Fanshawe College's faculty union seeks reinstated mask mandate

The union representing professors, librarians and counsellors at Fanshawe College has filed a group grievance against the school in hopes of seeing masking requirements return for indoor activities on campus and reducing the spread of COVID-19.

In August, Fanshawe announced it would be lifting masking mandates and vaccine policies for the 2022 fall semester, a move that officials at the time said was in line with advice from the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

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Fanshawe College lifts vaccine and mask mandates for fall semester

On Monday, OPSEU Local 110 announced it had filed a grievance against the college and alleged “Fanshawe’s abandonment of indoor masking, social distancing, and many other preventative measures, has created an unsafe work environment.”

“We have members in classrooms of 20, 30, 40 people. Some of them are vulnerable, they may have chronic illnesses, some of them live with people who may have chronic illnesses, and even if they don’t have chronic illnesses, nobody wants to get sick with this thing,” said Mark Feltham, the president of OPSEU Local 110.

“They’re concerned about indoor transmission, and they may wear masks, but of course when people aren’t required to wear a mask, it’s a challenge … that’s the nature of the concern that people have expressed.”

On top of addressing faculty concerns, Feltham says Fanshawe also has an obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to “take steps reasonable in the circumstances to protect employees.”

“That’s true whether or not there’s a provincial requirement,” Feltham added.

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OPSEU Local 110 is not in a legal position to strike as a result of the grievance and Feltham emphasizes that the union has absolutely no intention to do so.

While news of the grievance was made public on Monday, Feltham says it filed last week, giving Fanshawe two weeks from the time of filing to schedule a meeting.

If talks fail, the matter would then go to binding arbitration.

“We don’t want to have masking indefinitely, I mean two years from now it likely won’t be necessary, three months from now I hope it won’t be necessary, it’s just that right now we feel that it is, and we want it brought back,” Feltham said, adding that he’s hopeful both sides will reach an agreement.

In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for Fanshawe says the college “will schedule a hearing with the union shortly to hear this grievance and will then issue a response.”

“Fanshawe is following all provincial guidelines related to health and safety on campus. Based on ongoing and regular discussions with local public health authorities, Fanshawe has not reintroduced mandatory masking or vaccine requirements at this time,” the statement added.

“Students and employees are encouraged to mask indoors and stay up to date on recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccine.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

3 people killed in fiery head-on crash on Highway 654 near Barrhead

Three people were killed when two vehicles collided on a secondary highway north of Edmonton Monday morning.

Barrhead RCMP said the crash between a pickup truck and an SUV happened on Highway 654, just east of Highway 777, around 7:45 a.m.

RCMP, emergency services and STARS air ambulance all responded.

It’s believed the pickup truck was heading west on Highway 654 and crossed the centre line, colliding head on with an eastbound SUV.

The driver of the SUV died on scene, RCMP said.

The driver and passenger of the pickup became trapped inside the vehicle, which caught on fire as a result of the collision. They also died, police said.

The ages and genders of the victims were not released and RCMP said there were no other details available as the investigation continues.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Howe Island Ferry returns to service with reduced capacity

Some residents fear loss of access to services or having to pay premiums.

After a couple of weeks of dry dock repairs, the Howe Island Ferry is back and returning to service — but some island residents are upset that the ferry’s capacity has been reduced from 15 vehicles to 10.

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“Crews are working as quickly as possible on the transfer from the substitute ferry, the MV Quinte Loyalist, to the Frontenac Howe Islander,” Frontenac County CAO Kelly Pender said via email on Monday. “ETA for return to service is unclear as I write this, but planned for today.”

Howe Island resident Brian Dowling is erring on the side of caution when it comes to scheduling his life around the ferry repairs.

“I had some appointments that I need to do, but I’m holding off until Wednesday or Thursday,” Dowling says.

While the hours of operation for the ferry will be returning to normal soon, the number of vehicles on the ferry will be reduced.

According to information provided by Frontenac County, a Howe Island resident complained to Transport Canada that there wasn’t enough space for people to open their vehicle doors and exit simultaneously in the instance of an emergency — leading to the vehicle lanes on the ferry being reduced from three lanes to two.

