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Alberta

Province planning “Heroes Fund” to help families of first responders who die on duty

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From the Province of Alberta

Supporting Alberta’s heroes and their families

Creating the Alberta’s Heroes Fund will improve benefits for the families of fallen first responders and recognize their noble service.

Bill 47, Ensuring Safety and Cutting Red Tape, will allow Alberta’s government to follow through on its commitment to create the Heroes Fund. Alberta’s government will honour the sacrifices of first responders who die as a result of performing their duties. The Heroes Fund will provide a one-time tax-free payment of $100,000 to eligible families through the Workers’ Compensation Board.

“There is no higher form of public service than to risk one’s life to maintain public safety. While nothing can replace a loved one, the Heroes Fund will provide families with extra support and improved benefits while honouring the brave and valiant service of Alberta’s fallen heroes.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“First responders commit their lives to serving their communities and we must honour their heroic work and ensure their loved ones have the support they need. Our government committed to ensuring families of Alberta’s fallen heroes are supported, and while I wish this fund wasn’t needed, today we are delivering on our promise to honour them and the sacrifices they’ve made.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Labour and Immigration

Eligible first responders include firefighters, police officers, paramedics, sheriffs and provincial corrections officers. Alberta’s Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) will administer the Heroes Fund and will begin identifying eligible families and administering payments, which are retroactive to April 1, 2020.

“Day in and day out, our members put their health and safety on the line to help Albertans often during the most difficult times in their lives. First responders understand that this is our calling, this is what we do. We acknowledge the inherent risk of our profession and do what we can to mitigate risk. Unfortunately, risk cannot always be mitigated, and every year we see firefighters, paramedics and dispatchers who are killed from job-related injuries, occupational disease, or mental health struggles. The Alberta Fire Fighters Association would like to take this opportunity to applaud the Government of Alberta for the Heroes Fund. While this fund will never replace the void from the loss of a loved one, it will help ease the inevitable financial hardships caused by those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Brad Readman, president, Alberta Fire Fighters Association

“First responders are charged with the significant responsibility of upholding safety in our communities and protecting citizens, often placing their lives in danger. Losing a loved one in the line of duty is a tragedy many of us are lucky to be unfamiliar with, but for those who must live with that grief and its many hardships, this fund provides much-needed support and commemoration of heroes that made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Dale McFee, president, Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police

“As a former sergeant with the Calgary Police Service, I was honoured to serve with many brave police officers, firefighters, and paramedics in the City of Calgary. I know first-hand how our first responders put their lives on the line every day in the service of Albertans and I am proud that our government is fulfilling our commitment to create a Heroes Fund. Our government is taking concrete action to give the families of our fallen heroes the help they need in difficult times.”

Mike Ellis, chief government whip, and MLA for Calgary-West

“I’m proud to be part of a government that delivers on its promises and stands up for first responders and their families. As a former paramedic firefighter, I understand the sacrifices first responders make to serve their communities and answer the call to service. I wish everyone could return home safely at the end of the day, but for those who pay the ultimate price serving their communities, the creation of this fund will make a difference in the lives of family members when they need it most. Establishing this fund will make Alberta the only province with a program of this type to honour and pay tribute to the families of first responders.”

Tany Yao, MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo

Quick facts

  • Budget 2020 commits $1.5 million per year for the Heroes Fund for three years, starting in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
  • Alberta is the only province with a program of this type for families of fallen first responders.
  • Heroes Fund payments are separate from regular workers’ compensation fatality benefits.
  • The Heroes Fund will take effect when Bill 47 receives royal assent.
  • There were 106 Alberta first responder fatalities between 2010 and 2019.
    • 90 per cent of these were firefighters due to occupational illness.
  • Albertans are served by:
    • More than 14,000 full-time, part-time, casual and volunteer firefighters. About 80 per cent are volunteers.
    • More than 7,500 police officers.
    • More than 9,400 paramedics.

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Alberta

Popular roller-coaster at West Edmonton Mall amusement park to be removed

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Canada’s largest shopping centre says a popular roller-coaster at its amusement park is being removed after nearly 40 years in operation.

West Edmonton Mall’s vice-president of parks and attractions says in a statement that while the Mindbender will be missed, the mall is excited to announce it is working on new plans for the site.

The Mindbender was known as the world’s tallest and longest indoor, triple-loop roller-coaster.

In 1986, three people were killed on the roller-coaster, which forced the mall to shut it down for a year for safety modifications.

Galaxyland initially opened in 1983, but was known as Fantasyland until 1995.

