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Alberta

Province pumping millions into mental health supports for post-secondary students

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Representatives from the Student Counseling Office and Mental Health at NAIT, Kids Help Phone, United Way and members of Alberta Students’ Executive Council stood with Associate Minister Luan and Minister Nicolaides 

From the Province of Alberta

More mental health supports for students

Government is investing $22 million to deliver more mental health supports for post-secondary students.

Students at the 26 post-secondary institutions across Alberta will have more access to mental health and addiction crisis supports through text and chat, and professional counselling by phone. Those services will be supported by a new digital navigation and crisis hub that will link service providers, including United Way’s 211 service, helplines such as Kids Help Phone, HealthLink/811 and other distress lines.

“Our government is committed to eliminating barriers to mental health and addiction services for post-secondary students. Working together, we’ll make it easier for students to talk openly about mental health and ensure they have access to supports when they need them.”

Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

In addition, Budget 2019 continues to support a range of on-campus mental health services, including:

  • increased access to counsellors
  • early alert systems
  • peer support programs
  • awareness campaigns and mental health literacy
  • training for faculty, staff and students in suicide-prevention
  • helping others in distress
  • personal coping strategies

“One of the common themes I have heard from our students, from Day 1, is the need to strengthen mental health supports on campus. This initiative will improve access to mental health services and will make sure our students can find help when they need it. I am always listening to students, and this announcement demonstrates their advocacy pays off.”

Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education

On-campus services are supported by the Post-secondary Mental Health Grant of $7.6 million this year.

In addition, government is funding expansion of digital services by providing $6.75 million to Kids Help Phone to expand its 24-7, free, confidential and professional online and telephone counselling and volunteer-led text-based crisis support. Another $7.5 million will fund a new digital navigation and crisis hub that will link United Way’s 211 service to other helplines such as Kids Help Phone, HealthLink/811 and other distress lines.

“Kids Help Phone is pleased to be a part of this initiative that will help Albertans, particularly post-secondary students, connect to the services they need in a timely fashion. Navigating the mental health system is complex and we are proud to work with partners to ensure all Albertans get the help they need, when they need it most.”

Katherine Hay, CEO, Kids Help Phone

“More than 500,000 Albertans access at least one mental health service each year, with many others unable to get help when they need it. With this partnership, Albertans will have access to information and help at any time no matter where they live in the province, allowing anyone to connect when they need to most.”

Rob Yager, president and CEO, United Way Alberta Capital Region

“Mental health is critical to the success and well-being of everyone. In order to thrive inside the classroom and beyond, mental health needs to be supported.”

Glenn Feltham, president and CEO, NAIT

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

Male suspect involved in tragic incident between Beaumont and Edmonton sought by police; EPS release photos of suspect

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News release from the Edmonton Police Service (EPS)

The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is assisting the RCMP with the investigation into a tragic incident that claimed the life of an innocent woman last night on 50 Street.

Yesterday, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, at approximately 9:40 p.m. various EPS resources were deployed to the area of 50 Street and 22 Avenue SW at the request of the RCMP. It was reported to police that RCMP attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a suspicious U-Haul in Beaumont, when the vehicle fled. The U-Haul subsequently travelled north on 50 Street into Edmonton, where it struck and killed a woman inspecting the exterior of her vehicle. Moments later the U-Haul came to rest just outside a gas station off of 22 Avenue and 50 Street.

After crashing the U-Haul, the male suspect then reportedly stole a Honda Civic that was parked outside the gas station with a child inside. Police did consider an Alert to the public at the time, though thankfully the child was located unharmed in the area of 66 Street and 25 Avenue minutes later. The suspect then fled the scene in the Honda Civic. The stolen vehicle has since been recovered outside of Edmonton.

The EPS and RCMP continue to actively seek the identity and whereabouts of the male suspect described as being approximately 5’11” who was last seen wearing a black hoodie with white text on the front, brown shorts and black shoes. CCTV photos of the suspect are included below.

