Canadian fighting with Ukrainian forces dies in battle: reports – Canada News
The Canadian Press – Jan 17, 2023 / 1:43 pm | Story: 406772
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Global Affairs Canada says it’s aware of the death of a Canadian citizen, in response to a question about reports a young medical student fighting with Ukrainian forces was killed in battle Sunday, near the city of Bakhmut. Damaged buildings and houses are seen in Bakhmut, Ukraine, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-LIBKOS
Global Affairs Canada says it’s aware of the death of a Canadian citizen after reports that a young medical student fighting with Ukrainian forces was killed in battle.
Multiple media reports say Grygorii Tsekhmistrenko died on Sunday near the city of Bakhmut.
A friend of Tsekhmistrenko’s spoke with The Canadian Press while on his way to meet the fighter’s family to help make funeral arrangements.
Adam Thiemann says he got word from a soldier in Ukraine that Tsekhmistrenko was killed Sunday in the contested eastern Donetsk region, where fighting has raged for months.
Thiemann says he fought alongside Tsekhmistrenko for months as part of the Ukrainian Foreign Legion.
He says the medic, a dual citizen, was a beloved member of his unit who studied tactical medicine before joining the Foreign Legion.
“He was just so happy to help. He’s not the medic who didn’t want to be there or will take a shortcut,” he said.
Jack Frye, a friend who also fought alongside Tsekhmistrenko, said the medic returned to Ukraine when the war started.
“He was one of the more gentle and kindest people I’ve met. He lived and breathed doing what was right and helping others,” he said in an email exchange.
“Everyone loved Greg. I am glad I had the privilege to be his friend, and fight alongside him.”
The Canadian Press – Jan 17, 2023 / 1:41 pm | Story: 406771
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Wauzhushk Onigum Nation in northern Ontario says it has uncovered 171 “plausible burials” in studies of cemetery grounds at a former residential school site. Margot King, 4, touches an orange flag, representing children who died while attending Indian Residential Schools in Canada, placed in the grass at Major’s Hill Park in Ottawa, on Canada Day, Thursday, July 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Searches for unmarked graves at cemetery grounds linked to a former northern Ontario residential school have uncovered 171 “plausible burials”, the Wauzhushk Onigum Nation said Tuesday, with other sites still to be investigated.
The First Nation says with the exception of five grave markers, the rest of the plausible burials are unmarked.
Federal and provincial ministers were expected to meet with the First Nation Tuesday for discussions, including about resources to continue the investigation.
“Both Canada and Ontario have continued to express their commitment to reconciliation, to the truth, and to healing of our communities,” Chief Chris Skead said in a news release Tuesday.
“Finding the truth and exercising caution on everything touched by this genocidal legacy comes at a price and it’s a price our Treaty partners need to be prepared to pay. That is true reconciliation.”
According to records provided by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at least 36 children died at the St. Mary’s Residential School near Kenora, Ont., the First Nation said.
“Based on conversations with survivors, and their testimonies, the true number is believed to be significantly higher,” it said.
The anomalies were found during studies conducted by its technical, archeological and ground-penetrating-radar team, and informed by testimony from survivors, the First Nation said.
The studies uncovering the 171 anomalies were first launched in May 2022. The First Nation is now seeking resources to get greater certainty on the number of plausible graves in the cemetery grounds and to conduct investigations into sites near the school.
Those sites, which are not covered by the current search, have been identified by survivor testimony, archeological assessment, and archival investigations, the First Nation said.
Between 1897 and 1972, more than 6,000 Indigenous children attended the residential school.
The Canadian Press – Jan 17, 2023 / 12:16 pm | Story: 406751
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Though sky-high inflation started to cool as 2022 wound down, food prices continue to rise faster than overall inflation, affecting consumers’ wallets on a daily basis as interest rates rise. A person leaves a Toronto supermarket with groceries on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Lupul
Though sky-high inflation started to cool as 2022 wound down, food prices continue to rise faster than overall inflation, affecting consumers’ wallets on a daily basis as interest rates rise.
