Superheroes without capes: Alberta Children's Hospital transport team gets kids the help they need

These superheroes don’t wear capes. But the work they do saves lives, often in unpredictable situations. This week, we’re highlighting Alberta Children’s Hospital as the Country 105 FM Caring for Kids Radiothon raises money for vital equipment. In this story, Norma Reid takes us inside the emergency department.

The Country 105 FM’s Caring for Kids Radiothon is shining a spotlight on life-saving equipment at Alberta Children’s Hospital.

One such machine, is the transport ventilator which is used by the pediatric critical care transport team, headed by Dr. Ping Chen.

The highly specialized team travels via ground and air ambulance to young patients, often in emergency situations.

The team is often referred to as ‘heroes’ and the equipment they use is equally important in their missions.

“Sometimes you get out of the helicopter, you have to pick up your bags and you have to trek through the forest to get to your patient,” Chen said.

The transport ventilator was key back in September, when two-year-old Liam Filipuzzi suddenly began having seizures at their home in Coleman. The toddler had no family history and no strange symptoms.

His mother Lindsey, a nurse, rushed him to the local hospital in Crowsnest Pass area.

“I was panicking”, she said. “He ended up getting intubated.”

But soon local staff realized Liam required care beyond what the small town hospital could provide. He needed to go to the Alberta Children’s Hospital some three hours away, with the help of the transport team.

“They got here really quickly”, she said.

“In our hospital we don’t have a ventilator so they hooked him up right away.”

The 230-kilometre drive to Calgary was excruciating, Filipuzzi said, fighting back tears. “You’re just thinking about what happened and what could go wrong.”

But the transport team kept in constant communication with the family the entire trip. They helped keep Liam’s parent’s calm while the ventilator kept his breathing in check.

Liam would eventually fully recover. Tests later revealed the young boy was suffering from a rare condition where several viruses were attacking his body at once. It was too much for his young body to fight, which brought on the seizures.

“He didn’t even have a fever, his little body was overworked,” Filipuzzi said.

“Technology has evolved — it’s become lighter, more compact, more durable,” Dr. Chen said when describing the newer, better transport ventilators that are now on the market.

“In very sick children, if we give too little oxygen they don’t get the oxygen they need. If we give too much, we can actually cause trauma to their lungs,” Chen said.

Newer technology makes that guesswork much easier.

“Part of the draw working for our team is you never know what you’re going to get,” Chen, a veteran staff member, said with a smile.

“Honestly, we couldn’t do what we do without your support. I love this place.”

To donate, tune in to Country 105 FM until Feb. 3, or visit the Alberta Children’s Hospital website.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

'Bedard Bump' sending hockey phenom's stats — and WHL ticket sales — through the roof

There were just 3,279 fans in attendance when Connor Bedard and the Regina Pats visited the Calgary Saddledome on Oct. 2, 2022.

Four months later, the ‘Bedard Bump’ has sent ticket demand soaring.

While the Hitmen and Pats warmed up on Wednesday night, the lower portion of the glass was nearly blocked out by a wall of construction paper signs and hopeful faces eager for a wave or, in one lucky kid’s case — an autograph.

All told, 17,223 fans filled the Saddledome’s lower bowl and packed into the highest corners of the East press level in hopes of getting a peek at #98 — the presumptive first overall selection at the 2023 NHL draft.

In fact, the 17-year-old hockey phenom says it’s the biggest crowd he’s ever played in front of.

“You feel it, you hear it and, you know, I think it brings some extra energy,” the player from North Vancouver said.

“You’re obviously on the road, they don’t like you as much — which is fun and you know when you’re home they’re cheering for you. So either way you’re kind of getting fired up for it.”

Bedard’s historic showing at the World Junior Hockey Championship, where he set a new tournament scoring record en route to a gold medal, has elevated him to must-see status for hardcore and casual fans.

“I’m old enough to have been here on the opening day for the Saddledome as a kid and watching Wayne Gretzky play,” hockey fan Mike Stahl said.

Some 40 years later, he brought his young son, Niko, along in hopes he’d have a similar story to tell one day.

“We bought tickets a month-and-a-half ago right at the end of the World Juniors and we were lucky to get a ticket then, so this is pretty incredible.”

Since returning from the world juniors in Halifax with some shiny new hardware in tow, Bedard has somehow found another level to his already exceptional game.

