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Alberta’s faith-based relaunch grant puts places of worship first

The $5,000 maximum, totalling $1 million in taxpayer funding, will go to organizations whose mandate includes a religious, spiritual, or ceremonial component and intends to offset the costs incurred to relaunch gatherings while following Alberta’s public health measures.

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When the Alberta government announced the Faith-based and Cultural Facilities Relaunch Grant in mid-November, cultural and religious leaders across the province sighed in relief. 

Amid some pushback, religious leaders widely applauded the move to provide eligible organizations one-time funding assistance.

The $5,000 maximum, totalling $1 million in taxpayer funding, will go to organizations whose mandate includes a religious, spiritual, or ceremonial component and intends to offset the costs incurred to relaunch gatherings while following Alberta’s public health measures.

The grant helps with changes to facility spaces that create no-contact areas, better ventilation, procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), contracted cleaning services, technology upgrades for online delivery of services and language translation of health-related signage. 

Raj Sidhu, Director of Operations for Calgary’s Dashmesh Culture Centre, said the relaunch grant is a significant boon that could help keep their doors open.

“We applied for the relaunch grant, so we can continue to provide food security to those in need and purchase more PPE to protect our visitors and volunteers,” he said.

“This grant provides the relief required for us to keep our community programs going and assist those in need during these difficult times.”

Calgary’s Sikh community accepts food bank donations and prepares over 700 meals a day to alleviate ongoing food shortages across the city before the extended lockdowns. Sidhu said the collaborative partnerships with small businesses, non-profits, wholesale food-chains and private individuals brought Calgarians together amidst unprecedented economic hardship to make this initiative possible.

Amid surging COVID-19 caseloads in mid-December, brought in new measures to fight the pandemic.

Since December 13, places of worship were limited to 15 per cent of capacity. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, strongly recommended virtual or online services in the place of traditional practice.

Drive-in services where people do not leave their vehicles and adhere to guidance are also allowed.

For Jojo Ruba, the Faith Builder International Church’s youth co-ordinator, the relaunch grant is a significant step.

“I’m part of a Filipino church in Calgary, and we work with many other Filipino churches in our city,” Ruba said.

“Like many ethnic churches, we provide all kinds of services that help new Canadians integrate into Canadian society. This includes helping them access government services, providing support for new Canadians looking for a job or our ethnic foods and helping their kids integrate with other Canadians through youth programs we run.”

The Faith Builder International Church provides support for new Canadians at no cost.

“Our church also rents from the Croatian Cultural Centre in Calgary,” said Ruba.

“Though we don’t directly benefit from this service ourselves because we don’t have a building, we benefit because it helps the Centre survive these difficult times. My only hope is the government will look at ways to expand the program and help cultural groups like ours that don’t have a building.”

With the deadline for the first round of installments passed, applicants will be notified by March of their application status. Due to limited funds and high demand, priority funding will be given to small and medium-sized organizations.

The Alberta government continues to accept applications in advance of the second deadline on March 1, where applicants will be notified in May.

DHALIWAL is an Edmonton-based freelance reporter.

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BREAKING: Omicron found in Alberta

On Monday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced 156 Albertans self-quarantining after returning from travel in a country that had been hit with Omicron.

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The tentacles of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have reached Alberta.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said an Albertan returning home from Nigeria, via the Netherlands, has tested positive for Omicron.

Hinshaw said they tested positive a week ago and the person, who traveled alone, is now self-quarantining.

She said medical officials are trying to “delay” the spread of the variant until more research is done.

But Hinshaw refused to say where the traveller lives over fear it would identify them.

Hinshaw also urged people not to take out their frustrations against the family of the infected person nor the countries that are under an Omicron watch.

And she said people shouldn’t “think of this as a reset to Ground Zero.”

In her daily update, Hinshaw said in the last 24 hours, health officials have found 238 new cases of coronavirus. There are 434 people in the hospital with 81 in ICU. Another six people are reported to have succumbed to the virus.

On Monday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced 156 Albertans self-quarantining after returning from travel in a country that had been hit with Omicron.

Six confirmed cases of the variant of concern have now been confirmed in Canada so far.

Earlier in the day, Canada added Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt to its Omicron travel ban.

On Friday, the government put restrictions on travellers from South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.

“Obviously we’re watching very, very closely the situation with Omicron,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on his way into the cabinet meeting.

“There may be more we need to do and we’ll be looking at it very carefully.”

