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March 23: Western Canada and COVID-19

In the event that a balance between personal freedom and public health and safety measures cannot be struck, leaders are opting to implement further restrictions.




As of Monday March 23, there are 2,036 cases in Canada with less than half, 859 cases, in the western provinces.

Officials are becoming upset with the lack of compliance from Canadians with regard to public health recommendations. In the event that a balance between personal freedom and public health and safety measures cannot be struck, leaders are opting to implement further restrictions.

As of Monday, PEI has completed a shutdown of non-essential businesses to keep people at home. Ontario and Quebec have each announced an impending shutdown of non-essential businesses to begin at midnight March 24. Quebec’s shutdown is in place until April 13 after their numbers spiked from 221 to 628 Monday.


There have been 42 new cases announced in Alberta bringing the province’s total to 301. 24 cases are believed to be from community spread.

Calgary Emergency Management Agency announced Monday morning that Calgary playgrounds will closed in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The announcement comes just one day after Rocky View Schools announced they will restrict access to all playgrounds on school property.

“Even mild symptoms can result in infection,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said Monday.

Dr. Hinshaw also said that contact with surfaces which were previously touched by someone who was positive for the virus, can transmit the virus.

Alberta will not be testing those who have minor symptoms asking instead that those who present minor symptoms self-isolate for 14 days.

Hinshaw said new measures will be taken to protect health workers. Those who work within the system, including contractors and non-medical staff, will be tested prior to coming to work.

While people are still being encouraged to go outside and to go for walk, Hinshaw said that social distancing is still very important.

Mountain day trips are not recommended at this time as many public washrooms and other public access buildings are now closed, Hinshaw said.

Those who need additional assistance for mental health are encouraged to reach out to someone they trust.

Alberta Health Services has developed a text messaging system to help offer encouragement to deal with Alberta’s “new normal”.

Dr. Hinshaw reiterated that the province must monitor the measures currently in place to determine whether those measures are sufficient or need to be strengthened. If the current measures are found to be insufficient in flattening the curve of infections, additional measures may be implemented.

Based on new information, individuals may be able to return to work after 10 days rather than 14.

Additional information for Alberta residents can be found here.

British Columbia

The province announced 48 new cases bringing its total to 472 with 100 recovered and 13 deaths.

Six long-term care facilities have seen infections including Lynn Valley where 36 residents and 19 staff have tested positive, Hollyburn, Haro Park (10 residents and 12 staff), Delta View long term care (one staff) and German Canada House (one staff).

Grocers, banks and pharmacies have deemed essential businesses, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s health official stated.

The province is also looking to increase precautions for long-term care facilities which will mean a further reduction in visitation accessibility.

The City of Vancouver has announced that it will fine businesses up to $50,000 if social distancing recommendations are not followed. Individuals could be fined up to $1,000 within the city.

Additional information for B.C. residents can be found here.


One new case was identified in Manitoba but the province’s numbers remain at 20 as one presumptive case has been found negative.

The single case that was unrelated to travel was under investigation but was eventually determined to be a false positive according to chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin.

All residents who are returning from travel outside of the province, even within Canada, are asked to self-isolate upon their return.

“I want to make it clear that this is not just a suggestion,” Roussin said during a briefing Monday.

“We have this in place because the risk to Manitobans is real, since all of our cases have been imported from travel. We are appealing to people’s civic duties.”

At this time there are no plans to limit travel within the province.

The province has completed more than 4,000 tests and there is no longer anyone in hospital for COVID-19-related illness.

There have been no deaths from COVID-19 in Manitoba.

Additional information for Manitoba residents can be found here.


The province has identified 14 new, confirmed cases, bringing the province’s total to 65 confirmed and one presumptive case.

Two of the cases are individuals between the ages of five and 19, all others are adults according to the government press release on Monday.

61 per cent of the cases are in males and 39 per cent are in females.

All residents who are returning from destinations outside of Canada are subject to “mandatory self-isolation order”, said the release.