In his eight contests with the Pats since the break, the Regina captain has wracked up 17 goals (including three hat tricks) and eight assists.

With a sensational wrister from the bottom of the circle on Wednesday night, Bedard also extended his point streak to 35 games.

He’d follow it up with an assist with Regina’s tying goal in the dying seconds of the third period, and casually cap off his night with the game-winning goal in the shootout.

He’s only been held off the scoresheet once this season. But the consensus: Bedard isn’t just inflating his stats.

On Tuesday night, the Red Deer Rebels set a franchise regular season attendance record with 7,287 fans (Its season average is 3,829) filing into the Peavey Mart Centrium to watch the Rebels dish the Pats a 6-5 overtime loss.

Medicine Hat is poised to more than double its average attendance with a sellout duel (featuring Yukon prodigy Gavin McKenna) on Sunday.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes have run out of seats to sell and are now peddling standing-room-only tickets.

It’s a blessing for a gate-driven league that has felt the financial pinch of a bubble season and fans who’ve had to cut corners in their own entertainment budgets.

“It’s great for the whole entire league and it’s great for junior hockey,” Hitmen communications coordinator Cassandra Vilgrain said.

“Our hope is that it’s bringing a new audience to see what Hitmen hockey is like in our game presentation and our game experience. Hopefully, it gives it a boost and it continues on.

“It’s quite unprecedented. I mean, you had players like Joe Sakic and Jarome Iginla, and we had players like (Ryan) Getzlaf who drew a lot. In the era of social media and exposure that Connor Bedard has had, I think that even brings a bigger audience and I don’t think it’s happened before.”

Maybe, like Getzlaf, Bedard will one day have his jersey retired in his junior rink.

For now though, he’ll continue the playoff chase with his Regina teammates, spending long bus rides across Western Canada engrossed in long card games and dreaming of the big leagues while fans enjoy the chance to see a star of tomorrow, today.

After all, the next time Bedard is in the Saddledome — it could very well be as a member of a lucky NHL team.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Hundreds of protesters drown out speaker Frances Widdowson at University of Lethbridge

Former Mount Royal University professor Frances Widdowson was set to speak at the University of Lethbridge, however a group of protesters took over the space and left her unable to deliver her lecture. Eloise Therien reports.

An hour before a controversial former Mount Royal University professor Frances Widdowson was planning to speak at the University of Lethbridge, students could be seen filling the U Hall atrium.

But it was clear many weren’t interested in hearing her speak. They were preparing to send a message.

Widdowson has sparked some controversy in recent years, making headlines with her comments about residential schools.

It was confirmed last year she was fired from MRU in Calgary for allegations of workplace harassment and intimidation. Her case is in arbitration and MRU told Global News that the case remains confidential.

She was fired amid controversy over comments she made lauding the educational benefits of Canada’s residential school system while questioning whether abuses at the schools against Indigenous children equated to “cultural genocide,” as described in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Widdowson was invited then disinvited to speak on campus this week about her concerns that a mob mentality and “woke policies” increasingly threaten academic freedom.

About 2,500 students signed a petition pushing back on the university for hosting the speech.

Earlier this week, the university rescinded space for Widdowson to speak after immense backlash, but she announced on Facebook she planned to attend regardless, stating she would have to be hauled away by security to be stopped.

Her presentation: “How ‘Woke-Ism’ Threatens Academic Freedom.”

Kairvee Bhatt, president of the U of L Students’ Union, said students decided to rent the space on Wednesday for their own “celebration.”

“We’re here to really amplify Black voices, trans voices, Indigenous voices,” she said. “This is really a show of support for our entire community here on campus given some difficult times that we’re facing.”

The atrium was adorned with “Every Child Matters” posters, and one individual was handing out a flyers with the words “racism is not free speech.”

Frances Widdowson speaks with someone at the University of Lethbridge. She was planning to give a lecture, but was met with resistance. Taken Feb. 1, 2023.

Frances Widdowson speaks with someone at the University of Lethbridge. She was planning to give a lecture, but was met with resistance. Taken Feb. 1, 2023.

Eloise Therien / Global News

Students, staff, faculty, and members of the community, including members of the Metis Nation of Alberta, were in attendance.

“This talk is not going to be happening here,” Bhatt told media before the event.

