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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.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

First test production of plastic a milestone for Heartland Petrochemical Complex

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CALGARY — The $4.3-billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex, which has been under construction northeast of Edmonton since 2018, has produced its first plastic pellets.

Owner and operator Inter Pipeline Ltd. said Tuesday the newly commissioned facility has been producing test pellets steadily since late June, an important milestone en route to the expected start of full commercial operation sometime this fall.

The Heartland Petrochemical Complex will convert Alberta propane into 525,000 tonnes per year of polypropylene beads, an easily transported form of plastic that is used in the manufacturing of a wide range of finished products.

Steven Noble, spokesman for Calgary-based Inter Pipeline, said the facility will be the first integrated propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene production facility in North America. He said approximately 70 per cent of Heartland’s total production capacity has been already contracted out to long-term customers.

“Through the duration of the project’s construction, we’ve seen demand for polypropylene increase significantly … including at one point hitting an all-time record (market price),” Noble said in an interview. “The demand that we initially forecast certainly hasn’t gone away.”

The Heartland facility is being built with the support of a $408-million grant from Alberta’s provincial government. The cash grant, part of an incentive program aimed at growing the province’s petrochemicals sector, is to be paid to Inter Pipeline in equal instalments over three years once the complex is operational.

Noble said by creating a new market for propane, the Heartland facility is an example of how natural resource development in Alberta is diversifying.

“The fact that we’re now looking at our raw resources in a different way, and figuring out different ways to get value out of them and create other refined products right here at home … is really the part of the story that everyone here is excited about,” he said.

The Heartland Petrochemical Complex is expected to employ 300 people once fully operational.

The polypropylene produced at the facility will be branded as Heartland Polymers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2022.

Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Edmonton council to ask province to support new centre to fight downtown crime

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By Fakiha Baig in Edmonton

City council has voted unanimously to ask the government of Alberta to support the creation of a hub in Edmonton’s Chinatown where social workers, firefighters and peace officers could work together to reduce crime.

City administration submitted a report to council Monday that describes the proposed Healthy Streets Operations Centre.

David Jones, who is with the city and presented the report, told councillors it would not be a traditional police station.

“The people who will see the benefits of this include Chinatown residents and businesses, but also people who are on the streets who are vulnerable and being preyed on by some of the criminal element,” Jones said.

The creation of the centre is one of several actions the city has promised to address a spike in violent crime downtown, in nearby Chinatown and on the transit system.

Edmonton police officers have already increased their presence in problem areas.

In May, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro used his ministerial power to demand a report from the city on what is being done to get crime under control.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said during Monday’s council meeting that the city has delivered with its plan for the centre and now it is time for the province to step up.

“Edmonton gets the lowest per-capita funding to support ending homelessness compared to seven other cities (in Alberta). I think it’s really important that we ask the people whose inaction has caused harm to the community to be stepping up,” Sohi said.

“Most of the violence in Chinatown is related to houselessness … and addictions causing a lot of harm to the community and to individuals. We’re asking city taxpayers to pick up the pieces or pay for the consequences of lack of investment in health and lack of investment in housing.”

Sohi added he gets the sense the province wants to help.

The provincial government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The report says the centre will operate seven days a week, 21 hours a day, and could cost up to $18.1 million over the next four years.

The city and Edmonton Police Service could partially support the centre and Jones said there have also been offers from different businesses in Chinatown to provide a building for the hub at no cost.

But council voted in favour of asking the provincial government to determine how it can provide mental health, housing and shelter support.

Sohi said he plans to engage with the province and will report back to council on Aug. 15.

Jones said to get the centre up and running by next summer, the city aims to hire four peace officer sergeants, 16 community peace officers, two community safety liaisons and three firefighters or fire prevention officers.

The report said community members asked for increased security in problem areas and that building a centre in “hot spots” can effectively reduce crime. Research cited in the report has also shown it wont displace violence to other areas.

“Studies have consistently found no noticeable displacement and, in some cases, a diffusion effect, meaning that hot-spot policing reduces crime in the areas adjacent to the hot spots as well.”

Dr. Temitope Oriola, a criminology professor at the University of Alberta, said the hub model has been around for at least a decade in Canada and the centre is a good start.

“The real test is to ensure it is not too heavily tilted toward and reliant on policing,” he said in a email.

“The approach needs to have law enforcement as one of several critical components with people, community revitalization and customized social service at the epicentre.”

Oriola added the centre would be most effective in reducing crime if it also goes hand-in-hand with other initiatives in the city that address addictions issues and homelessness.

“Employment created should also focus on those most directly connected to Chinatown,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 4, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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