Calgary milk bank serves as 'lifesaver' for struggling babies

A lot of Calgarians will be stepping up to help others on Friday, Dec. 3 as Global New Radio 770 CHQR holds its annual Pledge Day radiothon.

Some of the money raised will bring a big boost to some struggling little ones.

Among them are Megan Campbell’s twins Lincoln and Faith, born four months premature on Valentine’s Day 2021.

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Alberta breast milk bank to help more babies thanks to government grant

“When they were born, they (weighed) only a pound and a half, so there were a number of nights where they didn’t know if she would make it,” Campbell said.

“He had three surgeries: two on his belly and one on his heart.”

Struggling to survive, the twins spent their first five months in neonatal intensive care.

“In the NICU, I was pumping my breastmilk for them the whole time they were in there,” Campbell said. “Unfortunately, once I got home, I lost my milk supply, so that’s when I contacted the NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank.”

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Alberta’s only milk bank, NorthernStar, celebrated 10 years of helping thousands of families on Nov. 29.

“We’re not funded by the government, so we run as a charity, and we dispense milk to the hospitals,” NorthernStar’s executive director Jannette Festival said.

“(Breast milk) is just as much a medicine as it is a food, and so it’s very important to keep (babies’) immunities, to supply the nutrients that they need, so the donor milk has proven to be a lifesaver for these babies.”

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Claire Harris donated milk for several months after counting on the milk bank for her daughter Scarlett, now eight months old.

“I had a really challenging pregnancy and — like a lot of parents — a difficult start to breastfeeding,” Harris said. “We just had so much support and access to donor milk in Scarlett’s early days, so it felt like a way that I could give back.”

Festival says the milk bank always welcomes new donors.

“Now most of our moms are vaccinated, so their antibodies get into the milk, which is great, so we can supply those babies in the NICU and give them protection from COVID as well,” Festival said.

Campbell is now looking forward to celebrating her twins’ first Christmas.

“All the moms who’ve donated, the difference that they’ve made to us has been really special.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

First Surrey, B.C. police officers begin active duty, starting phased transition from RCMP

Members of the new Surrey Police Service (SPS) began active duty this week, taking a major step in the transition away from the Surrey RCMP detachment.

Twenty-nine officers of the new municipal force started work alongside the Mounties on Monday and will continue in pairs for several shifts as they familiarize themselves with local police work.

Surrey RCMP will continue to be in command for several months, overseeing all policing matters, programs and services, the RCMP said Tuesday.

An additional 21 SPS officers will begin operational duty with the Mounties in the next few weeks.

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“The first group of SPS officers will be staggered to ensure a seamless integration into RCMP operations,” said Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards of the Surrey RCMP in a news conference.

“While most SPS members will be supporting the front-line in uniform, a small group will be working in plain clothes in our general investigation unit.”

Contact information for members of the public in need of police assistance remains the same, said Edwards, as do police station locations. Calls will be answered, however, by both the SPS and RCMP.

The launch of the SPS has been in the works for the last three years but has been hotly contested by some residents who are concerned about its cost for taxpayers.

The latest budget estimate for the force is $18.5 million above the initial projection of $45 million.

Its creation has also put a staffing squeeze on the neighbouring Vancouver Police Department, which has already lost 21 officers to the new SPS.

Last week, the B.C. government capped the number of new recruits the SPS can hire in 2022, citing factors including “the effects of officer attrition from other police agencies in B.C.”

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In recent days, some have suggested the SPS is “poaching” from other services — an “overstatement” according to SPS Chief Const. Norm Lipinski.

He told reporters Tuesday he’s in touch with all the municipal police chiefs in the area on a regular basis and “we work out a plan.”

“Policing is a competitive recruiting business, if you will, so this is a time when all agencies are looking for recruits,” he said, adding that he’s “cognisant” of the recruitment concerns.

“We don’t want to destabilize, we won’t do that.”

The first round of working SPS officers have an average of eight years of experience, Lipinski added, and they plan to serve Surrey for “the duration of their careers.”

“A policing transition of this magnitude is unprecedented in Canada,” he said.

“Change is not easy. All of us who have joined SPS — myself included — have done so because we want to serve Surrey, because we want to be part of building something new with Surrey citizens.”