“She was given notice that the talk is cancelled on campus. If she wants to come by here she’s welcome to join in on our round dance, she’s welcomed to join in on the festivities, she’s welcomed to play a game of ping pong with us — but that’s all that’s going to be happening here.”

Widdowson arrived around 4:30 p.m., and observed and applauded the drumming and dancing. But it quickly became clear she wouldn’t be able to give her lecture there, and tried to move to a different location.

She was followed and said she ultimately left the building around 5 p.m. with the help of security.

“I wasn’t afraid or anything,” Widdowson told Global News after the fact. “I wasn’t threatened by it.

“I was just sort of disappointed that I wasn’t able to speak.”

Mike Mahon, president of vice-chancellor of the U of L, released a statement regarding the peaceful protest.

“Earlier tonight, over 700 students, staff, faculty and community supporters engaged in a protest of a controversial speaker, and another large group attended a lecture on the importance of truth before reconciliation,” Mahon’s statement read.

“Tonight’s events were a coming together of our community to show support for each other and a reflection of the values of the University of Lethbridge.

“I would like to express my sincere appreciation to our community members for conducting themselves in such a peaceful and powerful manner.”

Widdowson added she gave a successful talk to a class of philosophy students on Tuesday, at the invitation of a professor.

“It was an excellent class,” she said.

“I was really, very very heartened by the students. They didn’t agree with me. They had very important questions that they wanted to ask.”

Widdowson said she gave the planned lecture that didn’t happen in-person through on Zoom Wednesday at 7 p.m.

— With files from Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Ballet Kelowna pushes dancers to the limits in new performance

Prepare to see the dancers of Ballet Kelowna like you never have before. They have been pushing the limits of ballet in their upcoming mixed program, Reflections.

The ballet company is bringing “a diverse collection of four short works from some of Canada’s most exciting, up-and-coming choreographers, Reflections offers audiences a powerful mix of thought-provoking world premieres and returning audience favourites,” states a press release.

“We want to see the dancers challenged by other types of dance. Ballet is that foundation that we train in every day, but we are really using that as a springboard or platform to move into a whole different realm of dance,” said artistic director and CEO of Ballet Kelowna Simone Orlando.

The ballet company will restage Split House Geometric by John Alleyne that Ballet Kelowna performed last in 2016. They will pair it with “the world premiere of ʔɛmaxwiygə from Ballet Kelowna’s 2022/23 Artist in Residence Cameron Fraser-Monroe, who explores the world-sense behind the Ayajuthem word ʔɛmaxwiygə to portray a family’s journey of love and optimism following the passing of a loved one,” states a press release.

“In particular, it’s traditional Coast Salish dance, and traditional Grass Dance elements, it’s present even in the more contemporary movement but also present in a very pure form in the opening and closing of this work,” said Fraser-Monroe.

Orlando has brought in Esie Mensah from Toronto to contribute what Mensah calls Afro-Fusion to the stage.

“The piece is called (INNER)Beings which is essentially a conversation about the emotional baggage that we carry,” said Mensah.

“A big question that I had as a choreographer was if people could see what I am carrying would they be more sympathetic to me’.”

The fourth piece is Kelowna Ballet’s own Seiji Suzuki’s work called Stolen Tide. 

“Inspired by pandemic-induced isolation, the touching work is an entreaty to cherish every moment spent with family, friends, and partners. The fast-paced opening movement, defined by conflict and discord, gives way to compassion and empathy in the eloquent second movement,” states a press release.

Reflections will be launched Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 at the Kelowna Community Theatre. Tickets are available at www.balletkelowna.ca

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Safety review incoming after Bridgeland neighbourhood sign loses another letter

The Bridgeland sign is down two letters after another hit-and-run crash. As Adam MacVicar reports, community leaders say it's a sign there needs to be improvements for pedestrian safety in the area.

A sign marking the entrance to Bridgeland is down another letter, and the incident has prompted the City of Calgary to step in to assess traffic safety in the area.

A crash during Friday’s snowstorm demolished the ‘N’ on the Hollywood-inspired sign, but the driver fled the scene.

The sign, in the northeast community of Bridgeland, has taken a couple hits over the last year which has resulted in two missing letters.

The sign, in the northeast community of Bridgeland, has taken a couple hits over the last year which has resulted in two missing letters.

