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Calgary

Asian Canadians demand Derek Sloan be kicked out of the Conservative party for racist remarks

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Calgary, AB- Asian Canadians demand Conservative leadership candidate be kicked out of the party for racist remarks.

A new national network, ACT2endracism, calls on political leaders to unequivocally denounce racist attacks by Conservative MP, Derek Sloan, against Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam.

The racist online attack against Dr. Tam is the latest example of growing anti-Asian sentiment and violence due to Covid-19. The incidents mobilized Asian communities across Canada to form the new national network, Asian Canadians Together To End Racism (ACT2endracism). Former Alberta MLA Teresa Woo-Paw, of Action, Chinese Canadians Together Foundation:

“Dr. Theresa Tam’s steady guidance through this pandemic has reassured Canadians during this unprecedented crisis. Her professional integrity and personal loyalty to our country has been attacked because of her ethnicity.”

Human Rights lawyer Walter Chi-yan Tom, of the Chinois progressistes du Québec, agrees:

“This is race-baiting at its lowest. We cannot allow those who lead, or aspire to lead a national political party, to fan the flames of hate in our country. It’s racist to think Dr. Tam is less Canadian because she is Chinese.”

The group is calling on Members of Parliament, Senators, and political leaders, to publicly condemn anti-Asian racism. They want Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer to send a message and expel Conservative MP, Sloan from caucus. They say the ‘turn the other cheek’ attitude from political parties perpetuates ongoing oppressions of visible minorities.

We must not forget our painful history where Japanese Canadians faced Internment Camps, along with the 62 years of legislated racism with the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act.

Judy Hanazawa, Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association President, added the following:

“During the 1940’s Japanese Canadians, like my parents, endured internment and horrible injustices. Sadly, Derek Sloan’s repugnant and xenophobic accusations show how the stereotype of Asian Canadians as the perpetual untrustworthy, foreigner persists today.”

The network will work with community groups across Canada to collect data, share, develop support and resources to combat racism and hate crime.

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Alberta

‘Here we go again:’ Albertans react to latest slate of COVID-19 health rules

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CALGARY — As an emergency alert blared across the province notifying Albertans of another round of public health restrictions, some felt a range of emotions: anger, confusion, exhaustion.

Edmonton mother Amanah Khursheed remembers looking at her husband.

“Here we go again,” she said as her phone lit up Wednesday evening.

The notification told her that Alberta has declared a state of public health emergency to protect the health-care system.

New restrictions — including gathering limits and a proof of vaccination program for non-essential businesses — began Thursday, as Alberta’s health system nears collapse during a fourth wave of the pandemic.

“Every few months we go into lockdown and we’re hearing false promises from our leaders,” Khursheed said in an interview.

“The whole pandemic … I don’t think, from the beginning, was managed right.”

Medical experts had warned the United Conservative government about potential for the Delta variant to spread exponentially, when Premier Jason Kenney celebrated his “Open For Summer” plan.

Since the reopening on July 1, COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased more than fivefold, with intensive care admissions reaching record highs.

Khursheed said a close friend contracted COVID-19 and was put on a ventilator.

“It’s nerve-racking every single day when you’re sending your children to school, and then you’re hearing a close friend was in (intensive care).”

Calgarian Jake Hughes, a 28-year-old business development representative, said he’s “exhausted and demoralized” after 19 months of poor provincial leadership.

He has thought about leaving Alberta for another province.

“It’s kind of sad that we’re — I wouldn’t say the laughingstock, but look how bad Alberta is doing compared to the rest of the country,” said Hughes. “It feels like everyone prioritizes business and money over people’s lives.”

While he’s supportive of the new restrictions, Hughes said he’s worried they will affect his job stability and income, considering he works with many small businesses.

“If we just kept the restrictions going forward in the summer, where minimal interactions were allowed, we probably could have gotten through this fourth wave with a lot less of a spike,” said Hughes. “Since the beginning of this pandemic, it’s been fumble after fumble.”

Retiree Desmond Clark of Calgary said the array of measures announced Wednesday were confusing. And Alberta’s version of a vaccine passport system, which Kenney calls a “restriction exemption program,” is littered with contradictions.

