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Province dropping covid mandates. Mandatory masking on public transit ends Wednesday

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Alberta to lift remaining health restrictions

Alberta will take the final step in its plan to ease public health measures as the province moves past the Omicron BA.2 wave and COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline.

The rate of new hospitalizations has been declining since its peak on April 26, when there were 20.7 new COVID-19 admissions per day per million population. As of June 9, the weekly average of new hospitalizations rate was 6.6 per day per million population.

PCR test positivity and wastewater surveillance also show a continuing trend of declining COVID-19 transmission.

Effective June 14 at 11:59 p.m., Alberta will move to Step 3, which includes lifting mandatory masking on public transit and ending mandatory isolation, in common with British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Isolation will remain recommended for those with symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test.

Work is underway to prepare for the fall and winter respiratory virus season. This includes maintaining surveillance and testing programs and preparing to expand acute care surge capacity.

“We need to live with COVID-19 while accepting that it will continue to be present. We’ll continue to work to keep Albertans safe by ensuring access to vaccines, antivirals and rapid tests, through ongoing COVID-19 surveillance, and by enhancing health-care system capacity.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Health

“Learning to live with COVID-19 does not mean forgetting about it. As we bring COVID-19 management in line with other respiratory diseases, it will continue to be vital that we receive our primary vaccine series and any additional booster doses we are eligible for, and continue good habits like washing our hands regularly and avoiding being around others if we feel sick.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health

Step 3 – measures remain in effect until June 14 at 11:59 p.m. As of 12 a.m. on June 15:

  • Mandatory isolation becomes a recommendation only.
  • Mandatory masking on public transit is lifted.

Masking and any other measures to protect patients in Alberta Health Services (AHS) and contracted health facilities will remain in place through AHS policy as required for infection prevention and control.

CMOH orders in continuing care will be rescinded by June 30 but some measures in continuing care settings will remain in place through standards and policy. This includes maintaining practices like isolation of symptomatic residents, outbreak protocols and masking.

COVID-19 vaccines

Vaccines are fundamental to Alberta’s ability to live with COVID-19. Albertans are encouraged to receive all doses they are eligible for.

Vaccines are readily available across the province on a walk-in basis. Appointments are also available through the Alberta Vaccine Booking System or by calling 811 or a participating pharmacy.

Rapid tests

Alberta continues to provide rapid tests at no cost. To find a location, visit alberta.ca/CovidRapidTests. An Alberta Health Care card is not required to pick up a rapid test kit.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Alberta legislation would set up independent agency to investigate police complaints

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The Alberta government has introduced legislation aimed at making police forces more accountable and responsive to the communities they serve.

The Police Amendment Act introduced Thursday would establish an independent agency called the Police Review Commission to receive complaints, carry out investigations and conduct disciplinary hearings to do away with the idea of police investigating police.

Mike Ellis, the minister of public safety and emergency services, said the province has been consulting with Albertans since 2018 to come up with the first major overhaul of the Police Act in 34 years.

“One thing that came up consistently was the need to change how complaints against the police are investigated to end the system of police investigating police,” Ellis said.

“The legislation answers those long-lasting calls to reform the public complaints process by establishing an independent agency to handle complaints against police.”

The Alberta Serious Response Team will continue to handle all cases involving death or serious injuries, as well as serious and sensitive allegations involving all police services. Its mandate would be expanded to include peace officers employed by provincial organizations as well as community peace officers at the municipal level.

The legislation would also require all jurisdictions with a population above 15,000 currently policed by the RCMP to establish civilian bodies to oversee policing priorities.

The United Conservative Party government is deciding next steps following the release of a third-party analysis last year of a proposal to create a provincial police force instead of using the RCMP in rural areas and some smaller communities.

“No decisions have been made regarding the provincial police service,” Ellis said. “This is about ensuring that the rural municipalities have a say at the table under our current model which is the RCMP, who is the current provincial police service provider.”

Ellis said it could be another 18 months before the Police Review Commission is up and running. He said negotiations are underway with the RCMP to see how they would fit in under civilian oversight.

“Right now K-Division has expressed they’re supportive of this, however, we’re still having discussions with Public Safety Canada because it still falls technically under the RCMP in Ottawa,” he said.

“We’re going to continue to negotiate with the RCMP because we believe the independent body is the right approach and we can continue going down that path.”

The proposed changes would also require police to develop diversity and inclusion plans to reflect the diverse and distinct communities they serve and to better understand local community needs.

The Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police supports the changes.

“Changes to update our Police Act are long overdue,” said Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld, president of the association in a statement.

“We have advocated for several years that the act needs reform to bring it more in line with the realities of the modern police workplace,”

Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee said the changes “will provide an additional layer of public transparency” that will benefit both the public and police.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2022.

— By Bill Graveland in Calgary

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Alberta

TC Energy shuts down Keystone pipeline system after leak in Nebraska

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CALGARY — TC Energy Corp. says it has shut down its Keystone pipeline after a leak in Nebraska.

The company says it has mobilized people and equipment in response to a confirmed release of oil into a creek, about 32 kilometres south of Steele City, Neb.

TC Energy says an emergency shutdown and response was initiated Wednesday night after a pressure drop in the system was detected.

It says the affected segment of the pipeline has been isolated and booms have been deployed to prevent the leaked oil from moving downstream.

The Keystone pipeline system stretches 4,324 kilometres and helps move Canadian and U.S. crude oil to markets around North America.

TC Energy says the system remains shutdown as its crews respond and work to contain and recover the oil.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP)

The Canadian Press

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