Vaccine eligibility expands, milestone hit
More than 75 per cent of eligible Albertans are now fully immunized against COVID-19 while thousands more Albertans are now eligible for a third COVID-19 vaccine dose.
Starting Oct. 6, Albertans age 75 and older and First Nations, Inuit and Métis people age 65 and older can begin booking for a third dose at least six months after their second dose.
Acting on the recommendations of the Alberta Advisory Committee on Immunization, Alberta is one of the first provinces in Canada to offer third doses of vaccine to these age groups. Older Albertans, along with those who are immunocompromised or in seniors supportive living, are receiving third doses because of their increased risk of hospitalization, death or other severe outcomes from COVID-19.
Health officials will continue to monitor all emerging evidence on vaccine effectiveness across Canada and around the world.
“We are pleased to offer additional protection for those Albertans who are most at risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Getting fully vaccinated is not only important to help protect yourself and others, but is also vital to protecting our health-care system.”
“We know that COVID-19 can be especially dangerous for our older populations and continue to do everything we can to keep them safe. Over three-quarters of eligible Albertans are now fully immunized. I encourage everyone to think of their family, friends and neighbours and get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.”
“The data shows that seniors may experience waning immunity approximately six months after their second dose. A third dose will be beneficial for our elderly population to ensure they have the best protection from COVID-19 as we move through this fourth wave. At this time, the evidence does not support a need for additional doses for the general population, but we continue to monitor the data and will adapt as new evidence emerges.”
Double dose milestone hit
Currently, 75.1 per cent of eligible Albertans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after receiving two vaccine doses.
In addition, 84.5 per cent of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose. More than 500,000 first, second and third doses have been administered since Sept. 3.
All eligible Albertans are strongly encouraged to get fully vaccinated soon as possible to protect themselves, their families and their communities.
Albertans eligible for third doses
In addition to Albertans aged 75 and older, and First Nations, Métis and Inuit people aged 65 and older, third doses are available for seniors living in congregate care. These individuals are at the highest risk of severe outcomes and potential spread within congregate living sites, and will receive their doses on-site.
A number of immunocompromising conditions also qualify for an additional dose at least eight weeks after a second dose. For a full list, visit alberta.ca/vaccine.
Additional mRNA doses are also available to Albertans who are travelling to a jurisdiction that does not accept visitors who have been vaccinated with Covishield/AstraZeneca or mixed doses.
Anyone in the general population who receives a complete two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series can be confident that they have strong protection against severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19.
Booking a third-dose appointment
Eligible Albertans aged 75 and older and First Nations, Metis and Inuit persons living off-reserve can book appointments for third doses at participating pharmacies and physician clinics by using the booking system at alberta.ca/vaccine. Albertans can also call 811, participating pharmacies or participating physicians’ offices, or find a community pharmacy providing walk-in vaccinations.
Individuals aged 65 and older who live on a First Nations reserve will be able to access third doses through local public health clinics on-reserve.
If you are deemed ineligible due to your age, or six months has not passed since receiving your second dose, you will be asked to re-book when eligible.
Outdoor gathering restrictions
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, an updated public health measure will apply to all outdoor private social gatherings effective Oct. 6:
- Outdoor private social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 20 people, with two-metre physical distancing between households at all times. This is a decrease from the previous limit of 200 attendees.
- All other previously public health measures remain in place at this time.
- Additional information on all the public health measures is available at alberta.ca/covid19.
Writer opposing Free Alberta Strategy in national article confuses chartered banks with financial institutions
From the Free Alberta Strategy Team
In a new article published in the federal-government-funded “The Conversation” publication, Robert L. Ascah, a researcher at the also-federal-government-funded Parkland Institute, attempts to lay the hatchet to the Free Alberta Strategy.
In his piece, entitled “What the Free Alberta Strategy gets wrong about Canada’s banking system,” Mr. Ascah argues that the Alberta Independent Banking Act that is proposed in the Free Alberta Strategy report is unconstitutional because banking is an entirely federal area of jurisdiction.
Here is the key quote from Mr. Ascah:
“The Free Alberta Strategy, however, purports to allow Alberta to incorporate and regulate banks, which is clearly unconstitutional. There’s no mention that this proposal is beyond the powers of the provincial legislature.”