He said it should be simple: you prove you’re vaccinated, or you’re not allowed entry. Instead, there are varied restrictions depending on an individual’s immunization status.

Clark said he has lost any respect for Kenney’s United Conservative government.

“When it comes to leadership, I’ve always been of the opinion that while I may not agree with something, I can respect the fact that something is being done,” he said.

“But when they don’t seem to be sure what the heck they want to do, you can’t think a whole lot of them.”

Edmonton grandmother Sharon Morin said the reintroduction of restrictions came as no surprise but they’re disappointing nonetheless.

“We didn’t take advantage of the ‘Open For Summer.’ We stay close to home. We don’t go out to restaurants. We still mask up. So it’s really frustrating when you’re put in this position because of others,” said Morin, pointing to unvaccinated Albertans and a lack of provincial leadership.

She said Kenney needs to take accountability for mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis and resign.

“There has been no leadership here at all,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2021.

— With files from Fakiha Baig in Edmonton

Alanna Smith, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

‘Boiling point’: Alberta doctors warn of health system collapse as COVID cases climb

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CALGARY — Alberta’s health-care system is on the verge of collapse, warns a group of physicians who are pleading with the government to strengthen public health measures to fend off a relentless fourth wave of COVID-19.

Dr. Shazma Mithani, an emergency room physician in Edmonton, said a staffing crisis, overwhelmed intensive care units and mixed messaging from the province has created a “dire” situation.

Her biggest fear, she said, is that doctors will need to triage patients should hospitalizations continue to mount.

“We don’t want to have to make these decisions where we’re choosing who gets to have (intensive) care or not. And we’re getting closer and closer to that every day,” Mithani said in an interview.

Alberta Health Services, the province’s health-care provider, said in a statement Wednesday there were 258 intensive care beds in the province, which includes 85 added spaces. It said intensive care unit capacity sat at 87 per cent — just slightly below a seven-day average of 91 per cent.

Mithani said the government needs to listen to frontline health-care workers and implement stronger public health restrictions to prevent the health system from crumbling.

“This is much, much worse than I think people understand,” she said. “We, as health-care workers, are telling you that things are very dire, that ICU beds are running out, that we are stretched very thin in terms of our hospital capacity.”

On Friday, the Government of Alberta reinstated an indoor mask mandate for public spaces and an alcohol sales curfew at 10 p.m. It also announced a $100 incentive for unvaccinated Albertans who get their shots in response to an intensifying crisis.

Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta, said those efforts are “all but meaningless.”

“They are worse than doing nothing at all because now it is going to delay the government from taking more definitive action,” Schwartz said during a panel discussion Wednesday with advocacy group Protect Our Province.

Dr. Darren Markland, an intensive care physician in Edmonton who was also on the panel, said the government should consider vaccine passports and a circuit-breaker lockdown, which is a tight set of restrictions for a limited amount of time to curb ongoing transmission of COVID-19.

Relying solely on vaccinations won’t reign in a growing fourth wave driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, added Mithani.

It takes at least six weeks for people to build full immunity against COVID-19 because vaccine shots need to be separated by a month and then allow another two weeks to develop protection.

In the meantime, there are no signs COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are slowing. There were 647 Albertans in hospital Wednesday due to COVID-19, with 147 of those patients in intensive care. Hospitalizations jumped by 7.5 per cent from Tuesday. Another 18 people died in a 24-hour period.

The doctors with Protect Our Province said there are risks related to government inaction. Those risks, they said, include reduced health-care access for Albertans and increased burnout among health-care professionals.

Alberta Health Services announced late Wednesday that all scheduled, elective surgeries and outpatient procedures in the Calgary Zone have been postponed for the rest of the week. It said on social media the move was necessary to deploy qualified staff to intensive and critical care units.

“The situation really has come to a boiling point,” said Schwartz.

“It’s going to be a while before the premier and the chief medical officer of health will be willing to step back and accept that these actions have failed to immediately curb transmission and by that point, we’re going to be in dire, dire trouble.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 9, 2021.

Alanna Smith, The Canadian Press

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