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Guide to Secret Spots to Discover in Alberta

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Guide to Secret Spots to Discover in Alberta

Looking for somewhere extraordinary with a range of breathtaking scenery? Whether you visit in summer or winter, Alberta has great secret spots to discover.

Beaver Dams

Interested in beavers? At the Wood Buffalo National Park you can see the world's largest Beaver Dam. It wasn't discovered until 2007 when Google Earth cameras caught sight of it. It has been the work of generations of beavers since the 1970s and while you can't visit it directly you can see it while visiting the national park leaving no harm to the hard work of these beavers.

HooDoos

HooDoos

Hoodoos are unique geological formations, known for the way in which erosion naturally forms towering rock pillars that have what look to be multiple sections precariously stacked on top of one another. These can be found all over the world especially in places like Utah and Arizona, and unbeknownst to most tourists, Alberta. The Drumheller Valley in Alberta is home to 20 foot hoodoos that were created millions of years ago. Interestingly enough, Cree and Blackfoot legends both explain these hoodoos as Giants that sleep during the day but at night spring to life to be Guardians of the land. 

Medicine Lake

Once again, whether you visit in summer or winter, there was something to see at Medicine Lake. Medicine Lake will look different depending on the time of year you visit. It is a very shallow lake with holes at the bottom. Because of these holes, the lake fills up faster than it can drain in the summer and creates some massive sprawling liquid mirror on which to reflect the stunning mountains around its base.Then in the winter, the water can drain away at about the same rate as it feels so the lake becomes much smaller. This regular shrinking and expanding of the lake is bewildering to see and even more so when you consider that the water from this lake passes through underground caves and goes into the Alberta Maligne Canyon. 

Important Tips For Your Road Trip 

When on your road trip don't forget these important tips: 

  • Have backup directions and maps
    Today most people are heavily focused on using an app on their cell phone or the GPS in their rental car, but not every rental car automatically comes with GPS, and if you run out of service in a more isolated area of Alberta, chances are your phone won't tell you how to get home. So have a general idea of where you are going each day with some backup directions and maps.

  • Keep a First Aid pack handy 
    Whether you are using your car or a rental car, pack your own first aid kit in the event that someone sustains an injury. You will be grateful you have it in the car if you get injured during one of your expeditions and come back to the vehicle in need of Band-Aids or medicine. On that note, keep personal medicine in your first aid kit so that you always have extra when you are in a new place.

  • Pack road snacks
    Snacks will last the duration of your journey. Having a handful of road snacks in an easily accessible container that is isolated specifically for road snacks like nuts, trail mix, dried fruit leather, granola bars, or fruit can give you and anyone you are with the pick me up you need especially if you are on a long drive, feeling a bit tired.

  • Don't forget water
    Water is equally important to have with you on your road trip for a multitude of reasons. Water bottles of course give you water to drink so you stay hydrated on the road, offer you water at the end of an excursion and Alberta like a hike when you make your way back to the car, and should something go wrong with the car and overheat, the water can give you a way to manage the car trouble.

  • Emergency Car Assistance
    When things go awry and you cannot save them yourself, it is good to know you have roadside assistance if you break down or have locked keys in your car.  Having someone there to help you is priceless especially when you want to get back on the road to head to your next adventure. But if you don't plan ahead of time and you don't know who you will phone in the event that things go wrong, a minor hiccup can turn into an all day event. By planning ahead of time and having the things you need you will be ready to discover secret spots everywhere. 

 

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Alberta bans masking mandates in schools, guarantees in-person learning

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Edmonton – The Alberta government says school boards can’t require students to wear masks in school or be forced to take classes online.

In a release, the government says it has made regulatory changes that guarantee students have access to in-person learning.

The changes also say that students cannot be denied in-person education by school authorities due to their personal decision to wear or not wear a mask.

Last week, the Edmonton public school board asked Alberta Health and Alberta Education whether it can require masks as schools deal with a wave of viral illnesses that is sending thousands of students home sick and straining hospitals.

Premier Danielle Smith says the changes go into effect immediately and will create an inclusive environment by ensuring personal and family choices are respected.