Dowling estimates that the ferry will go from allowing for 15 vehicles down to 10.

He says he’s concerned it will impact services because of greater wait times.

“Right now couriers refuse to come over here,” says Dowling. “Your furnace goes out, you hopefully can find someone who will come over and fix it.”

And if island residents can get a service, Bob Ackley worries residents will pay a premium because of increased wait times.

“They’re going to charge $100 in the lineup to wait three ferries to get over to fix something, sooner or later they’re not going to want to come,” Ackley says.

He owns Robert Ackley Marine Automotive and says he could lose 20 to 30 per cent of his business.

“People bringing over boats, they might have to wait seven, 10 boats to get a truck and trailer over,” says Ackley.

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The county says it is working with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, which owns the ferry, to get the ferry back to full capacity, but says it will take some time and it’s not clear what the fix will be.

Ackley knows what he would like to see done.

“We’re due time for a 25- or a 30-car ferry, maybe even more,” he says. “Just because of the fact that they’re building more houses on the island.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

AHS says more MRI, CT scans being completed than before COVID-19 pandemic

Alberta Health Services says more MRI and CT scans are being completed now than before the COVID-19 pandemic and there are shorter wait times for urgent cases.

AHS says nearly 20,000 of the scans were performed in the first two weeks of September, compared to an average of 17,000 in 2018 and 2019.

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The province says it is spending an extra $11 million this year to reduce wait times for scans, on top of a $33-million increase from last year.

The government says about 62 per cent of urgent MRIs are done within seven days, and that’s a nine per cent increase from 2018 and 2019.

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Health Minister Jason Copping says in a release that the increase of scans is a step in the right direction for reducing wait times, but more needs to be done.

The province says there has been a sharp increase in demand for emergency CT scans for COVID-19 patients, and it’s expected to rise again as winter approaches.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Saskatoon Ringo Starr concert cancelled after he gets COVID-19

Saskatoon and a number of other venues have had their Ringo Starr concerts cancelled after the musician tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the former Beatle‘s Facebook page, concerts have been cancelled for Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Lethbridge, Alta., Abbotsford, B.C., Penticton, B.C., Prior Lake, Minn., and New Buffalo, Mich.

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“Ringo hopes to resume as soon as possible and is recovering at home. As always, he and the All Starrs send peace and love to their fans and hope to see them back out on the road soon,” read the Facebook post.

Saskatoon was slated to see Starr on Wednesday at the SaskTel Centre.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Councillors consider new funding formula for Edmonton Police Service

WATCH (May 18): How much should Edmonton spend on policing? To arrive at an answer, city councillors must decide how to fund policing to begin with. Dan Grummett reports.

Edmonton city councillors are debating a new funding formula for the Edmonton Police Service in an effort to provide stable, predictable funding for the service.

“The funding formula is to give certainty and predictability to organizations that they will continue to receive a certain amount of money over the long term,” Mayor Amarjeet Sohi explained Monday.

The formula would provide EPS an operating budget of just over $407 million for 2023.

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A report presented to city council Monday estimated that would be a tax levy increase of about 0.4 per cent, about $7 million, according to Ward Anirniq Coun. Erin Rutherford.

The formula would no longer take revenue into account, like photo radar fines, which are declining.

The service would be able to ask council for extra money for specific projects or new infrastructure.

Every two years, the formula would be adjusted to take population growth and inflation into account.

Those changes would require the city to hold a non-statutory public hearing.

The formula was developed as part of an overall police budget review.

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Among the findings, the review found Edmonton has the highest average costs per capita when comparing seven similar cities.

While Edmonton spends $397 per capita, Winnipeg spends $360, Calgary spends $357 and Regina spends $354.

The review also found Edmonton has one of the lowest costs per incident when comparing seven cities.

While Edmonton spends an average of $4,503 per call, York Regional Police Services averaged $10,056 per call. Regina spends about $3,444 per call.

Sohi said that while the city needs to continue to fund police, it needs to also focus on funding for social services.

“This is so important that we have the balanced approach,” the mayor told reporters Monday.

