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Alberta

Alberta leads the country in eliminating surgery backlog

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Surgery volumes exceed pre-pandemic levels

Alberta is now exceeding 100 per cent capacity for surgical volumes and is leading the country in eliminating the COVID-19 surgical backlog.

While all provinces delayed surgeries during the pandemic, Alberta delayed fewer surgeries than other provinces. For example, in the second wave, five to 10 per cent of surgeries were delayed in Alberta compared with between 30 and 60 per cent of surgeries postponed in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec.

“As the pandemic recedes, Alberta’s government will be pushing as hard as we can to ensure that any delayed surgeries are completed as fast as possible. Thanks to the incredible dedication of surgical teams in AHS and at chartered surgical facilities, we are getting closer and closer to that goal.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

Through its surgical recovery plan, Alberta expects to recover faster than many other provinces.

The surgical recovery plan is now integrated into the Alberta Surgical Initiative, which will provide all Albertans the surgeries they need within recommended wait times. The initiative is improving and standardizing the entire surgical system from the time patients seek advice from their family doctor, to when they are referred to a specialist, to their surgery and rehabilitation.

“By carefully reducing the number of surgeries being performed in response to the pandemic, we were able to increase capacity in our intensive care units and ensure people with COVID-19 who needed ICU care could receive it. Now, we are able to focus on our surgical recovery plan. I am so proud of our teams who continue to work hard to ensure Albertans have high-quality care.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO, Alberta Health Services

Quick facts

  • Throughout the 2020-21 fiscal year, surgical teams were able to support surgical activity at about 92 per cent of pre-COVID levels, with more than 268,000 surgeries completed compared with approximately 290,000 in the previous fiscal year.
  • About 40,000 surgeries were delayed in Alberta over the past 16 months:
    • 25,000 surgeries were delayed in the first wave in the spring of 2020. All delayed surgeries from the first wave have been completed.
    • 5,000 surgeries were delayed in the second wave during fall 2020 and early winter 2021. Another 10,000 surgeries were delayed in the third wave beginning in April 2021.
    • 95 per cent, approximately 12,000, of these surgeries have been rebooked.
  • No emergency or urgent surgeries were delayed or postponed during the pandemic.
  • Most cancer surgeries continued during Alberta’s pandemic response.

Alberta

Fully vaccinated with negative tests in hand, Calgary mom and daughters forced into quarantine on return to Canada

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This article consists of the facebook posts of Calgary mother Tiffany Gaura.  Tiffany and her two daughters happened to be travelling home from a visit with her husband who is working in Cairo, when the Canadian government announced strict travel restrictions against those traveling from ‘some’ countries where the new Omicron virus has been found.  Gaura has given us permission to use her posts in this article and has filled in a few small gaps for us.  She’s hoping Canadian officials will show more flexibility, especially considering they’ve established restrictions on travellers coming from only a select few of the countries where Omicron has turned up.  Gaura is especially frustrated since Omicron is already in Canada and travellers from Europe and the United States are not quarantined on arrival. 

