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Alberta

UCP MLA calls for public inquiry into his own government’s handling of covid crisis

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Red Deer South UCP MLA Jason Stephan has asked for a “public inquiry: a comprehensive, full cost analysis of COVID restrictions on Albertans.”  In a news release MLA Stephan sent out Tuesday, he blasted widespread restrictions saying “Government control and coercion; prescription and restriction; produce fear and contention. Principled approaches, trusting adults to govern themselves and their families in respectful ways, produce individual hope and societal peace.”

Throughout much of the last year, a number of UCP MLA’s have been vocal in their opposition to widespread covid lockdowns.  Many have called for an entirely different approach called “Focussed Protection” best described by former Alberta Emergency Management Expert David Redman.

This request by a member of their own party emphasizes widespread support for a different approach if variants or other factors lead to a new wave later this year.  In a video discussion Jason Stephan emphasizes he’s “not seeking to condemn anyone” but considering the widespread financial and social devastation caused by lockdown restrictions “It’s really important for government to learn from this and be better”.

Stephan believes the inquiry should consider all aspects of the covid response including the evolving understanding of effective medial treatment for those who test positive and show symptoms.   

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Alberta's new proof-of-vaccination cards can be easily edited, residents say

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EDMONTON — Albertans needing proof they’re vaccinated against COVID-19 were able to download cards from the province’s website on Sunday, but almost right away some residents said they were easily able to edit them.

Dan Shugar, who lives in Calgary, says the card was in a PDF file which he was able to edit to say his name was “Fakus McFakeFace” and that he’d received doses of “Ivermectin Horsey Paste” and “Bleach.”

He says all of the fields could be edited and making changes was “mindbogglingly easy.”

The government announced the availability of the cards in a news release on Sunday, a day before its “restrictions exemption program” launches.

The program allows businesses and venues to operate without capacity limits and other public health measures if they require proof of vaccination or a negative test result from anyone entering.

Health ministry spokeswoman Amanda Krumins acknowledges in an email that “a motivated individual” can edit the PDF, but that “work continues on a more secure QR code that will be available in the coming weeks.”

“It’s important to point out that falsifying a health record is an offense under (the) Health Information Act,” Krumins wrote.

“That said, we know the vast majority of Albertans will use the system properly and adhere to the legal requirements set out in the current public health orders.”

Premier Jason Kenney had opposed a vaccine passport over what he said were privacy concerns, but said last week it has become a necessary measure to protect Alberta’s hospitals that face the prospect of being overwhelmed in the pandemic’s fourth wave.

Kenney said in a Facebook live video on Thursday night that since he announced the passport system, COVID-19 vaccine bookings have nearly tripled in the province.

Many people, however, reported difficulty in obtaining the required proof they’d been vaccinated in the days that followed the announcement.

Prior to the cards becoming available on Sunday, Albertans had the option of either showing sheets of paper they’d received when they got their shots, or signing up for a system that would allow them to view their vaccine records online. 

The latter option required many people to sign up for a digital ID, and people who tried said they faced long, frustrating delays due to the system being overwhelmed.

The province says the new cards can be downloaded with an Alberta Health number, without the need for creating an online account and with minimal or no wait time.

It says Albertans will still be able to use their existing immunization records, including those received at their vaccination. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2021.

Rob Drinkwater, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Edmonton Police Service investigating suspicious death case

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EDMONTON — The Edmonton Police Service says it is investigating a suspicious death that occurred Saturday evening.

Police say that just after 6 p.m. they received a report of an assault with a weapon in the area of 104 Avenue and 95 Street. 

Officers responding to the call found a man with serious injuries. 

Police say the officers rendered first-aid but the man died at the scene.

The name of the deceased was not immediately released, and cause of death has yet to be determined.

Investigators are asking anyone who may have witnessed an assault in the area to contact them.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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