In December, food prices were up 11 per cent on an annual basis compared with 6.3 per cent overall, though food inflation softened slightly on a monthly basis.
In fact, prices for every single food item tracked by Statistics Canada went up in 2022, with one exception: canned salmon, which went down in price.
That’s despite the Bank of Canada’s desperate race to raise interest rates in 2022 in an attempt to rein in inflation.
The overnight rate went from 0.25 per cent at the beginning of the year to 4.25 per cent in December, and the central bank is widely expected to announce another increase next week.
Gas prices have cooled from their lows (though that’s not necessarily because of the bank’s actions), the housing market is sagging under the weight of interest rates spiking, and yet food inflation remains stubbornly high, staring consumers in the face every time they go to the grocery store.
The Canadian Press – Jan 17, 2023 / 12:15 pm | Story: 406750
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A Montreal hospital emergency room reopened this morning after being forced to reduce operations overnight following a sit-in by nurses who had threatened to resign if changes were not made. Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital is seen in Montreal on Aug. 23, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Officials at a major Montreal hospital are promising changes after almost 100 emergency room nurses demanded the resignation of their unit chief.
The ER at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital was forced to reduce operations last night because of a nurse-led protest.
Jean-François Fortin-Verreault, head of the health authority for east-end Montreal, told reporters today his goal is to keep the ER open and improve working conditions for nurses.
Fortin-Verreault says ambulances will transfer fewer patients to the ER to reduce the nurses’ workload, adding that the unit chief has been moved to another part of the health network.
More than 90 of 115 nurses in the hospital’s ER signed a petition demanding the unit chief resign, and many nurses have threatened to quit because they can no longer accept working mandatory overtime.
Health Minister Christian Dubé is scheduled to speak with media today about the situation at the hospital, as well as the staffing shortages and ER overcrowding that are plaguing the province’s health network.
The Canadian Press – Jan 17, 2023 / 12:14 pm | Story: 406748
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The federal government has delivered nearly $10 million to support Alberta’s growing hydrogen industry. The federal money, expected to support 1,600 jobs, will be augmented by another $3 million from Alberta. Chrystia Freeland tours Air Products hydrogen production plant in Edmonton, on August 25, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken
The federal government has delivered nearly $10 million to support Alberta’s growing hydrogen industry.
The federal money, expected to support 1,600 jobs, is to be augmented by another $3 million from Alberta.
Announced this morning in Edmonton, the money is to improve access to hydrogen fuels, support product testing, attract investment and increase training opportunities for Alberta workers.
Edmonton is increasingly being seen as a hub for hydrogen development, with plans for more than two dozen hydrogen and hydrogen-related projects in development in the area as well as the province’s research centre.
Dan Vandal, the minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, says the funding is intended to help build a green economy and support Alberta jobs.
The announcement comes as the provincial United Conservative Party government criticizes the federal Liberals for wanting to phase out oilpatch jobs without plans to replace them.
The Canadian Press – Jan 17, 2023 / 12:13 pm | Story: 406746
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An association representing Canadian defence firms is adding its voice to those concerned about Canada’s absence from a security pact between Australia, Britain and the United States. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hold a press conference at the G20 summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Leon Neal-Pool Photo via AP
An association representing Canadian defence firms is adding its voice to those concerned that Canada is not included in a security pact between Australia, Britain and the United States.
Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries president Christyn Cianfarani says one worry is that Canada won’t have access to the same technology as its closest allies.
There are also fears the arrangement will hurt Canadian defence companies by making it easier for competitors from Australia and Britain to sell to the U.S.
The Canadian Press reported this week that the Canadian Armed Forces has similar concerns about the agreement, which is known as AUKUS.
The Trudeau government has not said why Canada is not part of the deal but it has downplayed that fact by pointing to Canada’s security and defence arrangements with Australia, Britain and the U.S.
Cianfarani says she would feel more comfortable if those other arrangements were actually dealing with the same issues as AUKUS.
