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Alberta health scofflaws face $1,000 fines

“These powers are being enforced through Ministerial order, under the Public Health emergency but they will be coming to the legislature in the near future to seek to actually make the necessary amendments on a permanent basis,” Kenney said.

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Premier Jason Kenney said he is bringing in new health regulations that will see people ignoring social distancing and isolation rules fined up to $1,000.

After the province invoked a state of emergency under the Public Health Act, it broadened the powers of the provincial government to amend and introduce new laws.

“The overwhelming majority of Albertans have been very responsible and civic-minded in responding to this crisis,” Kenney said.

“Most of us understand that we all have a role to play in limiting the spread of the disease by staying at home as much as possible, practicing rigorous personal hygiene, maintaining a safe distance from other people, and respecting the restrictions that have been put in place to limit social interaction.

“Sadly, not everyone seems to get it.”

This, after reports of overcrowding at Edmonton parks and children’s play areas across the provnce.

“Too many people continue to ignore these guidelines that have been issued by Dr. (Deena) Hinshaw and the government of Alberta. In so doing, they endanger the health of others, particularly the most vulnerable,” Kenney said.

“Today we are moving from asking people to act responsibly to instead using the full force of the law to legally require that people act responsibly to protect public health.”

“Through amendments to the procedures, regulation under the provincial offences procedures act, community peace officers in addition to police, will now be able to issue tickets to enforce COVID-19 public health orders.

“These provisions include the current limit on mass gatherings to 50 attendees, and mandatory self-isolation for people in the following circumstances: any individual diagnosed with COVID-19, or exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19, such as cough and fever. Anyone retunring to Alberta from outside of Canada and all of those who have had close contact with an individual who is confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.

“To be clear, returning international travellers must self-isolate for 14 days or they will be subject to the newly-imposed significant penalties. All others including confirmed or probable cases of COVID infection and those in contact with confirmed or probable cases, must self-isolate for at least ten days.”

Ten days or when symptoms disappear, whichever is longer, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“These legally binding rules include operational daycares, except for those for whom we are making exceptions to support critical care workers and core-service workers,” Kenney said

“Public recreational facilities, bars and nightclubs, and non-essential visits to continuing care and long-term care facilities.”

“So, if you violate the rules that we have laid down, you will now be subject to stringent penalties and fines with rigorous enforcement behind them.

“To drive hom the importance of everyone adhering to these laws for the protection of public health, community peace officers and police will be able to issue fines of up to $1,000, per violation, through tickets.”

Kenney said the government is consulting with municipalities about the possibility of expanding enforcement powers to municipal bylaw officers as well.

“Courts will also have increased powers to administer fines of up to $100,000 for a first offence and up to $500,000 for a subsequent offence or for more serious violations.”

These new fines will be in force over the coming days, Kenney said.

“These new enforcement measures are a reasonable, prudent, but necessary response to the escalating COVID-19 outbreak in Alberta,” said Kenney.

“These powers are being enforced through Ministerial order, under the Public Health emergency but they will be coming to the legislature in the near future to seek to actually make the necessary amendments on a permanent basis.”

“When life returns to normal, we will no longer require these kinds of extraordinary powers but right now we must use every tool available to ensure public safety.”

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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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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Nearly $400 million in commemorative holiday events planned for fed employees only

The Department of Canadian Heritage promises “large-scale commemoration events” for a September 30 holiday for federally regulated employees only.

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It’ll cost hundreds of millions of dollars with federally regulated employees getting ready to party like it’s 2021, all on the public teat.

The Department of Canadian Heritage promises “large-scale commemoration events” for a September 30 holiday for federally regulated employees only.

Blacklock’s Reporter says the holiday will cost $388.9 million, by official estimate.

“The department will collaborate with national organizations for large-scale commemorative events on September 30,” staff wrote in a briefing note. It is the first federal observance of its kind.

The Senate on June 3 passed Bill C-5 An Act To Amend The Bills Of Exchange Act that designates September 30 as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The paid holiday applies only to federal employees including the RCMP and Canadian Armed Forces, and federally-regulated private sector workers at job sites like airports, banks, grain mills, marine shippers, radio stations and railways.

“This new annual statutory holiday on September 30 will ensure public commemoration of the tragic history and legacy of Residential Schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process,” said the briefing note National Day For Truth And Reconciliation. Costs of planned events were estimated at $2.7 million.

Parliament passed the holiday bill without a dissenting vote though senators in final debate questioned its usefulness. “What could long-term, dedicated and stable funding mean for food security, for closing the infrastructure gap which is huge, for finally ending boiled water advisories, for dealing with acute housing shortfalls in Indigenous communities?” asked Senator Dennis Patterson (Nunavut).

“It is hard for me to hear about the hundreds of millions of dollars that will go to provide federal employees a paid day off when I think about how an ongoing commitment of what we have heard today would be $388.9 million per annum for this holiday,” said Patterson.

“It would be an insult to my family members, to my friends and to the memories of those survivors I have lost along the way if this day were to become yet another paid day at the cottage for federal workers,” said Patterson. “It needs to truly be a day of remembrance and learning.”

The Treasury Board said direct costs were $165.9 million in the federal public service. “Most of that is in lost productivity,” Stephen Diotte, executive director of human resources, told the Senate June 3.

“The balance of it is payments required for employees in 24/7 work environments like corrections or Canada Border Services or ships’ crews and officers in the Department of National Defence and Department of Fisheries,” said Diotte.

The $165.9 million figure did not include holiday pay or overtime for Crown corporation employees. “I don’t have those figures,” said Diotte.

The labour department said airlines, marine shippers and other federally-regulated private sector companies would pay another $223 million annually.

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City of Edmonton mandates COVID jabs

The e-mail did not contain what disciplinary actions the city would take against staff who don’t get jabbed.

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City of Edmonton employees have less than a month to get jabbed against COVID-19, officials said in a new mandatory vaccine policy announced Monday.

City Manager Andre Corbould said in an e-mail to all staff they will have to be vaccinated by November 15.

“Last week, I shared the results from the Employee COVID-19 Vaccination Disclosure Policy (A1700) with you. The Executive Leadership Team (ELT) used this information to determine if additional steps were necessary to protect you, keep our facilities safe and operational, and stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Corbould.

“According to the disclosure results, 72% of employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In the context of the fourth wave in Alberta and rising cases in our own employees, that level is not high enough to give us confidence that we are minimizing the hazard of COVID-19 in the workplace to the greatest extent possible.

“As a result, the City of Edmonton is introducing a COVID-19 vaccination policy for all City of Edmonton employees effective today, September 20, 2021. All employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (two weeks after receiving the final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine) by Nov. 15, 2021.”

Courbould said he realizes the decision is bound to set off a storm of controversy.

“While I recognize this decision may be difficult for some, I expect everyone to behave respectfully to one another as this decision is implemented. ELT made this decision, not your supervisor. We will not tolerate disrespectful or abusive behaviour or communications,” he wrote.

“This is a significant step for our organization, and an essential safety measure for keeping our workplaces safe.”

The e-mail did not contain what disciplinary actions the city would take against staff who don’t get jabbed.

Earlier this month, the City of Calgary also instituted a mandatory vaccination requirement.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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