Alberta legislature back in session, with bills on carbon tax, labour, maternity

The Alberta legislature officially begins a new session today with a speech from the throne.

EDMONTON — The Alberta legislature officially begins a new session today with a speech from the throne.

Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell will deliver the address, which outlines the intentions and goals of Premier Rachel Notley’s government in the coming session.

Government house leader Brian Mason says the province will introduce a bill spelling out the rules and regulations that will underpin the climate change strategy that was unveiled by Notley last fall.

That includes details on who pays what under the new $3-billion a year carbon tax.

That tax will affect everything from gas at the pumps to home heating and electricity bills.

There will be rebates, but the government estimates the average family will see a hike of $470 a year by 2018.

One new bill will streamline and shrink the province’s 301 agencies boards and commissions.

Another will overhaul labour rules, in compliance with a Supreme Court of Canada ruling, to keep key services intact while allowing public sector workers the right to strike.

The law will also be amended so that MLAs on maternity leave are not penalized for missing sittings of the house.

Service Alberta Minister Stephanie McLean gave birth last month and associate health minister Brandy Payne is due in July.

In early April, Finance Minister Joe Ceci will bring in the 2016-17 budget.

Ceci has already estimated that the deficit could be as big as $10 billion given the low price of oil.