2:30 pm – Yesterday, RCMP issued a media release in which three accused’s were identified as being charged with 88 offences. Since that release, Ponoka RCMP have learned that Miles Appenrodt was not involved in the offences whatsoever and is in fact, a victim of identity theft. When arrested, the male – whose name cannot yet be released – produced an Alberta drivers license to police in the name of Miles Appenrodt and held himself out to be that person for the duration of his time in custody. The RCMP deeply regrets this error and apologizes to Mr. Appenrodt for the difficulties this has caused. We are doing all we can to remove any re-posts of the original publication from social media and we are issuing this media release to ensure that its message gets to all forms of media that posted our original statement. The RCMP has now correctly identified the male responsible and a warrant is being sought. The charges will now include personation and possession of identity document, in addition to the original offences.
12:20 pm – After Alberta’s Education school projects announcement this morning, St. Patrick’s Community School is one of seven schools on the list to undergo a modernization. “We are truly grateful for the tireless lobbying from our Senior Administrators and Board Members to the government over the past five years. The announcement of this modernization is wonderful news for all of our students, families and staff. We are excited about the collaborative spaces this will provide our students and teachers, which will enhance their learning environments. We feel very blessed to have been chosen as one of the seven schools in the province to receive this news,” said Principal, Terri Lynn Mundorf at St. Patrick’s Community School. “We are very excited about this announcement. St. Patrick’s Community School has been our number one capital priority for many years as it’s currently at 730 students or 130% capacity. It needs more effective learning spaces for students,” said Board Chair Guy Pelletier at Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools. A specific dollar amount for the modernization is not yet known but Pelletier estimates it could be in the $8-10 million range. He hopes to see the modernization complete within two years.
11:45 am – A retirement has lead to the naming of a new Associate Superintendent for the Red Deer Public School District. Read More.
10:18 am – More Red Deerians can now keep chickens in their yard. Read More.
8:56 am – St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School will host an Exhibition of Learning for parents and the community on March 21 from 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. at the Red Deer College Library. Grade 9 students at St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School have teamed up with the Biology Department and Library at Red Deer College for a Biology/Biodiversity project-based learning experience. Students will demonstrate their knowledge of biological interactions by presenting posters and showcasing puzzle pieces created through project-based-learning. People will have an opportunity to ask students about their projects, their learning experience, and project-based learning in general. Research shows that students feel a greater sense of ownership of their work when they know it will have an audience beyond their teachers.
8:50 am – What do a non-profit greenhouse in Manitoba, a community fruit orchard in Saskatchewan, a farmer’s potluck mixer in Alberta, and an historical farming exhibit in British Columbia have in common? They are examples of community projects funded by the Peavey Mart Community Agricultural Grant. Since 2013, non-profit groups have received more than $180,000 from the grant, which funds ideas that promise to strengthen towns or cities through community agriculture. This year, a $50,000 grant is up for grabs. “We want people to build on their great ideas by getting community support and feedback, and putting those ideas into plans,” say Jest Sidloski, director of customer experience for Peavey Industries. “A good idea for a community initiative won’t succeed unless it has a good plan.” Sidloski says the grant typically does not fund buildings or renovations. “The focus is on operating community agriculture.” The application form is available on the Peavey Mart website, and applications are accepted until May 31.
8:25 am – Father Henri Voisin School will host an Exhibition of Learning for parents and the community on March 22 from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. The Exhibition of Learning will showcase students’ project-based learning and hard work over the past year. Grade 1-5 students will share their new discoveries through cross-curricular projects by demonstrating their authentic learning experiences at this event based on curriculum and 21st Century competencies. “This event is a testimonial to the authentic and engaging learning experiences that our students experience through Catholic education,” says Rob Coumont, Assistant Principal. “During this evening, students have the opportunity to share with guests the process and journey of their learning through the different projects they created.” All are invited to walk around and engage students in conversation about their innovative projects.
Companies could face hurdles covering abortion travel costs
By Barbara Ortutay And Dee-ann Durbin
After the U.S. Supreme Court revoked the federal right to an abortion that’s been in place for half a century, companies like Amazon, Disney, Apple and JP Morgan pledged to cover travel costs for employees who live in states where the procedure is now illegal so they can terminate pregnancies.
But the companies gave scant or no details on how they will do this and it’s not clear if they will be able to — legally — while protecting employees’ privacy and keeping them safe from prosecution.
“Most employers were not prepared for Roe to be overturned, and even those that were didn’t realize the law would literally be changed the next minute,” said Brian Kropp, a vice president at the consulting firm Gartner. “They’re trying to play catch-up.”
Kropp said many companies announced plans to offer travel benefits without the infrastructure in place to make them work. Some, he added, are creating supplementary policies that employees can buy to cover abortion travel, while others are contacting insurers to see if travel can be added to their current plans. Others are trying to figure out how to offer a benefit without breaching employees’ privacy.
