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COVID-19

Learning loss piles up alongside snow while ‘e-learning’ collects dust

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4 minute read

From the Fraser Institute

By Alex Whalen and Paige MacPherson

During COVID school closures, students in the province missed at least 125 days of school between March 2020 and February 2022, more than any other province (except Ontario), generating a significant learning loss from which students have not caught up.

In a world increasingly connected by technology, and given the Nova Scotia government recently spent tens of millions of dollars enabling at-home learning, one might think that students would seamlessly shift to online learning during the recent snowstorms to avoid losing crucial instructional time. Unfortunately, that’s not happening.

During COVID school closures, the Nova Scotia and federal governments spent at least $31.5 million dollars on “virtual school” and other technological upgrades so students could, according to the provincial government, “succeed, even in an at-home learning environment.”

Unfortunately, the electronic learning infrastructure—which includes Chromebooks, laptops and iPads for students and teachers, and additional support and new teachers for Nova Scotia Virtual School—is collecting dust in a corner while Nova Scotia kids are falling further behind.

This isn’t some blip in an otherwise strong record of instructional time for Nova Scotia students. During COVID school closures, students in the province missed at least 125 days of school between March 2020 and February 2022, more than any other province (except Ontario), generating a significant learning loss from which students have not caught up.

Indeed, according to the latest results (2022) from the Programme for International Assessment (PISA), the gold standard of testing worldwide, Nova Scotia 15-year-olds trail the Canadian average in reading by 18 points and trail the Canadian average in math by 27 points. For context, PISA characterizes a 20-point drop as one year of lost learning.

Moreover, between 2003 and 2022, Nova Scotia student performance in reading dropped by 24 points—more than one year of learning loss—and dropped by 45 points in math. In other words, in math, 15-year-old Nova Scotia students today are more than two years behind where Nova Scotia 15-year-olds were in 2003.

These troubling trends underscore the need to put the existing e-learning infrastructure to work. During a recent two-week period, students in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education school district missed seven days of school due to snow. And some students missed an additional five days due to weather and power outages. That’s nearly three weeks. While more instructional time is not a silver bullet for student success—and with power outages, e-learning is not a perfect solution—it could still make a big difference.

According to international research, missed classroom time causes learning loss and impacts children for life, reducing their life-long earnings. Nova Scotia education researcher Paul Bennett found that lost classroom time due to inclement weather compounds absenteeism and sets back student achievement and social progress.

The Houston government should ensure that Nova Scotian students have access to teacher-directed e-learning when schools are closed and, like other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States, abandon the practise of simply cancelling school due to inclement weather. It’s simply common sense. The snow may pile up, but there’s no good reason why learning loss must pile up with it. Parents are right to demand access to the e-learning they’ve already paid for through their tax dollars.

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Alberta

Red Deer Doctor critical of Alberta’s COVID response to submit report to Danielle Smith this May

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

Leading the task force is Dr. Gary Davidson, who was skeptical of mandates at the time.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith will soon be receiving a little-known report she commissioned which tasked an Alberta doctor who was critical of the previous administration’s handling of COVID to look into how accurate the province’s COVID data collection was, as well as the previous administration’s decision-making process and effectiveness. 

As noted in a recent Globe and Mail report, records it obtained show that just less than one month after becoming Premier of Alberta in November of 2022, Smith tasked then-health minister Jason Copping to create the COVID data task force. 

Documents show that the Alberta government under Smith gave the new task force, led by Dr. Gary Davidson – who used to work as an emergency doctor in Red Deer, Alberta – a sweeping mandate to look at whether the “right data” was obtained during COVID as well as to assess the “integrity, validity, reliability and quality of the data/information used to inform pandemic decisions” by members of Alberta Health Services (AHS).  

As reported by LifeSiteNews in 2021, Davidson said during the height of COVID that the hospital capacity crisis in his province was “created,” was not a new phenomenon, and had nothing to do with COVID.

“We have a crisis, and we have a crisis because we have no staff, because our staff quit, because they’re burned out, they’re not burnt out from COVID,” Davidson said at the time. 

Davidson also claimed that the previous United Conservative Party government under former Premier Jason Kenney had been manipulating COVID statistics.  

In comments sent to the media, Smith said that in her view it was a good idea to have a “contrarian perspective” with Davidson looking at “everything that happened with some fresh eyes.” 

“I needed somebody who was going to look at everything that happened with some fresh eyes and maybe with a little bit of a contrarian perspective because we’ve only ever been given one perspective,” she told reporters Tuesday. 