The Canadian Press – Jan 17, 2023 / 10:53 am | Story: 406718
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tours the Vital Metals rare earth elements processing plant in Saskatoon during a media event on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the Prime Minister’s Office has apologized for leaving him off the invite list. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office has apologized for not informing him about a visit to the province this week.
Trudeau was in Saskatoon on Monday to tour a rare earth elements processing plant along with the city’s mayor, Charlie Clark.
The premier was not on the invite list.
Moe complained on Twitter, calling the snub “disappointing” since the federal and provincial governments see eye-to-eye on the development of critical and rare earth minerals.
“The province was left off the list for reasons I don’t know. Are my feelings hurt by this? No, certainly not. But this is a missed opportunity,” he said Monday.
Moe told reporters in Regina that he wanted to “briefly” speak with Trudeau about further investments on rare earth elements in Saskatchewan and net-zero emissions strategies for processing plants.
Trudeau’s office later apologized for not informing him of the visit to the province ahead of time, the premier said.
When asked about the tweet on Monday, Trudeau said there have been many opportunities to make announcements with Moe over the years.
A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister’s Office said Tuesday they have “nothing further to add.”
Moe said he found out Trudeau was visiting Vital Metals in Saskatoon through the media on Monday morning, and that he would have attended the tour if he was invited.
“I got up and read the newspaper and was like, ‘Whoa’,” Moe said.
“When I go to Ottawa, I let the prime minister know I’m going to be in Ottawa. He can do the same.”
Critical minerals were among the issues Trudeau, U.S. President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador discussed during a summit last week in Mexico.
Moe said that Trudeau “likely would have been informed” about a discussion between Saskatchewan and the U.S. on the same topic.
In December, Moe traveled to Washington, D.C., and met with several members of the Biden administration to discuss North American energy security.
Moe called the lack of co-operation a “missed opportunity” and said that “the perception of a provincial government and federal government not getting along isn’t the way it should be.”
Ottawa has signalled it wants Canada to become a global competitor in the market for rare earth elements used in products such as cell phones, televisions, computers, automobiles, wind turbines and jet aircrafts.
Canada has some of the largest known reserves of such metals in the world, said Natural Resources Canada, many of which are found in Saskatchewan.
China is currently the world’s largest producer of rare earth elements, accounting for almost 60 per cent of global annual production, with most of the remaining 40 per cent shared between the U.S., Myanmar, Australia and Madagascar, the department said.
The premier wasn’t the only one who described being snubbed by Trudeau’s Saskatchewan visit on Monday.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said it was dismayed that Trudeau did not visit Star Blanket Cree Nation, which reported last week that it found more than 2,000 anomalies in the ground near a former residential school site, including what is believed to be a fragment of a child’s jawbone.
Trudeau said he spoke with the First Nation’s chief on Friday to offer support from the federal government as the community seeks “healing and closure.”
The Canadian Press – Jan 17, 2023 / 9:21 am | Story: 406695
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The case of a man accused of killing a 58-year-old Muslim man outside a Toronto mosque more than two years ago has been put over until next month.
Guilherme (William) Von Neutegem is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of Mohamed-Aslim Zafis, who was stabbed outside the International Muslim Organization in west Toronto on Sept. 12, 2020.
Police have said the two did not appear to know each other.
Superior Court of Justice judge Maureen Dorothy Forestell said Tuesday that the Crown and defence have agreed to set the next hearing for Feb. 13.
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network has alleged that social media accounts under the name William Von Neutegem show a chant and symbol associated with a neo-Nazi group that encourages killings.
The Canadian Press has not verified that the accounts belong to the accused.
The Canadian Press – Jan 17, 2023 / 7:00 am | Story: 406668
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NDP caucus chair Jenny Kwan.
At a three-day retreat in Ottawa this week, New Democrat members of Parliament are expected to focus discussions on getting more wins out of their confidence-and-supply agreement with the federal Liberals.