“Are employees going to have to tell their manager they are going to have to travel from Texas to California to have an abortion?” Kropp said.
The answer is no — but they would likely have to tell human resources or a similar department that they are pregnant and want to get an abortion, said Sharona Hoffman, a health law professor at Case Western Reserve University. The company or its health insurer would then provide money upfront or a reimbursement after the fact.
Hoffman called the travel cost pledges a “generous benefit” from companies, and said she would not be surprised “if this becomes a practice that more companies undertake — just without trumpeting it,” for fear of the backlash that can come with public statements on a divisive issue such as abortion.
“It’s not necessarily altruistic,” she said. “It also makes some sense for companies to not have a bunch of employees that are highly distressed because they have unwanted pregnancies and have to carry the child to term.”
For now, most big companies offering an abortion travel benefit will likely add it to existing health care plans, said Jonathan Zimmerman, a partner with the law firm Morgan Lewis who helps companies develop and maintain their benefits.
Big companies are generally self-insured, which means they pay for all claims and have more flexibility to decide what the plans will cover. A third party then processes the claims on their behalf.
That’s the case at outdoor clothing company Patagonia, which updated its health coverage last fall to add travel costs for employees after Texas’s law banning most abortions went into effect. Patagonia said abortion and travel costs are administered in the same manner as other medical services, ensuring confidentiality for employees.
Restaurant review company Yelp said its abortion travel benefit is also administered by its health insurance provider. Yelp has told its employees that if they do use the travel benefit, Yelp will not have access to the details of the service.
Microsoft, meanwhile, noted that it already covers abortion, as well as gender-affirming care, for its employees and has now extended the coverage to include travel expenses for “these and other lawful medical services” if they are not available in an employee’s home state.
Smaller companies may have fewer options. They typically buy health insurance for their employees from insurers that are subject to state regulations. Those companies have less flexibility to design benefits, and they may operate in states that ban abortion.
Dr. Ami Parekh, chief health officer at Included Health, which offers health care navigation services and virtual care for employers, said it is “quite a scramble” right now for large employers to navigate this fast-moving landscape.
“They’re moving as fast as they can,” Parekh said. “And I bet you they’re going to be nimble and change as needed as things come up.”
For instance, some companies are offering to pay for a partner to travel with the person getting the abortion.
With the legal landscape shifting quickly, even adding travel benefits to a current medical plan carries some risk. In May, 14 state lawmakers in Texas sent a letter to Lyft warning the company to rescind its abortion travel benefit, saying they plan to introduce legislation that would ban companies from doing business in Texas if they pay for abortions or reimburse abortion-related expenses.
That said, no such legislation has been enacted as of now in Texas or anywhere else. It is also not against the law to travel to states where abortion is legal, Hoffman noted. There are efforts afoot, however, to change that.
And while the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, protects sensitive patient information, it can be overruled in cases where a crime has been committed. That’s the case now in states where abortion has become a crime.
“It’s challenging for employers to navigate what is a rapidly evolving legal landscape,” said Sharon Masling, the head of Morgan Lewis’s reproductive rights task force. “There’s going to be a lot of litigation over the next few years.”
Beyond the legal questions, abortion travel benefits also present some thorny workplace issues, Kropp said. Employees who don’t support abortion may be angry that their company is paying for other employees’ travel, for example. Even those who do support abortion may question why the company isn’t paying them to travel for fertility treatments or transgender health care, he said.
This is why it’s likely, experts say that some companies are offering travel benefits but aren’t making public announcements about it.
“My sense is most employers are trying to very quickly figure out what’s best for their employees and dependents,” Parekh said. “And not all employers want to spend the energy to be very public about that at this moment in time.”
Associated Press staff writers Haleluya Hadero and Anne D’Innocenzio in New York and Matt O’Brien in Providence, Rhode Island contributed to this story.
Canada signs $20B compensation agreement on First Nations child welfare
OTTAWA — The federal government says it has signed a $20-billion final settlement agreement to compensate First Nations children and families harmed by chronic underfunding of child welfare.
The Assembly of First Nations and plaintiffs in two class-action lawsuits agreed to the deal, which also accounts for the government’s narrow definition of Jordan’s Principle.
Indigenous Services Canada says the settlement is the largest in Canadian history.
The $20 billion accounts for half of an overall $40-billion deal that aims to reform the child-welfare system, including five-year funding for the First Nations Child and Family Services program.
The deal must still be approved by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and Federal Court.
The court had dismissed Canada’s application to review two human-rights tribunal orders around child welfare and Jordan’s Principle, which is meant to eliminate jurisdictional squabbles in paying for services for First Nations kids.
AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse says in a statement she is proud of this “historic milestone” for First Nations children and their families.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 4, 2022.
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