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Protecting vulnerable Albertans this winter

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Alberta’s government is investing an additional $21.5 million for Albertans experiencing homelessness and family violence.

The pandemic continues to have a large impact on vulnerable people, and this funding will ensure access to services like 24-7 emergency shelter and support for victims of domestic violence while keeping clients safe.

The government announced this additional support at the Hope Mission at the Herb Jamieson Centre. Alberta’s government fulfilled a platform commitment with $4 million for the centre’s recent construction. This announcement furthers those efforts to support vulnerable people in Alberta.

Alberta’s government is also providing $1.5 million to activate up to 200 additional shelter beds at Commonwealth Stadium and will support on-site overdose prevention and treatment services.

“As we continue to navigate through COVID, one of our top priorities is to make sure all Albertans have a safe place to stay and access to the support they need. Together with the $78 million previously announced by Alberta’s government, this additional funding will help organizations on the front lines deliver the services vulnerable Albertans need.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“Our community partners are critical to making sure people experiencing homelessness and domestic violence have safe places to stay and where they can still access the supports they need. This funding will go a long way to ensure shelters are providing Albertans with critical supports in a healthy environment.”

Jason Luan, Minister of Community and Social Services

“A quick look outside the window, and you’ll see how important this announcement is to the houseless Edmontonians who were looking for a warm place to sleep during this winter. We have identified the shelter gap in recent meetings with the Premier and his ministers, and they have responded by providing emergency funding for the Spectrum shelter, three needed southside shelters and our enhanced capacity emergency shelter at Commonwealth Stadium. We welcome this support and look forward to building on this collaboration to find more permanent and sustained solutions to end houselessness in Edmonton.”

Amarjeet Sohi, mayor, City of Edmonton

“The Calgary Drop-In Centre has been on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, working with our community partners to decrease the spread within our city’s homeless population. We are grateful to our partners at the Government of Alberta for the additional funding, which will support medical staff and overflow spaces to meet the increased demand at our main shelter.”

Sandra Clarkson, executive director, Calgary Drop-In Centre

“This funding will allow us to maintain extra capacity during the critical winter season. With the unpredictability of COVID-19, we will be able to keep people safe and socially distanced. Thank you to the provincial government for equipping us with extra capacity to serve everyone who needs safe, warm shelter during the cold of Alberta’s winter.”

Bruce Reith, executive director, Hope Mission

The $21.5-million funding package will be distributed as follows:

  • $13 million for emergency homeless shelters
  • $6.5 million for isolation facilities
  • $2 million for emergency women’s shelters

Emergency homeless shelters

Funding will support 14 expanded homeless shelter facilities to meet physical distancing requirements. Funding will also support, where possible, 24-7 access to regular meal service, showers, laundry services and connection to addictions and mental health services and housing.

Isolation facilities

Funding will support about 285 isolation spaces in 10 communities. These facilities are a critical component of the shelter pandemic response, and help alleviate pressure in the public health system by helping shelter clients who contract COVID-19 isolate and receive medical care if hospitalization is not required. Additional capacity may be added in some rural communities as needed.

Emergency women’s shelters

This funding will support service delivery adjustments at emergency women’s shelters. Due to the pandemic, there has been an increase in domestic violence across Alberta. This funding will help shelter operators offer more support through community outreach and virtual service delivery as well as hotel isolation, and adjust in-shelter services to align with public health orders.

Quick facts

  • This funding guarantees these supports will be in place until March 2022.
  • This funding is in addition to $78 million announced in 2020.
  • Funding will support emergency homeless shelters in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Lloydminster, Drayton Valley, Leduc, Slave Lake and Wetaskiwin.
  • The 10 isolation sites are located in Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Wetaskiwin, Peace River and Lac La Biche.
  • With the additional capacity at Commonwealth Stadium, up to 1,280 emergency shelter beds will be available in Edmonton this winter.
    • The shelter is anticipated to be operational in early December once an operator has been selected.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Sergei Bobrovsky has 40-save shutout as Florida Panthers rout Edmonton Oilers 6-0

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EDMONTON — Sergei Bobrovsky made 40 saves for his first shutout of the season as the Florida Panthers defeated the ice-cold Edmonton Oilers 6-0 on Thursday.

Aleksander Barkov scored two goals and added an assist for the Panthers (27-8-5), who improved to 9-1-1 in their last 11 games.

Carter Verhaeghe, Anthony Duclair, Sam Bennett and Owen Tippett also scored for Florida.

Mikko Koskinen stopped 22 shots as the Oilers (18-16-2) lost their seventh straight.

Edmonton has a 2-11-2 record in its last 15 games.

There was no scoring in the first period despite Edmonton peppering Bobrovsky with 17 shots.

Koskinen made seven saves in the Edmonton net in the opening frame.

Florida got on the board first, scoring a power-play goal about five-and-a-half minutes into the second period. Sam Reinhart chipped a puck over splayed Oilers defender Darnell Nurse to Barkov, who fired home his 16th of the season. The Oilers have now allowed the first goal of the game in 23 of their last 27 games.

Verhaeghe was left alone in front of the net and unleashed a bullet to the top corner for his 14th goal of the season near the midway point of the game to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead.

