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Judge grants Co-op injunction; barricades must come down

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Unifor protesters must be at least five metres from entrances to Co-op Cardlock in Carseland.

Lawyers for Co-op were in a Calgary court Wednesday seeking an injunction against striking Unifor workers in Carseland, west of Calgary. The judge granted the order Thursday morning.

“We are asking Co-ops and other businesses to take a strong stand against Unifor’s illegal actions,” company CEO Scott Banda told a crowd gathered Wednesday afternoon at the Carseland community hall.

“They are establishing a dangerous precedent for other negotiations – not just for our labour disruption but all other negotiations. Just think about that for a minute; if an organized group doesn’t like what you’re doing, or disagrees with you, they can simply barricade your business until they get what they want.”

Unifor members set up outside the Carseland Co-op Cardlock in southern Alberta on Jan. 24. The dispute is spilling over from Saskatchewan where Local 594 members have been locked out of the Co-op Refinery in Regina since Dec. 5, 2019.

Co-op has now begun to limit the amount of gasoline available to customers to 300 litres a day to try to stop outages in smaller centres.

According to social media, members from across the country, as far east as Quebec, have been holding the line at the Carseland industrial site west of the hamlet of less than 600.

Carseland is a major hub for gasoline transport. Trucks fill up and haul fuel as far north as Rocky Mountain House and it’s also the start of the return trip back to Regina where trucks deliver fuel along the Trans-Canada Hwy. between Carseland and Regina.

RCMP are on site and are currently treating it as a labour dispute, Staff Sgt. Dale Morgan said.

“It’s been peaceful to date. It’s important to note that proper exercise of police discretion should not be confused with lack of enforcement,” Morgan said.

Enforcement could be coming soon as the Consumers Co-operative Refinery Limited (on behalf of Federated Co-op Limited) received the news that their request for an injunction had been granted.

The decision is similar to the one granted in Regina on Dec. 27 against Unifor protesters at the Co-op Refinery in Regina.

Local 594 also set up a blockade at a fuelling depot in East Saint Paul, just outside of Winnipeg on Jan. 28. The depot belongs to Imperial Oil and the union is blocking Co-op trucks from access.

“We just want to send a message to Co-op that we’re prepared as a unit to go wherever we need to go to make our statement,” John Harte, a Local 594 member from Regina told Global News.

Local 594 in Regina has continued with blockades despite the current judicial orders. Uniform national president Jerry Dias and 13 others were arrested less than two weeks ago and charged with mischief.

Banda said the company wants to continue bargaining with the union but they want the business’s rights respected as well.

“Unifor, I’m calling on you to end these illegal blockades and get back to the bargaining table for as long as it takes to get our people back to work,” Banda said in a press release Monday.

Banda said bargaining does not look like blockades and defying court orders.

“You can’t have meaningful bargaining when your business is being held hostage.”

Local 594 president Kevin Bittman said they are the only union out of 63 locals who was unable to renew their contract last year.

“We’ve been negotiating since February (2019) – we met 22 times,” Bittman said.

“We were happy with the status quo – we just wanted to sign again and keep working.”

FCL has a “refinery facts” page on their website with the company’s take on the offer presently before the union.

Deirdre is Western Standard’s Senior Reporter

dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com @Mitchell_AB

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Vaccine passports now mandatory in Alberta

In place of a vaccine passport, a negative test result from a privately-paid rapid test within 72 hours of service will be adequate or a person will need to show a valid medical exemption.

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The Alberta government’s new vaccine mandates for businesses, entities and events are in effect.

Each organization must follow one of two options: implement the Restriction Exemption Program (REP) requiring proof of vaccination or negative test result, plus mandatory masking, to continue operating as usual, or comply with all public health restrictions as outlined in Order 42-2021.

In place of a vaccine passport, a negative test result from a privately-paid rapid test within 72 hours of service will be adequate or a person will need to show a valid medical exemption.

The REP allows operators to avoid the majority of public health restrictions with the implementation of a proof of vaccination program, although vaccine requirements for staff are at the employer’s discretion. Face mask mandates are still required in all indoor spaces.

The program doesn’t apply to those under 12 years of age and businesses that need to be accessed by the public for daily living purposes, including all retail locations. As well, employees, contractors, repair or delivery workers, volunteers or inspectors will be permitted access to spaces without requiring a vaccine passport.