“Continue to invest in social programs and social services and at the same time provide adequate funding to the police.”

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The budgeting review was performed by the Community Safety Knowledge Alliance (CSKA). EPS Chief Dale McFee serves as the president and chair of the organization.

On Monday, councillors pressed police representatives on whether there was a conflict of interest choosing the organization to complete the review.

A representative with the Edmonton Police Commission told councillors there was no conflict of interest.

The report states that “while the chiefs… provided information and data related to budgeting processes, the project team took its direction and advice solely from the executive directors of the Edmonton Police Commission (EPC).”

Rutherford said there were “inherent biases” in the CSKA report, adding that there is other information on police funding that was not included.

“(It) makes me doubt the quality of the content,” she said.

Sohi said he did not think council should make a decision on the proposed formula Monday, especially ahead of fall budget talks.

“It deserves scrutiny and deserves the in-depth analysis about the value for money and the outcomes that we want to achieve and the safety and wellness that we need to improve in our city.”

A decision on the formula was pushed to the Oct. 7 council meeting.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Lake Minnewanka: Alberta’s underwater ghost town has deep history

Lake Minnewanka, Alta., is a sacred place, visited for centuries by Indigenous communities.

The glacier-fed water of the lake nestled among the Rocky Mountains was said to heal physical and mental ailments.

“There’s a mountain pass that they used to follow to come into the lake,” described Stoney Nakoda elder Watson Kaquitts. “That lake had healing powers.”

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Today, the natural wonder is a tourist hot spot with a rich history that lies beneath.

“This is one of the most intact submerged villages – underwater villages – in Canada,” said Steve Malins, cultural resource management advisor with Parks Canada.

In the 1890s, Minnewanka Landing was a bustling, lakeside resort town. It’s a place that can now only be visited by venturing into the frigid waters.

“There are a bunch of tourists… who call specifically requesting to come dive the sunken ghost-town of Minnewanka Landing,” said John Harcus, the course director and owner of Calgary Scuba.

And while he cautions that divers can’t exactly pull up a seat at the old saloon to visit with long-lost cowboys, he describes a visit to what remains underwater as a surreal experience.

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A former hotel site, a number of cottages and early dam technology from 1912 can be found at about 60 feet below the surface.

“It’s quite well-preserved because of the cold water,” said Harcus. “You can actually still see the grain in the wood of the timbers as you swim alongside the side of the dam.”

The last remaining dam was built at Lake Minnewanka in 1941. As the water rose, what was left of the townsite slipped away into the depths of the crisp mountain lake.

“It was actually the War Measures Act that superseded the National Parks Act to create better hyrdo-electric power to what really is a reservoir to supply power to Banff and Calgary,” said Malins of how the lake was created.

Natural floods in recent years have greatly reduced visibility in the lake, but for advanced divers, and for the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, Lake Minnewanka still holds an ability to connect to something deeper.

Elder Kaquitts says the Indigenous connection to the lake has withstood the test of time.

“The spirituality and the powers is still there. We believe.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Location selected for future Regina General Hospital parkade

After years of complaints and concerns about the lack of parking at Regina General Hospital, Saskatchewan has announced a location for a future parkade at the site.

The province says the facility will be built in the northwest corner of the existing parking lot and will improve safety and accessibility for hospital staff, patients and visitors.

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“Our government values and appreciates health-care workers and the vital services they provide to Saskatchewan people,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said. “We have heard the concerns raised by health-care workers, patients and families about the availability and security of parking near the Regina General Hospital and we are pleased to be moving forward with this parkade project.”

Next, the government will select a team of engineers and advisors to take the project through final planning and construction. A request for proposals is open to find members for the team and is available on Sasktenders.ca.

“This project is a long time coming and we are pleased to see it move forward,” Regina Northeast MLA Gary Grewal said. “With another major infrastructure investment, our government is supporting industry while enhancing safety and convenience at the Regina General Hospital.”

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The new parkade will be built through a partial lease procurement model. The facility will be owned and maintained by a third party, from which the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) will be leasing it.

