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Shandro walks back pay cuts for Alberta doctors

Shandro reiterated throughout the press conference that the AMA was providing misinformation to Alberta physicians.

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In a shocking announcement Friday, Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro backed down on the Tory government’s pay cuts for physicians in rural Alberta.

The United Conservative government in Alberta terminated the contract with the Alberta Medical Association in January, after passing legislation that would allow them to do so in the October budget released in 2019.

“There is no contract with physicians,” Shandro said.

“After the physician funding framework was released February 20, those conversations that we had with the AMA did not talk about the issues – these came from our colleagues and conversations with rural Albertans – they were in a bit of a vacuum and did not come from the AMA.”

Physicians across the province of Alberta have taken an opposing position to the changes unilaterally enforced by the United Conservatives prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

These included changes to physician pay when doctors performed shifts in local hospitals, initially refusing to include pay for overhead costs at their clinics. The change resulted in a number of rural doctors opting out of hospital rotations due to the lack of pay.

“As of March 31st, the government has decided that the care we provide in hospital is worth less than that same care given in clinic — even though for us they are under the same roof. While it is rewarding to offer all the extended services we are able to in Pincher Creek, they do come at a cost. This work is what steals us away from our patients during office hours and our families on evenings and weekends,” physicians in Pincher Creek wrote in an open letter Wednesday.

Doctors at the Moose and Squirrel in Sundre tabled similar sentiments prompting a response from Sundre-Rimbey – Rocky Mountain House MLA and Minister of Environment and Parks, Jason Nixon.

“I would encourage them to continue to work through the process,” said Nixon, who is the MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre and the minister of Environment and Parks. “The place to deal with this is around the table. My view is that now is not the time, from both a pandemic perspective as well as from a financial perspective (to withdraw privileges).

“Now is not the time for division. Now is the time for all of us to work together to figure out how our province is going to get through this.”

The “division” came from the Tory government’s refusal to negotiate with the AMA, an organization who negotiates on behalf of Alberta doctors. The AMA is made up of physicians with a mission statement that stating “the AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.”

Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced Friday afternoon that rural physicians will continue to be paid for work done at local hospitals, in addition to their work in local clinics, and that medical insurance will continue to be partially covered by the Alberta government.

Rural clinics will be capped at $1,000 while urban clinics will see caps on clinic portions anywhere between $1,200 and $4,000.

“The intention was always to increase the nominal fee,” Shandro said, referring to the pay for hospital rotations for rural doctors.

“We heard that from our caucus colleagues as they met with us, to be able to come us with practical solutions, to be able to make sure that we have an action plan to deal with these issues.”

Shandro laid blame at the AMA for “not relaying information” appropriately to physicians.

“The misinformation they provided their members regarding insurance deductibles was incorrect,” Shandro said.

“Our number one concern is making sure rural Albertans receive care.”

Shandro said that while the government is willing to provide alternative models to provide a predictable or stable opportunity for rural physicians, he said the population is decreasing, but overhead for rural physicians is not.

Shandro reiterated that the AMA was providing misinformation to Alberta physicians.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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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.

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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

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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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.

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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

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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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.

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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.

….MORE TO COME

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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