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Alberta

Alberta Blue Cross continues to support community organizations through COVID grant program

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Based on the continued need for support, Alberta Blue Cross has extended its popular COVID Community Roots Program into 2021.

Alberta Blue Cross received 156 applications for the program in 2020 and awarded a total of $195,000 to 45 projects in 38 different communities across Alberta. The program is now being extended to the end of June. 

More than $45,600 of this was received by 11 organizations in central Alberta, including the Boys and Girls Club of Leduc, Shine Lloydminster, Samson Youth and Sport Development, Park Valley Pool, Leduc County, Devon and two projects in Edson. Some of the funded projects include the following:

  • Louis Bull Tribe—to rebuild a community rodeo project and bring together local people to create entertainment for tribe citizens.
  • Hinton Friendship Centre—to provide outdoor equipment and additional materials for a program that helps at-risk and vulnerable youth, allowing it to continue to run throughout the pandemic.
  • Thorsby Family and Community Support Services—to support in purchasing four laptops to help make virtual workshops more accessible for families.

See a complete list of funded projects at ab.bluecross.ca/aboutus/community-roots-funded-projects.php.

To support services in rural and remote communities, the COVID Community Roots Program offers grants of up to $5,000 for grassroots, community-led initiatives serving vulnerable populations during the pandemic. “These projects are helping to support the social, mental, emotional and physical well-being of people and communities across Alberta through the pandemic,” says Brian Geislinger, vice-president of Corporate Relations, Alberta Blue Cross. “We’re so glad to be able to support these initiatives.”

As part of its $500,000 commitment to supporting communities through the impact of the pandemic and low energy prices on the provincial economy, Alberta Blue Cross created the COVID Community Roots Program in mid-2020. The program is funded through its community foundation and is administered in partnerships with the Alberta Recreation and Parks Association and Communities Choosewell, who help promote the program and review applications.

The application process for the 2021 COVID Community Roots Program open March 1. Organizations eligible to apply include non-profits, charities, municipalities, First Nations communities and Metis Settlements. Unregistered organizations may apply with a partner organization. Interested organizations can find more information and apply online at ab.bluecross.ca/aboutus/community-roots.

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Alberta

Canadian champ Kerri Einarson leads the way at Grand Slam of Curling event

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CALGARY — Reigning Canadian women’s champion Kerri Einarson is off to a 3-0 start at the Grand Slam of Curling’s Humpty’s Champions Cup.

The Manitoba rink beat Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa 8-2 in the second draw on Friday.

After six draws at the event, Einarson is the lone women’s rink at 3-0.

Manitoba’s Tracy Fleury and Scotland’s Eve Muirhead lead Pool B at 2-0.

Fleury edged Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones 7-6 on Friday morning, while Muirhead beat Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni 9-3.

On the men’s side, Canadian champ Brendan Bottcher of Alberta tops Pool B at 2-0. Bruce Mouat of Scotland leads Pool A at 2-0.

The event is the first of two Grand Slams at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre, which already has hosted the Canadian men’s, women’s and mixed doubles championships as well as the men’s world championship.

The women’s world championship, with Einarson representing Canada, will close the Calgary curling bubble next month.

The Slam events feature 12 of the top men’s teams and 12 of the top women’s teams from around the world.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta's Kenney sowing distrust with misleading COVID-19 anecdotes, statements: NDP

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EDMONTON — Alberta’s Opposition says Premier Jason Kenney is sowing distrust by recounting misleading anecdotes to illustrate COVID-19 policy decisions.

“I think this is about trust. I think this is about telling the truth,” NDP critic Sarah Hoffman said Friday.

“I think we’ve seen many examples where the premier tries to bolster his own narrative.

“This is a trend of being dishonest, and I think it really does call into question what trust and confidence we can have in the things the premier says and does.”

Hoffman’s comments came a day after Kenney’s office confirmed the United Conservative premier “misspoke” when he used an anecdote about a super-spreader birthday party in Athabasca as a key driver of recent soaring COVID-19 rates in the town north of Edmonton.

Kenney used the party as an example of how super-spreaders are not necessarily driven by in-school transmission but by social gatherings.

“Apparently the virus had a 100 per cent attack rate at that birthday party. All of the kids who came to that birthday party got sick,” Kenney said Monday. He repeated the same information at a news conference again Tuesday.

An official with Alberta Health later said there was no data to suggest there had been an outbreak from a children’s party in the community.

Athabasca Mayor Colleen Powell said the publicity the community of 13,000 people has received since the premier’s comments is not the kind it wants.

“Why are you saying these things when you don’t know?” Powell asked in an interview.

“I had a couple of people get in touch with me (asking) who held the party. News spreads like wildfire.”

Just over 100 people, including students and a dozen staff, from three different schools in Athabasca tested positive for COVID-19 and its variants.

Kenney’s spokesperson, Jerrica Goodwin, responded Friday in a short statement.

“The premier was using the very real example to illustrate a point of the serious nature of COVID-19 and ease of transmission. As we’ve acknowledged, he misspoke on the specific location,” said Goodwin.

“All the NDP’s ridiculous criticism shows is that they can only attack and criticize.”

Kenney has used anecdotes before to illustrate the rationale for COVID-19 policy decisions taken by his government.

In late November, he cited an impromptu encounter with a food court kiosk owner — a refugee from Venezuela — as an example of the devastating impacts that COVID-19 health restrictions can have on businesses.

“She came up to me, and she broke down in tears in front of me saying, ‘Sir, I put my entire life savings as a refugee into this business. We’re struggling to pay the bills. If you shut me down, I’m going to lose it all, everything, and I’ll be in abject poverty,’” Kenney recounted at the time.

When reached later by a reporter, the owner, Carolina De La Torre, said Kenney accurately recounted her core concerns of balancing health and the economy. But she dismissed the colourful drama, saying she did not cry and did not approach him, rather it was Kenney who approached her.

Earlier this week, the premier came under criticism for challenging a radio host for saying Kenney once downplayed COVID-19 as the flu, telling the host he had never done so.

Hansard, the official record of house debate, recorded Kenney calling the virus “influenza” multiple times during debate on May 27, 2020.

In late February, just before Kenney’s government released its first COVID-era budget, he announced that due to oil and gas revenues the revised forecast deficit for the 2020 fiscal year would be about $14 billion — a third lower than expected.

Treasury officials refused reporter requests to confirm the accuracy of that figure and, two days later, the budget revealed the 2020 deficit forecast was $20 billion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2021.

— With files from Fakiha Baig in Edmonton

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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