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Alberta

Vaccine mandate and province-wide restrictions

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New vaccine requirements and COVID-19 measures in Alberta

Alberta has declared a state of public health emergency and will implement new health measures to expand capacity, increase vaccination rates and reduce transmission of COVID-19.

New temporary health measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 will apply provincewide. This includes new restrictions on restaurants, indoor gatherings, weddings and funerals, retail, entertainment venues, and indoor sport and fitness beginning Sept. 20. Measures in workplaces, indoor private gatherings, places of worship, schools and children’s activities, as well as mandatory masking and physical distancing in all indoor public spaces begin Sept. 16.

Starting Sept. 20, businesses or event organizers who choose to implement a program checking patrons for government-issued proof of vaccination or a recent negative privately purchased COVID-19 test will be able to have an exemption to restrictions. If a business or service chooses not to require proof of vaccination, they will be required to adhere to the new health measures.

“We are taking necessary and critical steps to prevent our health system from being overwhelmed and once again slow the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta. These steps are not easy for anyone, but with COVID-19 hospitalizations continuing to rise, particularly amongst the unvaccinated, we have no choice but to implement the proof of vaccination measures and temporary restrictions. We have overcome past COVID-19 waves and we will once again. I strongly urge anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so immediately. Please protect yourself, your loved ones and your community.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“The new proof of vaccination requirements will make us all safer. This will help increase vaccination rates across the province and protect Albertans in settings that pose a higher risk of transmission. We’ve seen from other jurisdictions that proof of vaccinations do help encourage people to get vaccinated, and I am calling on every eligible Albertan to get fully immunized as soon as possible.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“I know Albertans, especially those who have done everything they can to keep not only themselves but their fellow Albertans safe, are tired. But I’m asking you to please continue to do the right thing to help protect our health-care system and our communities. Please continue to make safe choices, get vaccinated if you haven’t already, wash hands and stay home when ill. Together, we will protect our health system and each other.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health

New public health measures provincewide

The following measures will take effect on Sept. 16:

Workplaces:

  • Mandatory work-from-home measures are in place unless the employer has determined a physical presence is required for operational effectiveness.

Private social gatherings:

  • Indoor private gatherings for vaccine-eligible, fully vaccinated individuals are limited to a single household plus one other household to a maximum of 10 people, with no restrictions on children under the age of 12.
  • Attendance at any indoor private social gathering is not permitted for vaccine-eligible individuals who are unvaccinated.
  • Outdoor private social gatherings are permitted to a maximum of 200 people, with two-metre physical distancing maintained at all times.

Places of worship:

  • Places of worship must limit attendance to one-third fire code capacity.
  • Face masks will be mandatory and there must be two-metre physical distancing between households or two close contacts for those living alone.

Outdoor events and facilities with no indoor portion (excluding washrooms):

  • No attendance restrictions, however two-metre physical distancing must be in place.

Schools (K-12):

  • Mandatory masking for students in grades 4 and up, plus staff and teachers in all grades. Schools that can implement an alternate COVID safety plan can be exempted from mandatory masking.
  • Elementary schools are to implement class cohorting.
  • For physical activities in schools:
    • Youth aged 18 and under are not required to mask or maintain two-metre distance when engaged in physical activity.
    • There are no restrictions on outdoor activities.
    • Indoor sports/performance/recreation/special interests are permitted with requirements for two-metre physical distancing, where possible.

Children’s sport/performance/recreation (extracurricular sports, performance, recreation and special interest):

  • Indoor activities are permitted, with requirements for two-metre physical distancing and masking where possible, and symptom screening for participants.
  • Youth aged 18 and under are not required to mask or maintain physical distancing during a physical activity, such as a team sport.
  • Spectator attendance is limited to one-third fire code capacity. Attendees must be masked and ensure physical distancing between different households or an individual who lives alone and their two close contacts.
  • There are no restrictions on outdoor activities.

Children’s activities:

  • Children’s day camps must have two-metre physical distancing between participants and masking indoors.                                                    
  • Children’s overnight camps must follow cohort models.

The following measures will take effect on Sept. 20:

Restaurants:

  • Outdoor dining only with a maximum of six individuals per table (one household or two close contacts for those living alone).
  • Liquor sales and consumption restrictions (10 p.m. sales and 11 p.m. consumption) apply.
  • Restaurants are eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.

Weddings and funerals:

  • All indoor ceremonies and services are limited to 50 attendees or 50 per cent fire code capacity, whichever is less.
  • No indoor receptions are permitted.
    • The hosting facility would be eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.
  • All outdoor ceremonies and services for weddings and funerals must be limited to 200 attendees. Outdoor receptions are required to follow liquor sales and consumption restrictions (i.e., sales end at 10 p.m. and consumption ends by 11 p.m.).
    • The hosting facility would be eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.

Retail, entertainment and recreation facilities (includes any indoor venues, libraries, conferences, rental spaces, concerts, nightclubs, casinos and similar):

  • Attendance is limited to one-third fire code capacity and attendees are only permitted to attend with their household or two close contacts for those living alone. Attendees must be masked and have two-metre physical distancing between households.
    • These facilities are eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.

Adult (over 18 years old) sport, fitness, performance, and recreation:

  • Indoor activities:
    • No indoor group classes or activities are permitted.
    • One-on-one training or individual workouts are permitted but three-metre physical distancing is required.
    • No contact between players; indoor competitions are paused except where vaccine exemptions have been granted.
    • These facilities and programs are eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program. Specific exemptions may also be granted on a case-by-case basis.
  • There are no restrictions on outdoor activities.

