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WATCH: Confusion mounts for parents and facility managers for youth sports vax passports

There is growing confusion for parents and facility managers.

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The battle and confusion continues for youth under 18 to participate in recreational sports and activities in Calgary and other Alberta communities.

The Western Standard spoke with Airdrie lawyer Derek From outside a southeast Calgary rec facility on Friday.

“Youth sports is supported to be forced into the pathway that is not the vaccine passports. The province hasn’t responded that way and many facilities have decided they are going to defy the province and bring in REP, the vaccine passport, regardless of what the province has recommended,” said From.  

From notified the Western Standard on September 27 he had sent a stern warning letter to numerous sports and rec facilities across Alberta.

“It is unlawful for your facility to implement (the Restriction Exemption Program) REP for youth activities,” From said in his letter.

The REP program allows businesses to choose to operate as usual if they run a vaccine passport system or they must abide by health restrictions set out by the province that includes limiting attendance to one-third fire code capacity. The province’s health order says out-of-scope businesses, such as youth recreation and sports cannot participate in the REP vaccine passport program.

“The province was quite clear. What it said was if you want to do (provincial health) order 45, the vaccine passport, and use the REP program, you can if you’re an eligible business. But if you’re out of scope, you can’t do it. And in there (order #45-2021) it’s explicit – youth sports, physical activity, fitness and recreation is out of scope,” said From.

“But yet the city decided, by enacting a bylaw, that it was going to force all eligible businesses to adopt REP and by doing so, what the city has done essentially is told children ages 12 to 17 that they can’t participate in sports or their chosen recreational activity,” said From.

What now seems like a political war between the province’s health order #45-2021 and the new City of Calgary bylaw 65M2021, there is growing confusion for parents and facility managers.

“Many of the facilities were enacting these things, where I think it was illegal because they are violating not only the provincial order but they’re also violating privacy law and potentially human rights legislation in the province. It is a serious deal.”

From said some of the facility managers have since responded and were “confused because they really haven’t had the orders explained to them very clearly” and feel their “hands have been forced.” He also said many of the youth sporting associations feel caught in the middle because they don’t want to have to take on the legal responsibility of managing their participants private medical information and believes they are “being victimized” in all of this.

From is working with a group of parents who would like to see this situation changed. He is researching what options they have and says it “may result in a court action”.

“It might just be getting the court to read the orders and forcing the city of Calgary and forcing rec facilities to comply with the law,” said From.

Tanya Pridge, a double-vaccinated mom, says she has chosen not to vaccinate her children at this time and is struggling to work through these restrictions for her son who plays hockey.

“He worked really hard to make the team and then all this came down the pipeline just after he made the team so it’s really disappointing for him. If it were just community hockey, I probably would have made the decision to pull him out but he made such an effort to make this team it’s devastating for him to have to give that up,” said Pridge.

Pridge says costs are adding up with rapid testing twice a week for her son to participate with his junior AA hockey team.

Chantelle Unger has four kids in different activities. She too is struggling with all this as her unvaccinated son who is over 12 is unable to enter Calgary facilities and she is unable to accompany her younger children to any of their activities due to also refusing the jab.

“So, they’ll be unsupervised and so that’s not ok with me for a six-year-old to be going in by themselves,” said Unger.

“So, we still have the kids in their activities to the best of our ability at this point but it does create a lot of division within the team, the friend groups, the parent groups,” said Unger adding that It’s just all very confusing to everyone involved.

Unger says most of the division comes from the adults.

Both Unger and Pridge would prefer Calgary sporting facilities to be allowed to adopt the alternative approach to vaccine passports and opt for one-third capacity.

“It wouldn’t be unreasonable to have a third capacity in an arena especially for a practice or even a game. I think that the number that would be allowed in would be suitable for us to continue and for the facilities to continue allowing the sports to continue with all the children.”

Unger says her community facility in Indus went with the one-third capacity rather than vaccine passports and “they haven’t had to turn anyone away.”

“We’ve been lucky so far that we went that route with our facility and for the most part, everyone is happy to do that so I don’t understand why the city of Calgary isn’t,” said Unger.

A story the Western Standard published on September 18 about a Cochrane facility that opted for vaccine passports, along with a lengthy Facebook rant from country star Paul Brandt, put enough pressure on the facility managers that they changed their tune within 24 hours.

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

Melanie Risdon is a Calgary-based Reporter for the Western Standard. She has over 20 years experience in media at Global News, Rogers and Corus. mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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1 Comment

  1. Left Coast

    October 2, 2021 at 10:06 am

    According to the most recent data, Americans under 65 have about a 1 in 1863 (Population – 273,820,000 / Total Covid deaths – 146,991) or .00054% chance of dying from Covid-19. If you lower the age to 50 and under, the chance that Covid is fatal drops precipitously to .00017 or 1 in 5841.