Global News

Calgary Police said it is investigating the incident and they haven’t found any suspects.

It was an eerily similar scene last April when a vehicle jumped the curb and brought down the ‘D’; the hit-and-run resulted in charges against the driver.

The shrinking sign, at the intersection of Memorial Drive and 9 Street N.E., has become the butt of many jokes about the neighbourhood’s name.

“We now refer to the neighbourhood as Bridgla instead of Bridgeland,” Bridgeland-Riverside Community Association president Alex MacWilliam told Global News.

The 'Bridgeland' sign is shown near the intersection of Memorial Drive and 9 Street N.E. after its second 'D' was hit by a driver on April 20, 2022.

The 'Bridgeland' sign is shown near the intersection of Memorial Drive and 9 Street N.E. after its second 'D' was hit by a driver on April 20, 2022.

Global News

Now the focus has shifted from just fixing the memorable sign to making the entire area safer for the people who walk there.

MacWilliam said pedestrian safety is a concern at the intersection with many people walking back and forth to the LRT station, several apartment buildings, and a nearby daycare.

“Traffic just comes off (Memorial Drive) at too high a rate of speed… even though it was icy, this just illustrated the problem,” MacWilliam said.

“We’re just concerned the next time it won’t be a sign, it’ll be a person.”

In a statement to Global News, the City of Calgary said it would be initiating a safety review at the intersection to determine what action needs to be taken.

“In the meantime, we’d like to remind motorists to adapt their habits to winter driving conditions by slowing down and leaving more room to stop,” the city’s statement said. “Take care at trouble spots that include hills, curves, bridge decks, and intersections.”

Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, who represents the northeast Calgary neighbourhood, said there were improvements completed five years ago to tighten the curve and encourage drivers to slow down.

“We rebuilt it so people would have to be more thoughtful and slow the hell down as they came up to the neighbourhood,” Carra said.

“Interestingly enough, when the sign has been taken out it’s when weather is inclement.”

The metal and wooden temporary sign has been in place since 2019, using funds donated from the developer of a new building in the neighbourhood, with the Bridgeland-Riverside Community Association taking the responsibility of maintaining the sign.

According to Carra, there are three options for the sign’s future: rebuild it as-is, rebuild the sign as a permanent “bollard” structure, or remove the sign entirely.

“I would like the sign returned, I could live with it if it remained a breakaway feature,” Carra said. “I would appreciate if it was built to protect the pedestrians of the neighbourhood.”

MacWilliam said the community association was in the process of repairing the ‘D’ with a contractor, but the latest incident involving the ‘N’ has put those repairs on hold.

The situation is further complicated by a fire at the community hall late last year, which has created some financial challenges for the Bridgeland-Riverside Community Association.

But the sign taking hits over the last year has been a source of “community spirit”, MacWilliam said, with everything from jokes to somebody dressing up as the ‘D’ for Halloween last year.

“The amount of bad puns and various other things that came out of it was really a good illustration of our neighbourhood.”

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Legally-bought guns being used more often in crimes, sweeping U.S. report suggests

California Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized U.S. Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday amid the spate of shootings that occurred in the previous three days that left multiple people dead. Newsom said he had not heard a single word or message of condolence from the Republican leader. He also blasted some judges for "rolling back the laws" that were established on gun control in the state. He stressed despite the shootings in the state, "gun safety works," but that they need partners including the House of Representatives to take action.

The most expansive federal report in over two decades on guns and crime shows a shrinking turnaround between the time a gun was purchased and when it was recovered from a crime scene, indicating firearms bought legally are more quickly being used in crimes around the country.

It also documents a spike in the use of conversion devices that make a semiautomatic gun fire like a machine gun, along with the growing seizure of so-called ghost guns, privately made firearms that are hard to trace.

The report comes as the nation grapples with a rise in violent crime, particularly from guns.

Much of the data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives report hasn’t been widely available before, and its release is aimed at helping police and policy makers reduce gun violence, said Director Steve Dettelbach. “Information is power,” he said.

The report shows 54% of guns that police recovered in crime scenes in 2021 had been purchased within three years, a double-digit increase since 2019. The quicker turnaround can indicate illegal gun trafficking or a straw purchase — when someone who can legally purchase a gun buys one to sell it to someone who can’t legally possess guns. The increase was driven largely by guns bought less than a year before, it said.

