Sunday, April 19, 2020, marks the beginning of National Volunteer Week in Canada. For many organizations, the contribution of time is as essential as the donation of funds in order to be successful and effectively meet the needs of their clients. NVW is an annual celebration led by Volunteer Canada dedicated to recognizing the many hours of selfless work done by our country’s millions of volunteer workers every year.
Volunteerism represents an enormous industry across Canada as individuals donate their time and efforts to countless art, sport and social programs, animal and environmental organizations, and more. The 2018 Conference Board of Canada Report on the Value of Volunteering in Canada estimated that volunteer work collectively totaled over 2 billion hours in 2017, an economic contribution valued at approximately $55.9 billion.
“The 2020 NVW theme, “Cheers to Volunteers”, is more fitting than anyone could have imagined”, says Karen Link, Executive Director of Volunteer Alberta. As Canada continues to weather the effects of COVID-19, “People in cities across Canada are out on their balconies at 7 p.m. to cheer for frontline workers,” she says, “this fits right in with that.”
Established in 1990, Volunteer Alberta is an industry leader in provincial and national volunteerism. Acting as a resource and knowledge hub, VA provides resources, information, and screening and training programs for the 26 active volunteer centers across Alberta. Based in Edmonton, Volunteer Alberta is committed to strengthening the nonprofit sector, building resilient communities, and actively supporting a “strong, engaged and connected society serving the common good in Alberta”.
“Volunteering gives people a sense of purpose,” says Link, “they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, they want to give back.” Volunteer Alberta’s original plans for NVW 2020, which included providing a number of subsidies to organizations across Alberta to fund the recognition and celebration of their volunteers, have been derailed as a result of COVID-19. In response, these funds have been redirected towards the incentivization, coordination and recognition of volunteerism across Alberta during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Alternative volunteer opportunities such as remote or virtual options are being highly encouraged during this time. Options include the donation of writing or graphic design skills to aid nonprofit marketing campaigns, knitting or sewing masks for frontline workers, and having virtual conversations with seniors currently in isolation.
As Alberta continues to make its way through the pandemic, volunteer work will become increasingly essential, according to Link. “Volunteerism helps build resilient communities,” she says, “Volunteers are and will continue to be extremely important as Alberta begins to stabilize and recover from COVID-19.”
Thank you, volunteers!
For more information on alternative volunteer opportunities and how to support volunteer workers during National Volunteer Week, visit https://volunteeralberta.ab.ca/?s=remote+volunteering or
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‘Boiling point’: Alberta doctors warn of health system collapse as COVID cases climb
CALGARY — Alberta’s health-care system is on the verge of collapse, warns a group of physicians who are pleading with the government to strengthen public health measures to fend off a relentless fourth wave of COVID-19.
Dr. Shazma Mithani, an emergency room physician in Edmonton, said a staffing crisis, overwhelmed intensive care units and mixed messaging from the province has created a “dire” situation.
Her biggest fear, she said, is that doctors will need to triage patients should hospitalizations continue to mount.
“We don’t want to have to make these decisions where we’re choosing who gets to have (intensive) care or not. And we’re getting closer and closer to that every day,” Mithani said in an interview.
Alberta Health Services, the province’s health-care provider, said in a statement Wednesday there were 258 intensive care beds in the province, which includes 85 added spaces. It said intensive care unit capacity sat at 87 per cent — just slightly below a seven-day average of 91 per cent.
Mithani said the government needs to listen to frontline health-care workers and implement stronger public health restrictions to prevent the health system from crumbling.
“This is much, much worse than I think people understand,” she said. “We, as health-care workers, are telling you that things are very dire, that ICU beds are running out, that we are stretched very thin in terms of our hospital capacity.”
On Friday, the Government of Alberta reinstated an indoor mask mandate for public spaces and an alcohol sales curfew at 10 p.m. It also announced a $100 incentive for unvaccinated Albertans who get their shots in response to an intensifying crisis.
Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta, said those efforts are “all but meaningless.”
“They are worse than doing nothing at all because now it is going to delay the government from taking more definitive action,” Schwartz said during a panel discussion Wednesday with advocacy group Protect Our Province.
Dr. Darren Markland, an intensive care physician in Edmonton who was also on the panel, said the government should consider vaccine passports and a circuit-breaker lockdown, which is a tight set of restrictions for a limited amount of time to curb ongoing transmission of COVID-19.
Relying solely on vaccinations won’t reign in a growing fourth wave driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, added Mithani.
It takes at least six weeks for people to build full immunity against COVID-19 because vaccine shots need to be separated by a month and then allow another two weeks to develop protection.
In the meantime, there are no signs COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are slowing. There were 647 Albertans in hospital Wednesday due to COVID-19, with 147 of those patients in intensive care. Hospitalizations jumped by 7.5 per cent from Tuesday. Another 18 people died in a 24-hour period.
The doctors with Protect Our Province said there are risks related to government inaction. Those risks, they said, include reduced health-care access for Albertans and increased burnout among health-care professionals.
Alberta Health Services announced late Wednesday that all scheduled, elective surgeries and outpatient procedures in the Calgary Zone have been postponed for the rest of the week. It said on social media the move was necessary to deploy qualified staff to intensive and critical care units.
“The situation really has come to a boiling point,” said Schwartz.
“It’s going to be a while before the premier and the chief medical officer of health will be willing to step back and accept that these actions have failed to immediately curb transmission and by that point, we’re going to be in dire, dire trouble.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 9, 2021.
Alanna Smith, The Canadian Press
Enbridge advances Gulf Coast strategy with US$3B Moda Midstream purchase
CALGARY — Enbridge Inc. has signed a US$3-billion deal to purchase a U.S.-based terminal and logistics company.
The Canadian pipeline giant says it will buy Moda Midstream Operating LLC from private-equity firm EnCap Flatrock Midstream.
As part of the deal, Enbridge will acquire the Ingleside Energy Center located near Corpus Christi, Texas.
Ingleside is North America’s largest crude export terminal. It loaded 25 per cent of all U.S. Gulf Coast crude exports in 2020.
The deal also gives Enbridge access to other crude export assets in the Gulf Coast region, including the Cactus II Pipeline, the Viola Pipeline and the Taft terminal.
Enbridge says the purchase will advance its U.S. Gulf Coast export strategy. It says the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter and will immediately add to the company’s earnings.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 7, 2021.
Companies in this story: (TSX:ENB)
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