“We are incredibly saddened to hear about the tragic death of the innocent woman who was killed on 50 Street,” says Det. Nigel Phillips with the EPS Investigative Response Team. “Our hearts are with her family and friends who will now have to carry on with this unfathomable loss.”

“We are doing everything we can to track down the suspect and we trust the public will help us identify and locate him as soon as possible.”

Assist to identify and locate: Male suspect running in area of 50 Street & 22 Avenue SW
While the RCMP is leading this investigation, the EPS is assisting and working collaboratively with its law enforcement partners.

Anyone with information about the suspect’s identity and/or their whereabouts is asked to contact the EPS immediately at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.p3tips.com/250.

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Alberta

Low emissions, Indigenous-owned Cascade Power Project to boost Alberta electrical grid reliability

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The Cascade Power Project. Photo courtesy Kinetcor

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Will Gibson

New 900-megawatt natural gas-fired facility to supply more than eight per cent of Alberta’s power needs

Alberta’s electrical grid is about to get a boost in reliability from a major new natural gas-fired power plant owned in part by Indigenous communities.  

Next month operations are scheduled to start at the Cascade Power Project, which will have enough capacity to supply more than eight per cent of Alberta’s energy needs.  

It’s good news in a province where just over one month ago an emergency alert suddenly blared on cell phones and other electronic devices warning residents to immediately reduce electricity use to avoid outages.  

“Living in an energy-rich province, we sometimes take electricity for granted,” says Chana Martineau, CEO of the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation (AIOC) and member of the Frog Lake First Nation.  

“Given much of the province was dealing with -40C weather at the time, that alert was a vivid reminder of the importance of having a reliable electrical grid.” 

Cascade Power was the first project to receive funding through the AIOC, the provincial corporation established in 2020 to provide loan guarantees for Indigenous groups seeking partnerships in major development projects. 

So far, the AIOC has underwritten more than $500 million in support. This year it has $3 billion  available, up from $2 billion in 2023.  

In August 2020 it provided a $93 million loan guarantee to the Indigenous Communities Consortium — comprised of the Alexis Nakota Sioux NationEnoch Cree NationKehewin Cree NationOChiese First NationPaul First Nation, and Whitefish (Goodfish) Lake First Nation — to become equity owners. 

The 900-megawatt, $1.5-billion facility is scheduled to come online in March. 

“It’s personally gratifying for me to see how we moved from having Indigenous communities being seen as obstacles to partners in a generation,” says Martineau. 

The added capacity brought by Cascade is welcomed by the Alberta Electrical System Operator (AESO), which is responsible for the provinces electrical grid. =

“The AESO welcomes all new forms of generation into the Alberta marketplace, including renewables, thermal, storage, and others,” said Diane Kossman, a spokeswoman for the agency.  

“It is imperative that Alberta continue to have sufficient dispatchable generation to serve load during peak demand periods when other forms of generation are not able to contribute in a meaningful way.” 

The Cascade project also provides environmental benefits. It is a so-called “combined cycle” power facility, meaning it uses both a gas turbine and a steam turbine simultaneously to produce up to 50 per cent more electricity from the same amount of fuel than a traditional facility.  

Once complete, Cascade is expected to be the largest and most efficient combined cycle power plant in Alberta, producing 62 per cent less CO2 than a coal-fired power plant and 30 per cent less CO2 than a typical coal-to-gas conversion.  

“This project really is aligned with the goals of Indigenous communities on environmental performance,” says Martineau. 

The partnership behind the power plant includes Axium InfrastructureDIF Capital Partners  and Kineticor Resource Corp. along with the Indigenous Communities Consortium. 

The nations invested through a partnership with OPTrust, one of Canada’s largest pension funds.  

“Innovation is not just what we invest in, but it is also how we invest,” said James Davis, OPTrust’s chief investment officer. 

“The participation of six First Nations in the Cascade Power Project is a prime example of what is possible when investors, the government and local communities work together.” 

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