Under the deal reached last March, the NDP agreed to support the minority government on key votes in the House of Commons to avoid triggering an election before 2025.
In exchange, the Liberals promised to make progress on NDP priorities, including pharmacare.
“We’ll absolutely be watching very carefully to see where the government is at, and whether or not they are going to honour their word,” NDP caucus chair Jenny Kwan said Monday.
Before the holiday break, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh threatened to pull out of the agreement if federal action isn’t taken to improve health care, which the party sees as a national crisis.
Kwan said pulling out of the agreement remains an option.
“We’re going to have to wait and see how things unfold. I mean, our agreement is very clear to say what are the items that the government needs to deliver on,” Kwan said.
Cost-of-living policies the Liberals passed last fall, including dental-care subsidies for children under 12 in low-income households, one-time rental supplements for low-income renters and a temporary doubling of the GST tax rebate, had been NDP priorities.
When NDP MPs gather for a caucus retreat beginning on Wednesday, they will look to build on those policies to “ensure life is more affordable” for Canadians this year, Kwan said.
She said that will include seeking to expand dental coverage to more Canadians and pushing for more investment in Indigenous housing.
The caucus is also eying bills it hopes will be brought forward this year, she said, after Parliament returns at the end of the month: a “just transition” bill for energy workers whose jobs could be affected by environmental policy, and a Canada Pharmacare Act committing the government to publicly fund prescription drugs.
“The pharmacare piece will require legislation. That’s part of the agreement, and so legislation will certainly come forward,” Kwan said.
The confidence-and-supply agreement stipulated that a pharmacare bill must be tabled by the end of 2023, and that a “National Drug Agency” would be tasked to “develop a national formulary of essential medicines and bulk purchasing plan by the end of the agreement.”
In 2020, the NDP’s House leader, Peter Julian, had proposed a private members’ bill outlining a universal pharmacare program. It was defeated in the House of Commons in February 2021, with the vast majority of Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Québécois voting against.
Kwan is hopeful that such a bill will have more support a second time around.
“There is a framework we can build on,” she said, adding that the NDP’s health critic, Don Davies, is “working very hard.”
The NDP caucus retreat wraps up Friday, and the House of Commons is scheduled to resume Jan. 30.
The Canadian Press – Jan 17, 2023 / 6:47 am | Story: 406664
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Lawyer James Lockyer is representing two Saskatewan sisters who have spent nearly 30 years in prison for what they say are wrongful murder convictions.
A bail hearing is scheduled today in Saskatchewan for two sisters who have spent nearly 30 years in prison for what they say are wrongful murder convictions.
Odelia and Nerissa Quewezance were convicted in 1994 of second-degree murder in the death of 70-year-old farmer Anthony Joseph Dolff, near Kamsack, Sask.
Defence lawyers are asking for the sisters to get a conditional release while their case is undergoing a federal conviction review.
The federal Justice Department started the review last year, saying there may be a reasonable basis to conclude there was a miscarriage of justice.
The First Nations sisters have always maintained their innocence and another person, who was a youth at the time, confessed to the killing.
A judge recently overturned a ban that allows for media to publish what happens during the two-day bail hearing in Yorkton, Sask.
Odelia Quewezance was granted a brief release from prison to travel to Ottawa last year to ask for justice. She said at the time she sat in prison all those years wondering “why?”
“Thirty years is a long time,” she told reporters. “That’s cruel and unusual punishment.”
Odelia Quewezance was 20 years old and her sister was 18 when the pair from the Keeseekoose First Nation was arrested for the 1993 stabbing death of the farmer.
The Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear their appeal three years later.
Their lawyer, James Lockyer, has said the sisters were present when Dolff was killed, but the youth who confessed to the killing has testified the sisters were not involved.
“The two sisters, they need their lives back,” Lockyer said.
The elder sister received day parole last year with strict conditions. Her sister’s parole was denied and she has remained behind bars in Fraser Valley Institution for Women in British Columbia.
