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Alberta

A Look at the Craft Brewery Boom in Alberta

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The microbrewery landscape in Alberta is composed of a niche collection of local businesses, each offering a creative and completely unique approach to beer and dining. Each location tells a different story through its brews, taproom, artwork, product design and individual take on what makes Alberta beer the best. 

In this strange and creative world, there is something for everyone. Consumers can enjoy the favorite Super Saturation New England Pale Ale while sitting with friends beneath indoor wooden cabins at Cabin Brewing Company, Brewery of the Year winner at the 2020 Alberta Beer Awards. Those with an affinity for sci-fi might enjoy sampling a flight from Zero Issue while kicking back with a comic book. Patio enthusiasts can enjoy the sunshine while sipping on the 2020 Award winners for Patio Beers at Tool Shed Brewing Company, Sea Change Brewing Co. or Analog Brewing

Since 2013, the number of microbreweries in Alberta has skyrocketed. What was once one of the most sparsely populated craft beer industries in Canada has become one of the most exciting destinations for craft beer connoisseurs. 

According to Avenue Magazine, in December 2013, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission made adjustments to the “antiquated laws that made starting a brewery or brewpub a formidable undertaking,” opening the doors for Alberta brewers to pursue their passion. Since then, there has been a steady increase in craft breweries across Alberta, from no more than 13 in 2013 to 123 province-wide as of January 2020. According to Canadian Beer News, the Alberta brew industry now employs an estimated 3,000 people.

Although each brewery could not be more individual and unique, together these businesses form a tight-knit community built on support, collaboration and a mutual desire to see the craft beer market continue to succeed in Alberta and across Canada. According to Alberta Beer, “Alberta brewers know everyone wins when we support and nurture our communities.” 

In Calgary, the craft beer industry has also undergone an extreme expansion in recent years. There are over 30 brewery-taprooms throughout the city, which is also home to a number of collectives. These include the Barley Belt, a collection of breweries spanning several kilometres throughout Calgary’s southeast, and Brewery Flats, a craft beer tour featuring a number of breweries in the Inglewood area. 

Offering an ever-changing selection of local brews on tap, the breweries in Calgary push the limits with an ongoing series of strange and spectacular creations. Some stay for a while, some are gone before your next visit. 

Follow Todayville Calgary to learn more about Calgary’s unique breweries, now featuring exclusive weekly updates from Whats on Tap? 

Alberta

Alberta researcher gets award for COVID-19 mask innovation

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Salt that crystallizes with sharp edges is the killer ingredient in the development of a reusable mask because any COVID-19 droplets that land on it would be quickly destroyed, says a researcher who is being recognized for her innovation.

Ilaria Rubino, a recent PhD graduate from the department of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Alberta, said a mostly salt and water solution that coats the first or middle layer of the mask would dissolve droplets before they can penetrate the face covering.

As the liquid from the droplets evaporates, the salt crystals grow back as spiky weapons, damaging the bacteria or virus within five minutes, Rubino said.

“We know that after the pathogens are collected in the mask, they can survive. Our goal was to develop a technology that is able to inactivate the pathogens upon contact so that we can make the mask as effective as possible.”

Rubino, who collaborated with a researcher at Georgia State University in Atlanta to advance the project she started five years ago, was recognized Tuesday with an innovation award from Mitacs. The Canadian not-for-profit organization receives funding from the federal government, most provinces and Yukon to honour researchers from academic institutions.

The reusable, non-washable mask is made of a type of polypropylene, a plastic used in surgical masks, and could be safely worn and handled multiple times without being decontaminated, Rubino said.

The idea is to replace surgical masks often worn by health-care workers who must dispose of them in a few hours, she said, adding the technology could potentially be used for N-95 respirators.

The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval. It could also be used to stop the spread of other infectious illnesses, such as influenza, Rubino said.

Dr. Catherine Clase, an epidemiologist and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said the “exciting” technology would have multiple benefits.

Clase, who is a member of the Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials in the engineering department at McMaster, said there wasn’t much research in personal protective equipment when Rubino began her work.

“It’s going to decrease the footprint for making and distributing and then disposing of every mask,” she said, adding that the mask could also address any supply issues.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recently recommended homemade masks consist of at least three layers, with a middle, removable layer constructed from a non-woven, washable polypropylene fabric to improve filtration.

Conor Ruzycki, an aerosol scientist in the University of Alberta’s mechanical engineering department, said Rubino’s innovation adds to more recent research on masks as COVID-19 cases rise and shortages of face coverings in the health-care system could again become a problem.

Ruzycki, who works in a lab to evaluate infiltration efficiencies of different materials for masks and respirators, is also a member of a physician-led Alberta group Masks4Canada, which is calling for stricter pandemic measures, including a provincewide policy on mandatory masks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta nurses reject government’s call to delay bargaining for new deal

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EDMONTON — Alberta’s nurses union says the province’s health delivery agency has rejected a call for a settlement similar to one reached with nurses in Saskatchewan that would have provided stability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

United Nurses of Alberta says in a news release it called on Alberta Health Services to quickly negotiate a contract “in order to achieve labour peace, stabilize the Alberta workforce, and focus on responding to the pandemic.”

But the union says AHS negotiators wanted to delay bargaining, a demand it says it rejected because the agency refused to halt the elimination nursing positions through attrition during COVID-19 and wouldn’t promise to end rollbacks when negotiations resume.

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release Monday that the union was seeking a seven per cent pay increase, and that both sides had been negotiating a delay in bargaining until March 31 due to the increasing demands of COVID-19.

The Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations said earlier Monday that it had reached agreements with its nurses, although details weren’t being released until the deals are ratified by both sides.

Toews says that Alberta’s nurses are compensated approximately 8.1 per cent more than their western Canadian peers.

“I am disappointed that a deal could not be reached — delaying bargaining would have provided much needed stability for the health-care system as we continue to focus on the pandemic and keeping Albertans safe,” the minister said in the government’s release.

UNA president Heather Smith said in the union’s news release that the negotiations team couldn’t agree to pause negotiations until March 31, and that the next scheduled bargaining dates are Dec. 14 and 15.

“Clearly AHS and this government are more intent on pursing their agenda of rollbacks and reducing the workforce, even during a pandemic, than assuring a stable workforce to respond to the needs of Albertans,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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november, 2020

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