Alberta Opposition calling for Olymel Outbreak Inquiry
From the Alberta NDP
NDP DEMANDS PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO OLYMEL OUTBREAK, CALLS FOR PROTECTION FOR WORKERS, NOT CORPORATIONS
Alberta’s NDP is demanding an immediate public inquiry into the mishandling by both the UCP government and Olymel of a deadly COVID-19 outbreak at a meat-processing plant in Red Deer, and is seeking a commitment from the Minister of Justice that he will not intervene with legislation to protect potentially negligent corporations from lawsuits launched by victims’ families.
As of Wednesday, at least three Olymel employees had died as a result of the outbreak, which began in November and has seen more than 500 cases of COVID-19 confirmed to date. The NDP has also learned that three employees are currently fighting for their lives in intensive care. The Government of Alberta ignored calls for the plant to be closed, even as cases skyrocketed.
“We need to get to the bottom of who is responsible for these senseless, tragic deaths,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley. “People with no choice but to continue working in unsafe conditions have gotten sick and died. We need to hold those responsible accountable and develop new practices to prevent tragedies like this in the future.”
During a town hall meeting Tuesday night, UCP Minister of Health Tyler Shandro said Minister of Justice Kaycee Madu was working on legislation to eliminate liability in relation to COVID-19 illness and death for corporations and businesses
“This Government should focus on preventing workers from further injury and death, not covering up the negligence that’s already occurred around these tragedies,” Notley said. “We call on the UCP Government to reverse these plans.”
The NDP is also demanding an inquiry into the Olymel outbreak and the overall history with respect to worker safety in the meat-processing industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Olymel outbreak is now the deadliest linked to a meat-processing plant in Alberta during the pandemic. The outbreak at High River’s Cargill plant last year saw two workers die and more than 1,500 cases of COVID-19 confirmed — it remains the largest since in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Overall, while meat-packing plants have occurred in several other provinces, only in Alberta have people died, with the number currently standing at six,” Notley said.
The NDP is also supporting the call from the United Food and Commercial Workers that the Olymel plant not reopen as planned Thursday and remain closed until worker representatives are satisfied that enhanced health and safety protocols have been put in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
“We find ourselves in the same crisis as we were with Cargill,” said NDP Labour Critic Christina Gray. “Albertans should remember that the UCP’s own Agriculture Minister lied to those workers and told them the plant was safe just days before the operator shut it down,”
MLA Gray previously called for a formal inquiry into the Cargill outbreak and another at the JBS plant in Brooks that saw more than 650 workers infected and one die. To date, the call for an inquiry has been ignored by the UCP.
“Clearly Jason Kenney and the UCP don’t care about the workers in these plants,” Gray added. “We know that a survey of Olymel workers found three quarters feel nervous or scared to return to work and do not trust the employer to keep them safe. As well, over half of the workers surveyed said they didn’t trust the UCP Government to keep them safe.
“How does this Premier possibly justify allowing this plant to reopen when he hasn’t done a thing to reassure these workers that they won’t become sick or potentially die?”
The NDP will also be drafting a letter to Minister of Justice Kaycee Madu that demands he rule out legislative protection for Olymel, Cargill and JBS. A class-action lawsuit has already been launched against Cargill.
“The UCP wants to let these massive, profitable corporations wash their hands of these horrific incidents and, meanwhile, grieving families of lost loved ones will see nothing but more pain and suffering,” Notley said. “This government has a long track record of backing wealthy CEOs and screwing over workers. Enough is enough.”
In the U.S., 16 states have brought in legislation or immunity provisions to protect businesses and corporations from liability related to the pandemic.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says conservatives must learn to win in ‘big cities’
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks at the Canada Strong and Free Network in Ottawa on Thursday, March 23, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Ottawa (CP) – Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says conservatives must learn how to win in “big cities.”
Smith made the comment to a room of conservatives gathered in Ottawa for the annual conference of the Canada Strong and Free Network, formerly called the Manning Centre.
With Albertans set to go the polls in a provincial election this year, Smith says the United Conservative Party has more ground to gain in the province’s two largest cities: Calgary and Edmonton.
Smith replaced Jason Kenney as party leader and premier last fall, after he resigned following a leadership review where he received only 51 per cent support.
Kenney faced considerable backlash leading up to that vote for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Smith told today’s crowd that the party had lost “a lot” of its base.
