Headlines: March 18, 2024

· The Pulse
  • Civic Service Union 52, which represents about 5,000 City of Edmonton workers and 680 Edmonton Public Library staff, shared details on a tentative contract agreement that includes a 6.25% salary increase over three years and a $1,000 lump sum payment. The union and the city came to the agreement on March 14, averting a strike that had been set to begin the same day. The deal, which still needs to be ratified by union members, came after 18 months of negotiations. Wages were a major point of contention, as workers hadn't had a raise since 2018 and worked without a contract since 2020.
  • The Court of King's Bench has ordered the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights to pay $11,500 of the City of Edmonton's legal fees after its unsuccessful court challenge of the city's policy on homeless encampment removals. The lawsuit was dismissed in January after the court found the coalition did not have public interest standing in the case. The city had argued the coalition should pay $25,000 of its more than $42,000 in legal fees, but in his decision, Justice Jonathan Martin awarded only partials costs because he found the case brought matters of public interest to the court.
  • One year after the on-duty deaths of Edmonton Police Service constables Brett Ryan and Travis Jordan, Chief Dale McFee highlighted the need for better collaboration between law enforcement, social services, the health system, and the education system to prevent future tragedies. McFee said information sharing between agencies could help identify potential threats earlier. The officers were killed on March 16 last year while responding to a family dispute. A private ceremony to honour the officers was held on the one-year anniversary of their deaths and the High Level Bridge was lit blue.
  • The Alberta government is reviewing its recall legislation as municipal leaders raise concerns it is being used for personal vendettas and political disagreements. The law, which allows voters to initiate recall petitions against politicians, came into effect in April 2022. Since then, a government spokespersons said they are aware of 11 attempts to recall civic leaders, including one successful campaign in Ryley, a village southeast of Edmonton. Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver said the government will discuss ways to improve the legislation, which he said does have "some shortfalls."
  • For more than a year, Global News followed the lives of four people experiencing homelessness in Edmonton, chronicling their struggles with extreme weather and their time spent in shelters, encampments, and supportive housing. Their stories will be broadcast in a 30-minute special on March 18 called Global News Investigates: Surviving Edmonton.
  • WestCan Proton Therapy Inc. announced it will build the Ben Stelter Centre for Proton Therapy and Neuroscience in honour of Ben Stelter, a six-year-old Edmonton Oilers superfan who died of cancer. The $120-million investment will create more than 250 construction jobs and up to 100 permanent positions, and will be Canada's first proton therapy treatment centre, marking a significant advancement in cancer care. The centre is being developed in partnership with the Ben Stelter Foundation and Edmonton Global.
  • In Sync Dog Training offers a unique program at its facility in west Edmonton that allows dogs to hone their natural instincts. During the "barn hunt," dogs track gerbils hidden in protective canisters among hay bales, harnessing their prey drives and improving their behaviour and confidence. Trainer Rebecca Long says that while the gerbils are always safely protected, the dogs "love to hunt and use their energy to find their prey."
  • Alberta has achieved an average fee of $15 per day for licensed child care as of Jan. 1, the federal government announced. The reduced fees allow families in Alberta to save up to $13,700 annually per child, bringing the province closer to the goal of $10-a-day child care by 2026.
  • The Alberta NDP confirmed the final list of candidates in the party's leadership race. Among the six candidates are Edmonton MLAs Sarah Hoffman, Rakhi Pancholi, and Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, and Calgary MLA Kathleen Ganley. Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan and former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi are also in the race to replace current leader Rachel Notley. The party will hold three leadership debates before the vote takes place on June 22.