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Is Alberta’s new Sovereignty Act legal? + AG report highlights nurse-doctor pay gap

Good morning. This is the Thursday, Dec. 1 edition of First Up, the Star’s daily morning digest. Sign up to get it earlier each day, in your inbox.

The Ford government now insists “no” insider information was shared with developers in the Greenbelt land swap. Here’s what we know about the property deals.

Read on for the latest on Alberta’s new sovereignty bill, Ontario’s auditor general report and Toronto’s budget shortfall.


Analysis: Is Alberta’s new Sovereignty Act even legal?

Introduced Tuesday, Premier Danielle Smith’s “Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act” is already raising eyebrows. The bill, designed to push back against the federal government, is meant to give Alberta’s cabinet sweeping powers — including allowing legislature to pass motions declaring a federal law unconstitutional or harmful, and then giving cabinet the “extraordinary” power to change provincial legislation as needed. Alex Boyd reports on the concerns, confusion and clarifications that are emerging.

  • Wait, what? Critics say the new powers are concerning because they would essentially put the Alberta government in the position of deciding what is constitutional — a role usually reserved for the courts — and give major powers to a small group of politicians.

The auditor general’s report calls out pandemic mistakes, doctor-nurse pay gaps and Ford’s highway ambitions

Doctors were paid five times more than nurses to administer COVID-19 vaccines, Ontario wasted 3.4 million booster shots, and vaccination efforts missed communities vulnerable to the pandemic, according to the auditor general’s annual report. Premier Doug Ford, meanwhile, was slammed for funnelling money into highway projects and “ignoring” his own experts who ranked them as lower priority. Rob Ferguson and Kristin Rushowy break down the major takeaways from the AG’s 1,083-page report.

The Ontario government will cover one-third of Toronto’s $700-million budget shortfall

Although the province has now committed to covering one-third of Toronto’s 2022 budget shortfall, Mayor John Tory says the city’s long-term financial health is far from assured. With about $470 million left to account for this year, Tory is amplifying his call for the federal government to help fill the gap. Ottawa has thus far refrained from committing to any funding. Additionally, the mayor is seeking assistance in addressing the opening shortfall in the city’s 2023 financial plan, which city staff have estimated to be almost $1.5 billion. Ben Spurr reports on the economic challenges facing Toronto and how the provincial and federal governments are responding.

  • Not so fast: In what could be a significant development, Ontario’s municipal affairs and housing minister opened the door to reimbursing the city for the financial impacts of Bill 23.


Detective Sergeant Barb Adam of the Toronto Police Service announces local results of Project Maverick, a province-wide initiative targeting online child exploitation.

  • It might be too late to stop Ford’s Greenbelt plan, but there may still be time to stop developers and landowners from profiting. Here’s how.


A person browses shelves at BMV Books Bloor Street location as BMV celebrated 25 years in Toronto this year.

Here’s why BMV may be the best store of its kind in Toronto.


A man looks on as lava erupts from Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano Wednesday.

HAWAII: A man looks on as lava erupts from the Mauna Loa volcano on Wednesday, near Hilo.

Thank you for reading First Up. You can reach me and the First Up team at firstup@thestar.ca

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