Smith’s belief that conservatives must make inroads in large cities is shared by the federal Conservatives, with Leader Pierre Poilievre spending many of his weekends in Metro Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area — areas where his party has struggled to gain ground in the past several elections.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2023.
Roy scores OT winner as Golden Knights tip Oilers 4-3
Vegas Golden Knights celebrate the winning goal on Edmonton Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner (74) during overtime NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday March 25, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
By Shane Jones in Edmonton
The Vegas Golden Knights made sure to keep the Edmonton Oilers at arm’s length in the Pacific Division race.
Nicolas Roy scored the overtime winner and Jack Eichel had a goal and two assists as the Golden Knights won their fourth consecutive game, knocking off the Oilers 4-3 on Saturday night to give themselves a seven-point cushion atop the Pacific Division standings over third-place Edmonton with nine games to play.
Roy was left alone in front of the Edmonton net and deposited his own rebound past Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner 2:26 into OT.
“It’s a big win, big road trip,” said Knights defenceman Brayden McNabb. “They were sneaking up on us and we were able to get an extra point out of this game.
“We have that next-man-up mentality, it’s been that way all year. We’ve had injuries throughout the year, the guys are prepared, we have great depth, we have great goaltending and it showed tonight. It felt a little bit like a playoff game, for sure.”
Pavel Dorofeyev and Jonathan Marchessault also scored for the Knights (46-21-6) who have won eight of their last nine and sport a league-best 17-3-2 record since the NHL All-Star break.
“Gutsy win for us, it’s a divisional game and I thought we played well,” Eichel said. “It’s a really good team over there, they generate a lot of offence and I thought we did a really good job limiting them.”
Zach Hyman, Leon Draisaitl and Warren Foegele replied for the Oilers (41-23-9) who had a five-game winning streak snapped.
“It was a tight game. It was what you expect in the playoffs,” Draisaitl said. “It is obviously a team that we could face. I think we know how to handle these types of games. Obviously tonight didn’t go our way, but we will take the point.”
Vegas scored on the first shot of the game 61 seconds in as Eichel took a feed on a two-on-one from Ivan Barbashev and beat the Oilers’ starter stick-side for his 27th goal of the season.
Not to be outdone, the Oilers also scored on their first shot on Knights goalie Laurent Brossoit 3:28 into the opening frame, as Draisaitl put it right on the tape of Zach Hyman’s stick in front of the net and he redirected in his 31st. Draisaitl set a new career high for points on the play, hitting 111 after capping out at 110 points two previous seasons.
The Golden Knights regained the lead on the power play with 3:33 to play in the first period when the puck came to Dorofeyev on a broken play and he wired home his fifth of the campaign to the top right corner.
Edmonton’s lethal power play allowed them to knot the game up midway through the middle period as Connor McDavid sent it to Draisaitl in the slot and he took it on the backhand before spinning around and scoring his 45th goal of the season. It was also Draisaitl’s 28th power-play goal, the most by any player in a season since Mario Lemieux in 1995-1996.
Vegas found another gear to start the third and went ahead 3-2 almost seven minutes into the final frame as Eichel dropped a pass back in the lane to Marchessault, who beat Skinner with a one-timer.
Brossoit followed that up with a massive save on Mattias Ekholm.
Edmonton tied the game once again with 8:41 to play in the third as Foegele tied his career high by scoring his 13th on a long wrist shot to eventually send the game to extra time.
“It’s disappointing we didn’t get the two points,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft. “Some of the goals we gave up were preventable. We’re going to take the lessons from tonight and learn from it.”
Edmonton won both previous meetings between the two teams this season, both by 4-3 scores. … Vegas was missing a bunch of bodies in Mark Stone (back), William Carrier (lower body), Adin Hill (lower body), Logan Thompson (undisclosed), Reilly Smith (lower body) and Alec Martinez (personal). As a result, defenceman Ben Hutton returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past 21 games. Forward Keegan Kolesar also returned after missing six games with an upper-body injury. In net, Brossoit made his first start since Feb. 25. … Edmonton was without the services of Ryan Murray (back) and Ryan McLeod (upper body). … The Golden Knights and Oilers both boast 11 skaters with 10-plus goals — tied for second in the NHL in that category. … Oilers defender Cody Ceci played in his 700th career NHL game.
The Knights are off until Tuesday, when they will play the Oilers in a rematch in Vegas.
The Oilers make a quick trip to Arizona to face the Coyotes on Monday before playing the Knights on Tuesday in the final regular-season matchup between the two teams.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2023.
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