Archive for February, 2019

Alberta takes steps to improve communication between first responders

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

The government of Alberta says a new province-wide radio communications system will help first responders better communicate with each other during emergencies.

The Alberta First Responders Radio Communications System (AFRRCS) will provide coverage for first responders through a system of hundreds of radio towers. Right now, police, EMS and fire services in Alberta all use their own radio systems, which can make communication difficult.

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The province said the new system, which has been in the works since 2008, links all first responders which will lead to a more co-ordinated, quicker response.

The AFRRCS system was used during the Fort McMurray wildfire crisis. Radios were given to emergency personnel from across Alberta and Canada, which allowed firefighters to communicate with each other and the main operations centre.

Those who used it said the system played a pivotal and life-saving role in one of the province’s largest disasters.

“The AFRRCS was absolutely crucial for us and all of our partners as we battled the Fort McMurray wildfire. The system allowed us to communicate efficiently with 32 different fire departments during the biggest crisis in our region’s history,” Brad Grainger, deputy chief of the Fort McMurray Fire Department, said.

“Without AFRRC, we simply would not have been able to communicate effectively, meaning 90,000 of my neighbours, friends and colleagues would not have been able to be successfully evacuated.”

The system will be made available to emergency personnel starting July 1. However, it is voluntary and the province said not every organization will use the system.

The City of Calgary is not currently in conversation to use the system, but the City of Edmonton is.

Each organization that decides to use the system will be responsible for paying for the radios themselves. Accessing the system is free. Alberta Health Services, the RCMP and the provincial government are already onboard and have been testing the system for some time.

“Our work is done in all of our RCMP units across Alberta, and AFRRCS will provide radio coverage in major urban centres and in the remote locations where public and officer safety are equally critical,” Marianne Ryan, deputy commissioner of the Alberta RCMP said.

The system comes with a price tag of $438 million.

Canada Olympic Park to host Pride Slide event in summer 2016

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

UPDATE: This event has been cancelled. CLICK HERE to learn more.

WinSport has announced plans to host a brand new outdoor festival featuring a massive slide and live entertainment during the city’s 2016 Pride Week celebrations.

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Related

  • Calgary gay bar forced to remove large pride flag raised for Orlando shooting

  • ‘As a family, we mourn the loss of life’: Calgary Pride responds to Orlando shooting

  • Slide the City to return to Calgary in summer 2016

  • New concussion program launched at WinSport         

    The first-ever Pride Slide, which will be for adults only, takes place at Canada Olympic Park from noon until 11 p.m. on Aug. 27.

    READ MORE: Transgender flag flies at Calgary city hall

    According to organizers, the event “celebrates and promotes a community free from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.”

    It will feature a giant 245-metre wet slide, DJs, a cocktail garden and performances from “glittery dancers and high-heeled drag queens.”

    “WinSport is truly excited to host the Pride Slide on our campus to celebrate gender and sexual diversity for Calgary Pride Week,” WinSport president and CEO Barry M. Heck said in a news release.

    “Being an openly gay athlete myself, the importance of WinSport holding such an event is paramount,” bobsledder Simon Dunn added.

    “Along with top athletes giving their support, this shows the greater community that LGBTQ athletes are not only welcome but valued participants in sport.”

    The Pride Slide is just one of more than 30 events that are being held as part of Calgary’s 26th annual Pride Week, including the annual Calgary Pride Parade and the Pride in the Park music Festival  on Sept. 4.

    READ MORE: Brian Burke stresses importance of Pride Parade and supporting LGBTQ community

Murder suspect eluded police by removing prosthetic leg fitted with court-ordered GPS tracker

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

An investigation has been launched after a Washington, D.C., man who was fitted with a GPS tracker and was supposed to be confined to his home allegedly shot a man to death.

The suspect, Quincy Green, appeared to be at home when Dana Hamilton, 44, was killed on a D.C. sidewalk on May 14, according to Fox4 News. Green eluded police for six days.

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Green had been ordered to wear a tracking device and stay in his home while awaiting trial on a gun charge laid last April. However, according to CBS News Washington, a technician from a California-based government contractor responsible for the trackers incorrectly placed the GPS device on Green’s prosthetic leg.

