Alberta politicians return to legislature to pass bills, keep their distance


EDMONTON — Alberta politicians are heading back into the legislature to pass emergency bills and set new rules on their own social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Government House Leader Jason Nixon says he and the Opposition NDP have agreed to reduce their numbers proportionately so there are just 20 members in the house during debate.

A minimum of 20 members, including the Speaker, are required in the house at any one time to keep quorum.

Alberta’s chief medical officer has already ordered that public gatherings have no more than 15 people, but all 87 members can sit in the legislature because the house is deemed an essential service.

Nixon says, despite the exemption, it’s better to socially distance if possible and that the ratio will be 14 United Conservative members to six for the NDP.

Nixon says over the next two days the government will debate bills to enforce announcements already made on stiffer penalties for breaching public health rules, on protections for renters and on rules to help reclaim more orphan wells.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2020.

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