Smith has been critical of mask rules in schools, saying they have adversely affected the mental health, development and education of students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Parents and students have told me time and time again that they want a normal school environment for their kids,” Smith said in a release Thursday. “We have taken steps to protect and enhance educational choice.

“Families are free to make their own personal health decisions, and, no matter what that decision is, it will be supported by Alberta’s education system.”

The government said the in-person learning change applies to grades 1-12 in all school settings, including public, separate, francophone, public charter and independent schools.

The masking change applies to those same grades and schools, but also to early childhood services.

NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman said the changes show the government doesn’t have a clue about what’s happening in Alberta schools.

“We know that respiratory illness outbreaks have been widespread this fall, causing intense stress and increased challenges for students, staff, and families,” Hoffman said in a release.

“School districts are struggling to staff classrooms as illness moves through students and employees.”

Hoffman said it is unrealistic to expect that school districts can staff in-person and online classes simultaneously with no additional resources.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2022

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Province encouraging Alberta Doctors to see more patients by lifting daily cap

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Improving Albertans’ access to doctors

To help increase patient access to physicians, there will no longer be a daily cap on the number of visits a physician can fully bill.

During the negotiations with the Alberta Medical Association (AMA), Alberta’s government heard that Alberta’s doctors could safely see more patients than the current cap allowed.

Albertans want to know that they can see a doctor when they need one, and physicians want to be able to provide Albertans with the health-care services they need. By changing the daily cap policy, some of the immediate pressures for services provided by general practitioners and specialists, including pediatricians and ophthalmologists, will be addressed. By lifting the cap, physicians will be fully compensated for every visit rather than receiving a discounted rate if they provide more than 50 visit services in one day, which is the current practice.

“We’re moving forward to implement the new agreement, starting with ending the daily visit services cap policy and working to put rate increases in place. We’ve heard from some physicians that the daily visit cap was having a negative impact on patient access, so this change addresses those concerns. It is also part of the new agreement with the AMA where we are listening to physicians and working with them as partners moving forward.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Health

“The AMA agreement allows physicians and government to work together on challenges facing patients and physicians in the health-care system. This early step to remove the services cap is an important example that will allow more physicians to care for more patients while helping to stabilize physician practices.”

Dr. Fredrykka Rinaldi, president, Alberta Medical Association

Lump sum payment

The agreement between the AMA and the province also includes a one per cent rate increase in each of the next three years and a one per cent recognition lump sum payment in 2022-23.

Alberta physicians were at the forefront of the pandemic and the one-time payment for eligible practising physicians is in recognition of that work during the 2021-22 fiscal year. This lump sum payment is approximately $45 million and will go to the AMA to distribute to their members by the end of 2022.

In addition to the lump sum payment, the government is working with the AMA to implement the one per cent rate increase for 2022-23. The increase applies to fee-for-service and alternative relationship plan rates, providing an additional $46 million to physicians.

As outlined in the AMA agreement, the rate increase is heavily weighted to specialties facing the greatest pressures, such as family medicine. Alberta’s government and the AMA are working together to distribute these increases across and within specialties. Increases will be effective April 1, 2022, and are expected to be finalized by March 31, 2023.

Quick facts

  • The daily visit services cap policy was introduced as part of the Physician Funding Framework in 2020.
  • The intent of the policy was to support quality patient care by reducing physician burnout while addressing fiscal constraint for the province.
  • It applies to all physician services that are defined in the Schedule of Medical Benefits (SOMB) as “visits” with a “V” category code that physicians provide to patients in person, including physician office visits, consultations and counselling services. Procedures and tests that physicians provide are not billed as visits.
  • Under the current policy, physicians are compensated 100 per cent for up to 50 visit services billings in a day, 50 per cent for between 51 and 65 visit services, and there is no compensation for visit services billings greater than 66.
  • Physicians working in rural and remote areas, hospital visits and virtual care are exempt from the current policy.
  • The policy change (to lift the cap) aligns Alberta with most other jurisdictions.
  • Alberta Health is working on updating the SOMB and billing system to operationalize this change. A Medical Bulletin and a new SOMB will be posted when information technology changes are complete.
  • The daily visit services cap policy change will be reviewed and its impacts assessed before determining the future policy beyond the current fiscal year.
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