Edmonton outshot Florida 29-13 through 40 minutes.

Barkov added to Florida’s lead seven minutes into the third when his long shot found its way through a screen.

The Panthers made it 4-0 with a power-play goal with four minutes left in the final period as Duclair swatted a loose puck into a wide open net for his 17th of the campaign.

Just over a minute later the Panthers got another power-play goal as Bennett sent a backhand shot off the post and in for his 17th as well.

Edmonton’s end-of-game collapse saw the Panthers score their third goal in 2:36 as Tippett notched his fifth.

Florida plays the third game of a five-stop road trip in Vancouver on Friday, while the Oilers remain home to welcome the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

Notes: Florida is now 20-0 when leading after the second period… The Oilers have scored two goals or less in 10 of their last 15 games… Missing from the Florida lineup were Patric Hornqvist (upper body) and Gustav Forsling (COVID)… Out for the Oilers were Mike Smith (thumb) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (lower body), as well as Zach Hyman, Kyle Turris and Stuart Skinner (COVID)… With two goalies out for Edmonton, Ilya Konovalov was brought up from the taxi squad to serve as backup to Koskinen.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2022.

Shane Jones, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Kenney says he was unaware until this week of justice minister’s call to police chief

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EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he didn’t know until this week that his justice minister had called Edmonton’s police chief 10 months earlier about a traffic ticket.

“I do recall at some point last year hearing that minister (Kaycee) Madu had gotten a ticket (and) had paid for it,” Kenney told a news conference Thursday.

“I got fully briefed on all of this, including about the call and the details, on Monday afternoon following media inquiries.

“Shortly thereafter, I called minister Madu to ask what happened from his perspective and why he made this call. I expressed my serious disappointment that he would have done this.”

These were Kenney’s first public comments on the matter since tweeting out late Monday that Madu was being relieved of his justice responsibilities pending an investigation.

Kenney said he plans to hire a third party to determine if there was interference in the administration of justice.

He said the government is drafting terms of reference for the review and has contacted former judges to oversee it.

Critics, including the Opposition NDP, have said the investigation is unnecessary given that all the principals involved, including Madu, agree he made the call to Chief Dale McFee last March.

They said that even though Madu did not try to have McFee cancel the ticket, making such a call violates parliamentary tradition that cabinet ministers don’t intervene directly in the judicial system in matters in which they have a personal stake.

NDP justice critic Irfan Sabir said Kenney has no choice but to fire Madu from his justice post.

Madu has not spoken publicly on the issue, but put out a series of statements this week on social media.

In them, he stressed he did not call the chief to cancel the ticket — a point McFee corroborates — but said he wanted, and received, assurances from McFee that he wasn’t being targeted for the ticket because he is Black or because he was in a high-profile government job.

Kenney, asked by reporters why he hasn’t fired Madu, said the issue is not clear cut. He noted that Madu did not ask for his ticket to be rescinded but did raise concerns about issues such as racial profiling.

“I was not on this call,” said Kenney.

“I think given the issues that have been raised, it is appropriate to allow for a little bit of time for an investigation from somebody with legal training who is impartial to provide me with advice on whether this constituted an effort to interfere with the independent administration of justice.”

Madu, the United Conservatives’ only legislature member in Edmonton, had been justice minister since August 2020. He is serving his first term in the legislature.

On the morning of March 10, he was ticketed for distracted driving for being on a cellphone while behind the wheel in a school zone. He paid the $300 ticket soon after but not before reaching out to McFee.

This issue did not become public until media reports Monday.

Madu, in his statements, has also disagreed with the ticket. He said his phone was in his pocket at the time.

That prompted an angry response Wednesday from Staff Sgt. Mike Elliott, head of the Edmonton Police Association, which represents rank and file officers.

Elliott, on Twitter, questioned Madu’s fitness for the justice job.

“I personally know the member who issued the ticket, and to make an erroneous assumption he was surveilling you is shameful and preposterous,” wrote Elliott.

He said that even if Madu believed he was being unfairly treated, there is a complaint process that should be followed that doesn’t include a direct line to the chief of police.

“The audacity and arrogance is very clear and you are not deserving to be the minister of justice, who is supposed to represent all citizens in a fair and impartial manner.”

Madu’s case is the latest in a string of changes to Kenney’s cabinet in just over a year.

In November, Devin Dreeshen quit as agriculture minister amid concerns over his conduct and drinking.

In September, Tyler Shandro left the health portfolio. Kenney said Shandro asked for the change, citing the gruelling fight against COVID-19 as a factor.

Leela Aheer, the minister for culture, multiculturalism and the status of women, was turfed in July from cabinet after she publicly criticized Kenney for breaking COVID-19 health rules by having a patio dinner outside his temporary penthouse office.

Aheer’s portfolio was carved up and distributed to others. Kenney denied the decision was political payback.

And just over a year ago, in January 2021, Tracy Allard resigned as municipal affairs minister after public outrage over a Christmas holiday trip she took to Hawaii. The trip happened at the same time the government was urging Albertans to stay home and isolate to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2022.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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