The number of new guns overall in the U.S. grew significantly during that time as gun sales shattered records during the coronavirus pandemic.

Most guns used in crimes changed hands since their purchase, the report states. It also found what Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco called an epidemic of stolen guns: more than 1.07 million firearms were reported stolen between 2017 and 2021. Almost all of those, 96%, were from private individuals.

Meanwhile, the report also documents a more than five-fold increase in the number of devices that convert a legal semi-automatic weapon into an illegal fully automatic one. Between 2012 and 2016, the ATF retrieved 814 of those, but that number jumped to 5,414 during the five-year period documented in the report.

A conversion device was used in a mass shooting that left six people dead and 12 wounded in Sacramento last April in what officers described as a shootout between rival gangs.

The document also traces the rise of “ ghost guns,” privately made firearms without serial numbers that have increasingly been turning up at crime scenes around the nation.

The ATF traced more than 19,000 privately made firearms in 2021, more than double the year before. That jump is the result in part of the agency encouraging police to send it the weapons so they can be traced, even though they typically haven’t yielded as much information as typical firearms. The weapons do have unique ballistics and other characteristics that can be useful to investigators.

The report came after Attorney General Merrick Garland told the ATF to produce the first comprehensive study of criminal gun trafficking in more than 20 years.

 

© 2023 The Canadian Press

New U.S. Olympic head cautiously endorses allowing Russians to compete as neutrals

WATCH: Zelenskyy calls for Olympics ban on Russian athletes amid 'terror' in Ukraine

The new leader of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee reiterated the federation’s support for exploring a way for Russian athletes to compete at the Paris Olympics as neutrals, while insisting the current sanctions against the country remain in place.

Gene Sykes, who took over for Susanne Lyons as USOPC chair on Jan. 1, wrote a letter to athletes and other U.S. stakeholders last week after the International Olympic Committee announced it was moving forward in trying to craft a way for some Russians to compete. They have been banned from most major international competitions since the country invaded Ukraine last February.

“After listening to many athletes and constituents from around the United States, we recognize a real desire to compete against all the world’s best athletes — but only if that can happen in a way that ensures safe and fair play,” Sykes wrote in his letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

The USOPC was involved in meetings in December in which the IOC first outlined the idea for Russians to participate as neutrals. The IOC emphasized that it doesn’t want Russians to be penalized simply for where they are from, but nor does it want athletes who have supported the war to be included.

Shortly after the December meeting, Lyons said the USOPC had signed off on the plan, though she expressed skepticism that the IOC would be able to create a system to determine who among the hundreds of Russian athletes had been supporting or speaking out against the war.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has lobbied French President Emmanuel Macron to not allow Russians at the Paris Games. Zelenskyy used a recent nightly address to the nation to insist that Russian athletes should not be allowed to participate.

Sykes acknowledged in his letter that the USOPC remains in solidarity with Ukraine and its athletes, and expressed “very real concern, even skepticism, about whether (conditions) can be met” to allow Russians in.

“As such, we encouraged the IOC to continue exploring a process that would preserve the existing sanctions, ensuring only neutral athletes who are clean are welcome to compete,” Sykes wrote. “This process will require careful management and will demand extra efforts to earn the confidence and trust of our community.”

Sykes’ letter, sent last Thursday, came as more countries are lashing out against framework the IOC is considering, which would call for some athletes from Russia and Belarus to be allowed to compete provided there is no representation of their country’s flags, colors or anthems.

On Wednesday, the Korean Olympic committee said it wanted further clarification from Asia’s top sports organizing committee, which has invited Russia to compete in Olympic qualifiers this year — a move that would remove Russia from its usual spot in European qualifying events and could also cost South Koreans spots in the games.

The day before, Canadian Olympic Committee CEO David Shoemaker said “this whole situation will look very different if the war is still going on in 18 months.”

In responding to the IOC announcement last week, Britain’s culture secretary, Michelle Donelan, said, “I want to be clear that this position from the IOC is a world away from the reality of war being felt by the Ukrainian people.”

Leaders in Latvia have threatened to boycott the Olympics if Russia is allowed. Meanwhile, when the head of Russia’s Olympic committee sounded an optimistic tone about his country possibly getting some athletes to Paris, the IOC reacted strongly with a statement that “the sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian states and governments are not negotiable.”

