Headlines

· The Pulse
By Kevin Holowack
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  • Doctors across Alberta are bracing for the sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some are worried that hospitals have not recovered from previous waves, CBC reports. Dr. Neeja Bakshi from the Royal Alexandra Hospital tells Edmontonians to expect a surge and says the chance of accessing "effective and efficient health care in a timely manner is very slim right now."
  • City council narrowly voted down a proposal from Coun. Andrew Knack that would have provided financial relief to businesses impacted by construction, including LRT expansions. Coun. Keren Tang, who voted against the program along with councillors Tim Cartmell, Karen Principe, Joanne Wright, Sarah Hamilton, Erin Rutherford, and Michael Janz, said the city should consider policies that prevent these issues rather than a "band-aid solution." Puneeta McBryan of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association expressed disappointment at the outcome. Council voted down a similar program, also pitched by Knack, in 2018.
  • City council approved $1.8 million for the Bissell Centre, to be paid out of its emergency COVID-19 fund. The funding will allow the centre to stay open at least eight hours a day for six days a week and offer food, clothing, showers, and laundry, as well as Indigenous cultural services and housing referrals. City manager Andre Corbould is expecting further requests for support from shelters and says he is trying to meet with the provincial government to secure funding.
  • Council also asked staff to look into options for a drug-checking program, which would allow people to confidentially find out what is in the drugs they intend to take. Coun. Erin Rutherford called the idea an "easy and cheap" harm-reduction strategy to prevent drug poisoning. "We're talking about people dying on the streets, and this is absolutely something that can prevent that," she said.
  • The idea for a pedestrian bridge over McDougall Hill Road dates back to the 1980s, said Cyril Balitbit, lead project manager for the proposed 100 Street Pedestrian Bridge after the city released three design concepts and opened a survey for public input until April 24. The project remains dependent on whether council decides to fund it. Hear more about the pros and cons on Episode 172 of Speaking Municipally.
  • The Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 569 (ATU), which represents local transit workers, has agreed to a new collective agreement with the City of Edmonton, which includes no general wage adjustment for 2021, 1% for 2022, and 2% for 2023.
  • Teamsters 362, which represents about 7,000 workers in Alberta and the Northwest Territories, has renewed its efforts to unionize workers at the Amazon fulfillment centre in Nisku, after campaigning there in September. The union told Reuters it has enough signed cards to meet the 40% threshold for a vote.
  • The Archbishop of Edmonton says his archdiocese is prepared to act on the Pope's apology to Indigenous Peoples in Canada, with education and open dialogue. "We've got to be really careful, it seems to me, to avoid a perpetuation of a colonial mentality whereby we would say to them, 'OK, here's your problem, we know how to fix it, and here's what we will do for you,'" said Richard Smith, who was among a small group of bishops who joined the Métis, First Nations, and Inuit delegations that travelled to the Vatican last week.