“Odelia and Nerissa are the victims of a justice system plagued by racism and prejudice,” said Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Elmer St. Pierre in a news release Monday.
“The Saskatchewan government has spent 30 years repeatedly denying the sisters justice, so now they must be granted bail immediately.”
When the criminal conviction review process is over, a report and legal advice will be prepared for the federal justice minister. The minister can then order a new trial or appeal, or dismiss the application if he is not convinced there has been a miscarriage of justice.
The sisters have also credited David Milgaard with championing their case and getting it on the radar of Innocence Canada, an advocacy group founded by Lockyer.
Milgaard, who died last year, became an outspoken advocate for the wrongfully convicted after spending 23 years in prison for a 1969 rape and murder he didn’t commit.
The Canadian Press – Jan 17, 2023 / 6:42 am | Story: 406663
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Alberta Environment is investigating how a family’s water well near a gravel mine became so contaminated by lead it’s no longer drinkable.
The investigation comes as Red Deer County considers expanding mine operations that Jody Young suspects are the source of the lead she and her family may have been drinking for months.
“We have it in our blood,” said Young. “My son’s levels are actually higher than mine.”
Young, who lives just south of Red Deer near the banks of the Red Deer River, has lived within a few hundred metres of the county’s gravel mine for more than a decade.
She grew used to the slight murkiness of her once-clear well water as the mines near her central Alberta home stepped up production. Tests a few years ago showed the water was OK and she preferred the tap to a plastic bottle.
But the water kept getting worse.
“We’ve gone from just seeing it in a bathtub to being able to see it in a glass of water,” she said.
So last summer she asked Alberta Health Services to test her family’s well water. Within days, she got a call.
“They told us to immediately stop drinking our water,” she said. “We weren’t to cook with it. We were advised not even to brush our teeth with it.”
Lead — which can cause anemia, weakness, kidney and brain damage — was above levels fit for human consumption. So was aluminum.
Both metals were subsequently found in blood samples from her family.
“It was deeply concerning to learn of well water contamination in Red Deer County,” said Alberta Environment spokeswoman Carla Jones in an email. “The source of these metals is under investigation.”
On Feb. 7, Young plans to appear at a public hearing hosted by Red Deer County to oppose proposed changes to a county land-use bylaw. The changes would permit gravel mines on land virtually adjacent to her water well.
The proposed expansion site, privately owned, is also on land considered environmentally significant by provincial regulators.
“We are in full compliance with Alberta Environment on our pit,” said Dave Dittrick, Red Deer County’s assistant manager. Private operators would have to follow the same regulations, he said.
“Everything they do will have to be in compliance.”
Dittrick said although the county is co-operating with Alberta Environment, it hasn’t seen the data that prompted Alberta Health’s concern.
“We have not seen any information to substantiate these claims,” he said.
Gravel, or aggregate, mines are needed for everything from paving roads to building houses. Although they’re everywhere in Alberta, data on them is hard to find.
Mines larger than five hectares must be registered and come under provincial regulation. Mines that go below the water table or involve significant water use require a Water Act licence.
“Alberta has a robust regulatory approval process to manage environmental impacts of gravel pits,” said Alberta Environment spokesman Miguel Racin.
Smaller mines — the expansion near Young’s well would be about three hectares — are largely regulated by local land-use bylaws.
But observers say such mines are an increasing concern as Alberta continues to grow.
“It’s a problem in every county,” said Vivian Pharis, an environmentalist who has been involved in previous conflicts over such mines.
“We don’t have any good provincial regulations. The primary decision is made at the municipal level and, as soon as the zoning gets changed, then it seems Alberta Environment’s hands are tied.”
Hydrogeologist Jon Fennell, who has consulted on several mine projects, said gravel mines run the risk of exposing and releasing chemicals formerly held stable.
“If you’re opening (a mine) up and exposing things to oxygen, they can weather and oxidize and get mobilized,” he said. “Any time you disturb the earth, things change.”
While municipalities are in charge of much of the gravel mine permitting process, Fennell points out they are also heavy gravel users.
