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Alberta

Last week our nation ran into a spree of high-profile miracles

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To become a true sports fan, everyone must understand the day-to-day definition of miracle.

League championships count, of course. So do record-setting performances and, rarely, the sort of team or individual success that stamps itself on the viewer’s memory for many years.

Last week, in this humble view, our nation ran into a spree of high-profile miracles:

* Felix Auger-Alliasime, Denis Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil became the first Canadians to reach the fourth round of the U.S. Open, among the world’s most iconic tennis tournaments;

* Little-known goaltender Thatcher Demko, a San Diego product who was virtually unknown in the NHL, constructed an amazing goaltending streak that carried the underdog Vancouver Canucks all the way to a seventh game in a Stanley Cup playoff quarter-final;

* Our best-ever basketball player, Steve Nash, accepted a contract to coach the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association.”I knew I wanted to pursue coaching if and when the right chance came.”

* Occasional starter Ogi Anunoby combined with team leader Kyle Lowry on a buzzer-beating, three-point shocker with a half-second remaining — repeat, a HALF-SECOND remaining — to keep the Toronto Raptors alive in their bid to repeat as NBA champions.

Probably the worst thing about sports miracles is that they sometimes fade at painful speed.

Apart from Shapovalov’s victory over Belgian vet David Goffin and the fact that Nash signed a long-term coaching arrangement, that’s exactly what happened this time.

After spotting Goffin the first set in a tie-breaker, the 22-year-old lefty took total control of the next three sets. Pospisil and Auger-Aliassime — known to most of his fans simply as “Double-A” — each played well but lost in the first set. There was little excitement for Canadian fans as they failed to win another set, and probably didn’t reach another break point.

Arguably, the most exciting moments, win or lose, were split between Anunoby and Demko. They also shared immense “cool” when discussing their feats.

Demko, a San Diego product who spent three years in goal at Boston College, made several references to teammates who sacrificed their bodies numerous times in the three games he played at Edmonton’s Rogers Place — two of them victories — against a bigger, stronger, faster Las Vegas team.

Anunoby was even more succinct: “I took the shot because I thought it would go in,” the budding star said without a smile. “I don’t take a shot and expect to miss it.” Later, experts compared his moment of brilliance with Kawhi Leonard’s unforgettable four-bounce shot to defeat Philadelphia on the way to last year’s title.

The future is bright for all of the young players — AA is the baby, just turned 20 years old — and for the 46-year-old Nash, as well as for Demko’s Vancouver Canucks allies, a collection of solid journeymen and fast-improving youngsters.

But things don’t look so good for the Raptors. After Anunobi’s stunner in that 104-103 victory over Boston, they posted a second win and squared the series. Unfortunately, miracles do not always carry long guarantees: the Raptors were humiliated in the fifth game of the series and could be on the sidelines for good by Thursday morning.

If another miracle arrives in Orlando tonight (Wednesday), Nick Nurse and his players are sure to make it welcome.

Edmonton’s connection to the defection of Baltimore Orioles’ superstar Jose Iglesias

Alberta

British Columbia won't take COVID-19 patients from Alberta: Dix

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VICTORIA — British Columbia’s health minister says the province won’t be taking COVID-19 patients from Alberta due to current demands on its own health-care system.

Adrian Dix says the B.C. Health Ministry told its Alberta counterpart Thursday that the province will help in other ways if it can and may be able to take patients in the future.

Alberta is facing a COVID-19 crisis that is threatening to collapse its health system, with 269 patients in an intensive care system set up for 173.

British Columbia reported 706 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday along with four new deaths linked to the illness, bringing the death toll to 1,877.

The ministry says in a statement there were 5,844 active infections across the province with 291 people in hospital, including 134 in intensive care.

It says close to 79 per cent of eligible B.C. residents aged 12 and up have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 86.3 per cent have received at least one shot.

“We are in a global pandemic, and our thoughts are with Albertans as they respond to COVID-19 in their province,” Dix says in a statement.

“We salute Alberta’s health-care workers, and all health-care workers who are working tirelessly to care for patients and protect people and communities in the face of great challenge.”

About 30 per cent of active cases in B.C. are located in the Fraser Health region, followed by nearly 26 per cent in Interior Health, 18 per cent in Vancouver Coastal Health, close to 15 per cent in the north and 11 per cent in Island Health.

There were 23 active outbreaks in health-care settings, including three hospitals.

The Health Ministry says people who have not received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine made up 81.5 per cent of hospitalizations due to the illness in the first two weeks of September, while partially vaccinated people represented 4.9 per cent.

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

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta business groups want more clarity around new COVID-19 restrictions

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Alberta businessgroups say a new program the province has launched to fight COVID-19 has been short on details while giving business owners little notice to make dramatic changes to their operations.

The Calgary Chamber of Commerce and Canadian Federation of Independent Business said Thursday that their members have uncovered plenty of confusion as they scramble to make sense of the restriction exemption program Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced Wednesday.

“Yesterday’s announcement prompted more questions than answers for our business community,” said Deborah Yedlin, the chamber’s president and chief executive, in a statement.

“Answers and clarity are needed urgently.”

The program Yedlin was referring to is meant to force people in Alberta to show proof of vaccination to enter non-essential businesses, including select stores, restaurants, nightclubs, casinos, concerts and libraries as of Sept. 20.

Businesses can opt out of the program but must operate at reduced capacity and with distancing rules or restrictions including no more than six people at a table in a restaurant.

Just after the program was announced, Annie Dormuth, the CFIB’s provincial affairs director for Alberta, was already hearing from owners confused about if they will have to apply to use the program or to opt out of it.

Others were concerned the government didn’t offer guidance or training to staff around how to check if vaccination proof is fraudulent or deal with unruly patrons who disagree with the measures. 

Some even lamented a lack of time to reorient their businesses and retrain staff for the new policies because the program has more exemptions than initiatives in other provinces and was announced roughly four days before it will go into effect.

“In the province of B.C., they were given a week and they were given support in the form of posters and guidance documents and here, we are three-and-a-half days away from this now and there’s not a whole lot of guidance being provided to business owners right now,” said Dormuth.

The lack of details is the latest challenge for small business owners who have spent much of the pandemic dealing with lower sales and fewer patrons.

CFIB estimates that small businesses in Canada now have debt totalling $139 billion due to COVID-19, a slight increase from the estimated $135 billion in February of this year. 

Three quarters of small businesses that took on debt believe it will take more than a year to repay. In the hospitality sector alone, 87 per cent believe it will take longer than two years to deal with their debts.

As business owners have struggled to deal with those debts, a wave of new COVID-19 cases has overwhelmed hospitals.

Seeing droves of unvaccinated patients, health-care workers intensified their calls for more stringent safety measures amid polls showing support for vaccination passports, but Kenney refused to heed their advice until this week.

“Jason Kenney has demonstrated himself to be a skilled contortionist, bending himself virtually into a pretzel in order to appease a small fringe but vocal group of individuals who are opposed to vaccination,” University of Alberta assistant professor of infectious diseases, Dr. Ilan Schwartz, said at a Wednesday press conference held by Protect Our Province.

The organization comprised of health-care workers has long urged the government to take the pandemic and the fourth wave more seriously by retaining basic measures like isolation for people who test positive for COVID-19.

Despite Kenney finally edging toward more measures, the group remains disappointed with his new program and its lack of clarity, and fears it will do little to quell the virus.

Dr. Schwatz said, “We’re left with a hodgepodge of measures that are confusing, and consequently, they’re likely ineffectual.”

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

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press

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