“Once complete, this parkade will offer a much-needed upgrade to parking services for the Regina General Hospital,” Michelle Mula, the Saskatchewan Health Authority acting vice-president, infrastructure information and support. “We look forward to working with the project team to prioritize accessibility, safety and security for staff and patients.”

The parkade will include a minimum of 800 stalls and will allow the proponent to include commercial space or additional stalls in their proposal.

There is currently no specific timeline for completion of the project,

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Cancer foundations in Saskatchewan launch fundraiser to save the 'Breast Screening Bus'

WATCH ABOVE: Local cancer foundations are asking for the public's help. Their 20-year-old vehicle that allows health care workers to provide mammograms has broken down. And they say this tool is a necessity for Saskatchewan women. Kabi Moulitharan has more.

The Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency are launching a fundraiser to raise money for a new Breast Screening Bus, as the current one has broken down and can no longer be maintained.

“The bus has broken down for a few weeks. Parts are difficult to get. Supply chain issues make it even harder,” Deb Bulych, interim president and CEO of Saskatchewan Cancer Agency explained.

For twenty years, the vehicle has been providing mammogram screenings for residents in rural and remote communities of the province who may not have the means to travel down to Regina or Saskatoon.

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According to the organizations, about 8,000 mammograms are conducted from the vehicle each year.

They hope to raise $2 million within the next two years.

“The time is now. We need to do this for our mothers, our sisters, our daughters and for ourselves,” Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan’s CEO Nora Yeates said in a press conference Monday morning.

“This bus ensures that women in this province have equal access to screening,” she added. “That means hope for early detection, and happy outcomes for all of us,” Bulych told Global News.

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Kelly Rea is a cervical cancer survivor. Although she never experienced breast cancer, she says she relies on this service given her heath history.

“The mobile screening bus makes it a lot easier for me because I live so far away – in the middle of nowhere basically – to get the screening program done,” she explained.

Rea is pleading to residents to think about donating.

“Breast cancer does not discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re male or female. Old or young. (No matter your) race or social status, we all need to care about this program because someday it might be someone that you love,” she said.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Seats for physicians move back to New Brunswick medical school

WATCH: New Brunswick is moving 10 spots to the Dalhousie medicine faculty in Saint John. The seats were reserved for New Brunswick at Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador. The province says the move is an effort to retain doctors. Nathalie Sturgeon reports.

Ten medical seats are returning to New Brunswick.

The province has been paying for those seats to exist at Memorial University in St. John’s, NL since 2000. Instead, in the fall of 2023, those seats will be placed with Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick.

Trevor Holder, the minister of post-secondary education, training and labour in the province, said it is about retaining doctors who have seats through funding in New Brunswick.

“This will go a long way in terms of retention,” he said on Monday. “It’s roughly around 40 per cent retention if the student is trained outside the province. That’s 60-plus per cent when it happens here in the province. Plus we have a world-class school with a very unique model.”

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Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick was created in 2008 and has traditionally accepted 30 medical students, which now increases to 40.

The province said there will be funding provided for 70 medical student seats, 64 in New Brunswick, and six in Quebec.

For Dr. Jennifer Hall, associate dean of Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick, this will allow people who may be from New Brunswick and study medicine to so do at home.

“Certainly we’ve had an abundance of New Brunswickers applying for the position at DMNB and we’re not able to provide a seat at this point in time for every New Brunswicker who meets our criteria … for admissions,” she said.

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Hall said the school is excited about the opportunity.

For Kiera Dolan, studying medicine in her home province is the right move. She said not only does the DMNB provide small class sizes, it provides critical opportunities to connect with the province and its people.

In fact, students spend two years in classes before attending two final years with a clerkship in Fredericton, Miramichi, Moncton, Waterville or Saint John.

“Seeing that there are students that want to study here and stay here, to work later on, I think it’s beneficial and I think it’s motivating to want to stay here,” she said on Monday.

There were no additional seats announced on Monday, despite an ongoing human resource crisis in New Brunswick health care, but Holder said it has allowed the government to save on the costs to train doctors elsewhere.

“We’re in some really good negotiations right now,” Holder said on Monday. “I’ll have more to say on that when we can but I can tell you that it is our intention to do more than we’re doing now.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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