To enter spaces participating in the REP, adults need to provide valid photo identification that matches their paper or digital vaccine record showing name, vaccine type and date of administration. From now until October 25, proof of partial vaccination (one dose) will suffice, however after that date, proof of full vaccination (two doses) will be required. Those under 12 will only need to show vaccination paperwork.

Indoor entertainment, event and recreation facilities that don’t implement the REP will be limited to one-third capacity of their fire code occupancy and attendees must be in household cohorts or with up to two close contacts if they live alone.

Outdoor events and facilities have no capacity restrictions, but attendees must maintain a two-metre distancing between households.  

Restaurants that don’t follow the REP cannot offer indoor dining, and outdoor dining will be limited to six people per table from one household, and liquor sales will have to end by 10 p.m. with consumption cut off by 11 p.m.

Retail, shopping malls and food courts aren’t eligible for the REP, therefore will be reduced to one-third capacity of fire code occupancy and are required to stop all in-person dining, switching to take out only.

Indoor private social gatherings will be permitted for those that are vaccinated to a maximum of two households up to 10 (vaccine eligible) vaccinated people. There are no restrictions for children under 12. For those who are unvaccinated, indoor social gatherings are not permitted.

Private outdoor social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 200 people who are socially distanced.  

Churches will be limited to one-third of fire code capacity and masks and social distancing are still mandatory in places of worship.

Employees are mandated to work from home unless their physical presence is required for their duties.

Proof of vaccination will not be required to enter a polling place for Monday’s federal election although physical distancing, masking and other transmission reducing measures will be in place.

For more information on the Restriction Exemption Program, click here.   

Risdon is a reporter at the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Hockey arena backs down on banning unvaccinated kids

Within hours of the Western Standard posting the exclusive story, Oaten was contacted by the SLSFSC and advised of an update to their policy.

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Public pressure has brought minor hockey out of the penalty box in Cochrane.

Following an exclusive story by the Western Standard on Saturday, along with mounting pressure from the community, a Cochrane sports facility has revamped its vaccine passport policy.  

The Cochrane Minor Hockey Association (CMHA) and Hockey Alberta were not mandating a vaccine passport system, but Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC) announced it would be requiring proof of vaccine status for anyone 12 and up.

Within hours of the story being posted, CMHS President Cory Oaten was contacted by the SLSFSC and advised of an update to their policy with this statement: “Youth between the ages of 12 (vaccine eligible) to 18 years of age are exempt from the REP vaccination requirement to enter the facility for the purpose of participating in a youth organized sport organization. Examples include (but not limited to) Cochrane Minor Hockey, Ringette, Cochrane Minor Soccer, Lacrosse, Cochrane Figure Skating Club, Comets, Junior Lifeguard Club, etc.”

Although youth may access the facility without being vaccinated, all adult spectators, coaches, volunteers and organizers of any youth activity “must show proof of vaccination, proof of a negative test, or medical exemption to gain entry to SLSFSC premises.”

“Although this helps our kids get on the ice in Cochrane, it’s still an issue at lots of other facilities, especially in larger facilities in Calgary and Airdrie,” Oaten said.

Oaten, who works in the insurance industry, points out the “huge liability issue” this poses to his and other sports organizations.

“Originally, Spray Lakes pushed us to collect this medical documentation from our members,” he said.

The CMHA board consists of 18 volunteer members.

“They can’t put those expectations on a board of volunteers. It’s a big legal issue for us,” Oaten said, adding he and his board refuse to take responsibility for requiring proof of vaccine or the collection of their members’ private medical information.

Oaten was informed the SLSFSC will now have its own security checkpoints set up in the facility and will take responsibility for checking the vaccine status of anyone 18-plus entering the building.

Oaten anticipates families will still pull their kids from hockey and other sports programs as those who remain unvaccinated will not be permitted in the facility to accompany their child.

Hockey Alberta stated on their Facebook page they are working with the Alberta government on how last Wednesday’s announcement will affect hockey for Alberta players. Oaten has asked his members to hold off on making a decision to pull their child from the program until Hockey Alberta comes forward with their updated season plan.

The Western Standard reached out to the SLSFSC for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Risdon is a reporter for the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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