Headlines: Dec. 8, 2022

  • The city's extreme weather response has been extended to Dec. 19 based on updated forecasts. Temperatures are expected to rise slightly over the coming days but drop below -20°C with wind chill next week. Edmontonians are encouraged to call 211 and press 3 if they see someone who needs non-emergency support for reasons involving shelter, intoxication, or mental health. Call 911 in case of serious distress or emergency.
  • A report by the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters (ACWS) found that in a one-year period, shelters denied 11,546 requests for accommodation from women and seniors, as well as 6,241 children who would have accompanied them, due to capacity issues. An additional 7,570 requests by women and seniors were denied for other reasons, such as lack of staff or resources to meet complex needs. In all, Alberta women's shelters received 65,000 calls requesting support between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022, an increase of 25% over the previous year. "The reality is that the shelter sector in Alberta is experiencing a compounding of pressures on their operations," said ACWS executive director Jan Reimer. "Some shelters are even considering closing their unfunded beds, despite being at capacity every day. Some shelters don't receive government funding at all."
  • A report from Global News shows that city administration appears to disagree with council about the extent to which Edmontonians want to see climate-related items in the 2023-2026 capital budget. On Dec. 2, city manager Andre Corbould suggested that those who spoke about climate at the budget public hearings were "clearly climate people, climate action folks, advocacy folks, and activists," but later apologized and issued a clarifying statement saying that "a high percentage of Edmontonians are concerned about climate change." Ward Métis Coun. Ashley Salvador said the budget needs to include more for climate action. "We are at the stage of our energy transition strategy where we are supposed to be rapidly and significantly scaling up climate action," she said. "It's not good enough to just continue on with the status quo." Budget deliberations continue until Dec. 16.
  • A report by the city auditor's office found that Edmonton peace officers are lacking performance targets in enforcement areas of transit safety, problem properties, animal welfare, and encampments following an 18-month audit that focused on how management supports enforcement services. City auditor Hoa Quach noted, for example, that the city delivered 482 nuisance warnings regarding problem properties every month in 2021, but the significance of the number is unclear. The office also recommends that the city's Community Standards and Neighbourhoods branch implement a more functional dispatch and GPS system after it switched in May from using GPS to Google Maps to track peace officers. As part of budget deliberations, administration is asking council to approve a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system for peace officers, which includes a GPS function.
  • Elections Alberta, the independent office that administers provincial elections, is recommending amendments to the Election Act to help address misinformation and disinformation. In its annual report, the office recommends prohibiting the act of "knowingly making false statements about the voting process," impersonating political actors, and using a computer system to influence or undermine an election outcome. It also recommends giving the Chief Electoral Officer the power to take down online content and "compel" online platforms to help remove content "in a timely fashion." The recommendations are in response to a 2021 incident in which a series of Twitter posts impersonated the Elections Alberta account.
  • Edmonton police are reminding the public to be wary of "grandparent scams" or "emergency scams" after two people were arrested in connection with two separate, unrelated cases of the fraud. Often, the crime involves a scammer contacting an elderly person by phone, sometimes while impersonating a relative, and requesting money to cover emergency room fees, lawyer fees, or more. The RCMP have received more than 150 reports of similar scams in Alberta in 2022. The money is usually not recovered. "It is life changing in many instances," said Cpl. Sean Milne of the Alberta Federal Serious and Organized Crime Unit. "These people are often seniors, often on a very fixed income, and to assist a family member they will go above and beyond."
  • The province announced the launch of the Affordable Housing Partnership Program, which will allow housing providers to apply for funding to support up to one-third of costs for construction, renovation, conversion, or redevelopment projects. The province's contribution will come in the form of capital grants, land, buildings, or the transfer or leasing of government assets. Public, non-profit, and private housing providers are eligible to apply until Jan. 11, 2023. "These partnership commitments will assist Civida in building new mixed-income affordable housing and provide more housing options for Edmontonians who need it most," said Civida CEO Gord Johnston. The program is part of the province's 10-year affordable housing strategy, Stronger Foundations, which began in 2021.
  • The turnover at Alberta Health Services (AHS) continues with the resignations of the province's two deputy chief medical officers of health. Health Minister Jason Copping confirmed Dec. 7 that Dr. Rosana Salvaterra and Dr. Jing Hu have submitted their notice. Both continue to work in their roles, but the province is currently seeking their replacements. The resignations follow the removal of Dr. Deena Hinshaw from her role as Alberta's chief medical officer of health and replacement with Dr. Mark Joffe, along with the province's termination of the entire AHS board in favour of a single administrator, Dr. John Cowell.