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Kenney announces renter protection, restaurant closures and crowd size changes

Kenney said new protection for renters – long sought by the Opposition NDP – means tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent and/or utilities before May 1.

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Premier Jason Kenney announced a myriad of new coronavirus rules Friday including help for renters, crowd size changes and restaurant closures while pleading for federal help for the beleaguered energy industry.

Kenney ordered:

• The number of people allowed at gatherings has been slashed from 50 to 15.

• There will be no more vehicles allowed in provincial parks.

• All restaurants still open must be closed. Take out services will still be allowed.

• The tourism will not have to come up with their provincial levy at this time, saving them more than $5 million.

• Close contact businesses including hair salons and barbershops, tattoo and piercing studios, esthetic services, as well as wellness studios and clinics and non-emergency and non-critical health services provided by regulated health professionals or registered professionals including dentistry, physiotherapy, massage, podiatry, chiropractic and optometry services will be shut.

• Non-essential retail services that fall into the categories of clothing, computer and gaming stores, and services in shopping malls and shopping centres such as hobby and toys, gift and specialty items and furniture must be shuttered.

More details on what businesses have to close can be found here.

Kenney said new protection for renters – long sought by the Opposition NDP – means tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent and/or utilities before May 1.

Effective immediately, rents will not increase while Alberta’s state of public health emergency remains in effect.

Effective April 1, late fees cannot be applied to late rent payments for the next three months.

Effective April 1, landlords and tenants need to work together to develop payment plans while the state of public health emergency is in effect.

“We want to be clear: As of today, no one will be facing immediate eviction from their home for non-payment of rent or utilities owed to the landlord,” said Kenney.

“Additionally, tenants will not face increasing financial pressure from rent increases or fees for late rent payments. We are expecting landlords and tenants to work together to figure out payment plans that help everyone meet financial obligations as we manage COVID-19, and we are doing further policy work on support for renters during these tough times.”

Kenney said the rules would not apply to renters who criminally damage their unit.

The premier made another call for the federal Liberals to help the Alberta energy sector.

He noted Western Canadian Select oil was selling at only $5 a barrel on Friday.

He said it was caused by “predatory dumping by unfriendly dictatorships… trying to drive North American oil companies out of business.”

Kenney said he has spoken to top-level U.S. government officials and told them a North American strategy is needed to fight the current price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

He added one of the things the North American strategy could use would be tariffs on foreign oil.

“This will be the most challenging time in history for the energy industry,” Kenney said.

Alberta is about to see “the largest contraction of the economy in history,” Kenney said.

Kenney stressed federal help is needed, adding he was overwhelmed with the support he was getting for Alberta from other provincial premiers.

Meanwhile, the government said the provincial park vehicle prohibition was put in place to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus and are the same restrictions currently in place at national parks.

It said last weekend revealed a disturbing trend of people not exercising physical distancing and leaving behind garbage and human waste in some provincial parks which could attract animals like bears.

“We understand the need to get outdoors, but now is not the time to visit our provincial parks and recreation areas without abiding by common-sense public health and safety measures,” said Environment Minister Jason Nixon.

“We are asking all Albertans to assist us by complying with the public access restriction and to stay home during this critical time. If you have plans to travel to a provincial park or provincial recreation area, please rethink your plans.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

News

UCP MLAs: ‘Let unvaxxed post-secondary students get back to class’

“With no evidence to show that it has made their campuses any safer, colleges and universities are denying unvaccinated Albertans the opportunity to receive a higher education,” said the letter.

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A letter questioning Alberta post-secondary institutions on policy banning unvaccinated students’ from campuses while unvaxxed healthcare workers are now permitted to rapid test has been sent to campuses across Alberta by two UCP MLAs.

MLA for Cardston-Siksika and Deputy Government House Leader Joseph Schow and Peace River MLA Dan Williams signed the letter dated Thursday addressed to eight post-secondary presidents including the universities of Lethbridge, Alberta, Calgary, Mount Royal, MacEwan, SAIT and NAIT and Bow Valley College.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, along with the Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides and the Minister of Health Jason Copping were each cc’d in the letter.

The letter outlines the change to COVID-19 measures adopted by many Alberta post-secondary institutions in September requiring all students and staff to be fully vaccinated to attend in-person and online learning.

Letter from UCP MLAs to Alberta post-secondary institutions – pg 1

“Although these post-secondary institutions have based their protocols on direction from the Government of Alberta, they have chosen to exclude the option of providing a negative PCR or rapid test,” said the letter.

“There is little to no evidence showing that universities and colleges benefit from limiting in-person learning to those who are vaccinated.”

The letter claims institutions have failed to demonstrate how students on campuses banning the unvaccinated are any safer from COVID-19 than students on campuses allowing for rapid testing instead of proof of vaccination.

“With no evidence to show that it has made their campuses any safer, colleges and universities are denying unvaccinated Albertans the opportunity to receive a higher education,” said the letter.

“Many students opportunities vanish for making a personal health choice.”

Letter from UCP MLAs to Alberta post-secondary institutions – pg 2

The letter references Albert Health Services’ recent update to its mandatory vaccination policy in December allowing unvaccinated healthcare workers the option to rapid test and return to work.

“With that in mind, we have a simple question,” said the letter.

“What makes so many university campuses in Alberta more risk-averse than a hospital or other healthcare facility?

