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Hi everyone, Mark Iype in Edmonton today.

When Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said last weekend that we should expect an announcement in the coming days having to do with “parental choice”, I think most expected we’d see something similar to what Saskatchewan and New Brunswick rolled out last year.

Premiers in those provinces introduced rules requiring parental consent before schools use the preferred name or pronouns of students younger than 16.

But on Wednesday, without even telling anyone it was coming, Smith posted a seven-and-a-half-minute video to social media where she laid out sweeping changes that far outstrip anything her conservative counterparts have done.

Alberta will not permit “top and bottom gender-reassignment surgeries” for youth under 18 years old, Smith said. Top surgery for transgender youth is already very rare and bottom surgery for youth isn’t allowed anywhere in the country. Children under 16 will also not be allowed to access puberty blockers or hormone therapy for the purpose of gender affirmation.

Transgender youth who are 16 and 17 will be allowed to start gender-affirming therapies as long as they have “parental, physician and psychologist approval,” Smith said.

Medical experts have warned that restricting young people’s access to gender-affirming health care would harm vulnerable teens and adolescents.

Similar to Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, the policies also touch on how schools deal with transgender students.

Alberta will require parental notification and consent before schools use the preferred name and pronouns of students under 16. For 16- and 17-year-olds, pupils can change their name and pronouns without parental approval, but the schools must notify their guardians, Smith said.

Going a step further, however, teachers will be required to alert parents ahead of every lesson that involves “gender identity, sexual orientation and human sexuality” and they will have to “opt-in” on their children’s participation.

Finally, Smith said the province plans to ensure that women and girls will not have to compete against transgender athletes. She said Alberta will work with sports organizations to expand co-ed and gender-neutral divisions.

“We think this is preserving of choice,” Smith said, when she took questions on her proposals at a news conference on Thursday.

Not unexpected, the criticism rolled in quickly.

Egale Canada and Skipping Stone Foundation said on Wednesday they would launch a legal battle if Alberta moved forward. Rachel Notley, Alberta’s New Democratic Party Leader, called the policies “horrifying” and said they could be a breach of the Canada Health Act because they withdraw what should be publicly funded services.

While a slew of federal ministers weighed in earlier in the week, on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the proposed changes the “most anti-LGBT” in the country.

“It is telling that a week after welcoming far-right American conservative Tucker Carlson to her province, to sit with him on stage, that Danielle Smith has now moved forward with the most anti-LGBT policies of anywhere in the country,” Trudeau said.

The government has said the changes will be implemented by the end of the year with a mix of legislation and regulation.

This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief Mark Iype. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here

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