“They’re very pro-gravel in some parts of the province,” he said.
Red Deer County’s previous attempt to expand its aggregate operations near Young’s home was thrown outin 2022 by a Court of King’s Bench judge over an unfair process.
Enforcement is lax even for mines that do come under provincial rules, Fennell said. Operators may be required to monitor water levels, but not water quality.
“It’s not required,” he said. “If you don’t look, you don’t find.”
Gravel mines are necessary, said Dittrick.
“Aggregate is needed for development and development is ongoing,” he said.
Some sources may be more appropriate than others, said Fennell.
“We have to get (gravel) from somewhere. The question is, from where?”
Young wonders how long her family has been drinking lead-contaminated water. And she wonders why she has to wonder about that at all.
“I’ve had some real moments with this,” she said.
She recalls learning about some of her son’s computer searches.
“I found he was Googling about lead poisoning. He was researching potential impacts to himself.”
The Canadian Press – Jan 17, 2023 / 6:34 am | Story: 406660
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Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping.
Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping says the province plans to add 20 more ambulances to Edmonton and Calgary during peak hours and implement other reforms to reduce bottlenecks hampering front-line care.
“All EMS workers across the province have been feeling the impact of the significant increase of 911 calls,” Copping said Monday at a news conference in Spruce Grove, Alta., west of Edmonton.
The volume of calls has gone up by as much as 30 per cent over the past year and a half, he said.
“Response times are too long and we have to get them back down, and that means adding resources and using new strategies.”
Copping said the province is also to set a target of 45 minutes for off-loading patients at emergency departments and establish a policy so paramedics don’t have to wait at hospitals with patients when ambulance availability is low.
Edmonton and Calgary are each to get 10 new ambulances for peak times, adding to the 19 ambulances added in both cities during peak times in 2022.
These changes are on top of previously announced initiatives, including fast-tracking patient transfers at emergency departments by moving less urgent cases to waiting areas and contracting out non-emergency patient transfers to free up ambulances.
The changes stem from recommendations made by an advisory panel exploring ways to reduce pressures on ambulances that are causing a domino effect of long wait times and overcrowding in the system.
“Front-line EMS practitioners are overextended and at breaking point,” stated the report from the Alberta EMS Provincial Advisory Committee, released Monday by Copping.
“EMS crews wait long periods of time at emergency departments to hand off a patient to hospital staff.”
The report also stated that remote areas are being penalized as scarce resources are increasingly redirected to the larger centres. It called for more recruitment and opportunities for enhanced training of staff.
Copping said his government agrees to and will act on all the recommendations.
Copping also released a second report that says centralized ambulance dispatch is not hampering the system but, like other areas, is constrained by high demand on existing resources.
“From 2017 to 2022, emergency EMS events in Alberta grew by 39 per cent, driven by a growing population, an aging population, and a number of other drivers such as the opioid epidemic,” stated the report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“Compounding this challenge, the average time to respond to each event has increased by 18.5 minutes from 2017 to 2022 due to hospital wait times, and COVID-19 protocols.
“This demand for EMS is expected to continue growing, further straining EMS services in the province.”
Opposition NDP health critic David Shepherd said the UCP government is “nibbling around the edges” of the problem and needs to hire more full-time paramedics.
“It’s too little too late,” Shepherd said.
“The UCP is completely ignoring clear calls from paramedics themselves to get crews off shift on time, to offer all paramedics a permanent full-time contract with benefits and the expansion of harm reduction services to cut down on the huge number of calls related to drug poisonings.”
Mike Parker, the head of Health Sciences Association of Alberta, representing paramedics, said the announcement of more ambulances doesn’t mean anything unless more people are hired to staff them.
“Calgary had more than 9,000 unfilled shifts last year,” Parker told reporters on a Zoom call, adding Edmonton had more than twice that number.
“The issue is a lack of paramedics, not a lack of ambulances.
“What we have right now is a system that functions in a code red system all day long, and it’s burning out our folks.”