“Anyone identified by a Ministry of Health Official as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 shall go into mandatory self-isolation for 14 days from the date of having been exposed.”

Additional information for Saskatchewan residents can be found here.

Provincial tallies:

  • Quebec: 628 confirmed and presumptive cases, including 1 recovered and 5 deaths
  • Ontario: 489 cases, including 5 recovered and 3 deaths
  • British Columbia: 472 confirmed cases, including 5 recovered and 13 deaths
  • Alberta: 301 confirmed cases including one death
  • Saskatchewan: 66 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Nova Scotia: 28 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Manitoba: 20 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • New Brunswick: 17 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Prince Edward Island: 3 confirmed cases
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 9 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Northwest Territories: 1 confirmed case
  • Yukon: 2 confirmed cases

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
Twitter @Mitchell_AB


Alberta brewery shocks Maori people by naming beer after their pubic hair

New Zealand TV presenter Te Hamua Nikora, a member of the Maori community, blasted the brewery on his FaceBook page.




An Alberta brewery has unwittingly offended the Maori people of New Zealand by naming one of its beers after their pubic hair.

The Hell’s Basement brewery in Medicine Hat used the Maori word “huruhuru” to name its “New Zealand hopped pale ale”.

Unfortunately, in the Maori language “huruhuru” means pubic hair.

New Zealand TV presenter Te Hamua Nikora, a member of the Maori community, blasted the brewery on his FaceBook page.

“Some people call it appreciation, I call it appropriation,” he wrote.

Nikora said he contacted the brewery to inform them of their blunder.

“Don’t call beer pubic hair unless you make it with pubic hair,” he said.

Brewery co-founder Mike Patriquin said in statement to the New Zealand news site RNZ he thought “huruhuru” meant “feather” and he didn’t realise it was a reference to pubic hair.

“We did not realise the potential to offend through our artistic interpretation, and given the response we will attempt to do better in the future,” he said.

“To those who feel disrespected we apologise. We also do not think pubic hair is shameful, though we admit it may not go well with beer.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard



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Gov.-Gen. Pyette spending hundreds of thousands of dollars so she doesn’t have to see people

But Pyette’s spokeswoman says Canadians don’t have to right to ask about her living arrangements.




There’s more evidence out of Ottawa of Gov.-Gen. Julie Pyette acting like a drama queen – including spending $141,000 to plan for a private staircase that was never built.

But Pyette’s spokeswoman says Canadians don’t have to right to ask about her living arrangements.

It was part of hundreds of thousands of dollars Pyette demanded in privacy upgrades before she would move into Rideau Hall – but she still hasn’t moved into her official residence almost three years into her five-year mandate. 

More than $117,500 was also spent on a gate and series of doors to keep people away from Payette’s office, according to the National Capital Commission (NCC), which manages the official vice-regal residence.

While a large chunk of the grounds of Rideau Hall are open to the public, Payette “wanted to come and go without anyone seeing her,” one source with knowledge of the project told the CBC.

Multiple sources told CBC, Payette doesn’t like maintenance workers in her line of sight and even RCMP protection officers aren’t allowed to stand directly outside her office door and must hide in a room down the hallway.

Early in Payette’s mandate, CBC reported she wanted a door for her cats to be able to exit the living quarters on the second floor and go outside. The idea then changed into a private exit for Payette.

CBC said a team of government staff and outside companies spent months working on the project and going through a rigorous approval process to make the addition to the heritage building, according to sources. But the staircase was never built. 

But Payette’s press secretary, Ashlee Smith, suggested it’s not in the public’s interest for the media to ask about Payette’s living arrangements.

“To date, outstanding issues regarding universal accessibility and privacy in the space provided in Rideau Hall for the Governor General have not yet been addressed,” said Smith in a statement to CBC. 

“In this day and age, the interest in this seems contrary to respecting the life and privacy of a person.”

