The Pulse: Sept. 22, 2021

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

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  • 19°C: A mix of sun and cloud. 30% chance of showers in the afternoon. Wind becoming west 20 km/h gusting to 40 near noon. High 19. (forecast)
  • 29: Alberta reported 29 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours on Tuesday. (details)

Proof-of-vaccination in Alberta.

Most Edmonton region municipalities opt-in to proof-of-vaccination program

By Nathan Fung in the Regional Roundup

All but three municipalities that are part of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board have opted-in to the province's Restrictions Exemption Program (REP), which came into effect Sept. 20.

Proof-of-vaccination, a medical exemption, or a negative COVID-19 test will be required to access most city-operated facilities for people aged 12 and over, with some exceptions for residents under 18 participating in youth activities. Municipalities that have implemented the measures include Edmonton, Beaumont, Devon, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, Morinville, Spruce Grove, St. Albert, Stony Plain, and Strathcona County.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson told Taproot that while the REP is "clunky," he welcomes consistent measures across the region.

"The unity overall was that stronger measures were required," he said.

In addition to opting into the REP, the City of Edmonton is implementing a policy that all city employees must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15, or comply with ongoing COVID-19 rapid antigen testing up to twice per week at their own cost.

Leduc County, Parkland County, and Sturgeon County are not opting into the REP. A spokesperson for Leduc County told Taproot that it does not operate any recreational facilities, but instead provides funding through cost-share partnerships with regional partners. As the facilities are operated by Leduc and Beaumont, Leduc County residents will still need to show proof of vaccination before accessing them. Similarly, Sturgeon County is not participating because it doesn't directly operate any public recreation facilities that the exemptions would apply to.

Meanwhile, Parkland County has opted to run its facilities at one-third capacity.

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By Michelle Ferguson

  • Explore Edmonton announced that it would be adopting the province's proof of vaccination program at the Edmonton Convention Centre and the Edmonton Expo Centre, as of Oct. 1. Until then the venues will operate with limited capacity.
  • The Edmonton Public School Board wrote a letter to Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and then-health minister Tyler Shandro (see below) imploring them to bring back contact tracing and mandatory quarantining. The letter, sent Sept. 16, stated that after just 10 days of class Edmonton Public Schools had 239 reported cases of COVID-19.
  • An Edmonton Catholic school newsletter invited parents and children to gather outside a women's health clinic to protest abortions, according to a post on Reddit. The newsletter was sent by the school's Catholic Education Liaison.
  • Aurora Cannabis announced it would be shutting down one of its Edmonton facilities, Aurora Polaris, as it struggles with the economic impact of the pandemic. The company did not disclose the number of employees that would be impacted.
  • The University of Alberta Students' Union is warning that the school's pandemic exam protocols could be hurting students with disabilities. The U of A's Academic Success Centre announced on Aug. 30 that it would continue to administer exam accommodation services remotely through the fall term.
  • Premier Jason Kenney shuffled his cabinet yesterday, removing Tyler Shandro as health minister and replacing him with Jason Copping. Shandro will take over Copping's responsibilities as minister of labour and immigration. Shandro faced repeated calls to resign amid the pandemic, as well as during a dispute with doctors.
  • Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver asked the federal government for air ambulances, as well as additional critical care hospital staff, to help lessen the pressure of COVID-19 on Alberta's health-care system. Premier Jason Kenney is also working on a precautionary arrangements with the military to help transport patients to hospitals outside the province.
  • The result for Edmonton Centre is still up in the air as officials continue to count a record number of mail-in ballots. Mayor Don Iveson expressed concern over the prospect of Edmonton not having a voice at table without a Liberal member of parliament.
  • The NDP's Blake Desjarlais is the first two-spirit member of parliament to be elected in Canada. Desjarlais narrowly beat Conservative incumbent Kerry Diotte in Edmonton Griesbach during yesterday's federal election.
A photo of plasma bags.

Clinical trial finds convalescent plasma ineffective in treating COVID-19

By Hiba Kamal-Choufi in the Health Innovation Roundup

An international study led by Canadian researchers, including the University of Alberta's Susan Nahirniak, has found that blood transfusions from patients who recovered from COVID-19 are not an effective treatment for the virus.

Nahirniak, who is the study's principal investigator in Edmonton, said the CONCOR-1 clinical trial did not demonstrate any benefit of convalescent plasma in changing the outcome for patients who were admitted to hospital due to COVID-19.

"Convalescent plasma had been found to boost immunity in patients infected with some other viral entities, including SARS, in the past," she said. The study also discovered that patients who receive convalescent plasma may become sicker.

"We are cautioning against using convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 hospitalized patients unless they are in a closely monitored clinical trial," said Donald Arnold, co-principal investigator of the study in Toronto.

CONCOR-1 is the largest clinical trial on convalescent plasma and COVID-19. It involved 940 randomized patients at 72 hospitals across Canada, the United States, and Brazil.

Convalescent plasma was considered a potential treatment for COVID-19 patients at the beginning of the pandemic, however, the World Health Organization warned that using blood transfusions as a treatment is still an experimental therapy.

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A map of Edmonton's tastawiyiniwak ward

tastawiyiniwak: Where the candidates stand on the People's Agenda

By Karen Unland

Taproot asked candidates to complete a 30-question survey based on what we heard when we asked what key issues people wanted the candidates to be talking about as they compete for votes in the 2021 municipal election.

Here are the answers we've received from the candidates in tastawiyiniwak:

We have not yet received finalized surveys from Iannie Gerona, Zain Hafiz, or Karen Principe. We will update the links above when we receive them.

Want to see which candidates line up best with your own stances? Take the survey and find out.

For more coverage of the 2021 municipal election in Edmonton, visit And for more on the origins of this project, visit our People's Agenda page.

Ward Métis candidates spoke at the Rat Creek Press forum on Sept. 16.

Municipal election rundown: Sept. 22, 2021

By Andy Trussler

Every week in the lead up to Edmonton's municipal election on Oct. 18, we're rounding up the news and announcements you need to know to stay informed.

Policies and campaign updates

Weighing in on the campaign trail

Upcoming forums

A list of all of the candidates who have announced they are running in the Edmonton municipal election is available here. Learn more about Taproot's effort to ground our election coverage in what is important to Edmontonians on our People's Agenda page.

Photo: Ward Métis candidates spoke at the Rat Creek Press forum on Sept. 16. (Rat Creek Press/Facebook)


Correction: Yesterday's Essentials section incorrectly stated that 82% of people being treated in intensive care for COVID-19 are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. It is 82% of the 954 COVID-19 patients in hospital that are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, as of Sept. 20.