Cliff Keenan, director of pre-trial services at DC Superior Court described the incident to CBS as “human error. Plain and simple.”

Citing police documents, the news station reported Green allegedly removed his prosthetic leg and used a second artificial limb to leave his apartment.

The victim’s mother, Lillie Hamilton, said she was devastated that such an error could have happened.

“This is the worst that’s really happened to me all my life and I’m 72 years old,” Lillie told CBS. “Why would they put it on a prosthetic leg when it was supposed to go on the person’s real leg?”

Speaking with Fox4 News, Keenan said this error is a first for D.C.

“With this company over the last three years we have had nearly 5,000 placements of GPS devices on individuals,” Keenan said. “As of today we have about 480 people in the community with a GPS device. This is the first time the company or I have heard of … this kind of incident happening”.

The D.C. police union is also frustrated with the error.

“From what I understand the device has to be put skin to device and they sent somebody out to put this device on and it’s not touching its skin,” Russell Mullins Jr., a spokesperson of the police union told Fox4. “I guess our biggest concern is we are out there every day putting our life on the line for citizens and making sure they are safe and then someone turns around and does something like this that lets them back out.”

Alberta expands sunshine list to include high public sector earners

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

Employees who earn more than $125,000 a year working for approximately 150 agencies, boards and commissions are now part of Alberta’s sunshine list.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci said those salaries would be posted online starting Thursday.

“Albertans deserve to know how their tax dollars are being spent,” he said. “That’s why our government is developing a new executive compensation framework to apply to agencies, boards and commissions in the future.”

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Related

    Alberta doctors concerned with sunshine list

  • Alberta government moves to expand sunshine list

  • Alberta’s sunshine list will not include salary information of Crown prosecutors

    The Public Sector Compensation Transparency Act also requires disclosure of all compensation paid to board members of agencies, boards and commissions, regardless of the amount.

    Similar public sector compensation disclosure already exists in Ontario and B.C.

    On Thursday, the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour offered his thoughts on the compensation disclosure.

    “If there is a utility for the sunshine list, it is for that top sector – the political appointees, the senior bureaucrats, the heads of agencies, boards and commissions – who because they’re outside of the collective bargaining process, their pay packages would not have been otherwise public,” Gil McGowan said.

    READ MORE: Alberta government moves to expand sunshine list 

    The groups that now must disclose salaries of $125,000 or higher include the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge. Because of the Fort McMurray wildfire, Keyano College and Alberta Health Services in Fort McMurray will be given an extension until Sept. 30.

    Public sector pay information will be posted on either the group’s website or on the website of the government department responsible for overseeing it.

    All disclosure work will be completed by June 30, the province said, the legislated deadline for disclosure.

    READ MORE: Alberta’s sunshine list will not include salary information of Crown prosecutors

    Early numbers show that four senior members in just one branch of the Alberta Innovates research and development corporation have been earning a combined income of more than $1 million a year.

    The four branches of Alberta Innovates are being amalgamated into one organization.

    Compensation information will remain online for a minimum of five years.

    The Public Sector Compensation Transparency Act  – introduced Nov. 5, 2015 – and Public Sector Compensation Transparency General Regulation allow the minister to conduct an audit if an agency, board or commission does not disclose pay information publicly.

    Bill 5 also requires disclosure of payments to doctors and other health service providers. However, the government says due to the complex way that physicians are paid, including fee-for-service, the framework to disclose these types of payments will not be ready by June 30.

    Here’s how the new legislation affects each group:

    Employees of Public Sector Bodies

    Who: Everyone who works for an agency, board or commission governed by the Alberta Public Agencies Act. This includes, but is not limited to, Alberta Health Services, post-secondary institutions, the Alberta Energy Regulator, the Alberta Utilities Commission, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, and Alberta Treasury Branches. Covenant Health will also be included, as well as independent offices of the Legislature, like the Ombudsman and Auditor General.

    Threshold: Anyone who makes more than $125,000 per year. That includes base salary, overtime pay, and any other remuneration, with the exception of pension contributions.