“I left it to [Davidson] to assemble the panel with the guidance that I would like to have a broad range of perspectives.” 

After assuming her role as premier, Smith promptly fired the province’s top doctor, Deena Hinshaw, and the entire AHS board of directors, all of whom oversaw the implementation of COVID mandates. 

Under Kenney, thousands of nurses, doctors, and other healthcare and government workers lost their jobs for choosing to not get the jabs, leading Smith to say – only minutes after being sworn in – that over the past year the “unvaccinated” were the “most discriminated against” group of people in her lifetime. 

As for AHS, it still is promoting the COVID shots, for babies as young as six months old, as recently reported by LifeSiteNews.  

Task force made up of doctors both for and against COVID mandates  

In addition to COVID skeptic Dr. Gary Davidson, the rather secretive COVID task force includes other health professionals who were critical of COVID mandates and health restrictions, including vaccine mandates.  

The task force was given about $2 million to conduct its review, according to The Globe and Mail, and is completely separate from another task force headed by former Canadian MP Preston Manning, who led the Reform Party for years before it merged with another party to form the modern-day Conservative Party of Canada. 

Manning’s task force, known as the Public Health Emergencies Governance Review Panel (PHEGRP), released its findings last year. It recommend that many pro-freedom policies be implemented, such as strengthening personal medical freedoms via legislation so that one does not lose their job for refusing a vaccine, as well as concluding that Albertans’ rights were indeed infringed upon. 

The Smith government task force is run through the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) which is a provincial agency involved in healthcare research.  

Last March, Davidson was given a project description and terms of reference and was told to have a final report delivered to Alberta’s Health Minister by December of 2023. 

As of now, the task force’s final report won’t be available until May, as per Andrea Smith, press secretary to Health Minister Adriana LaGrange, who noted that the goal of the task force is to look at Alberta’s COVID response compared to other provinces.  

According to the Globe and Mail report, another person working on the task force is anesthetist Blaine Achen, who was part of a group of doctors that legally challenged AHS’s now-rescinded mandatory COVID jab policy for workers. 

Some doctors on the task force, whom the Globe and Mail noted held “more conventional views regarding the pandemic,” left it only after a few meetings. 

In a seeming attempt to prevent another draconian crackdown on civil liberties, the UCP government under Smith has already taken concrete action.

The Smith government late last year passed a new law, Bill 6, or the Public Health Amendment Act, that holds politicians accountable in times of a health crisis by putting sole decision-making on them for health matters instead of unelected medical officers. 

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COVID-19

Inquiry shows Canadian gov’t agencies have spent $10 million on social media ads for COVID jabs

Published on

From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

One campaign cost $1.5 million alone to encourage children to receive the COVID-19 shots.

A recent Inquiry of Ministry request revealed that Canada’s Public Health Agency (PHAC) along with Health Canada have combined to spend approximately $9.9 million on social media advertising to promote the experimental COVID injections since 2020.

The Inquiry of Ministry information showing the large advertising spending on the COVID shots became known as the result of a request from Conservative Party of Canada MP Ted Falk, who demanded answers about what was being spent by officials to promote the shots.

The information published on April 8 shows that PHAC and Health Canada spent approximately $4.6 million on production costs of ads, with $5.3 million on actual advertising of the COVID shots on social media platforms Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest from 2020 to 2024.

One mass COVID vaccination advertising campaign titled the “Ripple Effect” cost about $1.8 million alone. PHAC claimed the campaign served to “remind Canadians about the collective vaccination effort required to see a reduction in restrictions and public health measures.”

Other campaigns ranged in spending from $75,000 to $564,000 to promote the shots to young adults.

PHAC also spent $1.5 million on a campaign to promote the COVID shots to parents with kids to try and encourage them to get their kids injected.

It should be noted that PHAC, as per a 2021-22 Departmental Results Report, had tried “diligently to counter false statements and misinformation” to prop up the COVID shots. In 2023, PHAC was looking to hire social media influencers to promote the jab to Canadians who were opposed to taking the shots.

Health Canada previously was found to have spent some $132,000 on social media influencers to promote the COVID shots.

As reported by LifeSiteNews recently, the Trudeau government is still under contract to purchase multiple shipments of COVID shots while at the same time throwing away $1.5 billion worth of expired shots.

Canadians’ decision to refuse the shots also comes as a Statistic Canada report revealed that deaths from COVID-19 and “unspecified causes” rose after the release of the so-called “safe and effective” jabs.

LifeSiteNews has published an extensive amount of research on the dangers of receiving the experimental COVID mRNA jabs, which include heart damage and blood clots.

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