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COVID-19

Sending our kids back to school shouldn’t cause panic. Here’s why.

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Every day I read, watch, and listen to more information about the COVID-19 pandemic.  Then I try to analyze the information.  This means fact checking, and then taking into account the goals of not just the people being interviewed, but also the actual media outlets presenting the information.  Every now and then I come across something I really want everyone to consider.  Although this interview is two months old, and it was made in the US, I find it extremely relevant here and now, especially as we are about to send our children back to school.  Please spend some time watching,  or listening to this interview.  It’s excellent.

Dr. Scott Atlas is the Robert Wesson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, an accomplished physician, and a scholar of public health.

Dr. Atlas has been making the case in print and in other media that we as a society have overreacted in imposing draconian restrictions on movement, gatherings, schools, sports, and other activities.

He is not a COVID-19 denier—he believes the virus is a real threat and should be managed as such. But, as Dr. Atlas argues, there are some age groups and activities that are subject to very low risk. The one-size-fits-all approach we are currently using is overly authoritarian, inefficient, and not based in science.

Dr. Atlas’s prescription includes more protection for people in nursing homes, two weeks of strict self-isolation for those with mild symptoms, and most importantly, the opening of all K–12 schools. The latter recommendation is vital for restarting and maintaining the economy so that parents are not housebound trying to work and educate their children.

Dr. Atlas is also adamant that an economic shutdown, and all of the attendant issues that go along with it, is a terrible solution—the cure is worse than the disease. Finally, Dr. Atlas reveals some steps he’s taken in his own life to try to get things back to normal.

For further information: https://www.hoover.org/publications/u… 

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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

Have Alberta’s Skilled Workers had Enough?

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The Canadian oil and gas industry suffered another blow on Sunday, October 25, when Cenovus Energy Inc. announced a $3.8 billion merger with 82-year old Canadian oil and gas company, Husky Energy. Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Husky is projected to lose up to 25% of its workforce as a result of the merger, approximately 2,150 jobs – mainly in Calgary. 

The news, which fell on Alberta’s increasingly restless population of unemployed workers and struggling families, many of whom believe Alberta has been left out in the cold for far too long already, has fueled ongoing discussions of a provincial brain drain. 

Simply put, brain drain is defined as “the departure of educated or professional people from one country, economic sector or field, usually for better pay or living conditions”. Recent statistics show this concept is rapidly gaining traction in Alberta as residents seek to escape the increasingly grim economic landscape to pursue opportunities elsewhere, beyond the provincial borders. 

As Canada’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, Alberta is no stranger to the boom and bust nature of the industry, experiencing cyclical periods of economic prosperity influenced by global conditions followed by detrimental crashes and ensuing hard times. Prior to this year, Alberta experienced a major economic crash in 2015, with the Canadian oil and gas industry suffering a $91 billion loss in revenue and layoffs reaching 35,000 workers in Alberta alone (1).

In the last 5 years, countless Albertans have struggled to regain their footing on shaky economic and political grounds, suffering substantial losses and insecurity. In this setting, the catastrophic impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with pipeline delays and ongoing cuts in the Canadian oil and gas sector have left many Albertans with the feeling of being kicked while already down. 

According to the Government of Alberta Economic Dashboard, the price of oil for many Alberta oil producers fell 36.6% from September 2019, averaging $28.43 USD per barrel in September 2020, according to the Western Canada Select (WCS) price. The coinciding unemployment rate in Alberta was 11.7% in September 2020, down from its 15.5% spike in May 2020, but still 6.6% higher than in September 2019 (2).  

At this point, it seems a number of Albertans have simply had enough. According to The Alberta Annual Population Report 2019/20, “Alberta’s interprovincial migration patterns are heavily influenced by the economic conditions in the province, and as the economy cooled, the province experienced net outflows.” The report shows that 2,733 residents left Alberta between April and June 2020. 

The loss of another 2,150 oil and gas jobs as a result of the Cenovus merger comes as a disappointing yet predictable defeat for industry workers who have remained “down on their luck” for many years in Alberta. Effectively decimating industries worldwide, the pandemic has also successfully pulled the rug from beneath Alberta’s shaky footing, tanking oil and gas once more and leaving countless skilled workers with nowhere to go but out.

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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Alberta

Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

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Canada reached a grim and worrying milestone Tuesday in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths.

Alberta reported two deaths from COVID-19 to lift the national tally to 10,001.

COVID-19 case counts slowed across the country through the summer but have taken a big jump in many areas this fall, with new daily highs regularly being set through Central and Western Canada.

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first one was reported.

Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr said she’s worried about the rapid spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks.

She said Manitoba reported 13 deaths between Oct. 20 to 26, compared with 13 people who died in 21 weeks from the start of the pandemic last spring.

“Almost one in 20 people that are infected with COVID-19 in our country passed away,” Carr said in an interview. “It’s not a milestone we want to achieve, and my worry is the speed at which things are changing.”

Health Canada recently forecast 10,100 COVID-19 deaths in Canada by Nov. 1 as a worst-case scenario and now that number is close, she said.

Carr said the increased spread of COVID-19 will result in more opportunities for the virus to infect the elderly and other vulnerable people.

“The more that there is community-based spread, the fewer the options are for targeted approaches and restrictions without going back to a total shutdown,” she said.

But Carr said she doesn’t believe imposing further lockdowns on peoples economic and social well-being are the answer.

“We’re sabotaging those businesses and people that are paying the price because they are the ones that have been targeted as part of the solution to stop the spread.,” she said.

It’s up to people to fight COVID-19 by reducing their interactions and practising physical distancing, she said.

“The pathway back is for us to do the right thing and do our own continued lockdowns,” said Carr.

Quebec and Ontario lead the country in COVID-19 deaths, with 6,172 in Quebec and 3,103 in Ontario.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted today that the COVID-19 pandemic “really sucks” but added that a vaccine is coming.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2020.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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