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RDP Queens take their 20th ACAC title at home. Off to National Championships

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Queens drop Rustlers in four, earn ACAC gold and trip to nationals

Brent Forster – Red Deer Polytechnic Athletics

Red Deer, AB – For the first time since 2014/2015, the Red Deer Polytechnic Queens Volleyball team has won Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) gold.

“I’ve always wanted to win a provincial title,” said Tess Pearman, a Bachelor of Education Elementary student. “The last regular season we had, we came so close. Coming into this year, that was our goal the whole season.”

In 2019/2020, the Queens earned ACAC silver and Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) national bronze. Then COVID-19 shutdown the 2020/2021 season.

In front of an energetic home crowd, the Queens were even with the Lakeland College Rustlers after two sets, but found an extra gear to win the next two sets and match (25-23, 23-25, 25-14 and 25-20).

“When you get down to the last match of the year between two first place teams in the league, it’s going to be a battle,” said Chris Wandler, Red Deer Polytechnic Queens Volleyball Interim Head Coach. “From the end of our last regular season match when we went five [sets] against Lethbridge and they battled us in the quarter-final, and again last night, that prepared us for this atmosphere.”

Pearman (8)

In a close first set, a stuff block from outside hitter Pearman bumped the RDP Queens ahead 11-10. Lakeland’s Jenay Varga kept her team close. With her fifth kill, the outside hitter had the Rustlers even 22-22. Ultimately, a dump ball from RDP setter Emma Letkeman sealed a 25-23 decision.

Lakeland outside hitter Mackenzie Yole’s third kill knotted up the second set 7-7. The teams traded points to 18-18. Rustlers setter Jana Laing continued the strong connection with Varga, who rattled off three consecutive kills to solidify a 25-23 win.

With a trio of serves from middle Sydney Rix, the RDP Queens captured a 9-4 edge in the third set. RDP’s Vanessa Loos entered the match and had an ace, which pushed the Queens ahead by nine (18-9).

“In a tough situation, we executed at a high level when we needed to and that was the key piece,” added Wandler. “It shows the experience and tenacity that this group has.”

The home team maintained that momentum and a late kill by Jaiden Ferguson, her ninth, helped the Polytechnic pick up a 25-14 victory.

Ferguson (9)

“Fergie had a hot hand last match, so she deserved the start,” said Wandler. “She got off to a little rocky start, but she persevered through that. She just needed to chip in where she could.”

Lakeland’s Avery Bates lifted her team to an early 5-3 margin in the fourth set with her seventh kill. The Queens started to climb back into the frame. RDP went up 14-10 off Pearman’s 12th kill from the left. The Polytechnic continued to push and solidified a 25-20 win, earning ACAC gold.

“To win this championship and to win it at home … I couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Pearman.

The Lakeland College Rustlers picked up silver.

Ferguson contributed 13 kills for the Queens.

North Star Sports Queens Player of the Game Pearman totaled 13 kills, 10 digs, one block, one assist and one of the team’s 10 service aces.

“When we needed a big kill, Tess got it,” said Wandler. “That just gave everyone a spark.”

Domoney (3)

When Pearman went up to accept her top player award, she insisted that Domoney join her.

“Kaylee, player of the game, for sure,” added Pearman. “She saves our butt every game and she holds our team together. She is an amazing player and deserves the recognition.”

Libero Kaylee Domoney was outstanding and picked up 17 digs.

“We haven’t played defence like that all year, mainly because we executed offensively so well. When you match up in championship time versus three defending teams, you have to match them dig for dig,” explained Wandler. “Our back row did a phenomenal job. Kaylee is our rock and everything we do is based upon her.”

Anna Carlson had 12 kills (0.455 hitting percentage) and five of the Queens’ 10 aces.

Rustlers Player of the Match Laing accumulated 35 assists and four digs. Teammate Varga had 18 kills, 10 digs and three of the Rustlers’ six aces. Yole added nine kills and Bates chipped in with eight.

The RDP Queens have won 20 ACAC gold medals.

“We had to earn this spot and that gives us a sense of pride to represent our conference – the best conference in the country,” said Wandler of the team’s trip to nationals. “It means a lot to represent those other 13 colleges in Charlottetown.”