    In other words, the chances that covid will kill you if you are under 50 are almost 6x lower than the chances you will develop a debilitating (and often fatal in the long run) heart condition.

    Even more shocking – people under 40 who take the jab are almost 13.5 times more likely to develop some form of myocarditis or pericarditis than to be killed by Covid. Keep in mind the median age from this study was 33.

    The Covid-19 vaccine has been so ‘effective’ in ‘protecting’ people that the masses will now be pressured into taking another dose as new outbreaks of the virus have forced a new wave of authoritarian restrictions.

    Besides, according to available data, a third of the entire US population had contracted Covid BY THE END OF 2020. Natural immunity has always proven to be superior to vaccines.

    A recent study that was conducted in Israel on 800,000 individuals confirms that is especially the case with the rushed mRNA Covid vaccines.

    They found that individuals who had received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were 13x more likely to contract Covid-19 than those who had natural immunity – Fully vaccinated people were also found to be at a “GREATER RISK OF HOSPITALIZATION.”

    The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization recommended that children aged 12 to 15 should not be offered the vaccine and cited concerns that more children may develop more vaccine-related side-effects than be negatively impacted by COVID-19.

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Maskless teen student with asthma ostracized at Calgary Catholic school

“Kids in my class called me an ‘outsider’ which made me feel worse than I already felt,” said 14-year-old Darius.

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A Calgary Catholic school has segregated and since banned a student from attending school for not wearing a mask, says the student’s parents.

And before that, teachers had even taped off an area around the boy’s desk “like a crime scene.”

Darius Lynn, a Grade 9 student at St. Helena Junior High School in Calgary, suffers from asthma and was permitted to go maskless at his desk during the 2020-2021 school year.

When Darius returned to St. Helena for the 2021-2022 school year, without his parents’ knowledge, he was advised he would be required to wear a mask full time.

He complied for the first few months but eventually reported to his parents in late November he was struggling to breathe while wearing the mask.

“I had no idea he was told to wear a mask again this year,” Darius’ mother Stephanie told the Western Standard.

“My husband and I just assumed he wasn’t needing to wear a mask again this year.”

Stephanie said she and her husband Paul reached out to the new principal and Darius’ teachers to request they allow their son the same exemption as the previous year.

They were told he would need a doctor’s note, which Stephanie said they have been unable to acquire.

“Mask exemptions are impossible to get,” said Stephanie.

“Right now, doctors are just too scared to write them.”

Stephanie said the school’s solution was to, “move my son’s desk into the hallway.”

Darius also spoke with the Western Standard and said the teenagers in his class referred to him as an “outsider” after he was moved into the hallway.

“When they did group projects, they would just send me to the library and I had to work on my own,” said Darius.  

“Kids in my class called me an ‘outsider’ which made me feel worse than I already felt.”

Stephanie said she and her husband tried to appeal to the principal, but “she wouldn’t budge,” so they reached out to the superintendent.

“We begged for her to let Darius back into the classroom but he ended up sitting out there for two weeks where he was discriminated against and basically ridiculed so we contacted the superintendent,” said Stephanie.

Stephanie said she emailed Chief Superintendent Bryan Szumlas with the Catholic School Board who helped the Lynns get their son moved back into his classroom.

“So, he was moved back into the classroom, which was good, but what we didn’t know was that his teachers taped off the floor around his desk like a crime scene,” said Stephanie.

“After they put tape on the floor around my desk, some of the kids in my class would step past the tape and pretend they couldn’t breathe,” said Darius, explaining the teasing he endured.

Darius said his teachers had witnessed some of the teasing, but said, “most of the time the teachers didn’t do anything about it.

“They (teachers) also made me wait a few minutes before I could move to my next class because there were basically a bunch of students in the halls.”

“It was just awful what they were doing to him. They were treating him like a walking disease and visibly segregating him,” said Stephanie.

Stephanie said Darius had to stay within his taped boundaries for about a week until Christmas break.

“After the break, the principal notified us that Darius wouldn’t be welcome back if he wasn’t willing to wear a mask,” said Stephanie.

“In fact, one of the communications with the school referred to his asthma as his ‘apparent asthma’ like we were making it up or something.

“They said he could move to the online schooling system or do their D2L system from home,” said Stephanie referring to a web-based learning system offered throughout the school division.

“He doesn’t do well online so we are just trying to do the best we can. He’s in Grade 9, he should be able to be with his peers to finish off his last year in middle school.”

Darius said he has mixed feelings about not returning to school.

“I’m just really upset that I don’t get to see my friends anymore, but I also feel like I have less distractions at home,” said Darius.

