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Saskatchewan government introduces rules to ban vaping products for youth

Saskatchewan will be restricting the sale of vaping products such as e-cigarettes to people who are at least 18 years old.

Health Minister Jim Reiter has introduced amendments to the Tobacco Control Act to bring the products in line with existing tobacco legislation.

He says the changes will also prohibit the display of e-cigarettes in retail businesses where youth have access, restrict their use in and around public buildings such as schools and prohibit sales at amusement parks, arcades and theatres.

The amendments also restrict advertising of vaping products in the same manner as tobacco products.

The changes are to take effect in the spring.

The government says it believes the amendments will help lower the number of Saskatchewan youth using vaping products.

Anti-smoking groups say Saskatchewan’s decision means Alberta is the only province without legislation to control the consumption, sale and marketing of vaping products.

The Canadian Cancer Society is urging the Alberta government to move swiftly on new legislation to give Alberta children the chance to grow-up tobacco and nicotine-free.

“The rates of youth vaping have skyrocketed in the past few years and we are still waiting for effective legislation that will prevent tobacco and vaping companies from targeting youth,” Angeline Webb, a society spokeswoman, said in a release. “Protection delayed is protection denied.”

Health authorities across Canada have begun to closely monitor reports of respiratory illnesses potentially linked to vaping.

Health Canada has said vaping has risks and the long-term effects remain unknown.


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Saskatchewan opening up retail cannabis market to help meet consumer demand

shutterstock_1140581744Saskatchewan plans to lift the lid on legal cannabis sales to help meet consumer demand.

The government says it will open the market to more retailers in the hope of discouraging competition from illegal sellers.

Last year, the province used a lottery system to select 51 retail permit applications, of which 39 have been issued and 12 are still being assessed.

Gene Makowsky, minister for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, says starting in April the government will accept applications for cannabis retail permits in communities with populations less than 2,500.

In September, it will accept permit applications for stores in all communities without any cap.

Municipalities can still opt out of having cannabis retail stores if they wish.

“We believe opening the market to more retailers will help meet customer demand while also helping discourage competition from unlicensed stores,” Makowsky said in a release.

He says the supply of cannabis for permitted retailers will continue to come from permitted wholesalers and federally licensed producers registered in Saskatchewan.


Supreme Court rejects Saskatchewan’s request to delay carbon tax appeal

Saskatchewan says the Supreme Court of Canada has denied the province’s request to delay its appeal hearing over the carbon tax.

The province says the Supreme Court recently issued an order stating the hearing remain tentatively set for Jan.14.

The government had asked for more time and expected a delay could mean a hearing next spring.

It argued a delay would allow for better co-ordination of challenges coming from other provinces such as Ontario.

Ottawa opposed a delay and suggested the hearing should take place in a timely manner to provide certainty for households and businesses

A statement from Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Justice notes the hearing date is only tentative.

It says the province will have to see what impact on scheduling Ontario’s appeal to the Supreme Court may have. That province wants the high court to re-examine an Ontario Appeal Court decision in June that said the federal carbon tax is constitutional.

Before any appeal hearing, Canadians will vote in October’s federal election. Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer is campaigning on a promise to scrap the carbon tax if his party is elected and he becomes prime minister.

A spokeswoman for federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says politicians should stop wasting taxpayer dollars to fight climate action in court.

“A price on pollution is one of the most effective and affordable tools that we have to tackle climate change, and one that will leave the vast majority of families better off,” press secretary Sabrina Kim said in an emailed statement last week.


Saskatchewan wants Supreme Court to push back carbon tax appeal

The Saskatchewan government is applying to have its Supreme Court hearing on the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax pushed back.

An email from the Ministry of Justice says a delay would help Saskatchewan co-ordinate its legal challenge with similar ones coming from other provinces.

The top court was tentatively set to hear the case Dec. 5.

The province says its lawyers were supposed to submit a factum for the appeal by the end of this month, but they have not done so.

Justice Minister Don Morgan hosted a meeting Tuesday in Saskatoon with justice ministers and their legal teams from Ontario, New Brunswick and Alberta.

He believes the Supreme Court will want to hear all of the various legal arguments or cases at once instead of one at a time because of their similarity.

During the meeting the group discussed ways to strategize their legal arguments against Ottawa’s carbon levy.

The federal carbon tax was applied to Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba when those provinces did not have of their own.

Ontario lost a challenge in its top court last month.

Alberta, which killed its provincial carbon tax earlier this year that was brought in by the previous NDP government, is to have the federal levy imposed in January. It has also filed a legal challenge.

Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer says his government is trying to catch up with Saskatchewan and Ontario, and it was important for the ministers to compare notes.

He wants the provinces to work together so that the matter is heard by the Supreme Court in a “co-ordinated and thoughtful way.”

“We’re trying to work out (the) strategy to make sure each province can bring forward its strongest case to the Supreme Court,” he says.

Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey says his government has until August to file its notice of appeal to the Supreme Court.

There are pros and cons about presenting the cases together, he says, but wouldn’t comment on his government’s preference or strategy.

Morgan says he believes Saskatchewan’s court fight is costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, but that it’s worth it.

He says it’s difficult to calculate the exact amount since the province is relying on a mix of in-house and outside lawyers. The price tag includes court filings, travel expenses and other out-of-pocket costs.

“The importance of trying to determine federal and provincial – where the lines are – is important enough that we’re more than willing to spend the money to try and get clear resolution and clear answers to where we need to be,” he says.