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Alberta

UCP MLA rips party leadership for dining together while small businesses challenged

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One of the biggest problems about introducing restrictions to battle covid has been the amount of confusion these rules cause.   Not only do they change and sometimes quickly, they are often hard to comprehend  in the first place.   For example, thousands of Albertans will recall seeing a meme proclaiming only 15 people are allowed in a Church, unless one of them is deceased, and then it’s 10, unless they walk outside together, and then it’s 5.
Challenged for dining with other government ministers in a patio setting this week, the Premier does not believe he and fellow diners broke any of the rules they themselves established.  Not surprisingly several opposition MLA’s are saying they did break the rules, and now Angela Pitt, UCP MLA for Airdrie East has weighed in.  Pitt wrote a fiery post pointing out the rules appear to have been broken.  She’s outraged that restaurant owners in her riding and around the province feel they could be charged if they allowed a similar situation.

From the Facebook page of Angela Pitt, UCP MLA for Airdrie East

By now, many of you have seen the photos of several senior politicians wining and dining on the Sky Palace patio. There has been some speculation online that I took part. I would like to assure my constituents and all Albertans that I had nothing to do with this.
Looking at these photos it seems clear to me that several health restrictions were violated.
Much of the public concern about this incident has been about the hypocrisy of senior officials breaking their own rules.
I can certainly understand these concerns.
As a proud conservative, a former business owner, and the representative for Airdrie-East, it pains me to watch the small businesses in my community being the constant target of government restrictions. I see the extreme amounts of uncertainty. I see the unmeasurable levels of creative problem-solving being invested into working with COVID-19 restrictions, only for the restrictions to change over and over again. I see the stress on so many suffering business owners and their families, and I know as well as every other Albertan that many of these businesses will not make it.
The current Stage 1 restrictions allow restaurants to operate patio-only service for up to 4 household members per table, or 3 people if diners who live alone are with their 2 close contacts.
The Premier had a restaurant dinner on his patio with 7 friends, and it remains unclear to Albertans why a restaurant owner can’t have larger groups on their patio.
I am calling on the Premier today to make the rules more consistent, to give businesses fairness, and to allow restaurants to safely operate in the same fashion in which the Premier just portrayed.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Two deputy chief medical officers resign from their positions with Alberta Health

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Edmonton – Alberta’s two deputy chief medical officers of health are leaving their roles — less than a month after Dr. Deena Hinshaw was removed as the province’s top doctor.

Health Minister Jason Copping confirmed during question period Wednesday that both of the doctors have submitted letters of resignation.

“They are still continuing to work at this point in time,” he said in the legislature. “We are in the process of actually looking to fill those roles.”

A statement from Alberta Health said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra and Dr. Jing Hu, who are listed as public health physicians on the department’s website, have given notice.

When reached by her department email, Salvaterra responded: “Unfortunately, we are not able to comment.”

She later added that she respects and admires both Dr. Hinshaw and Dr. Hu.

“They are brilliant, hard-working, and compassionate public health physicians and I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to work alongside them for these past 14 months.”

Salvaterra, who has extensive public health experience including as the medical officer of health for Peterborough, Ont., joined the office in October 2021.

Her career in public health includes work in “the COVID-19 response, mental health, the opioid response, women’s health, poverty reduction, health equity, community food security and building stronger relationships with First Nations.”

Hu’s out-of-office message said her “last day at work with Alberta Health was Nov. 18, 2022,” and noted she wouldn’t have access to the department email after that date.

She got extensive training in China and at the University of Calgary before joining the health department in January 2020.

Their resignations came within a month of Hinshaw, who became the face of Alberta’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, being removed from her position.

Hinshaw was replaced by Dr. Mark Joffe, a senior executive member of Alberta Health Services, on an interim basis.

“Dr. Joffe will be supported by medical officers of health within AHS, by other staff in the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and by the Public Health Division,” said the statement from Alberta Health late Wednesday.

“We expect these changes to have no impact on the department’s and Dr. Joffe’s ability to meet the requirements of the Public Health Act.”

Hinshaw’s dismissal didn’t come as a surprise.

Premier Danielle Smith announced on her first day in office in October that she would be replaced.

Smith has made it clear that she blames both Hinshaw and Alberta Health Services for failing to deliver the best advice and care for Albertans as the hospital system came close to buckling in successive waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of the bad decisions were made by Alberta Health Services on the basis of bad advice from the chief medical officer of health,” Smith told reporters on Oct. 22.

Smith has not placed the blame on front-line doctors and nurses but broadly on AHS senior management. Joffe, while serving as chief medical officer of health, retains his role in AHS senior management as a vice-president responsible for areas in cancer and clinical care.

Hinshaw, an Alberta-trained public health specialist, became a celebrity of sorts in the first wave of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, as she delivered regular, sometimes daily, updates to Albertans on the virus, its spread and methods to contain it.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

— By Colette Derworiz in Calgary.

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Alberta

Alberta introduces bill for $2.8 billion in inflation-fighting payouts, rollbacks

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Edmonton – The Alberta government has introduced legislation to implement inflation-fighting rebates and payouts announced recently by Premier Danielle Smith.

Affordability Minister Matt Jones says the changes allow for help for families, seniors and the vulnerable soon.

Middle- to lower-income families, those with a household income of less than $180,000 a year, are to get $600 over six months for each child under 18 years of age.

The same income threshold and benefit applies to seniors, and the payout will also go to those on disability supports.

There will be electricity rebates and the 13 per cent provincial tax on gasoline is suspended from January to June.

The total cost of the package is pegged at $2.8 billion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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