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Around Red Deer June 19th…..

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2:22 pm – On June 10th, the Lacombe Police Service in conjunction with the Alberta Sheriffs conducted roadside check stops at various locations in Lacombe as part of the Enhanced Alberta Check Stop Program. Hundreds of vehicles were stopped with some drivers getting charged or receiving tickets. Read More.

2:16 pm – On June 15th, Lacombe Mayor Steve Christie joined members of Council, City staff and special guests at the annual Volunteers of Distinction ceremony at the Lacombe Memorial Centre. The event honoured and thanked citizens, both past and present, who have volunteer their time on the City’s various boards, committees and commissions. Read More.

1:52 pm – Thanks to a tip from the public, the fifth wheel trailer that was stolen from a locked compound in Queens Business Park the evening of June 3rd has been recovered. Read More.

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1:46 pm – Red Deer RCMP took two men into custody the morning of June 16th after an attempted personal robbery in the Riverside Meadows neighbourhood. Read More.

1:39 pm – The Town of Blackfalds has big plans to celebrate Canada 150 on July 1st! Details Here.

10:34 am – Starting today and running all week, workers with the Town of Innisfail will begin spraying weeded areas around the community. Read More.

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10:17 am – The City of Lacombe is set to celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday in grand fashion on July 1st! Find Out More.

9:53 am – Have a young man in the house interested in playing some football this year? Red Deer Minor Football is holding an Open House at Rosedale Park from 6 – 8 pm tonight! Read More.

9:39 am – For the second day in a row, Rocky Mountain House RCMP and Clearwater Fire received a request for help on the North Saskatchewan River on Saturday, June 17th. A canoe had capsized near the big horn dam and stranded two men on logs in the river. Read More.

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9:10 am – Rocky Mountain House RCMP and Clearwater Fire received a request for help on the North Saskatchewan River on Saturday, June 17th after a canoe had capsized near the Saunders Recreation Area. The incident caused two men to be stranded on logs in the river. Read More.

8:51 am – Lots of Road Rehabilitation work throughout the City of Red Deer today. Here’s Where.

8:43 am – The Parkland Mall Mosaics of Hope fundraiser completed its seventh successful year this spring, raising a total of $22,500 for central Alberta charities. As a result, the United Way of Central Alberta, Shalom Counselling Centre, and Ronald McDonald House Charities Central Alberta have each received $7,500.

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8:28 am – Ponoka RCMP are looking for 44 year old Blair Hinkley. Hinkley is wanted in connection with an assault on a woman at a rural residence in Ponoka County June 8th. Read More.

8:14 am – It’s Kindergarten Graduation Day at École Our Lady of the Rosary School in Sylvan Lake today!

7:59 am – Students of Mattie McCullough Elementary School in Red Deer will enjoy a year end family BBQ this evening! The event will feature a guest appearance from Terry Grant from Man Tracker. He will be signing autographs and selling colouring books to help raise money for the school’s Access For All playground. The colouring books were illustrated by one of the student’s parents! The BBQ runs from 5 – 7 pm.

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Biden attempts bipartisan push for infrastructure package

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden tried to maintain bipartisan momentum for a new infrastructure program by meeting Thursday with Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the White House.

The meeting was about “what we’re gonna do to make sure we once again lead the world across the board on infrastructure,” Biden said. “It not only creates jobs, but it makes us a helluva lot more competitive around the world if we have the best infrastructure.”

Spending on infrastructure appears to be the next major priority for the Biden administration after its $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package clears the Senate, likely along hardened partisan lines. The prospect of funding roads, bridges, ports, broadband and other infrastructure is a chance for Biden to rebuild his relationship with Republicans. It also allows him notch a policy achievement that evaded both the Obama and Trump administrations.

Biden met Thursday with eight members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, a follow-up to a February 11 meeting with senators on infrastructure.

The president laid the groundwork for an infrastructure package during last year’s campaign by proposing $2 trillion in “accelerated” investments to shift to cleaner energy, build charging stations for electric vehicles, support public transit and repair roads and bridges. The plan emphasizes the importance of addressing climate change and creating unionized jobs.

There is a need for infrastructure spending. The American Society of Civil Engineers on Wednesday graded the nation’s infrastructure as a lacklustre “C-.” The group said $5.9 trillion must be spent over the next decade for safe and sustainable roads, bridges and airports. That recommendation is about $2.6 trillion more than what the government and private sector spend.

Republicans say they want to invest in infrastructure, but they appear to disagree with Biden’s focus on the environment and the possibility of financing any program with debt after the federal government has already borrowed heavily to combat the economic fallout from the pandemic. Their concern is that infrastructure would ultimately become a form of the Democratic-proposed “Green New Deal” that would move the country away from fossil fuels.

Missouri Rep. Sam Graves, the ranking Republican on the transportation committee, left the Thursday meeting with a series of markers for Biden to win bipartisan backing.

“First and foremost, a highway bill cannot grow into a multi-trillion dollar catch-all bill, or it will lose Republican support,” Graves said in a statement. “Second, a transportation bill needs to be a transportation bill that primarily focuses on fundamental transportation needs, such as roads and bridges. Republicans won’t support another Green New Deal disguising itself as a transportation bill.”

Still, the committee chairman, Oregon Democrat Pete DeFazio, described the meeting with Biden as productive and refreshing after conversations with former President Donald Trump led to minimal progress on infrastructure. DeFazio said they discussed paying for the plan, but he declined to go into specifics.

“The difference between talking to Joe Biden about infrastructure and what goes into it and how we’re going to get it done and Donald Trump is like, it’s just a whole different world,” DeFazio said. “It’s way better.”

Josh Boak And Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press


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Alberta

Alberta Opposition calling for Olymel Outbreak Inquiry

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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.

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