Headlines: March 13, 2023

· The Pulse
  • A city pilot program is offering sign language interpreters and other accessibility aids to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing access activities at recreation centres. The one-year program, launched April 2022, has a budget of $30,000 and has had eight families sign up so far. Amandeep Saggu said the program has helped her two sons, who are both deaf, look forward to swimming lessons. "Before that, there was a lot of frustration," Saggu, who is also deaf, said through an American Sign Language interpreter.
  • Alberta Health Services has once again declared a Shigella outbreak in Edmonton after five new cases required hospitalization. The move comes about one month after the health authority said the outbreak was over. "Even with heightened public health surveillance for illness, we recognize there are cases that go undetected and given case numbers are rising again, AHS is acting in the interest of public health by reopening the outbreak," AHS said in a release. Since the first Shigella case on Aug. 17, 2022, 211 people have become ill, including 144 who needed hospitalization. No deaths have been reported.
  • An Edmonton doctor who worked in a COVID-19 intensive care unit reflected on the 3rd anniversary of the pandemic, which was declared on March 11, 2020. Neeja Bakshi, an internal medicine physician, said that there continues to be many COVID patients, which isn't likely to change, but "for the first time in three years, it really actually feels like something is shifting." The latest data from Alberta Health Services shows that 518 people are hospitalized with COVID, including 12 in the ICU. To date, 5,622 deaths have been recorded.
  • An Ipsos poll conducted for Global News found that 44% of Albertans feel less safe since the pandemic started and 40% said they would not walk alone at night in their neighbourhood. The poll also found that 20% don't feel safe walking in their neighbourhood during the day. Coun. Andrew Knack said the city is working on ways to address community safety concerns, including transit safety investments and refocusing police patrol efforts.
  • Canadian travellers experienced frustrations over the weekend after Edmonton-based Flair Airlines blamed maintenance issues for several cancelled flights. The cancellations came as Flair also confirmed that four of its airplanes were seized by an American lessor in what the airline called a "commercial dispute." John Gradek, an aviation and supply management lecturer at McGill University, said the seizures could hurt Flair's brand credibility. "You can still get a good deal, but...you're taking some chances," Gradek said.
  • Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley accepted the Edmonton Strathcona nomination during a pre-election rally at NAIT on March 11. In a speech, Notley said the NDP platform will focus on building a future-proof economy through diversification, and investments in health and education. She later told reporters the party will fight for votes across the province, but "are not taking Edmonton for granted." The provincial election is scheduled for May 29.