Headlines: Nov. 3, 2023

· The Pulse
  • Two Edmonton Police Service officers were found guilty of assault in an October 2020 incident in which they roughed up a homeowner after dragging him from a house party where they were responding to a noise complaint. Justice Barry Nordin found the officers' use of force unnecessary because the victim posed no safety risk. The officers are Sgt. Marc Chmilar and Steven Minarchi, who was a sergeant at the time but resigned in 2021. A sentencing date will be set later this month.
  • Coun. Michael Janz spoke to CTV News about the city's proposed 7.09% tax increase, which is 2.13% higher than what council approved in December 2022. Of the increase, 1.63% is linked to the Edmonton Police Service budget and police salary settlements. Janz said there are "fair questions" about whether police should find more efficiencies amid expenses on things like the police helicopter, high pay for police managers, many communications staff, and a downtown high rise office. In response to Janz's comments, a police spokesperson said Edmontonians are focused on the "very real safety concerns in our city." Det. Cory Kerr, vice-president of the Edmonton Police Association, said it is irresponsible to use "overworked police members as a scapegoat" for the tax increase.
  • Postmedia reporter Lauren Boothby shared her experience riding the Valley Line Southeast LRT from Mill Woods to downtown and back on a preview of the line, which begins service on Nov. 4. Boothby said the 13-kilometre trip is "mostly smooth sailing," except for a "shaky ride" in the tunnel through downtown. She also noted "intentionally loud alarm bells" at all 11 stops that "may make riders wish they brought earplugs." She also found the seating less comfortable than the cushioned benches on older LRT cars. The full commute took about 30 minutes each way, but Boothby suggested it could be hard to keep that schedule during regular service.
  • Health Canada issued a safety advisory after identifying a series of "significant issues that may pose serious health risks" at the Canadian Cord Blood bioRepository, a cord blood bank in Edmonton. The federal agency says issues with processing, testing, and storing of the blood could lead to contamination and transmission of infectious diseases. It also identified a lack of qualified personnel, staff not following processes, a lack of proper record-keeping, and misleading online advertising. The company has been asked to notify customers about the safety concerns and take corrective action.
  • The gang suppression unit of the Edmonton Police Service made the biggest cocaine seizure in EPS history on Oct. 27 when they stopped a vehicle carrying 40.5 kilograms of the drug, which has a street value of $1.8 million. Insp. Lance Parker said police are concerned about violence that accompanies drug trafficking, adding the service will have a second gang suppression unit as of Nov. 5.
  • Dr. Paul Parks, president of the Alberta Medical Association, said the province's funding model for physicians is challenging doctor retention and threatening the healthcare system. Parks said the existing fee-for-service model is forcing doctors to close their doors because they can't pay overhead, adding that doctors are increasingly taking on unpaid administrative work. The AMA signed a memorandum of understanding with the province in October that commits the parties to resolving gaps and developing a new compensation model.
  • Finance Minister Nate Horner tabled legislation called the Alberta Pension Protection Act, which would guarantee the province doesn't launch an Alberta Pension Plan unless the public votes for it in a referendum. He also told reporters he plans to listen to provincial finance ministers about their views on Alberta withdrawing from the CPP. An Alberta Pension Plan engagement panel is holding regional telephone town halls throughout November, including an Edmonton town hall on Nov. 16. The province is also running a survey until Dec. 10 for Albertans to provide their feedback.