But, as so often seems to happen, this latest Free Alberta Strategy critic clearly doesn’t appear to have read – or taken the time to understand – what the Free Alberta Strategy is actually proposing.
While it’s true that “chartered banks” are federally regulated, that doesn’t mean that any type or form of “banking”, as the term is colloquially used, must be federally regulated.
Credit unions, for example, offer “banking” services, while not being “chartered banks” that are federally regulated.
This definition, while technical, is the crux of the issue.
And while we admit that this is very technical, when you’re talking about writing laws, technicalities matter a lot.
To be clear, here is the exact proposal from the Free Alberta Strategy report itself:
1. Expanding the number of provincially regulated financial institutions and credit unions;
2. Promoting private ownership of these new financial institutions; and
3. Mandating that all provincially regulated financial institutions and credit unions (including ATB) remain compliant with the Alberta Sovereignty Act as it relates to the non-enforcement of federal laws and court decisions deemed to infringe unduly on Alberta’s provincial jurisdiction.
You will note, very clearly, that this proposal in our Free Alberta Strategy report talks about “provincially regulated financial institutions” not “chartered banks”.
This is because the authors of the strategy understand (unlike Mr. Ascah, apparently) that while “chartered banks” must be regulated by the federal government, “financial institutions” can be regulated by the provincial government.
This is exactly why our Free Alberta Strategy report suggests modelling any new “banks” in Alberta on ATB Financial (previously known as Alberta Treasury Branches), which is a long-standing Alberta financial institution.
(Note: Although ATB is a crown corporation, our proposal envisages privately owned and operated financial institutions, not more government-owned and operated financial institutions. Just in case anyone was worried we were suddenly advocating for bigger government!)
Just as Alberta’s credit unions are not “chartered banks” and so are not federally regulated, ATB Financial is not a “chartered bank”, and so it is not regulated by the federal government.
ATB Financial is a “financial institution” that is provincially regulated by the Alberta government under the ATB Financial Act.
This is precisely what the Free Alberta Strategy report proposes – an increase in the number of provincially regulated financial institutions in Alberta.
We can clearly see then that, despite the claim by Mr. Ascah that provincial regulation of banking is unconstitutional, the mere existence of ATB is proof that our proposal is, in fact, constitutional.
The remainder of Mr. Ascah’s article goes on to argue that if Alberta unconstitutionally incorporated its own new “chartered banks”, the federal government would cut those banks off from being able to transfer funds to other banks in Canada, making them impractical for the public to use.
Maybe it’s true that the federal government would cut off any unauthorized provincial “chartered banks” from payment mechanisms.
But, given no one is proposing Alberta incorporate its own new “chartered banks”, this entire second half of the article is an irrelevant straw man argument.
Again, the Free Alberta Strategy proposes to incorporate new provincially regulated financial institutions, like ATB.
And, in case you haven’t noticed, ATB has not been cut off from being able to transfer funds to other banks by the federal government, because – shock – the existence of ATB is perfectly constitutional.
The real question then, is whether or not the first half of Mr. Ascah’s article, where he claims we are proposing to do something unconstitutional, is simply a misunderstanding, or a deliberately misleading diatribe.
Either way, such a fundamental error really makes you wonder why the Parkland Institute would allow the article to be published at all!
Are Parkland Institute staff no longer expected to read the thing they are publicly criticizing anymore?
Are The Conversation editors no longer expected to check whether their authors have their facts straight?
Perhaps the oddest part of this whole situation is that the Parkland Institute, where Mr. Ascah works, has previously written about the benefits of having an Alberta-based, Alberta-regulated financial institution!
They did so in a report that goes into detail explaining the difference between federally regulated chartered banks and provincially regulated financial institutions!
Even stranger still – which Parkland Institute researcher do you think it was who wrote this report?
Yes, you guessed it, it was Robert L. Ascah!
It gets worse…
Once upon a time, Mr. Ascah worked at Alberta Treasury, the government department that is responsible for regulating ATB.
Then, after he worked at Alberta Treasury, Mr. Ascah went to work at ATB itself, where he was responsible for government relations, strategic planning, and economic research.
That’s right folks…
Our Free Alberta Strategy critic, who attacked us by claiming that provincially regulated financial institutions are unconstitutional, actually worked as a senior executive at both the organization he claims is unconstitutional, and the organization that is supposed to regulate the thing that he claims is unconstitutional.
