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Alberta

K to 12 students back in schools next week but all other restrictions in place at least two more weeks

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From the Province of Alberta

K-12 students return to in-person learning

All students will return to in-person learning, as planned, on Jan. 11. Mandatory health measures will remain in effect across the province until at least Jan. 21.

The decision to return to in-class learning is based on the latest evidence which shows that before the winter break, new case rates in schools plateaued and then dropped in December, once restrictions on social gatherings and group activities were in place.

“I want to recognize the effort of school staff, teachers and parents to follow health measures and help us keep classrooms safe for Alberta students. I’m confident this effort will continue and we’ll see a successful return to in-person learning to the benefit of all students.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“Schools play a critical role in supporting student learning as well as their emotional health and overall well-being. In September, the vast majority of parents chose in-person learning for their children during the pandemic and schools have been diligently following the extensive health measures in place. A return to school will provide our students with the familiar daily routine of learning in class and will restore some sense of normalcy for both students and families amidst these unusual times.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

While students return to in-person learning, all Albertans, businesses, organizations and service providers must continue to follow existing health measures until at least Jan. 21. Active evaluation of the latest public health data is underway and will be used to re-evaluate the current level of restrictions over the coming weeks.

Businesses, organizations and service providers will be given at least one week’s notice prior to changes to the current health measures that may affect them. Government will continue to consult with affected industries.

“The health measures that were put in place in December have helped to reduce the number of active cases, but it’s not enough. Case numbers, hospitalizations and testing positivity rates remain high. We will be carefully evaluating the data over the coming weeks to determine what options we have to give Albertans back more flexibility in their lives, and give businesses a chance to reopen. But the worst thing we could do would be to increase the chances of another surge, which would threaten our health-care system again and require more restrictions. We must be careful and deliberate, and avoid the roller-coaster of uncertainty that a new surge would create.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“Our government will continue to engage with businesses to provide the necessary supports during this pandemic. To date, more than 35,000 small businesses have accessed over $232 million in funding through our relaunch grant and I encourage any eligible employers to apply today.”

Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation

“We cannot back off early and risk losing the gains we’ve made since restrictions were put in place in December. We are asking everyone to remain a part of the solution and keep following the public health measures until we see numbers come down to the point that we can start reopening the province.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“These mandatory measures are in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 and we are not yet in a position to remove or reduce them. Keeping these measures in place means we are again asking Albertans to make sacrifices – but they are necessary to protect our province. We all have the power to make individual choices to follow the health guidelines and help protect our loved ones, colleagues and neighbours. We are asking you to keep making those good choices.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health

Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses and protect Alberta’s health-care system.

 

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Alberta

'Life consuming': Alberta Crown stays charges against parents in toddler's death

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LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — Crown prosecutors have stayed charges against parents who were facing a third trial in the death of their toddler in southern Alberta. 

Shawn Buckley, a lawyer for David and Collet Stephan, said Tuesday he received a letter from the Crown about the decision. 

“The Crown dropped the charges,” Buckley told The Canadian Press. 

“Obviously they’re very relieved that the Crown is not proceeding against them to try and convict them.” 

A copy of the letter from Chief Prosecutor Shelley Bykewich directs the Lethbridge court to stay charges of failing to provide the necessaries of life against the Stephans.

No reason for the decision was given and Alberta Justice did not immediately respond to a request to explain why.

David Stephan said it has been nine years since his son Ezekiel died and it was eight years ago he and his wife were charged.

“It has been absolutely life consuming,” Stephan said in an interview.

“It’s somewhat of a relief in relation to not going back to trial again although there was a part of me as well that would have liked to go back to trial and been able to dig in more to the missing evidence and all that we still haven’t had provided to us eight years into it.”

Stephan successfully represented himself at the second trial.

The Stephans were accused of not seeking medical attention sooner for 19-month-old Ezekiel, who died in 2012. 

Over the course of their trials, the Stephans testified that they initially thought Ezekiel had croup, an upper airway infection, and treated him with natural remedies, including a smoothie with tinctures of garlic, onion and horseradish. 

They said he appeared to be recovering at times and saw no reason to take him to hospital, despite his having a fever and lacking energy. 

They called an ambulance when the boy stopped breathing. 

A jury convicted them in 2016, but the Supreme Court of Canada overturned that verdict and ordered a second trial. A judge hearing the case without a jury found them not guilty in 2019. 

The Alberta Court of Appeal granted a request by the Crown earlier this year to overturn the acquittal and ordered a new trial.

Buckley said the Crown’s decision caught him off guard and the matter isn’t over.

“Actually it’s a little surprising because we still have an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada,” Buckley said.

“Both David and Collet want to proceed with that because they think it’s very important for the law to be clarified so that other parents don’t face the type of uncertainty that they have been facing.”

David Stephan said he’s not expecting to celebrate.

“I think it’s a little early to celebrate now,” he said.

“We’re still involved in the battle. We’re still moving forward to the Supreme Court and it’s still going to be a bit of an uphill journey.”

Stephan said he will also seek to be repaid by the courts for the “tremendous amount of money” they spent over the past eight years.

The report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2021.

— By Bill Graveland in Calgary.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Wildfire forces evacuation of an area in Yellowhead County west of Edmonton

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EDMONTON — A wildfire has forced the evacuation of an area in Yellowhead County west of Edmonton.

An Alberta Emergency Alert message says the evacuation order affects people along Highway 16 between Evansburg and Wildwood.

It says the order also applies to people who are in the Lobstick resort area.

The order says all people in this zone must leave immediately.

The province says an evacuation centre is being set up at the Evansburg Arena in Evansburg.

The wildfire danger in the area is listed as very high and there are six airtankers, four helicopters, six pieces of heavy equipment and 30 firefighters working on containing the blaze.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2021

The Canadian Press

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