In his letter, Sykes conceded this was an “incredibly complex situation,” and that media coverage of it has been confusing.

“If these conditions of neutrality and safe, clean, and fair competition can be met, we believe the spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic Games can prevail. This will continue to be our guiding focus,” he wrote.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Vancouver retail vacancy rates rising, suburban rates falling in 'recalibration': report

WATCH: Retail vacancy across Vancouver hit four per cent in early 2023, almost doubling in a year. Surbuban vacancy, meantime, sits at just one per cent. But those empty storefronts also present an opportunity. Grace Ke explains..

If you’ve noticed more vacant storefronts in Vancouver recently, you’re not alone.

A new report from real estate company Colliers says a combination of more people working from home, rising interest rates and inflation are contributing to a “recalibration” of the region’s retail rental market, with some businesses shifting operations to the suburbs.

The company has pegged the average urban retail vacancy rate at 4 per cent, up from 2.5 per cent in in its mid-year survey. Meanwhile, the average suburban retail vacancy rate has slid from 2.3 per cent mid-year to a razor-thin 1 per cent.

The numbers are even more stark when broken down into specific geographic areas, with some of Vancouver’s traditional “high streets” facing major headwinds.

Robson Street from Thurlow to Bute streets had the city’s highest retail vacancy rate, at 15.4 per cent, followed by Alberni Street from Thurlow to Burrard streets at 9.57 per cent, and Water Street in Gastown at 7.65 per cent.

Julio Saatchi, whose family has run Saatchi & Saatchi Fine Jewelry on Robson Street since 1989, said the area has faced problems since before the pandemic.

“This corner of Robson and Thrulow that I have been for 33 years, it was called the gold mine of Vancouver. It was the most popular street for Canada all together,” he said.

Saatchi said when the family opened the business they were paying $30 per square foot in rent, but that the average on Robson is now in the ballpark of $230-$240.

“It becomes very difficult, to be honest with you, with the economy today, but there are times we want to pack it up but I have a very kind landlord, she’s extremely sweet to me,” he said.

Colliers senior managing director Madeleine Nicholls pegged much of the recent shift on the pandemic-driven shift to working from home, which has had effects on both the central business district and suburban communities.

“Even if people are coming back to the office three or four days a week, that still means they are spending three or four days closer to home, working from home and shopping from home, etc.,” she said.

“It’s really meant that some businesses that perhaps don’t want to pay the higher rent downtown can really make sense of it now moving to a suburban location where the rent is more affordable and their customers are there as well.”

Nicholls said there has been a surge in demand for restaurants, fashion retail and personal services in the suburbs.

And while there is plenty of development in the works for the region — 7.5 million square feet of new retail slated to come online in the next three to five years, much of it outside the city core  — the majority is already pre-leased.

Even so, Nicholls remained bullish on the future of retail in Vancouver proper.

“Before we started on the very low vacancy rates, somewhere in the low six to 10 per cent range would have always been considered very healthy because that allows opportunities for growth and stores to right size and move down the block,” she said.

“The downtown is finite, its constrained land densely populated with residents, still the main place where people are working …. those will always be drivers in addition, of course, to transit.”

To that end, many dense neighbourhoods in Vancouver are still seeing low vacancy rates.

The report showed parts of Yaletown had a zero-per cent vacancy rate, while the Cambie Village sat at 1.2 per cent, the west end at 1.93 per cent and the Davie Village at 2.23 per cent.

And some entrepreneurs are eyeing parts of town that are moving in that direction.

Erin Ireland opened her bakery To Live For’s first retail location on Nanaimo Street north of First Avenue 10 weeks ago, and pointed to the many new development applications in the area.

“We have been super busy, especially on weekends, we have a lineup halfway down the block, and we’ve been very very grateful for the support of the community,” she said.

“I think it’s worth paying a little bit more to be in Vancouver, just because it’s so central — the density, it really helps business.”

Colliers is predicting one to two years of bumpiness in business openings and closings, but is projecting a positive long-term outlook for the retail sector.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Ottawa will show how 'just transition' plan will protect energy jobs by spring: minister

WATCH: ‘Just Transition’ has wrong name, right idea on jobs: Cenovus head

The federal government will show Canadians its plan to protect jobs during the clean energy transition no later than early spring, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Wednesday.

