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Alberta

Operation ICE Tundra addresses child exploitation offences in Grande Prairie

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News release from the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team

Five child sexual exploitation suspects are facing charges as part of Operation ICE Tundra.  ALERT Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit made the arrests in response to an increase in child sexual exploitation offences in Grande Prairie.

ICE executed a total of seven search warrants on seven homes with assistance from Grande Prairie RCMP between November 27-30, 2023. While the investigations were independent of one another, they shared the common thread of individuals uploading and accessing child sexual abuse material over the internet.

Operation ICE Tundra was initiated in October after investigators noticed an increase in case referrals originating from Grande Prairie. ICE receives case referrals from the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Crime Center.

“An operation of this scale isn’t possible every day, but it’s important our unit creates a presence in smaller communities, showing that we will not tolerate this abuse against children. When these types of files are shared online, it’s the children who are the victims and are revictimized each time that file is shared,” said Sgt. Kerry Shima, ALERT ICE.

During the investigation, ICE relied on its Mobile Evidence Recovery Technology Lab (MERTL) to allow forensic technicians to rapidly conduct a preliminary analysis of electronic devices and computers seized from the homes.

“Our intention is always to support and protect the community and we recognize that throughout Alberta our job is to protect not only the community, but the children and vulnerable youth in the community. Grande Prairie should be assured that we’re up there working with them,” Shima added.

Full forensic analysis is ongoing, which may lead to additional arrests, charges, or the identification of potential victims.

To date, the following individuals have been charged with access, possession and transmitting child pornography in Operation ICE Tundra:

  • Christopher Nanemahoo, 34-years old;
  • Patrick L’Hirondelle, 29-years old;
  • Stuart Kuechle, 36-years old;
  • Naitram Ramnarane, 56-years old; and
  • Dwayne Dyer, 46-years old.

Dyer is also being charged with firearms-related offences as three firearms inside his home were being unsafely stored.

ICE does not believe the suspects are known to one another, and the investigations do not appear to be connected.

ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.

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Alberta

Taxpayers Federation hoping for personal tax relief in Alberta budget

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From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Albertans need income tax relief now

Author: Kris Sims 

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on the Alberta government to stick to its promise of cutting its income tax in tomorrow’s provincial budget.

“Cutting the provincial income tax was a huge campaign promise from the UCP and it needs to happen right away,” said Kris Sims, CTF Alberta Director. “Finance Minister Nate Horner should announce this income tax cut in the budget tomorrow.”

The provincial budget will be presented Feb. 29.

During the 2023, election the UCP promised to create a lower income tax bracket for the first $59,000 of earnings, charging eight per cent instead of the current 10 per cent.

The UCP said that move would save Albertans earning $60,000 or more about $760 per year.

The Alberta government currently charges workers who make under $142,292 per year a 10 per cent income tax rate.

By comparison, British Columbia charges an income tax of five per cent on the first $45,654 of earnings and seven per cent up to $91,310.

In B.C., a worker earning $100,000 pays about $5,857 in provincial income tax.

In Alberta that same worker pays about $7,424 in provincial income tax.

“Taxpayers need to see a balanced budget, spending restraint and our promised lower income taxes in this budget,” said Sims.

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Alberta

Province advancing plans to build stand-alone Stollery Children’s Hospital

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Investing in a new Stollery Children’s Hospital

If passed, Budget 2024 will allocate $20 million over three years to advance plans for a stand-alone Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.

With 236 beds, the Stollery Children’s Hospital is the second-largest children’s hospital in Canada and has among the highest inpatient volumes of any children’s hospital in Canada. As the province’s population continues to grow, it is crucial that children in Edmonton and northern Alberta have access to the specialized care they need.

Alberta’s government is steadfast in its commitment to build a stand-alone Stollery Children’s Hospital. A new facility would provide more beds, larger clinical spaces, more private rooms and dedicated areas for children and their families. It would also result in additional teaching spaces and state-of-the-art technologies to enhance health care delivery specifically for children.

“A new, stand-alone children’s hospital will build capacity and enable health care providers to continue delivering world-class care to children. This investment, as well as other capital investments outlined in Budget 2024, is an example of how we are creating a more unified and efficient health care system for Albertans. I look forward to sharing more details soon.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health

“The new Stollery Children’s Hospital project is the latest addition to Edmonton’s health care infrastructure. Building upon the successes of recent projects like the new emergency department at the Misericordia Community Hospital and Norwood West at the Gene Zwozdesky Centre, the new Stollery will help increase health care capacity in the capital region.”

Pete Guthrie, Minister of Infrastructure

Alberta’s government initially invested in the project in 2021, providing $1 million that was matched by the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. The proposed investment in Budget 2024 will include $17 million in new funding, following the $3 million invested through last year’s budget, for a total investment of $21 million in government funding over four years.

The investment in a new stand-alone Stollery Children’s Hospital is not only important for families in the city of Edmonton and capital region, it is important for families living across northern Alberta. The Stollery Children’s Hospital serves families in a geographical area of more than 500,000 square kilometres, stretching from Red Deer to Alberta’s northernmost border with the Northwest Territories. Almost 40 per cent of inpatients at the Stollery come from outside the Edmonton area and the hospital is the closest and primary children’s hospital for residents of the Northwest Territories.

“The Stollery has an incredible reputation for the impact it makes in the community, and especially in northern Alberta. This stand-alone Stollery Children’s Hospital is a long-awaited, necessary project that will help provide additional health care services to children and their families when they need it the most.”

Martin Long, parliamentary secretary for rural health

“This remarkable investment will take us one step closer to our goal of building a reimagined Stollery Children’s Hospital for the future. A new Stollery is poised to provide the most innovative, modern and family-centred physical and mental health care to help bring hope and comfort to kids dealing with serious illness and injury. Thank you to the Government of Alberta for recognizing the very real need for this hospital.”

Karen Faulkner, interim chief executive officer, Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation

“A new Stollery Children’s Hospital is urgently needed to provide dedicated care for our children. By separating kids from adults, a stand-alone Stollery ensures a nurturing environment and the most modern pediatric equipment and resources to offer families like ours a health care space designed exclusively for our children.”

Shelley Cormier, parent of Stollery patient

Plans for the new hospital include integrating mental health resources, virtual care, research and training facilities to better support patients and improve health outcomes. There will also be a focus on ensuring health care providers, parents and caregivers have the resources they need to support patients.

Alberta’s government remains dedicated to expanding and modernizing hospitals and facilities to provide Albertans with high-quality health care while increasing system capacity and supporting front-line health care workers.

“Alberta’s government is committed to building a stand-alone Stollery Children’s Hospital when planning is complete. A new facility would provide more beds, larger clinical spaces, more private rooms and dedicated areas for children and their families. There would also be more teaching spaces and state-of-the-art technologies to enhance health care delivery.”

Dr. Lyle Oberg, executive board chair, Alberta Health Services

Quick facts

  • Established in 2001, the Stollery Children’s Hospital is a full-service pediatric hospital and centre for complex pediatric care and research.
  • The Stollery Children’s Hospital sees about 300,000 children, 55,000 emergency room visits and 12,000 surgeries annually.

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