Day 1 –  Dec 4, 6:37 PM – Shock and Awe

This is a tough post for me. Today we traveled back to Canada from Cairo. We came early to complete the new quarantine requirement given Egypt has been listed as a “Country of Concern”. I am FULLY VACCINATED. We had PCR tests in Cairo and Frankfurt. We have an empty home to go to here in Calgary.
Upon arrival in YYC, we were taken by CBSA (Canadian Border Services) to PHAC (Public Health Canada) screening. It was a 15 minute interrogation about my history with Covid (none), my plans in Canada and my testing and vaccination. They read me my rights and told me I was entitled to a lawyer. They told me the fine for breaking quarantine is up to $750,000. We had a dedicated escort throughout, ensuring we weren’t escaping. Secondary unexplained screening at customs, and a PCR on arrival. We weren’t allowed to make any stops or get anything to eat or drink. The whole process took about 2 hours.
We were transported in a dedicated vehicle to the Westin Airport Hotel in Calgary. The Government of Canada as contracted the entire hotel as a “secure quarantine location”. The parking lot is blocked with No Trespassing signs. We were met by the Red Cross of Canada employees in HazMat suits.
We were processed and taken to an isolation floor. We cannot go outside. We cannot leave our room. We cannot get deliveries or packages. We cannot consume anything from offsite. We only get the meals they send us (it’s now 6:30pm and we have not had anything to eat or drink since we landed at 3pm). They have no cups for water in the room. I requested some but to no avail. Once we get our test results (presumably negative, and can take up to 72 hours) we must contact the Red Cross who will coordinate with Quarantine Officers for our release, that can take 48 hours (they say). They will provide us dedicated transport to our quarantine location (our home) where we must complete our 14 days in isolation. We must also take another test on Day 8.
This is happening, right now, in Canada, two years into a pandemic to vaccinated individuals. I don’t have the words to express this well. I waver back and forth between rage, embarrassment and disbelief. This will change my life, I have no doubt.

Day 2 – Dec 5, 11:17 AM = Frustration sets in

Next time you think about making a donation to the Canadian Red Cross, keep in mind that your donation dollars are going to things like supervising fully vaccinated travellers in mandatory government quarantine facilities. I’m sure there are other organizations that could use your money.

Day 3.- Dec 6. 11:22 AM = Canadian Quarantine for Fully Vaccinated Travelers With Negative Covid Tests

– We still have no PCR results, because apparently in Canada it takes 72 hours to get results in 2021. Or maybe they just want us to stay here longer. 🤔
– The food is horrible. It arrives cold and has limited nutritional value. It’s not FoodSafe for sure. I may call public health.
– No fruits or vegetables (aside from potatoes). No beverages are offered, so it’s tap water for the win. No wait, I did get some coffee filters and packaged creamer. It’s gross.
– The hotel gives a number for people to call so they can speak to us BUT they won’t actually put any calls through to our room. When you call they just say they will pass the message on to the Red Cross who will send us the message
– The kids are going stir crazy. No fresh air, no physical activity. We are doing yoga and school work, I brought a few card games, but that can only fill so many hours of the day with no space or freedom to roam.
– We have only one bed in the hotel room so we all sleep together.
– I asked for tampons, it took 24 hours to receive them.
– We have a window to nothing. Can’t see the parking lot or any coming and goings from the site. I wonder if they give rooms that have a view to that.
This interview was conducted by the CBC while Tiffany and her children were still in quarantine. 

Day 4 – Dec 7 – Third Negative Test Results Finally Come After More Than 3 Days.

4 days in quarantine.   We left when we got our results. I made a choice to leave after I was unable to contact anyone at either PHAC or the Red Cross who could give us any information about being released by a quarantine office.

This interview was conducted by the CTV in the hours after Tiffany and her children returned home after 4 days in quarantine.

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Alberta

Politicians raise concerns about carbon pricing benefits given to oilsands companies

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EDMONTON — Federal and provincial politicians are raising questions about Alberta government support provided to profitable oilsands companies that say carbon pricing hurts their competitiveness.

A recently released Alberta government document lists oilsands producers that have benefitted from a 2018 program designed to soften the blow of carbon pricing for companies whose competitors don’t pay those costs.

The program allows successful applicants to meet reduction targets through a greater emphasis on offsets, apply for emissions reduction grants or simply emit more carbon.

The document shows the only company that has benefitted from the program every year between 2018 and 2020 is Canadian Natural Resources Limited, which declared more than $2 billion in profits in the third quarter of 2021.

Alberta New Democrat environment critic Marlin Schmidt says the province must be more transparent, pointing out the document doesn’t say what benefits CNRL received, how big they were or how they were justified.

Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says his office is looking into how the program was used.

He says if problems are found, it could have an effect on the agreement between Alberta and Ottawa on carbon pricing.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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