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Alberta

Alberta government to cut up to 11,000 health-care jobs

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EDMONTON — The Alberta government says it is cutting up to 11,000 jobs at Alberta Health Services to save money.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro made the announcement Tuesday at a news conference in Edmonton.

He said nurses and front-line workers will not lose their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the cuts will come from further contracting out of laundry and lab services, with possibly housekeeping and food services also being outsourced in the future, he said.

A minimum of 100 management position will also be eliminated and there will be a review of senior executives before the end of the fiscal year.

The government estimates move will save up to $600 million a year.

“Given the circumstances that Alberta faces, this approach strikes the right balance between the two unprecedented challenges we face as a province — on one hand the response to the pandemic, and on the other hand the fiscal responsibility we face as Albertans.”

Shandro said that every dollar saved will be reinvested in patient care to improve the health-care system for future generations.

Dr. Verna Yiu, president of AHS, said the pandemic is the single-greatest public health challenge the agency has ever faced.

“The pandemic is not over. It is far from over,” she told the news conference.

“We must also continue to evolve the health-care system so that it is financially stable now and into the future.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2020.

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Alberta

Markets expected to take measure of Cenovus-Husky deal as earnings season begins

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Calgary oilpatch investors are expected to take stock of a mega-merger between oilsands heavyweights Cenovus Energy Inc. and Husky Energy Inc. as stock markets open this morning.

The surprise deal announced Sunday will see Husky shareholders receive 0.7845 of a Cenovus share plus 0.0651 of a Cenovus share purchase warrant in exchange for each Husky common share.

The companies say the price, which values Husky at $3.8 billion, represents a 21 per cent premium, excluding warrants, to Husky’s five-day volume-weighted average price per share on Friday, but Cenovus CEO Alex Pourbaix said Sunday that’s more a result of recent stock market volatility than intent.

Cenovus shareholders would own about 61 per cent of the combined company and Husky shareholders about 39 per cent. 

The transaction must be approved by at least two-thirds of Husky’s shareholders but Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing  controls 70 per cent of Husky’s shares and has agreed to vote them in favour of the deal.

Sunday’s announcement comes just as Calgary’s oilsands companies are about to start rolling out third-quarter financial results, with Suncor Energy Inc. set to report Wednesday and both Cenovus and Husky scheduled to report on Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CVE, TSX:HSE, TSX:SU)

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Alberta

Watchdog agency asked to look into man’s death following arrest at LRT station

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CALGARY — Alberta’s police oversight agency has been asked to investigate a death that police say happened after a suspect was arrested at a light-rail train station.

Calgary police say in a news release that they were called to the Marlborough CTrain station on Friday for reports of a man in possession of an airsoft gun.

They the man was cooperative when police arrived and they took him into custody without incident, and they say the arrest was captured on a body-worn camera.

He was charged with breach-related offences, police say, and was transported to Spyhill Services Centre where they say he was cleared by a medic and placed in a holding cell.

Police say that during a routine check of the cells at 8 p.m. the man was eating his meal, but at the next check he was found unresponsive.

They say that despite “significant lifesaving efforts” he was pronounced dead at approximately 8:40 p.m.

“We have recently undergone significant work to ensure that our standards are in line with current best practices for in-custody care,” police said in the news release.

“However out of an abundance of caution, we will be reviewing this incident to inform our procedures.”

Police said that as is standard practice with a death in custody, the Director of Law Enforcement was notified and has directed the oversight body, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, to investigate.

Calgary police said in the release that it “has extensive systems and protocols already in place to ensure the care of arrestees, including medical clearance checks for every arrestee prior to being admitted into a cell, searches of individuals before being taken into custody, CCTV systems to monitor people in custody and regular cell checks.”

Police said that since it’s now an active investigation by the watchdog agency, it won’t release further details.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2020.

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