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Alberta

Major drug haul; ALERT seizes $3 million in drugs and cash

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Post submitted by Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT)

Three million dollars’ worth of drugs and cash was seized from two Calgary homes, including what is believed to be the province’s largest seizure of gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB).

On April 27, 2021 ALERT Calgary’s organized crime and gang team concluded a short-term investigation with a record drug haul. ALERT seized enough methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, and GHB to equal an estimated 100,000 doses.

The GHB seizure of 113.5 litres is believed to be the largest seizure of its kind in Alberta.

Meanwhile, the amount of methamphetamine and fentanyl pills seized ranks amongst ALERT Calgary’s biggest busts.

“The totality of what was seized is staggering, and represents a high degree of community harm. Behind so many doses are crimes committed to feed that addiction; be it property crimes, thefts, frauds, and robberies, and all feeding into social disorder,” said Supt. Dwayne Lakusta, ALERT CEO.

In total, ALERT seized roughly $3 million worth of drugs and cash:

  • 113.5 litres of GHB;
  • 22.3 kilograms of methamphetamine;
  • 18,000 fentanyl pills;
  • 1.5 kilograms of fentanyl;
  • 4.1 kilograms of cocaine; and
  • $386,220 cash.

GHB is colourless and odourless, and is commonly referred to as the “date-rape drug” but is usually abused as a club drug. In July 2013 Edmonton Police Service seized 106 litres of GHB, which at the time, was believed to be Alberta’s largest seizure.

ALERT’s investigation is ongoing and additional charges are being contemplated. To date, 14 drug-related charges have been laid against:

  • Ashley Stanway, 30-year old from Calgary;
  • Harmandeep Tiwana, 28-year old from Calgary.

ALERT began its investigation just a month prior after receiving information about suspected drug trafficking activity in the Calgary region.

Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.

ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.

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Alberta

Two deputy chief medical officers resign from their positions with Alberta Health

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Edmonton – Alberta’s two deputy chief medical officers of health are leaving their roles — less than a month after Dr. Deena Hinshaw was removed as the province’s top doctor.

Health Minister Jason Copping confirmed during question period Wednesday that both of the doctors have submitted letters of resignation.

“They are still continuing to work at this point in time,” he said in the legislature. “We are in the process of actually looking to fill those roles.”

A statement from Alberta Health said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra and Dr. Jing Hu, who are listed as public health physicians on the department’s website, have given notice.

When reached by her department email, Salvaterra responded: “Unfortunately, we are not able to comment.”

She later added that she respects and admires both Dr. Hinshaw and Dr. Hu.

“They are brilliant, hard-working, and compassionate public health physicians and I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to work alongside them for these past 14 months.”

Salvaterra, who has extensive public health experience including as the medical officer of health for Peterborough, Ont., joined the office in October 2021.

Her career in public health includes work in “the COVID-19 response, mental health, the opioid response, women’s health, poverty reduction, health equity, community food security and building stronger relationships with First Nations.”

Hu’s out-of-office message said her “last day at work with Alberta Health was Nov. 18, 2022,” and noted she wouldn’t have access to the department email after that date.

She got extensive training in China and at the University of Calgary before joining the health department in January 2020.

Their resignations came within a month of Hinshaw, who became the face of Alberta’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, being removed from her position.

Hinshaw was replaced by Dr. Mark Joffe, a senior executive member of Alberta Health Services, on an interim basis.

“Dr. Joffe will be supported by medical officers of health within AHS, by other staff in the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and by the Public Health Division,” said the statement from Alberta Health late Wednesday.

“We expect these changes to have no impact on the department’s and Dr. Joffe’s ability to meet the requirements of the Public Health Act.”

Hinshaw’s dismissal didn’t come as a surprise.

Premier Danielle Smith announced on her first day in office in October that she would be replaced.

Smith has made it clear that she blames both Hinshaw and Alberta Health Services for failing to deliver the best advice and care for Albertans as the hospital system came close to buckling in successive waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of the bad decisions were made by Alberta Health Services on the basis of bad advice from the chief medical officer of health,” Smith told reporters on Oct. 22.

Smith has not placed the blame on front-line doctors and nurses but broadly on AHS senior management. Joffe, while serving as chief medical officer of health, retains his role in AHS senior management as a vice-president responsible for areas in cancer and clinical care.

Hinshaw, an Alberta-trained public health specialist, became a celebrity of sorts in the first wave of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, as she delivered regular, sometimes daily, updates to Albertans on the virus, its spread and methods to contain it.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

— By Colette Derworiz in Calgary.

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Alberta

Alberta introduces bill for $2.8 billion in inflation-fighting payouts, rollbacks

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Edmonton – The Alberta government has introduced legislation to implement inflation-fighting rebates and payouts announced recently by Premier Danielle Smith.

Affordability Minister Matt Jones says the changes allow for help for families, seniors and the vulnerable soon.

Middle- to lower-income families, those with a household income of less than $180,000 a year, are to get $600 over six months for each child under 18 years of age.

The same income threshold and benefit applies to seniors, and the payout will also go to those on disability supports.

There will be electricity rebates and the 13 per cent provincial tax on gasoline is suspended from January to June.

The total cost of the package is pegged at $2.8 billion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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