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Alberta

Premier Kenney outraged by lack of help from Ottawa

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From the Province of Alberta

Federal transfers: Statement from Premier Kenney

Premier Jason Kenney issued the following statement on the estimates for major federal transfer payments released today:

“Alberta has contributed more than $600 billion to the rest of Canada through transfers since 1967. In the last 10 years alone, Alberta has contributed more than $200 billion, more than $20 billion per year.

“And yet, in the last five years, Alberta has experienced a period of prolonged economic stagnation and decline, made worse by hostile policies from the federal government like the recently announced 467 per cent carbon tax hike, the ‘No More Pipelines Bill C-69 and the Alberta Tanker Ban Bill C-48. In fact, since the election of the federal liberal government in Ottawa, Canada has lost out on almost $200 billion of energy investment, the lion’s share of which would be in Alberta.

“To put that in perspective, Alberta used to generate about $10 billion in revenues from our energy industry. Over the past five years, that number has been closer to $5 billion. After the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent economic recession and the historic collapse in energy prices, that number for this year is estimated to be just over $1 billion.

“This is why Alberta is so profoundly disappointed by the letter we received from Minister Chrystia Freeland, the federal finance minister, outlining the transfers that Alberta will receive this year. Alberta will see an increase of only $217 million from the federal government despite the unprecedented economic challenges that Alberta faces, including a reduction of almost 25 per cent of provincial revenues.

“Notably absent is Alberta’s request for fiscal fairness through a retroactive ‘equalization rebate’ through the fiscal stabilization program. At the recent Council of the Federation meeting, the premiers of Canada’s provinces unanimously supported Alberta’s request to fix this broken system, which sees Alberta support Canada through tough times, only to have Ottawa turn its back on Alberta when we need support.

“It is more clear than ever that our message, simply asking for a fair share of the money that our province has generated and sent to Ottawa, is being ignored. That’s why Alberta will be holding a referendum to scrap equalization from the Constitution in October 2021.

“Albertans demand a fair deal from Ottawa, and we will not give up that fight.”

Alberta

Homan drops opener at Players' Championship a day after winning 11th Grand Slam title

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CALGARY — A day after winning a record 11th Grand Slam of Curling title, Ontario’s Rachel Homan fell to Russia’s Alina Kovaleva on Tuesday the opening draw of the Princess Auto Players’ Championship.

Kovaleva’s team broke open a 3-3 tie with three points in the fifth end.

Homan’s Ottawa-based team was coming off a 6-3 win over Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni on Monday night in the final of the Humpty’s Champions Cup.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Minji Kim scored six in the fifth end in a 9-3 win over Manitoba’s Team Tracy Fleury, with Chelsea Carey filling in at skip.

In men’s competition, world champion Niklas Edin of Sweden beat Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz 9-4 and Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs scored three in the eighth end to edge Manitoba’s Jason Gunnlaugson 8-6.

Two more draws were scheduled for Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Albertans lining up, signing up as eligibility for AstraZeneca COVID vaccine expands

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EDMONTON — Albertans were voting with their feet and arms Tuesday as they lined up and signed up to get the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

The government’s decision to lower the age eligibility for the vaccine to 40 resulted in thousands of bookings and big lineups on the first day.

“Uptake for the AstraZeneca vaccine has been significantly higher this morning,” Alberta Health Services spokesman Kerry Williamson said in a statement.

“More than 27,000 Albertans have booked an appointment. 

“This includes approximately 6,500 booked appointments in Edmonton zone and 15,000 booked appointments in Calgary zone.”

Williamson said the uptake in one morning exceeded all of last week.

In Edmonton, up to a 100 people stood in line at lunchtime outside the Expo Centre mass vaccination clinic. Thirty cars were waiting to enter the grounds. 

Jody Dewaal, 52, found out Monday she was finally eligible to get vaccinated and decided to head to the Expo Centre the next day.

“It’s about time,” Dewaal said.

“We’ve been waiting. I have senior parents and I have a child who has asthma, so we just like to have some kind of protection.”

Alberta has joined Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia in offering the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone 40 and older. Saskatchewan announced Tuesday it was doing the same. Quebec said it was lowering the age to 45.

The shot had been limited to those over 55. But Alberta said it lowered the age based on new health data and because thousands of doses were being left unused.

Vaccine hesitancy has been an issue among the older age group following reports globally of rare blood clots developing in some who received the AstraZeneca product. One Albertan has been affected, has been treated and is recovering at home.

Both Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, and Health Minister Tyler Shandro have stressed the blood clots are extremely rare and have urged Albertans to take AstraZeneca.

Both posted pictures of themselves on social media Tuesday getting the vaccine.

AstraZeneca is one of multiple vaccines available but the only one open to the 40-plus cohort.

Alberta Health said about 170,000 doses were available as of Sunday and appointments would last as long as the supply does.

Lowering the age eligibility means 575,000 more Albertans have a chance to be vaccinated — for a total of 2.3 million.

Premier Jason Kenney has said the situation has become a race between the spread of COVID-19 variants and getting a critical mass of Albertans vaccinated.

The variants, now the dominant strain in Alberta, are far more contagious and have sent case rates and hospitalizations spiking in recent weeks.

Alberta has more than 18,000 active cases, with well over a thousand new cases every day for the last two weeks.

Also Tuesday, Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley urged Kenney and his United Conservative government to work with her to fast- track legislation to allow people to get three hours off with pay if necessary to get vaccinated.

Kenney was receptive and said he would get back to Notley on Wednesday after consulting with officials.

“With or without legislation we would implore employers to do the right thing (and) ensure that their employees have every opportunity to get vaccinated,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2021

— With files from Fakiha Baig in Edmonton

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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