The indoor amusement park partnered with Hasbro in 2022 and features attractions licensed from the franchise.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

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Alberta

Qatar, Norway and ‘The Trouble with Canada’

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From the Canadian Energy Centre Ltd 

By David Yager

Resource developers in Canada face unique geographical, jurisdictional, regulatory and political obstacles

That Germany has given up on Canada to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) and instead signed a massive multi-year LNG purchase agreement with Qatar has left many angry and disappointed.  

Investment manager and perennial oil bull Eric Nuttall recently visited Qatar and Saudi Arabia and wrote an opinion piece for the Financial Post titled, “Canada could be as green and wealthy as Qatar and Saudi Arabia if government wakes up – Instead of vilifying the oil and gas sectors, Canada should champion them.” 

Nuttall described how Saudi Arabia and Qatar are investing their enormous energy wealth to make life better for their citizens. This includes decarbonizing future domestic energy supplies and making large investments in infrastructure.   

Nuttall concludes, “Why is it that Qatar, a country that embraced its LNG industry, has nearly three times the number of doctors per capita than Canada? We can do it all: increase our oil and natural gas production, at the highest environmental standards anywhere in the world, thereby allowing us to help meet the world’s needs while benefiting from its revenue and allowing for critical incremental investments in our national infrastructure…This could have been us.” 

The country most often mentioned that Albertans should emulate is Norway. 

Alberta’s Heritage Savings and Trust Fund has been stuck below $20 billion since it was created by Premier Peter Lougheed in 1976.  

Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, which started 20 years later in 1996, now sits at US$1.2 trillion. 

How many times have you been told that if Alberta’s politicians weren’t so incompetent, our province would have a much larger nest egg after 47 years?  

After all, Canada and Alberta have gobs of natural gas and oil, just like Qatar and Norway. 

Regrettably, that’s all we have in common.  

That Qatar and Norway’s massive hydrocarbon assets are offshore is a massive advantage that producers in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin will never enjoy. All pipelines are submerged. There are no surface access problems on private property, no municipal property taxes or surface rights payments, and there are no issues with First Nations regarding land claims, treaty rights and constitutional guarantees. 

Being on tidewater is a huge advantage when it comes to market access, greatly reducing operating and transportation costs. 

But it’s more complicated than that, and has been for a long time. In 1990, Olympic athlete and businessman William G. Gairdner wrote a book titled, “The Trouble with Canada – A Citizen Speaks Out.” It takes Gairdner 450 pages to explain how one of the most unique places in the world in terms of resource wealth and personal and economic opportunity was fading fast. 

That was 33 years ago. Nothing has improved. 

As I wrote in my own book about the early days of settlement and development, citizens expected little from their governments and got less. 

Today politics increasingly involves which party will give the most voters the most money.  

The book’s inside front cover reads how Gairdner was concerned that Canada was already “caught between two irreconcilable styles of government, a ‘top down’ collectivism and a ‘bottoms-up individualism;’ he shows how Canadian society has been corrupted by a dangerous love affair with the former.”  

Everything from the constitution to official bilingualism to public health care were identified as the symptoms of a country heading in the wrong direction. 

But Canadian “civil society” often regards these as accomplishments. 

The constitution enshrines a federal structure that ignores representation by population in the Senate thus leaving the underpopulated regions vulnerable to the political desires of central Canada. This prohibited Alberta’s closest access to tidewater for oil through Bill C48. 

Official bilingualism and French cultural protection has morphed into Quebec intentionally blocking Atlantic tidewater access for western Canadian oil and gas.  

In the same country! 

Another election will soon be fought in Alberta over sustaining a mediocre public health care system that continues to slide in international rankings of cost and accessibility. 

What’s remarkable about comparing Canada to Norway or Qatar for missed hydrocarbon export opportunities is how many are convinced that the Canadian way of doing things is equal, if not superior, to that of other countries. 

But neither Norway or Qatar have the geographical, jurisdictional, regulatory and political obstacles that impair resource development in Canada. 

Norway has over 1,000 years of history shared by a relatively homogenous population with similar views on many issues. Norway has a clear sense of its national identity. 

As a country, Canada has only 156 years in its current form and is comprised of Indigenous people and newcomers from all over the world who are still getting to know each other.  

In the endless pursuit of politeness, today’s Canada recognizes multiple nations within its borders.  

Norway and Qatar only have one. 

While relatively new as a country, Qatar is ruled by a “semi-constitutional” monarchy where the major decisions about economic development are made by a handful of people.  

Canada has three layers of elected governments – federal, provincial and municipal – that have turned jurisdictional disputes, excessive regulation, and transferring more of everything to the public sector into an industry.  

Regrettably, saying that Canada should be more like Norway or Qatar without understanding why it can’t be deflects attention away from our challenges and solutions. 

David Yager is an oilfield service executive, oil and gas writer, and energy policy analyst. He is author of  From Miracle to Menace – Alberta, A Carbon Story. 

 

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