Stephanie said it’s been a hard year for Darius as he also had to walk away from community hockey due to the vaccination mandates and additional costs associated with frequent rapid testing.

“He is totally destroyed,” said Stephanie.

The Lynns have two other sons — both attending Notre Dame High School — one in Grade 11 who is special needs and one in Grade 12.

“The real kicker for us is that we have a special needs son who has never worn a mask, doesn’t social distance and we have never been required to show a doctor’s note for him,” said Stephanie.

“They have totally humiliated my son and I’m angry. We just want our son to be treated with dignity and compassion. He has lost hockey because of the mandates and now he isn’t allowed to go to school.”

The family has since been referred to Area Director Deana Helton with regard to their son’s situation.

The Western Standard has contacted the school principal along with Helton but hasn’t heard back yet.

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

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Copping strikes EMS advisory committee amid system strains, red alerts

The Alberta Provincial EMS Advisory Committee will provide recommendations on a provincial EMS service plan by May.

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Health Minister Jason Copping has appointed MLAs R.J. Sigurdson (Highwood) and Tracy Allard (Grande Prairie) to co-chair a new EMS committee to address “unprecedented” demands on the healthcare system.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is also rolling out a 10-point plan to maximize EMS system capacity.

The government listed many aggravating factors driving the system strains including “EMS staffing fatigue and illness, hospital offload delays, more requests for patient transfers, delays in receiving new ambulances and specialized vehicle parts caused by global supply issues.”

The province has seen a plethora of “red alerts” reported by EMS members and tweeted by the Union of Health Care Professionals @HSAAlbertaEMS. A red alert is when there are no available ambulances for emergency calls.

The government also reported a 30% increase in 911 calls in recent months. There was no mention of personnel shortages caused by the government’s COVID-19 mandate.

“Alberta’s government has been supportive of EMS throughout the pandemic. As we approach the peak of Omicron cases, we know the EMS system is seeing significant strain, which impacts service. We recognize this is a challenge and are taking immediate steps to improve emergency care access while we explore longer-term solutions,” said Copping.

AHS will immediately hire more paramedics, transfer low-priority calls to other agencies, and stop automatic ambulance dispatch to motor vehicle accidents with no injuries. AHS is also “launching pilot projects to manage non-emergency inter-facility transfers, and initiating an ‘hours of work’ project to help ease staff fatigue.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of AHS is confident these actions “will allow us to better support our EMS staff and front-line paramedics, and in turn this will ensure our patients receive the best care possible.”

Additionally, AHS will issue a request for proposals in February to conduct a third-party review of Alberta’s provincewide EMS dispatch system.

“The objective review by external health system experts will provide further opportunities to address ongoing pressures, improve effectiveness and efficiency through best practices, and provide the best outcomes for Albertans who call 911 during a medical event,” the government said.

The Alberta Provincial EMS Advisory Committee will provide recommendations on a provincial EMS service plan by May. Committee representatives include “contracted ambulance operators, unions representing paramedics, municipal representatives and Indigenous community representatives.”

Sigurdson said the committee will consider taxpayers’ needs.

“Albertans expect that when they call 911 in their time of greatest need, EMS will always answer. The committee’s goal will be focused around ensuring and improving service to Albertans while supporting the most critical piece of that equation: our EMS staff across all of Alberta.”

Amber Gosselin is a Western Standard reporter.
agosselin@westernstandardonline.com

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WATCH: O’Toole will not be welcoming the truckers in Ottawa

“It’s not for the leader of the Opposition to attend a protest on the Hill or a convoy, it’s up to politicians to advocate for solutions, in a way that’s responsible and respectable to the health crisis we are in.”

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Conservative leader Erin O’Toole was asked six times during a Monday press conference about his stance on the truckers Freedom Convoy 2022, before giving a vague answer.

“We have been talking with the Canadian Trucking Alliance for several months,” said O’Toole told reports.

“We’ve seen a crisis in the supply chain coming for several months and we’ve proposed policies to try to help alleviate that. The most important of which is vaccines. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”

O’Toole press conference

Other specific. questions on the truckers’ comments were left with vague answers.

But the end of the conference O’Toole said it’s not his place to get involved.

“It’s not for the leader of the Opposition to attend a protest on the Hill or a convoy — it’s up to politicians to advocate for solutions, in a way that’s responsible and respectable to the health crisis we are in,” O’Toole said.

“We’ve been trying to tackle the supply chain crisis, encourage vaccination, not ignore problems and divide the country like Mr. (Justin) Trudeau does.”

O’Toole said policies cannot be put in place which could contribute to supply chain issues, as Canadians are already worried about their grocery bills.

O’Toole said he was focused on the economic strain Canadians are having, with record inflation, cost of living, 30% higher gas prices and the housing market’s rising costs,.

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

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