During the pandemic, Payette has spent time working at her own cottage in Quebec which means RCMP have to travel to the area near Mirabel and stay in hotels, the CBC reported.

Just last month there were claims the Queen’s representative in Canada had seen a mass exodus of staff while reducing others to tears after dressing-downs.

“Four members of Payette’s communications team have departed during the pandemic period alone. A fifth person is leaving this week and another two have taken leaves of absence. It’s just the latest wave of staff to quietly transfer out of the small office in response to mistreatment during Payette’s mandate”, multiple sources told the CBC.

“This has gone from being one of the most collegial and enjoyable work environments for many of the staff to being a house of horrors – it’s bullying and harassment at its worst,” one source told CBC.

CBC said they had spoken to dozens of sources to come up with the portrait of a tyrant Pyette.

The sources told CBC Payette has yelled at, belittled and publicly humiliated employees. They accused her of throwing tantrums in the office and, on one occasion, tossing an employee’s work aside and calling it “sh&%.”

CBC reported on one day along multiple people were seen leaving Pyette’s office in tears.

Multiple sources told CBC Payette routinely complained of being tired, underfed and overworked.

But Rideau Hall said Payette and “the management of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General ‘strongly believe’ in the importance of a healthy workplace.”

“We deeply regret this reporting, which is in stark contrast to the reality of working at the OSGG, and obscures the important work done by our dedicated staff in honouring, representing, and showcasing Canadians,” said Ashlee Smith, press secretary to the Governor General, in a statement to CBC.

Payette, a former astronaut, was appointed Governor General on the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in October 2017. Her term runs until 2022.

At the beginning of her mandate, CBC reported, Payette put staff on the spot by quizzing them about outer space — asking them to name all the planets in the solar system, for example, or to state the distance between the sun and the moon.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard



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WATCH: Alberta to explore nuclear option

Kenney said Alberta will enter into talks with Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick to support the development of versatile and scalable small modular reactors.




Alberta is joining three other province to try and launch small scale nuclear power plants, says Premier Jason Kenney.

Kenney said Friday Alberta will enter into a memorandum of understanding with Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick to support the development of versatile and scalable small modular reactors (SMRs).

In a release, the government said SMRs are smaller than traditional nuclear reactors and scalable to suit local needs, with lower upfront capital costs and enhanced safety features. This new and versatile technology could supply non-emitting, low-cost energy for on-grid and off-grid communities in Alberta, including remote and rural areas of the province, as well as industries with a significant need for steam, such as Alberta’s oil sands.

“Our government is exploring all opportunities that could help diversify our economy and create jobs for Albertans,” said Kenney.

Government of Alberta video

“We are building on our track record of responsible and innovative energy production by exploring the potential for small modular reactors, which have the potential to generate reliable and affordable energy, while also strengthening our traditional resource sectors and reducing emissions.

“We are excited to collaborate with our provincial partners to stay ahead of the game in the development of this promising technology.”

The government said SMRs would be small enough to be built in a factory and shipped by truck, rail or ship.

A typical SMR would generate between two and 300 megawatts of electricity, which could provide power for a village or small city. In comparison, a conventional nuclear reactor can generate 600 to 1,000 megawatts, which can provide power for a large city.

SMRs could operate independently or be linked to multiple units, depending on the required amount of power.

“Alberta’s rich uranium deposits, respected innovation and research sector, and technically skilled and educated workforce could make us an attractive destination to develop and deploy SMRs,” said Energy Minister Sonya Savage in a statement.

“By signing on to this agreement, our government is taking another step to attract investment and job creators to our province by ensuring we have the appropriate regulatory framework in place should private industry decide to pursue this emerging technology.”

In December 2019, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to support the development and deployment of SMRs.

Canada is the second largest uranium producer in the world, with about 15 per cent of total world production.

The Athabasca Basin, which straddles the northern Alberta-Saskatchewan border, contains some of the greatest uranium resources in the world.


Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard



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