We must either believe, then:
- That Mr. Ascah, who has written about the benefits of provincially-regulated financial institutions, has worked for a provincially-regulated financial institution, and has worked for the organization that regulates provincially-regulated financial institutions, is somehow entirely unaware that provincially-regulated financial institutions are legal.
Or, we must believe:
- That Mr. Ascah perfectly understands that provincially-regulated financial institutions are legal and that that is how ATB is established, but that it’s somehow, all of a sudden, now beneficial for him to pretend that he doesn’t, and that anyone suggesting other financial institutions be regulated in that way is suggesting something “unconstitutional”.
How could it possibly be beneficial for Mr. Ascah to pretend that this idea is unconstitutional all of a sudden, I hear you ask?
Well, the answer to that question is actually the least confusing part of his article.
Contained right at the bottom of the article, under “Disclosure statement” (and conveniently excluded from most re-publications of the piece by the media) are 9 little words:
“Robert (Bob) L. Ascah is affiliated with Alberta NDP.”
Of course, affiliated with is a little bit of an understatement in this case.
Mr. Ascah has donated thousands of dollars to the Alberta NDP for many years, while several of his Parkland Institute colleagues are actually running as Alberta NDP candidates in the 2023 Alberta election!
Now, as a non-partisan organization, we generally try to avoid pointing out the political affiliations of individual people.
As an organization, we base our support for ideas on whether the ideas are good or not, rather than on who is proposing them.
But, in this case, we’re not criticizing the person proposing the ideas, but the lack of independence and the conflict of interest inherent in a situation where federal-government-funded researchers are published by federal-government-funded websites and re-printed by federal-government-funded newspapers.
Unfortunately, in a world where government-funded academics get government funding to write government propaganda published in government-funded media, there’s really no incentive to cover the truth anymore.
As to why the federal government would want to fund researchers to write propaganda for them, and fund media outlets to publish it for them, we’ll leave that one to you to answer!
In the end, this is exactly why we need more independent research and independent distribution of ideas in our society.
The Free Alberta Strategy jealously guards our independence.
That’s why we never accept any money or resources from any government, regardless of political stripe.
But that’s also why we need your help.
We need your help so that we can continue to do research and analysis on ways in which Alberta can fight back, such as the Sovereignty Act.
We need your help to further our work to protect Alberta’s interests from a hostile and divisive federal government in Ottawa.
We need your help to grow our supporter, activist, and volunteer network across our great province.
We need your help to share our work with like-minded friends and family in order to get the word out to as many members of the public as possible.
If you’re ready to help, click here:
Former Alberta premier Jason Kenney accepts role in Calgary advising law firm
By Dean Bennett in Edmonton
Jason Kenney, more than three months after stepping down as Alberta’s premier, has landed a new role as a Calgary-based adviser in law firm Bennett Jones.
Kenney, who is also a former federal cabinet minister, will work in the public policy group.
Kenney says on Twitter he looks forward to the new job and that his work won’t include lobbying the provincial government or its agencies.
He says Alberta’s ethics commissioner has signed off on his new role and Kenney says he won’t be accepting any other jobs without first checking with the commissioner.
Kenney announced last May he was stepping down as premier following a lukewarm 51 per cent vote of support in a United Conservative Party leadership review.
Kenney was instrumental in creating the UCP in a merger with his Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party, but he fell out of favour with many in the combined party over COVID-19 restrictions and what was seen as a top-down management style.
It was a not an amicable departure.
Kenney publicly clashed with his eventual successor, Premier Danielle Smith, over her plan to introduce sovereignty legislation to challenge what she considers federal intrusions into provincial areas of constitutional authority.
Kenney challenged the legality and economic effect of such a bill, and resigned as a legislature member on the day Smith’s sovereignty act was introduced last November.
Bennett Jones, with offices across Canada and in New York, said Kenney will provide advice on attracting investment in Canada’s energy sector and with Indigenous communities.
“I’m thrilled to be joining this iconic firm, which has both deep Alberta roots and a major national presence,” said Kenney in a statement Wednesday.
“Bennett Jones’ Public Policy group has the greatest policy depth of any Canadian law firm, and I look forward to working with several former colleagues from both senior elected and public service roles.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2023
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