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Alberta

Alberta ramps up vaccine rollout

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Premier Jason Kenney

Alberta’s government will bring in four new measures starting immediately to ramp-up the COVID-19 vaccine rollout as infections and hospitalizations rise.

The new measures will mean about 500,000 more Albertans will be eligible to be vaccinated starting April 7.

“We are in a race between the vaccines and variants, and finally doses are arriving in significant numbers. We will use these to aggressively expand our rollout, speeding up the timelines and expanding the ways that we get the doses to Albertans. We will meet or surpass our promise to offer every adult a first dose by June 30.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“Our health officials are working hard to make new shipments of vaccine available to Albertans as soon as they arrive. I strongly urge Albertans to get immunized as soon as they are eligible. When it’s your turn, please sign up for your shot, show up for your appointment and follow up for your second dose.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

Opening bookings to everyone in Phase 2B

Starting April 7 at 8 a.m., anyone born in 2005 or earlier with eligible underlying health conditions can book appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine at participating pharmacies or with Alberta Health Services (AHS) online or by calling 811.

Those currently eligible under Phase 2B are Albertans with underlying health conditions born in or before 1973. This amounts to about 150,000 Albertans. By expanding to those born in 2005 or before, 500,000 more Albertans will be eligible.

Information on eligible health conditions, including examples, is available at alberta.ca/vaccine.

AstraZeneca vaccine available for Albertans 55+

Albertans aged 55 to 64 who do not have a chronic health condition can now make an appointment to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Effective immediately, anyone born between 1957 and 1966 can book appointments at participating pharmacies across the province. AHS will also begin booking appointments starting on Monday, April 12.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective at reducing severe illness from COVID-19. The rare blood clots reported in Europe have not been reported in Canada, and risk of COVID-19 infection is far greater than any vaccine risk.

Based on current evidence, Albertans who are 55 and older who are diagnosed with COVID-19 are at least 10 times more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit from COVID-19, and at least 45 times more likely to need hospital treatment for COVID-19, than they are to experience any form of the rare, treatable blood clots reported in Europe.

Eligible Albertans in this phase can choose to wait to receive a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to be available to them when Phase 2D opens in May.

Rapid flow clinics

Bookings for rapid flow clinics in Grand Prairie, Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat will open on Friday, April 9. More clinics will open in Edmonton and Calgary next week.

Bookings can be made with Alberta Health Services (AHS) online or by calling 811.

Pharmacy walk-ins

Alberta will soon expand its vaccine rollout at participating pharmacies to allow walk-in bookings, rather than those by appointment only. Additional information will be shared when pharmacy walk-ins become available next week.

Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses and protect Alberta’s health-care system.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Post-secondary schools must report on free speech efforts on campus, minister says

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Edmonton – The Alberta government says it will require post-secondary institutions to report annually on their efforts to protect free speech on campus.

A news release from the Department of Advanced Education does not detail exactly what must be included in these reports, or say what the consequences would be if the requirements are not met.

Minister Demetrios Nicolaides signalled changes were coming earlier this week after the University of Lethbridge reversed its decision to host a speech by a former Mount Royal University professor whose comments on residential schools have drawn fierce criticism.

Frances Widdowson was fired from Mount Royal in late 2021 after she spoke of the educational benefits of residential schools while questioning whether abuses at the institutions amounted to cultural genocide.

Widdowson’s campus speech this week was to centre on concerns that a mob mentality and “woke policies” increasingly threaten academic freedom.

The Alberta government says the latest move builds on its earlier work in 2019, when it required all 26 publicly funded post-secondary institutions in Alberta to either endorse the Chicago Principles on free expression, or develop a policy consistent with them.

“It is abundantly clear that more needs to be done to ensure our institutions are adequately protecting free speech,” Nicolaides said in a written statement Friday.

Alberta’s post-secondary institutions should be bastions of free speech and academic freedom that promote critical thinking. I will continue to explore greater steps we can take to strengthen free speech on campus.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2023.

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Alberta

Overdose prevention services in Red Deer will soon transition to a mobile site operated by Alberta Health Services

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Next steps for Red Deer overdose prevention site

Alberta’s government continues to make overdose prevention services available across the province while also ensuring the safety of communities and neighbourhoods is a top priority. Alberta’s government will be working in partnership with Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Turning Point over the next three to six months to implement the transition to a mobile overdose prevention site operated by AHS.

This transition is necessary to respond to the changing needs in Red Deer while improving the standard of service delivery at the overdose prevention site. Alberta’s government will continue working closely with the City of Red Deer and the broader community to put the safety and security of the community first while continuing to provide overdose prevention services in a professional manner.

“Overdose prevention services are healthcare services that must meet quality standards to ensure the safety of the community and a high-standard of care. Alberta Health Services is an accountable and proven operator that has experience managing these services across Alberta. My ministry will be working closely with AHS and the current operator over the next few months to smoothly transition these operations, ensuring there are no gaps in service for clients of the services.”

Nicholas Milliken, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction

“We appreciate the leadership of the government of Alberta in this area. We thank Turning Point for their service and the lives saved over the past several years. Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Red Deerians is a top priority, and we are confident this new AHS-operated mobile site will continue to meet the needs of our residents.”

Ken Johnston, Mayor of Red Deer

Once the transition occurs, the new AHS-operated mobile unit will initially operate at the same location as the current overdose prevention site. Alberta’s government will continue to work with the City of Red Deer, and may change the location of the service within Red Deer based on input from the municipality ­and the changing needs of the community.

As with all overdose prevention services in the province, this mobile unit will be regulated and be required to meet the quality standards outlined in the Recovery-oriented Supervised Consumption Standards in order to be licensed. Overdose prevention site service providers must also demonstrate clearly defined referral pathways to detox, treatment and recovery services, as well as primary health-care services.

Alberta’s government is continuing to build a recovery-oriented system of care, where everyone struggling with addiction and mental health challenges is supported in their pursuit of recovery. This includes adding more than 9,000 new publicly funded treatment spaces, eliminating fees for residential addiction treatment, launching the Digital Overdose Response System (DORS) app and expanding opioid agonist treatment.

Quick facts

  • To be licensed, supervised consumption site service providers need to follow requirements related to:
  • the safety and security of clients, employees and the surrounding community
  • standardized data collection
  • staff qualifications and training
  • clinical practice standards
  • good neighbour agreements
  • physical site requirements, such as having access to washrooms for clients
  • Health Canada is responsible for granting exemptions under Section 56.1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to allow supervised consumption sites to operate. Overdose prevention sites require a similar exemption under Section 56(1) of the act or a letter of authorization from the Government of Alberta under the authority of the province’s class exemption.
  • Alberta spends more than $1 billion annually on addiction and mental health care and supports, including prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery.
  • Any Albertan struggling with addiction can contact 211 Alberta to connect with local services and virtual supports. 211 is free, confidential and available 24-7.
  • The Virtual Opioid Dependency Program provides same-day access to addiction medicine physicians and life-saving medications to Albertans across the province. Albertans can call 1-844-383-7688 seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
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