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Alberta

Quebec gets the exact child care deal Ottawa denied to Alberta! Province calling for a new agreement

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Minister of Children’s Services Rebecca Schulz issued the following statement in response to the Quebec-Canada agreement on a Canada-wide early learning and child care system:

“Today, we’ve learned that the federal government and Quebec have agreed to a $6-billion child care agreement without conditions. This is the exact arrangement Ottawa rejected when Alberta asked for it this week and last week. Furthermore, when we asked Ottawa if any province would receive a straight transfer of child care dollars with no conditions attached, we were told no.

“This is dishonest, bad-faith negotiating from Ottawa right before an election. It’s frustrating to see Alberta parents could be left behind because of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cynical pre-election manoeuvring especially given that we are absolutely committed to affordable, accessible child care that meets the diverse needs of Alberta kids and families.

“We believe we can reduce child care fees to $10 per day or less for low-income families and cut fees by an average of half, respecting the choices that many parents make including out-of-school care and overnight child care. That’s why we asked for the flexibility Quebec received today.

“We have an action plan that meets the goals of the federal government and is flexible enough to meet the needs of Alberta parents. We are optimistic that given Alberta’s continued investments in child care and the renewed bilateral agreement signed last month, we can come to a new agreement quickly. With an election call any day, we call on the federal government to give Alberta a fair deal and provide full child care funding without conditions through a signed early learning and child care agreement as soon as possible. Our economic recovery and working parents, especially women across this province, are counting on it.”

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Alberta ombudsman says she doesn't have the power to probe EMS dispatch consolidation

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EDMONTON — Alberta’s ombudsman says she doesn’t have the power to investigate a complaint about the decision to consolidate ambulance emergency dispatch services in the province.

The complaint was filed by the cities of Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

The municipalities have contended that the decision to consolidate the dispatch services to save the government money could put the lives of people in their communities at risk.

In a release late Friday, Ombudsman Marianne Ryan says the decision was technically made by Alberta Health Services, which her office is prohibited by law from investigating.

When the United Conservative government announced the consolidation in August 2020, then health minister Tyler Shandro said the province’s dispatch system would allow for better co-ordination of all ground ambulances and air resources.

At the time, the four mayors of the municipalities, none of whom are now still in office, said they were blindsided by the decision and would fight the change.

“While the issue being complained about clearly affects many Albertans, I am bound by my governing legislation to only investigate matters that are clearly within my jurisdiction,” Ryan said in the release.

“Given the substance of the complaint has been widely reported in the media and that it relates to an issue affecting a great many Albertans, I advised the mayors that I would be making a public statement.”

Last February, a judge granted an interim injunction sought by Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services after the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo stopped transferring emergency medical calls to the provincial dispatch centre.

The municipality, which includes Fort McMurray, stopped transferring calls after its council decided the provincial ambulance dispatch service was putting patients at risk due to delays and confusion.

A lawyer for Wood Buffalo had argued it was in the public interest for the municipality to keep handling emergency medical calls through its own dispatch centre.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2021

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta Ombudsman can’t do anything about City of Red Deer complaint about 9-11 Dispatch

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Ombudsman Responds to Municipalities’ Complaint About Ambulance Dispatch

Marianne Ryan, Alberta’s Ombudsman took the unusual step of publicly commenting on a complaint received involving Alberta Health Services.

The City of Red Deer, along with the municipalities of Calgary, Lethbridge and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo filed a complaint to the Ombudsman regarding Alberta Health Services’ consolidation of ambulance emergency dispatch services.

The Ombudsman Act authorizes the Ombudsman to investigate administrative decisions of government ministries and many related bodies, but the Act specifically prohibits her from investigating decisions of Alberta Health Services (AHS).

“My office thoroughly analyzed the complaint and confirmed that the decision to consolidate ambulance dispatch services was indeed made by AHS. While many government-related bodies fall under my jurisdiction, AHS is not one of them,” stated Marianne Ryan, Alberta’s Ombudsman. “In fact, the Ombudsman Act specifically states that my powers of investigation do not apply to health authorities. My ability to investigate AHS decisions would require a change in legislation. While the issue being complained about clearly affects many Albertans, I am bound by my governing legislation to only investigate matters that are clearly within my jurisdiction.”

Investigations by the Ombudsman are conducted in confidence, and it is the Ombudsman’s general practice not to comment publicly on complaints, especially ones that are not being investigated.

“Given the substance of the complaint has been widely reported in the media and that it relates to an issue affecting a great many Albertans, I advised the mayors that I would be making a public statement.”

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