slowly, planning
its course of action in the summer and taking more measured steps
in the fall. Aside from three new bills to be introduced this
session, the government will largely defer implementing its mandate
- including a royalty review, refinery development and climate
change policy - until the fall session, upon the introduction of
its full budget.
What to Expect This June
The first act of the NDP Government is Bill 1, An Act to
Renew Democracy in Alberta, which will, if passed, ban
corporate and union donations to political parties in Alberta. This
is a first step in the process to increase transparency in
politics. While not addressed from the Throne, Premier Notley and
Official Opposition Leader Brian Jean also jointly proposed a
special legislative committee to review Alberta's elections,
whistleblower and conflict of interest legislation.
Second, the new government will introduce Bill 2, An Act to
Restore Fairness in Public Revenue, which is intended to
garner a greater contribution from "those who have benefited
most from the boom times in Alberta". If passed, Bill 2
will increase corporate taxes on large companies from 10% to 12%,
while leaving small business tax unchanged at a rate of 3%.
Further, Bill 2 will implement progressive income tax applicable to
Albertans earning more than $125,000 per year.
While Bill 2 may pass in June, the Tax Collection Agreement
between Parliament and the Government of Alberta prevents the
implementation of increases in individual income tax until January
1, 2016. Under the Tax Collection Agreement, the Province is
required to provide notice to Parliament on or before April 15 of
the particular year in order to have the modification administered
as of July 1. Otherwise, provided notice is given by October 15,
2015, the modification will not be administered until January 1,
The full impact of the corporate tax increase on the oil and gas
community remains to be seen. Reduction to capital
expenditures in Alberta is one potential result. Increased
operating cost is another. Costs associated with new taxes
may ultimately be realized indirectly if incremental taxes to
service companies are passed to E&P companies through increased
Finally, the new government will introduce its interim supply
bill, Bill 3, which will be revisited in the fall. Bill 3 will
allow the government access to funds to maintain stability in
essential public services in the interim, while it prepares and
implements its Budget.
While the Speech did not indicate any change to Alberta's
current climate change policy, such changes are not necessarily
required to be made through the Legislative Assembly. The current
policy structure is comprised of a number of regulations, all set
to expire June 30, 2015. The government can extend these expiry
dates, or make other changes to the regulations, through an Order
What to Expect in the Fall
As Premier Notley announced in May, 2015 the new government will
continue to prepare its new budget and legislative agenda for
introduction in the fall. The Speech offered some guidance as to
what is next to come. Consistent with the NDP election platform,
the government indicates that it will forge stronger partnerships
with other provinces and the federal government to further develop
a Canadian Energy Strategy. It will also evaluate the development
of energy resources, presumably through its plan to review the
royalty structure. Finally, Premier Notley will seek to nurture
relationships with Alberta's indigenous peoples.
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP will be monitoring and reporting on
policy development and new legislation from the Notley government
as they arise.
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