Restrictions Exemption Program

  • Starting Sept. 20, vaccine-eligible individuals will be required to provide government-issued proof of immunization or a negative privately paid COVID-19 test from within the previous 72 hours to access a variety of participating social, recreational and discretionary events and businesses throughout the province.
  • To enter certain spaces that are participating in the program, including restaurants, bars and indoor organized events, people aged 12 and older will be required to show their proof of vaccination or a negative recent test result.
  • Businesses that implement the Restrictions Exemption Program would operate as usual, provided they are serving only people who have proof of immunization or who have a recent privately paid negative test, as per the requirements in place. This means they could immediately and without restriction serve any individual eligible for vaccination who:
    • Has proof of double vaccination (note that for a transitional period between Sept. 20 and Oct. 25, proof of a single dose would be considered acceptable as long as the dose was given two weeks or more before the time of service).
    • Has documentation of a medical exemption.
    • Has proof of a recent (within the previous 72 hours) negative COVID-19 test (either PCR or Rapid Test). The test may not be from Alberta Health Services or Alberta Precision Laboratories.
    • Those under age 12 would not need to provide proof of immunization or a negative test to enter a participating business.
    • This program would not apply to businesses or entities that need to be accessed for daily living.
  • Albertans can access copies of their COVID-19 vaccination records through MyHealth Records. For the time being, Albertans should avoid logging into MyHealth Records to download their records. The printable card, which was going to be made available on Sept. 16, will now be available on Sept. 19.

Get fully vaccinated

More than 79.5 per cent of eligible Albertans are now protected with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 71.4 per cent are fully vaccinated. Vaccines dramatically reduce the risk of severe outcomes and the risk of infection.

Vaccines are the most powerful tool in the fight against COVID-19. Vaccine appointments are widely available through AHS or participating pharmacies and physician clinics. Book yours at alberta.ca/vaccine. First doses are also available at select walk-in clinic locations. Two doses provide maximum effectiveness and long-lasting protection.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Smith won’t seek early vote if she wins UCP leadership, becomes next Alberta premier

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United Conservative Party leadership candidate Danielle Smith says if she wins this week’s vote and becomes the next Alberta premier, she would not call an early election to seek a broad mandate on her policy ideas.

Smith, the perceived front-runner in the race, says the public tends to punish leaders who call an early election.

She says she would wait until the next scheduled election in May 2023, but believes she has a mandate now to proceed with her plans.

Smith has said she would immediately pass an Alberta sovereignty act, which would allow the province to ignore federal laws and court rulings deemed not in its interest.

Legal experts, some of Smith’s leadership rivals and Premier Jason Kenney have labelled the act not only illegal but a recipe for constitutional and economic chaos.

Smith has also talked about revamping the health system by using health spending accounts and firing the board of Alberta Health Services, which oversees the front-line delivery of care.

Today is the last day for advance voting, as seven candidates dig in for the final campaign push before UCP members select a new leader to replace Kenney on Thursday.

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Alberta

Alberta commits $20.8 million over the next four years to fight human trafficking

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By Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton

The Alberta government is providing $20.8 million over the next four years to implement recommendations from a star-led task force on human trafficking.

Country singer Paul Brandt, chair of the Alberta Human Trafficking Task Force, personally thanked Premier Jason Kenney during the funding announcement Sunday at Edmonton International Airport for his willingness to prioritize the issue, and for putting faith in Brandt to lead the group.

“Premier Kenney’s longtime personal dedication and commitment to the issue of human trafficking is authentic and is admirable,” Brandt said.

“He’s the only political leader I’ve met in my 17 years of advocating for trafficking victims and survivors who took the time and initiative to personally write a plan to address this horrific crime.”

The money will establish an office to combat trafficking as well as a centre of excellence for research and data collection — recommendations the government accepted when the task force presented its report in March.

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said the goal is to launch the office by next summer.

Other task force recommendations that will be supported include a new grant for community projects and Indigenous-led and culturally appropriate services. Civilian positions that will focus on supporting victims and survivors throughout human trafficking investigations will also be funded.

“Human trafficking is far more prevalent — way more common — than the stats would suggest because it’s a hidden crime,” Kenney said at the announcement.

“It festers in the dark. There are victims who face fear, shame and self-doubt and some who will never report what they’ve gone through.”

The task force was appointed in May 2020 and engaged with nearly 100 experts and survivors of trafficking to provide guidance on how to best implement the government’s action plan to fight human trafficking.

The government has said human trafficking includes sexual exploitation, forced labour trafficking and trafficking in human organs or tissues.

Kenney, who will be replaced as premier when his United Conservative Party selects a new leader on Thursday, noted he started fighting human trafficking over 20 years ago when he was an MP and joined a group of international parliamentarians on a coalition to fight the practice.

Later as Canada’s immigration minister, he said he took steps to make it easier for human trafficking victims who had migrated to Canada to obtain safety and protection.

In winter 2019, he said he committed the UCP to a nine-point action plan to combat human trafficking, which led to the Protecting Survivors of Human Trafficking Act, which took effect in May 2020.

Brandt said it was exciting to be part of the funding commitment at the airport, where he said he stood in 2019 for a partnership with the facility and other groups in the Edmonton region to fight trafficking, which he called “modern day slavery.”

“It has been our dream that special focus and permanent funding would one day become a reality. Today is that day,” Brandt said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2022.

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