The Pulse: Feb. 26, 2021

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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  • -7°C: Flurries ending late in the morning then mainly cloudy with 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind north 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light in the morning. High minus 7. Wind chill minus 17 in the morning and minus 12 in the afternoon. (forecast)
  • 3-0: The Oilers (14-8-0) beat the Canucks (8-14-2). Mike Smith earned his 41st-career shutout with 32 saves. (details)

Alberta predicts debt will climb to $132.5B

Alberta predicts debt will climb to $132.5B

By Paul Cashman Paul Cashman in the Business Roundup

The provincial government expects to finish the current fiscal year $20.1 billion deeper in the red and run deficits for three more years totaling another $37 billion. Tax-supported debt of $132.5 billion by 2023-24 will cost $3.3 billion a year to service.

“We will keep Alberta's debt below 30% of GDP, bring our per capita spending down to the level of other major provinces (and) re-establish a credible plan to balance the budget once the pandemic is behind us,” Premier Jason Kenney said on Twitter after the 2021-22 budget was released Feb. 25.

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in his budget speech that public sector compensation is higher than in other provinces and must be addressed to “ensure a sustainable fiscal trajectory for the province.”

The province is pointing to increasing COVID-19 vaccinations in the second half of 2021 and a stronger oil and gas sector as key factors in an eventual fiscal recovery. The Calgary Herald reports that a major new jobs training program aimed at helping Alberta workers adapt to a changing economy will be announced in the coming weeks.

However, Alberta’s unemployment rate is not expected to improve to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2024, the Edmonton Journal reports in a detailed summary of budget impacts.

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By Emily Rendell-Watson Emily Rendell-Watson

  • By noon on Feb. 25, about 92,000 Albertans who were born in 1946 or earlier had been booked to get their COVID-19 vaccinations. According to CBC News, about 230,000 seniors became eligible for the vaccine this week.
  • Alberta Health Services (AHS) is reminding people to arrive for vaccines at the time that was booked, as many seniors are experiencing long wait times at vaccination centres. "Some individuals are arriving at appointments 30 to 60 minutes in advance, and as a result, wait lines are forming outside the facilities," AHS told the Edmonton Journal in an email.
  • The provincial budget includes a roughly 25% cut over the next three years to funding for municipal infrastructure projects. While Edmonton will receive $43.2 million more in 2021, the city will face a significant decrease in the next two years.
  • Edmontonian Maureen Bianchini Purvis was awarded one of the Meritorious Service Decorations by the Governor General for a project that aims to "ensure poppies are placed on veterans' headstones every November." Her charity is called No Stone Left Alone.
  • An ex-Edmonton police officer reports she was "pressured into dropping a complaint against a fellow officer investigating her sexual assault allegation." The Edmonton Police Commission is now taking another look at the case, which involves an incident from 2016.
  • CBC heard from researchers at the University of Alberta, who reported that Monday's meteor was a fragment of a comet. "This chunk was largely made of dust and ice, burning up immediately without leaving anything to find on the ground — but instead giving us a spectacular flash," the U of A's Patrick Hill said.
Local cellular agriculture company ships first commercial product, raises US$2.2M in seed funding

Local cellular agriculture company ships first commercial product, raises US$2.2M in seed funding

By Jackson Spring Jackson Spring

Future Fields is helping producers grow cell-based meat in laboratories, and just landed more funding to help scale up its business.

On Feb. 25, the Edmonton-based company announced it had raised US$2.2 million in seed money, coinciding with the shipment of its first commercial product: a proprietary version of the FGF2 growth factor protein.

"Cellular agriculture opens the door to creating high-quality protein with less impact on land, water, and other environmental resources — and our product is the key to unleashing this industry," said Lejjy Gafour, CEO of Future Fields, in an email to Taproot.

The protein is "the most important component of cellular agriculture," said a Feb. 25 press release. Future Fields is shipping the protein to cellular meat producers, who will use it to create the final retail product. The company said its proprietary version of the protein will allow producers to grow meat at a larger scale and lower cost.

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Podcast pick: Searching for Izena

Podcast pick: Searching for Izena

By Karen Unland Karen Unland

Searching for Izena came out of the gate with a lot more fanfare than its namesake, the largely forgotten first woman to be elected to Edmonton's city council.

Why so much interest when Searching for Izena debuted in January? Well, this is an election year, and the last few campaigns have brought very few women to City Hall. The podcast also has some power behind it as a project of YWCA Edmonton and Parity YEG, with financial support from the Edmonton Community Foundation. And it's got a pretty interesting news hook — the titular Izena Ross was elected one century ago, and only 30 women have followed in her footsteps.

The charismatic co-hosts, Stacey Brotzel and Kim-Ann Wilson, have presided over two episodes so far. Part 1: #30 and #31 sets the table for the series and interviews current councillors Bev Esslinger and Sarah Hamilton. Part 2: Sex, Tea Parties & Cigarettes gets into the history, with former Morinville mayor Lisa Holmes introducing Izena Ross, and Sen. Paula Simons telling the story of Margaret Crang, the 23-year-old firecracker who was the second woman elected to council.

The nine-part series comes out on the third Tuesday of the month, concluding a month before Edmontonians head to the polls on Oct. 18.

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Quiz time: CRLs

Quiz time: CRLs


Test your knowledge with this daily quiz, brought to you by the People's Agenda project:

Which community revitalization levy area is projecting a revenue shortfall of $11.9 million?

  1. Calgary Rivers District
  2. Edmonton Quarters Downtown
  3. Edmonton Belvedere
  4. Cochrane South-Central
  5. Edmonton Capital City Downtown

See Monday's issue of The Pulse for the answer.

The answer to the Feb. 25 quiz was e — WeFaces Technology Inc., a solar LED manufacturer whose parent company is based in China, will set up shop at EIA.

Taproot wants to know what key issue you want the candidates to talk about as they compete for votes in the 2021 municipal election, and why. Add your voice to the People's Agenda.

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash
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