The Red Deer Polytechnic Queens will compete at the CCAA Women’s Volleyball National Championship from March 25-27 in Prince Edward Island. Holland College will host the prestigious event.

“Our game against TKU really helped us. That was probably the hardest game I’ve ever played in my entire life – mentally draining and being down and able to come back set us up well for today,” said Pearman. “No more easy games. We have to fight for every point.”

Alberta

AUDITOR GENERAL MUST INVESTIGATE CASH BONUS SCHEME: NDP

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From the Alberta NDP

Alberta’s NDP is requesting the Auditor General investigate the UCP government’s process for pandemic management bonuses as new bonus pay policies were only recently approved in March.

According to CBC News, the Government of Alberta paid out $2.4 million in extra compensation to Government of Alberta managers in 2021 for work related to the pandemic.

An updated “Extra or special services compensation directive” was approved by the Alberta Public Service Commission in March 2022, reporting to then-finance minister Travis Toews. The directive includes two processes for lump-sum payouts, one that requires Treasury Board approval and one that does not.

The directive   on the website in February. The creation of a more recent compensation directive suggests considerable effort went into reviewing the policy, raising questions as to how Toews could possibly have no knowledge of the management bonus structure prior to media reports.

“For many Albertans, including members of our caucus who have served as ministers and on Treasury Board, MLA Toews’ claims defy belief,” wrote Alberta NDP Finance Critic Shannon Phillips in a letter to Auditor General Doug Wylie.

“Not only did he have ministerial authority over the policy, but such significant payments, on such a widespread scale, would — as a standard operating procedure — be brought to the attention of the Minister or be considered by the Treasury Board Committee as whole for their appropriateness.”

The Alberta NDP is asking the Auditor General to investigate the following questions:

  1. Was then Minister of Finance Travis Toews ever briefed on COVID bonus pay? And likewise, did the then Minister verbally approve of these payments? Was the Treasury Board Committee of Cabinet ever informed of these payments, either as an item For Decision or For Information?
  2. Was the policy on management bonus pay followed appropriately, during the fiscal year in question?
  3. As the directive on “Extra or special services compensation directive” was reviewed and updated under former Minister Toews, what role did he play in its development and approval? Likewise, what was the timeline on updating this directive?
  4. Did any members of the political staff, in either the Premier’s Office or a Minister’s Office receive bonus payments for COVID19 related actions, which were not in alignment with their employment contract?
  5. In addition to the extraordinary bonus payments paid in 2021, how many bonus payments were made thus far in 2022?

——

Letter sent by NDP Finance Critic Shannon Phillips to Alberta Auditor General Doug Wylie

Dear Mr. Wylie,

I am writing to request a performance audit of the Government of Alberta’s bonus payment structure and process related to the COVID-19 pandemic response, and in particular, the actions of the President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance.

As you are likely aware, and as originally reported by the CBC, the Chief Medical Officer of Health received $227,911 in cash benefits in calendar year 2021 on top of her regular salary of $363,634. While this bonus amounted to 63 per cent of her base pay – or roughly $19,000 per month – media has also reported an additional 106 government employees received supplemental bonus pay.

By all indications, the scale and scope of these bonus payments are unique in Alberta’s history, and are out of line with other provinces who faced similar pandemic demands and challenges.

According to responses provided to media by the government, the Public Service Commission overseen by then-Minister of Finance Travis Toews was responsible for the bonus payment policy, and the payments made to these employees..

Subsequent to these bonus payments becoming public and entering the public conversation, former Minister Toews stated on Aug. 2 through a campaign spokesperson, that he did not authorize or have knowledge of these payments.

On Aug. 3, Mr. Toews promised that, as Premier, no bonuses would be paid “without a ministerial signature.” The implication of this commitment was that the Minister responsible for the bonus payments was, at the time, entirely in the dark.

For many Albertans, including members of our caucus who have served as ministers and on Treasury Board, MLA Toews’ claims defy belief. Not only did he have ministerial authority over the policy, but such significant payments, on such a widespread scale, would – as a standard operating procedure – be brought to the attention of the Minister or be considered by the Treasury Board Committee as whole for their appropriateness.