Legislation to guide how that plan is implemented, however, won’t come for some time after that.

The Liberals have promised a “just transition act” since at least 2019, and Wilkinson has been saying it will finally happen this year.

That prospect prompted outcry in Alberta, where the energy transition will have the biggest impact and provincial politicians are headed for a tightly contested election this spring.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has asked for a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help shape that legislation. Her chief opponent, NDP Leader Rachel Notley, asked the federal Liberals to delay the whole thing at least until after the election, which is scheduled for the end of May.

But Wilkinson said the bill, for which he didn’t offer a timeline, will in some ways be secondary to the action plan listing what the government intends to do. He said that plan will hopefully be revealed by the end of March, though it may “slip into the next quarter.”

“The legislation will guide future efforts and will create a governance structure, but it’s the policy statement that I think is going to be the most impactful,” he said. “And, as I say, we will be releasing that in the coming few months.”

He said the plan is based on lengthy consultations with provinces, labour organizations, business and Indigenous communities. Ultimately, he said, it will contain no surprises.

The concept of a “just transition” has existed for several decades, but it took on new meaning after the 2015 Paris climate agreement committed most of the world to transitioning to cleaner energy sources in a bid to slow climate change.

The idea is that any efforts to adjust reliance on fossil fuels must ensure that people who work in energy industries can move to new sectors and will not be left out in the cold.

The “just transition” debate exploded last month when Smith lambasted the federal government for a briefing document that listed the number of jobs that could be affected by the ongoing global transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy.

Smith misread the total number of jobs in the affected sectors to mean the number of jobs the federal government expected would be lost, and pledged to “fight this just transition idea” with everything she had.

A week later, the premier wrote to Trudeau warning him that the Ottawa-Alberta relationship was “at a crossroads,” and demanding that Alberta be included in all discussions on a “just transition” going forward.

She also said the legislation shouldn’t be labelled as a “just transition” bill, but one about “sustainable jobs.”

That request hit the federal government with interest and even amusement, since several federal ministers had already signalled their intention to use the term.

“I think I’ve been pretty clear I don’t like the term ‘just transition,”’ Wilkinson said Wednesday.

“I prefer ‘sustainable jobs.’ I think it speaks to a future where we’re looking to build economic opportunity for all regions of this country, very much including Alberta and Saskatchewan.”

Smith will be in Ottawa next week as part of a first ministers meeting on health care, but there is no sign she will get a one-on-one meeting with Trudeau on sustainable jobs.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

New federal recommendations on long-term care standards has BC Nurses Union asking for clarification

The Federal Government has announced new voluntary standards for long-term care services, including extending hours of care per resident and increasing employee wages. However, government officials in B.C. say they have already implemented most of these recommendations. Randi-Marie Adams has the details.

A partnership between the federal government and the Health Standards Organization (HSO) aims to improve how we care for the elderly in long-term care facilities.

The HSO recommends residents receive at least four hours of direct care every day. This is something Minister of Health Adrian Dix says B.C. has already implemented compared to other provinces, because they have taken a ‘Team BC’ approach with all long-term care homes.

“The steps we have taken over the last few years put us in a very good position in B.C. care homes,” said Minister Dix.

“The standard in B.C. as set in 2008 was 3.36 hours of direct care per resident a day.”

The B.C. Nurses Union is happy to see recommendations like these have been announced, but they have some reservations and would like clearer explanations on certain recommendations.

Executive councillor for seniors and pensions, Michelle Sordal, feels the report needs to clarify a ‘safe nurse to patient ratio in long-term care’, in conversation with Global News.

“We know that is not uncommon for nurses to be responsible for upwards of 60-80 residents on a night shift for example. Can you imagine coming into work and being responsible for 60 human beings?” said Sordal.

According to the non-profit standards organization, this report should serve as a wake-up call regarding Canada’s long-term care services.

Volunteer panelist Ben Mortenson said ultimately it is now up to each province and territory to provide better long-term care.

“What I think we need to do is make residential care more attractive to staff to work in. Part of that is wages but also part of it is working conditions and that’s one of the things we’re really stressing in the document.”

Minister Dix said he will take a ‘good look’ at the report, but said they will continue to raise their standards of care when it comes to long-term care facilities.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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