What the Prairies Spring Legislative Session Meant for Innovators

June 14, 2024

By Jess Sinclair
CCI Director of Prairie Affairs

That’s a wrap on the spring legislative sittings for Canada’s three prairie provinces! Before you settle into BBQ season, here are a few items of note that CCI saw across the Prairies this spring:

Alberta

Alberta’s legislature rose (uncharacteristically) a day earlier than anticipated with a surprise appearance by Edmonton Oilers left-winger Evander Kane. While some Alberta premiers have made an art of prevaricating when pressed on the subject of the Flames vs Oilers, Premier Danielle Smith seems to have thrown out that particular playbook.

(To be fair, the last time an Alberta team played in the Stanley Cup Final, Ralph Klein was still in office)

Hockey fanfare notwithstanding, the spring legislative session saw the government pass 13 bills, none of which should be particularly impactful to the province’s tech entrepreneurs. It remains to be seen whether Bill 18 (the Provincial Priorities Act, 2024) – which lays out new agreement requirements for municipalities and postsecondary institutions working with the federal government – will have a material effect on individual federal grant programs utilized by innovators.

This session also marked the final sitting day for Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley. Between now and June 22, the party’s 85,144 members across the province will choose a new leader.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan’s spring sitting, which wrapped up more than two weeks ago, was equally uneventful in terms of legislation aimed at the province’s innovators. But that’s about all that was uneventful about it.

That said, as our team noted earlier in the year, Saskatchewan's fiscal plan did include some interesting overtures to the tech community in terms of start-up and commercialization support, and it will be interesting to see what policy makers have to say on these subjects in the lead-up to an anticipated October provincial election.

Manitoba

Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew's government demonstrated some remarkable leadership on the innovation file through its first budget, tabled earlier this spring. Of note, the government’s omnibus bill that would officially write some budget measures into law will not see a final legislative vote until the fall session. Opposition PC members have asserted the government is light on new ideas, but 21 bills have been passed over the spring sitting, a healthy number in any provincial legislature.

As policymakers head back to their ridings and out on the road to promote their agendas over the summer, our team will be keeping an eye on new developments that impact the prairie tech ecosystem.

To learn more about CCI's work in Ontario, get in touch with Jess Sinclair at jsinclair@canadianinnovators.org.

About the Council of Canadian Innovators

The Council of Canadian Innovators is a national member-based organization reshaping how governments across Canada think about innovation policy, and supporting homegrown scale-ups to drive prosperity. Established in 2015, CCI represents and works with over 150 of Canada’s fastest-growing technology companies. Our members are the CEOs, founders, and top senior executives behind some of Canada’s most successful ‘scale-up’ companies. All our members are job and wealth creators, investors, philanthropists, and experts in their fields of healthtech, cleantech, fintech, cybersecurity, AI and digital transformation. Companies in our portfolio are market leaders in their verticals, commercialize their technologies in over 190 countries, and generate between $10M-$750M in annual recurring revenue. We advocate on their behalf for government strategies that increase their access to skilled talent, strategic capital, and new customers, as well as expanded freedom to operate for their global pursuits of scale.

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