I am mindful that the Government of Alberta’s “Extra or special services compensation directive” (henceforth referred to as the “directive”) under which these officials were compensated was last reviewed and updated in March 2022. As such, it does not appear reasonable that the Minister responsible would not be aware and actively involved in the directives’ development and approval, and I should note that the directive does not require a ministers’ signature for the paying of bonuses. I also note with interest that the directive was not on the government’s website as of February 2022, suggesting that considerable thought went into policy for the provision of extraordinary bonus payments after 2021, and that the new directive would allow for similar payments in 2022.

Perhaps more importantly, the directive “provides the criteria and approach to the application of lump sum payments.” While there appears to be two types of lump sum payments under this directive, at least one requires Treasury Board approval. Given the threshold of Treasury Board approval under this directive, is it not reasonable to conclude that any lump sum payments to such a large group of officials would not be brought to the attention of the minister responsible.
Furthermore, I am mindful that former Minister Toews, during calendar year 2021, was actively involved in public sector bargaining and compensation, and brought forward to cabinet changes to management compensation in the core public service (see for example, Order in Council 338/2021). The record indicates that the former Minister was deeply involved in compensation issues, including for specific employees, and therefore Albertans are rightly skeptical of his
current claims of ignorance on the COVID bonus payment issue.

In June 2022, you released a report into the activities of then Minister Toews, and Treasury Board and Finance, into the lack of accountability for $4 billion in COVID19 spending during fiscal year 2020-21.

As bonuses are generally paid at the end of the year, and as part of your further performance audit work into COVID19 spending for fiscal year 2021-2022, we are requesting that you investigate and report on the following issues:

1. Was then Minister of Finance Travis Toews ever briefed on COVID bonus pay? And likewise, did the then Minister verbally approve of these payments? Was the Treasury Board Committee of Cabinet ever informed of these payments, either as an item For Decision or For Information?

2. Was the policy on management bonus pay followed appropriately, during the fiscal year in question?

3. As the directive on “Extra or special services compensation directive” was reviewed and updated under former Minister Toews, what role did he play in its development and approval? Likewise, what was the timeline on updating this directive?

4. Did any members of the political staff, in either the Premier’s Office or a Minister’s Office receive bonus payments for COVID19 related actions, which were not in alignment with their employment contract?

5. In addition to the extraordinary bonus payments paid in 2021, how many bonus payments were made thus far in 2022?

The issue of the appropriateness of bonus pay for selected officials during the COVID19 response has generated significant discussion amongst Albertans. More importantly, the role of ministerial oversight and competency has also been called into question on this matter. Given the opaqueness of the Government of Alberta’s responses to legitimate public inquiries, we are asking for your assistance.

At present, only your office has the authority to investigate and answer the public’s questions. We strongly believe that the aforementioned issues warrant your immediate attention, and we look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Shannon Phillips
NDP Official Opposition Finance Critic
MLA for Lethbridge-West

 

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Alberta

Cenovus Energy to buy remaining stake in Toledo refinery from BP for $300 million

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CALGARY — Cenovus Energy Inc. has reached a deal with British energy giant BP to buy the remaining 50 per cent stake in the BP-Husky Toledo Refinery for $300 million.

The Calgary-based oil producer has owned the other 50 per cent of the Ohio-based refinery since its combination with Husky Energy in 2021.

Cenovus says its U.S. operating business will take over operations when the transaction closes, expected before the end of the year.

The company says the Toledo refinery recently completed a major, once in five years turnaround to improve operational reliability.

It says the transaction will give Cenovus an additional 80,000 barrels per day of downstream throughput capacity, including 45,000 barrels per day of heavy oil refining capacity.

The deal brings Cenovus’ total refining capacity to 740,000 barrels per day.

Alex Pourbaix, Cenovus president and CEO, says fully owning the Toledo refinery provides an opportunity to further integrate the company’s heavy oil production and refining capabilities, including with the nearby Lima Refinery.

“This transaction solidifies our refining footprint in the U.S. Midwest and increases our ability to capture margin throughout the value chain,” he said in a statement.

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

Companies in this story: (TSX:CVE)

The Canadian Press

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