News release from Alberta Health Services
AHS statement on Whistle Stop Cafe closure
For several weeks, AHS has attempted to work collaboratively with the operator of the Whistle Stop Café to address the ongoing public health concerns at the site. Additionally, AHS has attempted to work with the property owner prior to taking such action.
Steps taken by AHS prior to physically closing the site include:
- A Closure Order was issued on January 22, 2021 requiring the Whistle Stop Café to comply with CMOH restrictions relating to dine-in services.
- A Court of Queen’s Bench Order was obtained on February 3, 2021 requiring the Whistle Stop Café to comply with the previous Closure Order, as well as CMOH orders.
- A Closure Order was issued on April 12, 2021 to comply with CMOH restrictions relating to dine-in services.
- A suspension of the operator’s food handling permit was implemented on April 12, 2021 for failure to comply with CMOH orders and the Public Health Act.
- A full Closure Order for the facility was issued on April 15, 2021, requiring the Whistle Stop Café to cease both dine-in and take-out services because of operating without a food handling permit, which is in contravention of Alberta’s provincial Food Regulation.
- The operator’s food handling permit was cancelled indefinitely on April 16, 2021 for failure to comply with the previous Closure Order.
These actions do not include any enforcement efforts undertaken by external partners, including the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, Occupational Health and Safety and RCMP.
Every effort has been made to work collaboratively with the operator as well as the property owner to come to a resolution before progressing to further enforcement action. At this time the operator of the Whistle Stop Cafe has decided not to follow these mandatory restrictions, despite efforts by AHS and other partners, nor have they attempted to work to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
With COVID-19 cases increasing, including the more easily transmitted and potentially more severe variants, there is urgent need to minimize spread to protect all Albertans.
Since January 1, 2021 AHS has received 413 complaints from the public about the Whistle Stop Cafe. Public Health Inspectors have conducted multiple inspections at the site since and violations were observed at each visit. Alberta Health Services has been working closely with external agencies including Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission as well as law enforcement partners on this file. Tickets, fines and criminal charges are under the jurisdiction of local law enforcement; AHS is unable to issue fines or tickets.
Demand increasing: Canadian Blood Services watching supply as COVID-19 rules eased
CALGARY — A return to a somewhat normal summer as COVID-19 restrictions are eased is putting a strain on Canada’s blood supply.
Several provinces have started lifting restrictions — most notably Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan — and demand is up as a result.
“As provinces slowly open up, there’s some return to normal activities. Hospital demand is increasing,” said Tracy Smith, the Prairies and Northwest Territories donor relations director for the Canadian Blood Service.
“You can imagine that they are trying to catch up with some of the backlogs, some of those surgeries that were put on hold during the pandemic. They’re trying to get those in … (and) blood products are becoming more in demand.”
The need for blood products tailed off dramatically 16 months ago as the pandemic brought travel to a near standstill and all but the most critical surgeries were cancelled.
At the same time, Canadian Blood Services wasn’t able to accommodate as many donors because of physical-distancing requirements at clinics, so the two balanced each other out.
About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million population give blood on a regular basis.
Canadian Blood Services operates a national inventory that allows products to be regularly shifted around the country to meet hospital and patient needs.
But the inventory has a shelf life — a year for frozen plasma, 42 days for red blood cells and five days for platelets — so it takes some work to ensure supply continues to meet demand.
Smith said the blood agency has made some changes in anticipation of an increased need, including extending hours at some donation centres and mobile clinics, but many pandemic safety precautions remain in place, including limiting the number of donors allowed inside at one time.
“We’re only accepting appointments from donors. We’re not accepting walk-ins in order to manage our physical distancing,” Smith said. “It’s more important for donors to fill the appointments for us.”
Smith couldn’t say how much the demand for blood has increased in the last six weeks, but she said the need is evident in supplies of O negative blood, the universal blood type used primarily in emergency rooms.
“We have just over four days supply and at times it’s dipped to between three and 3 1/2,” she said. “That gives you an indication of the increase in demand that we’ve seen.”
A Calgary vascular and trauma surgeon said operating rooms have been a lot busier in the last six weeks.
“There’s certainly no slowdowns. It’s more in the other direction trying to catch up,” said Dr. Paul Cantle.
“At certain times of the year, (blood supply) is always a concern, but very few of us have ever run into a situation where we haven’t had what we’ve needed at the end of the day.”
Cantle said people go out more in the summer, drive more on highways and spent more time in physical activity, so it’s not a surprise blood demand has gone up.
“It was inevitable. People just try and get out there and enjoy their summers: getting out on their ATVs and their horses and their mountain bikes,” he said.
“It’s the same every year, but it’s maybe just a little more extreme this year with people trying to make up for lost time.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 29, 2021.
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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
UCP backbencher fined $15K by Elections Alberta for funding violations
EDMONTON — A United Conservative backbencher has been fined $15,000 by Elections Alberta for a variety of offences including filing false financial statements.
Devinder Toor, the legislature member for Calgary Falconridge, was penalized for fundraising and spending infractions both as a candidate for the party nomination and well as in the 2019 election.
The 10 violations also include exceeding expense limits and accepting a prohibited contribution from a numbered company of which Toor had been a director.
Toor, a first-time MLA, won the constituency seat by just 91 votes over the rival NDP.
The NDP, in a news release, called on Toor to resign, saying the infractions display a conscious effort to circumvent the rules and call into question his integrity and fitness for public office.
Toor could not be immediately reached for comment.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2021.
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