Politics

Safe injection site approvals can’t come quickly enough, province says

Safe injection site approvals can’t come quickly enough, province says

After promising new action to fight the opioid crisis in Alberta, the provincial government is anxious to move ahead with safe injection sites, but is still waiting on the OK from the federal government. “To be frank, I would have liked to have gotten the approvals for those yesterday,” associate health minister Brandy Payne said Friday. “I don’t believe those approvals can come quickly enough and our office is in continual contact with Health Canada, reminding them of the urgency here in Alberta … We want to see those sites opening as soon as possible.” Although Edmonton city council has earmarked four sites  in the core and the province has supported it with a $230,000 grant, the federal government still has to grant an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. That application was sent in early May. A model of how the supervised injection sites would look in Edmonton. Suzane Aboueid, a media relations adviser with Health Canada, said she couldn’t give an estimate of how long the process will take because it relies in part on how responsive the sites are to recommendations from the inspections. Three sites were approved in Toronto on Friday and Aboueid said she expects the pace to pick up across the country after legislation to streamline the process was passed in May. The proposed public locations are the Boyle McCauley Health Centre on 96 Street and 106 Avenue, Boyle Street Community Services at 101 Street and 105 Avenue and the George Spady Society at 100 Street and 105A Avenue. The Royal Alexandra Hospital will apply to be a safe injection site, but it will be only for its patients. “We try to move them as quickly as possible but it’s really up to the sites, once they’re inspected, to take care of everything that needs to be taken care of,” said Aboueid

 
 

Opinion: What happens to moderate conservatives in Alberta?

Opinion: What happens to moderate conservatives in Alberta?

The end of the “progressive” Conservative Party in Alberta, caused by possibly uniting with the Wildrose party to form the United Conservative Party is reminiscent of a similar demise of the “Progressive” Conservative party nationally. Both did this to unite two parties and both seem likely to have their policies now moving away from much of the moderate approaches the progressives in these parties had in place in years gone by. In Alberta, this also seems to end the existence of any party with moderate intentions, that could be successful in the coming provincial election. Even federally, the success of the Liberals, in part, may have been a delayed indication of the federal Conservatives move further to the right.

 
 

B.C. Green leader is ‘hypocritical in the extreme,’ Alberta environment minister says

B.C. Green leader is ‘hypocritical in the extreme,’ Alberta environment minister says

Alberta’s environment minister upped the ante in the cross-border war of words on Thursday, saying the B.C. Green Party leader is “hypocritical in the extreme” for his recent comments about Premier Rachel Notley. B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver criticized Notley’s advocacy for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline Wednesday, saying she should “get with the program and embrace the 21st century.” “I think Andrew Weaver doesn’t get it,” Shannon Phillips told reporters at the Alberta legislature Thursday. “Andrew Weaver and the Green Party would like to, apparently, be critical of one of the most comprehensive climate plans in the country.” The $7.4-billion pipeline expansion was approved by the federal government at the end of November and will transport 890,000 barrels per day of Alberta oil to West Coast tankers. A recent deal between the B.C

 
 

Graham Thomson: Alberta’s ‘progressive’ conservatives struggling to find a new political home

Graham Thomson: Alberta’s ‘progressive’ conservatives struggling to find a new political home

Oh, what is a “progressive” conservative in Alberta to do? What do you do when your old Progressive Conservative party is being newly piloted by a social conservative who wants to scrap it for parts to meld with bits and pieces from the Wildrose Party to form a brand new hybrid political vehicle? Oh, on a superficial level you know the yet-to-be constructive United Conservative Party looks big and powerful — and might be able to easily overtake the NDP pedal-car next election — but deep down you’re afraid the UCP will end up being a 1960s Social Credit jalopy that pulls dangerously to the right. You want other political options. So, what to do? Well, for one, you could grab hold of the UCP steering wheel by becoming leader of the new party.

 
 

Alberta government creates new commission to combat opioid crisis

Alberta government creates new commission to combat opioid crisis

The government is looking for new ways to combat the spread of deadly drugs like fentanyl as a worsening opioid crisis grips the province. A new commission announced Wednesday will assemble a diverse group of people affected by the problem and will recommend “urgent co-ordinated actions” to address the crisis, the government said. The commission will help “aggressively and rapidly respond to the rising problem of opioids in our province,” said associate minister of health Brandy Payne. “The government of Alberta has committed to addressing this crisis and to saving lives but we cannot do this on our own.” Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Karen Grimsrud, will co-chair a new commission to combat the opioid crisis. The commission will report back with recommendations on an ongoing basis starting in June, but the government has already listed a few priorities to address immediately. Public drug coverage will be expanded to include Suboxone and methadone when prescribed through opioid replacement therapy. The government will also be looking to expand the distribution of naloxone, a drug that reverses overdoses. Many first responders are already equipped with it, but the commission will look into who else may be able to make use of the drug

 
 

