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Alberta accepts bid for private hip-knee surgical clinic on First Nation land


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By Dean Bennett in Edmonton

The Alberta government has approved a bid by the Enoch Cree Nation near Edmonton to build a private clinic to perform thousands of publicly covered hip and knee surgeries.

Health Minister Jason Copping says the clinic is to be built by the middle of next year to reduce a backlog of orthopedic operations in and around the capital.

The clinic will be a partnership between the Enoch Cree and Surgical Centres Inc., a private operator that runs seven clinics in Canada, including two in Calgary.

Alberta Health says the partners will be responsible for building and equipment costs, while surgeries themselves are to be covered by public funds.

Copping says there are almost 23,000 Albertans waiting for orthopedic surgeries, one-third of those for knee replacements.

Enoch Cree Chief Billy Morin says the centre will offer culturally appropriate care as well.

“When an Indigenous person from High Level comes here, they’re going to get not just the fancy building with the nice Indigenous pictures,” Morin said Wednesday.

“They’re going to get a new experience where they’re going to have a Dene person talking to them. They’re going to have traditional healing and medicine right here on the First Nation offered to them as well — and to all Albertans, quite frankly, if they want to go down that road, too.”

It’s expected the clinic will perform up to 3,000 orthopedic procedures a year, an estimated 17 per cent increase in the Edmonton region.

Copping said more than half of all Alberta orthopedic patients are on hold for surgery beyond recommended wait times.

“People are waiting far too long for hip and knee replacements. We need to do a lot more of them and this is going to help us get it done.”

Copping said the project is modelled on cataract and other eye procedures done under public care in private clinics to reduce wait lists.

The total surgical wait list is pegged at just over 70,000.

Copping said having the work done through public clinics saves money, but the Opposition NDP said it’s actually more expensive and inefficient in the long run.

“The UCP has provided no reason why new surgery facilities cannot be built in and operated in the public system,” said health critic David Shepherd.

“The UCP’s surgical initiative provides public dollars to help private companies profit, while deliberately neglecting Alberta’s public health care.

“The UCP’s mismanagement of health care and neglect of the public system has caused partial closures in more than 20 hospitals across Alberta.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2022.

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Line 5 shutdown ‘draconian,’ both sides must consider ‘imperfect’ alternatives: judge

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Washington –  A judge in Wisconsin is ordering Enbridge Inc. and an Indigenous band to confer about “imperfect” alternatives to shutting down the cross-border Line 5 pipeline.

District Court Judge William Conley calls the prospect of shutting off the line “draconian” and wants Enbridge and the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa to explore other options.

Conley also rejects outright Enbridge’s request that the band be ordered to allow the company access to its tribal lands in order to perform inspections and maintenance on the line.

He says the trial evidence has not shown that the band is violating a 1977 bilateral treaty on pipelines by rejecting the company’s proposals to fortify the line, which crosses their territory in Wisconsin.

In September, Conley denied Bad River’s motion for a summary judgment that would have shut down the pipeline, citing potential economic and foreign policy implications.

Today’s ruling calls on both sides to meet before Dec. 17 to find a solution that would mitigate the risk of a near-term spill without closing the pipeline down.

The band has yet to propose a potential solution that would not require a total shutdown, Conley writes, a prospect he describes as “draconian injunctive remedies.”

“The court must consider what alternative steps, however imperfect (particularly in the longer run), would reduce the risk of an oil spill in the near term,” the decision reads.

If possible, those steps should also preserve the operation of Line 5 “for those areas of the United States and Canada that currently depend on it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

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E3 Lithium gets $37M from feds to support oilfield lithium extraction

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CALGARY — An Alberta-based company aiming to extract lithium from the province’s old oilfields has received $37 million from the federal government.

E3 Lithium has developed a technology to extract lithium, a light metal used to make EV batteries, from oilfield brines.

E3 Lithium has already drilled test wells within Alberta’s historic Leduc oilfield region. It aims to have a field pilot project up and running next year.

Imperial Oil Ltd. has also invested in E3 Lithium and is providing technical and development support for the company.

The federal government has identified lithium as a focus of its $3.8-billion, eight-year critical minerals strategy.

The goal is to create a domestic supply chain for electric vehicles, boosting the economy while tackling greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

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The Canadian Press

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