More to come…

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

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Unvaxxed grounded in Canada

As of November 30, travellers will no longer be allowed to submit a negative test result in place of proof of vaccination to board a plane or train in Canada.

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As of Tuesday, Canadian travellers over the age of 12 will no longer be able to fly or travel by train in Canada without proof of vaccination.

The policy was originally set to come into effect on October 30, however, the federal government announced it would grant a grace period to unvaccinated travellers allowing for a negative COVID-19 test to be provided within 72 hours of the trip.

As of November 30, travellers will no longer be allowed to submit a negative test result in place of proof of vaccination to board a plane or train in Canada.

The new travel restrictions for the unvaccinated come on the heels of the emergence of a new variant of concern (VOC) dubbed Omicron by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Cases involving the new variant, originally detected in South Africa, have been found in other countries including five cases within Canada.

Although there is not much known about the new variant at this time, the WHO confirmed scientists around the world are working to determine how the highly-mutated variant will affect transmissibility and severity of illness in the population.

Canada, along with other nations, closed its boards and expanded its screening protocols to travellers arriving from affected areas in southern Africa.

The Canadian airline industry welcomed the vaccine mandates when they were announced in October. Air Canada and West Jet have both confirmed they will be asking all travellers to produce proof of vaccination before boarding their carriers as of Tuesday.

While health measures such as masking and screening will still be required, no measures for quarantining individual travellers have been put in place with the exception of those who have travelled through or arrived from southern Africa.

“If you indicate to your airline or railway company that you’re eligible to board, but fail to provide proof of vaccination or valid COVID-19 test result, you won’t be allowed to travel and could face penalties or fines,” the government indicated in a statement.

The Canadian government is also warning permanent residents abroad to expect to provide vaccine passports to return home.

The rules don’t apply to commuter trains.

The Government of Canada has created a “reliable way to show proof of your COVID-19 vaccination history when travelling internationally and within Canada,” states the government’s website. The document is verified once uploaded to ArriveCAN upon returning to the country.

The website warns travellers are not guaranteed entry to another country with the documents and suggests checking the rules of your destination country and the countries you travel through.

“Today, Canada passed a sad milestone in its history,” said Matt Slatter, a pilot with a major Canadian airline and a founder of Free 2 Fly, a hub that has “Canadian aviation professionals standing with passengers in defence of freedom.”

“No longer can it hold itself as a beacon of freedom and liberal values.”

The Free 2 Fly website encourages passengers and airline workers who “feel strongly that the ability to travel should not be linked to vaccination status,” to sign up and join their movement.

“With the advent of mandates requiring all aviation and rail passengers to be vaccinated, Canada is now effectively a two-tier society,” said Slatter.

“On one tier, compliant citizens are afforded many of the rights they once enjoyed in a free society. While the other tier is essentially relegated to their own localities, with limited exception.

“History suggests this style of governance will only lead to more tragedy and heartbreak. The cure is inevitably worse than the disease. Will Canada learn from the mistakes of the past?”

Currently, there are just under 38,000 signed up on the Free 2 Fly site. One of the goals of the group is to “wage a legal campaign to block, and/or overturn, all vaccination mandates.”

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

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CRTC trying to hang up on spoof calls

Caller ID spoofing occurs when callers hide or misrepresent their identity by displaying fictitious or altered phone numbers when making calls.

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All those calls from the taxman and Canadian Border Services officials threatening to arrest you could soon be coming to an end thanks to new regulations from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

“Many Canadians are now able to determine which calls can be trusted thanks to a new technology aimed at combating spoofed calls named STIR/SHAKEN. Caller ID spoofing is frequently used in nuisance and fraudulent calls to mask the identity of the caller,” said the CRTC in a release.

“As of today, telecommunications service providers will certify whether a caller’s identity can be trusted by verifying the caller ID information for Internet Protocol-based voice calls. This new technology will help reduce the frequency and impact of caller ID spoofing. As service providers continue to upgrade their IP networks and offer compatible phones to their customers, more and more Canadians will be able to see the effects of STIR/SHAKEN.”

It’s believed up to 25% of all calls in Canada are scams.

The CRTC said Caller ID spoofing occurs when callers hide or misrepresent their identity by displaying fictitious or altered phone numbers when making calls.

“This new caller ID technology will empower Canadians to determine which calls are legitimate and worth answering, and which need to be treated with caution. As more providers upgrade their networks, STIR/SHAKEN will undoubtedly reduce spoofing and help Canadians regain peace of mind when answering phone calls,” said Ian Scott, CRTC CEO.

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We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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