    What: If the threshold is met, the employee’s full compensation will be released, including pay, employer pension contributions, and any severance paid.

    Board members

    Who: Members of governing boards of agencies, boards and commissions, as well as board members of Alberta Health Services, Convenant Health, and post-secondary institutions.

    Threshold: None. All names and compensation will be disclosed, regardless of the amount.

    What: All compensation, including employer pension contributions and any severance paid.

    Physicians and other health service providers

    Who: Anyone who is paid by the province on a fee-for-service basis, including doctors, optometrists, and dentists.

    Threshold: Undecided. If a threshold is set, it will be done as a regulation and not included in the Act itself.

    What: Fee-for-service payments, and any other payments made to health service providers by the provincial government, Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health, and the Alberta Medical Association.

    Government of Alberta employees

    Who: All employees of the provincial government, who are currently covered by disclosure rules introduced by the previous PC government in 2013.

    What’s new: Disclosure for government employees is currently required by a Treasury Board Directive. The same employees, and the same rules, will now be part of the new Public Sector Compensation Transparency Act.

    Threshold: Originally introduced at $100,000 base salary or severance, the amount increases each year based on inflation. The current threshold is $104,754.

    What: All compensation, including employer pension contributions and any severance paid.

    The number of people affected is difficult to determine. More than 150,000 people work for government sector agencies, and the government expects several thousand of them will see their salaries disclosed. Figures obtained by the Wildrose party last December showed 9,786 employees of Alberta Health Services alone made more than $100,000 a year in 2013.

    Wildrose MLA Jason Nixon says his party is still studying the bill, but he suggests all publicly-paid workers should meet the same standard.

    “To us, $104,000 is already a pretty high salary, period. And I think anybody making above $100,000 in the public sector, it’s reasonable for Albertans to know where those salaries are happening.”

    The full list can be found on the Alberta Government website here.

    With files from Deb Zinck, Global News and

Eleven youths from across Sask. honoured by Royals with Duke of Edinburgh Award

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

Eleven young people from across Saskatchewan were honoured at Government House on Thursday with the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Awards, which were presented by Their Royal Highness The Earl and Countess of Wessex.

The Gold Awards recognize youths between the ages of 14 and 24 who achieve five sections in the award’s criteria: volunteer service, a skill, physical recreation, an adventurous journey, and a residential project.

Recipients also must work continually on the project for at least 18 months.

This year’s recipients are:

Aidan Andrews, Regina, All Saints D of EEvan Beaulieu, Shellbrook, IndependantCharles Brooke, Saskatoon, 107 Spitfire Air CadetsBritney Favreau, Balgonie, IndependentJack Gehring, Regina, 41 Hercules Air CadetsShanae Harvey, Regina, Edgeley Youth GroupSheldyn Moore, Star City, IndependentJill Northcott, Milo, Ab, Strathcona Tweedsmuir SchoolFaith Ogundipe, Regina, IndependentVanessa Pratchler, Govan, First Strasbourg Girl GuidesDylan Powell, Regina, All Saints D of E

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Gehring , 19, did much of the work for his award in conjunction with cadets. He went on a field exercise for his adventurous journey in addition to hiking the Mickleson Trail in South Dakota for five days, helped some younger peers earn their wings as a ground school instructor, developed his marksmanship skills, and competed at a national level in gymnastics.

He said it was very hard to do it all at the same time, especially the hike.

“I’m a sucker for punishment I guess,” he laughed.

“The weather was very bad. It snowed the whole time, except for the last day… 70 pound bags, we had to carry. We hiked a total of 65 kilometres.”

Gehring said it didn’t feel real at first knowing he was getting the award from royalty.

“Even though this is an individual achievement, everyone who does it knows it’s a team effort,” The Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward said.

Part of that team effort came from people like Pat Lawson, who was awarded a 25 year volunteer certificate. Lawson started the All Saints D of E Group in 1998.

Ken Turner of Midale, SK also received a 25 year volunteer certificate, primarily for his work with the Army Cadets.

“There’s lots of young people out there who say, oh the Duke of Edinburgh Award I could do that,” Prince Edward said.

“But the difference is you know you can. Well done.”