“If Alberta healthcare workers, who are likely exposed to COVID-19 daily are permitted to rapid test, why are post-secondary students being denied the same opportunity? These students are being held to a higher standard, a standard that will unfairly deprive many young Albertans of their future.”

The letter describes Alberta’s position to “lead the country in economic growth” moving forward and suggests a “highly skilled and educated workforce” will be needed.

Both Schow and Williams request all Alberta post-secondary institutions remove their “backward-thinking COVID-19 vaccine mandates” and “allow all students the option to rapid test so they can return to school, complete their education and help build a strong Alberta.”

The Western Standard did not hear back from either MLA for comment before publishing.

Although the Alberta government has not made vaccinations mandatory for any post-secondary institutions, many have adopted the policy on their own resulting in thousands of unvaccinated students not being permitted to access in-person or remote learning.

The University of Alberta, University of Calgary and University of Lethbridge earlier this month extended online learning until after the February reading break.

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

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News

Trucker freedom convoy GoFundMe raises over $1M

“It’s our duty as Canadians to put an end to this mandates. It is imperative that this happens because if we don’t our country will no longer be the country we have come to love.”

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Canadians are responding enmasse to help the country’s truckers.

A GoFundMe to help the truckers surpassed the $1 million mark on Friday afternoon, after only being established six days ago.

Money donated is to be dispersed among truckers to aid with journey costs.

Truckers and supporters alike have gathered in a cross-country convoy drive in protest of mandatory vaccinations for their industry.

Donations go towards the cost of fuel, then food and lodgings along the journey.

Our current government is implementing rules and mandates that are destroying the foundation of our businesses, industries and livelihoods,” the donation page says.

“It’s our duty as Canadians to put an end to this mandates. It is imperative that this happens because if we don’t our country will no longer be the country we have come to love. We are doing this for our future Generations and to regain our lives back.”

Truckers Freedom Convoy 2022 has 3 main routes departing from Vancouver, BC, Sarnia, ON, and Enfield, NS, all meeting in Ottawa on January 29, 2022.

Smaller chains will drive to meet with the main convoy from more rural locations across Canada.

You can find all the routes of the convoy here.

“We are a peaceful country that has helped protect nations across the globe from Tyrannical governments who oppressed their people, well now its happening to us. We are taking our fight to the doorsteps of our Federal Government and demanding that they cease all mandates against its people. Small businesses are being destroyed, homes are being destroyed, and people are being mistreated and denied fundamental necessities to survive,” the group says.

The GoFundMe page has a goal of $1,100,000.

“But it’s a small price to pay for our freedoms. We thank you all for your Donations and know that you are helping reshape this once beautiful country back to the way it was,” says the page.

Truckers were previously deemed “essential,” however the federal government green-lit the loss of 12,000-16,000 (10-15%) of cross-border commercial drivers by making vaccinations mandatory, as anticipated by the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA).

“This number may not sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but in cross-border areas such as Vancouver or Windsor, there’s a lot of drivers who will cross the border five or six times a day. That’s a lot of loads in a year that no longer have a way of coming up,” Colin Valentim told the Western Standard.

Ewa Sudyk is a reporter with the Western Standard
esudyk@westernstandardonline.com

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Energy

IEA recognizes Canadian oil industry as the environmental world leader

In 2018, oil and gas companies also invested $3.6 billion in environmental protection initiatives, recognized by the IEA as by far the largest environmental protection spend of any industry in the country.  

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Canada is doing great but should take measures to continue its reputation as a preferred oil and gas supplier on the global market, says the International Energy Agency.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol is a big advocate for net zero targets, but still recognizes the reliance on oil and gas that will persist into the future.

He said he prefers oil supply to come from “good partners” like Canada, he told a press conference.

“Canada has been a cornerstone of global energy markets, a reliable partner for years,” said Birol.

“We will still need oil and gas for years to come… I prefer oil is produced by countries … like Canada (that) want to reduce the emissions of oil and gas.” 

The same IEA report included recommendations for Canada to incentivise moves away from oil production, yet the director still recognizes Canada’s contribution to the global market.

World oil consumption returned to pre-pandemic levels and natural gas demand surpassed levels pre-COVID-19 last year, according to IEA data.

Yet Canada only supplies 6% of the current world market.

Consumption of both oil and gas is expected to continue rising even as more renewable energy sources come online. 

A Russian-caused natural gas crisis in Europe has many looking to Canada as a great alternative.

“The world needs reliable partners,” said Birol, of the European situation.  

Canada is the fourth-largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world and home to the third-largest oil reserves.

“This creates employment for Canadians and secure and reliable oil and gas for both domestic and global markets,” the IEA said.  

The IEA recommends that remaining competitive in global oil and gas markets requires further emission reductions, to ensure the sector remains a major driver of the Canadian economy beyond 2050.

Emission reduction has already been steadily implemented in Canada, analysts praised the oil and gas industry’s “strong track record” of reducing emissions intensity.

The oilsands by have decreased emissions by 32% since 1990 and further reductions of up to 27% are expected by 2030. 

Canadian oil and gas companies spend an average of $1 billion per year on clean energy technology, in addition to billions in environmental protection.  

In 2018, oil and gas companies also invested $3.6 billion in environmental protection initiatives, recognized by the IEA as the largest environmental protection spend of any industry in the country.  

“Canadian oil and natural gas producers are leveraging their improving environmental, social and governance performance and Canada’s stringent environmental regulations to build a global competitive advantage.”

Ewa Sudyk is a reporter with the Western Standard
esudyk@westernstandardonline.com

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