Unemployed Alberta energy workers demand support from government

Unemployed Alberta energy workers demand support from government

A group of engineers and technical services workers gathered Tuesday at the Alberta legislature to protest jobs in their field being outsourced. Wielding signs with slogans like “Stop job drain” and “Publish real unemployment numbers,” they complained the province wasn’t being straight with them about job losses in the energy sector.  Sam Jayaraman, who was speaking for an informal group called the Association of Calgary Engineers and Designers and worked in project management before being laid off two years ago, wants the government to focus on job creation. Jayaraman said he appreciated the government’s efforts in locking certain professions, including engineering, out of the temporary foreign worker program and now he wants the province to champion the group’s cause to the federal government. Jayaraman came to Canada for work and says jobs are leaving the country almost as fast as newcomers arrive.  Most of the protesters were from Calgary and travelled in a Red Arrow bus to Edmonton, where they joined others from around the province. Siva Karatholuvu, who travelled from Calgary, said his profession has been targeted for outsourcing and the government has been flat-footed. If an energy company says it’s outsourcing 10 per cent of its staff, that usually means it’s 90 per cent engineering and technical services staff, he said. He’s been out of work since July and is worried he’ll lose everything he’s worked for.

 
 

Bill to modernize Alberta adoption laws gets all-party support

Bill to modernize Alberta adoption laws gets all-party support

Families trying to adopt a child could soon see the process eased, thanks to legislation allowing them to post their profiles online.  It’s currently illegal in Alberta to post online or advertise in any way that one wants to adopt a child. That includes posts on social media or online crowd-funding sites. In this province, adoption rates have fallen by 25 per cent since 2008 , even as wait lists creep steadily higher. Yet B.C. — which allows online advertising — has seen an increase. Chestermere-Rocky View MLA Leela Aheer put the change forward in a private member’s bill, which Monday passed its second reading with unanimous support.

 
 

It’s always good news/bad news for Alberta’s finance minister

It’s always good news/bad news for Alberta’s finance minister

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci is so used to responding to bad news about the economy that he was visibly surprised Monday to get a question about good news. A report from the Conference Board of Canada raised growth projections in Alberta to a dizzying 3.3 per cent GDP growth, up from 2.8 per cent. Ceci said the report shows jobs and confidence are returning, but it comes fast on the heels of Friday’s credit downgrade. S & P Global Ratings lowered Alberta’s rating from AA to A+, calling for spending cuts and tax increases. It’s a familiar dynamic for Ceci, who found himself in charge of Alberta’s finances right about the time oil prices were crashing through the floor. Good economic news tends to be followed by bad. In the last year, oil prices have slowly recovered and a production cut by major oil producers resulted in a small boost, but production from other competitors has kept the champagne bottles corked in the finance department.

 
 

Paula Simons: Electoral Boundaries Commission report is overdue justice for Edmonton

Paula Simons: Electoral Boundaries Commission report is overdue justice for Edmonton

“Alberta is no longer rural.”  That is a blunt assessment of Alberta’s Electoral Boundaries Commission. On Thursday, the commission issued its interim report on the redrawing of Alberta’s provincial electoral ridings. In a majority report, with one dissension, the commissioners agreed the province can no longer go on discounting the votes of urban Albertans. It’s time, say the commissioners, to move towards dividing the province into ridings with a more even number of voters per seat.  “The majority accepts that the time has come to stop treating differences between rural and urban Albertans as the main driver in setting boundaries of electoral divisions,” reads the report. “All areas of the province are interdependent, bringing to it diversity, economic benefit and interdependent services, strengthening the province as a whole.” Alberta’s population boom — there has been more than 14 per cent growth since the last time boundaries were redrawn in 2010 — has only exacerbated the problem. Most growth has been in cities, not just Edmonton and Calgary, but also in places such as Red Deer and Grande Prairie.  The current population of the riding of Lesser Slave Lake is 28,858, while the population of Calgary-South East is 92,148. The result

 
 

Alberta opposition parties fear proposed ‘super-ridings’

Alberta opposition parties fear proposed ‘super-ridings’

Alberta’s opposition parties fear interim recommendations from the commission re-drawing the province’s electoral boundaries will create massive rural ridings impossible for MLAs to represent properly. The recommendations would distill seven rural ridings in the east of the province down to six, five ridings in the west into four and four ridings in the northeast to three. The commission’s mandate doesn’t allow the number of ridings to change, so the three eliminated ridings would turn into two urban ridings and another suburban riding north of Calgary. Of the 16 ridings marked for mergers, 10 of them are represented by Wildrose MLAs. The five NDP ridings on the list would have been Wildrose targets in a future election. Wildrose house leader Nathan Cooper said the recommendations create unwieldy super-ridings that will not only be geographically large, but more populous than the average, too. “It just doesn’t make sense,” said Cooper. Some have argued that advances in technology should allow MLAs to reach more constituents over vaster distances, but Cooper said it’s no substitute for seeing an MLA in person. Personal contact is a “real tangible thing that comes along with good government,” he said. At events like high school graduations, constituents want to see their MLA there.  “People aren’t hoping for a video message from their MLA,” said Cooper

 
 
 
 

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