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Surrey officers will use RCMP vehicles for the time being, said a joint news release from the SPS and Surrey RCMP.

Additional SPS officers will be deployed when a collaborative human resource strategy has been finalized, it added, and Surrey RCMP members will transfer to other RCMP detachments or units over time.

“If they could, they would continue to serve here for many, many years, so I believe there are a range of emotions from our members,” Edwards said of the transition.

The transition will be guided by the Surrey Policing Transition Trilateral Committee, which is made up of senior representatives from the Surrey, B.C. and federal governments.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

New report highlights women's health 'crisis' in Alberta as a result of COVID-19

WATCH ABOVE: The Alberta Women’s Health Foundation, a newly-formed organization affiliated with the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, recently released a study looking at the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s health. As Eloise Therien tells us, experts say the numbers indicate gaps in support.

Women in Alberta are experiencing serious health issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from the Alberta Women’s Health Foundation (AWHF).

Conducted in May 2021 and released last week, “Finding the Fractures: The Pandemic, Women’s Health Disparities, and the Path to Equity” looks at how the pandemic has impacted several areas of women’s health.

Data was collected through 1,657 survey participants, 72 per cent of whom identified as women.

“We surveyed folks from all genders from across our province, with focal questions about how it has impacted women here in our province,” explained Tegan Gahler, vice-president of fund development and stakeholder engagement.

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Key findings show 63 per cent of women reported pandemic stress was negatively impacting their physical health, while eight per cent were diagnosed with a mental health disorder during the pandemic.

“One of the most shocking statistics is 11 per cent of women experienced thoughts of harming themselves during the pandemic,” Gahler said.

“With that we encourage folks to seek support.”

Gahler said the organization cares for everyone’s health, but is emphasizing women’s health due to disproportionate research in the past.

“Historically speaking, health research was conducted on men, and women were viewed, as we say, ‘the small man,'” she explained.

“But we know women’s physiology is different. We are just different beings. And so we want to make sure there’s a focus on women’s health research and those dollars going to women’s health research specifically.”

The report goes on to say Alberta women were left to deal with the repercussions of daycare and school closures throughout the pandemic, taking on the brunt of responsibilities at home.

When it comes to health care, the risk of illness has increased as well.

According to the AWHF, it’s estimated more than 300 diagnoses of advanced stage breast cancer in Canada are a direct result of a three-month interruption in breast cancer screenings early in the pandemic.

Dr. Jane Schulz, the professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Alberta, has seen the impacts firsthand as staff were redirected to COVID-19 units.

“During certain heights of the pandemic, our clinic at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women was completely closed down and patients could not come in for appointments at all,” she said.

“We had to do everything by phone.”

The concern for Schulz is around women missing cancer screenings and other health appointments, either due to postponements or their reluctance to come into a clinic.

“Early diagnoses of cervical cancer and breast cancer are going to be missed, and people are then potentially going to present at a later stage of their disease or illness.”

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Danielle Kopp, the executive director with The Lethbridge Pregnancy Care Centre, said the pandemic has resulted in their clients experiencing heightened anxiety, loneliness and isolation.

“We have done everything possible to continue to offer support to our clients in a safe and caring manner,” Kopp said. “We have certainly had to get creative, and sometimes the supports have had to move to phone or online appointments.

“One thing we have heard often from our clients is, ‘Thank you so much — you are one of the only places I can still get help.'”

Overall, Gahler said the goal of the AWHF’s report is to enlighten the public about the profound impacts of COVID-19 on women’s health, and continue raising funds to support more research efforts.

“Really just bring to light some of these issues for policy and changemakers in our province. You know, what can we do on the advocacy front to have better supports for women going forward?”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

92 per cent of City of Regina employees vaccinated against COVID-19

The City of Regina says 92 per cent of city employees have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

A city spokesperson confirmed Tuesday that 162 employees still need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result.

Active city employees have been required to provide either proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative result since October.

“I think the continued messaging that vaccinations are the way to prevent serious infection and hospitalization will continue to hammer that home. I am really proud of the citizens of Regina in terms of them stepping up and going to get vaccinated,” said Regina Mayor Sandra Masters on Tuesday.

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Costs of weekly COVID-19 tests for employees were covered by the city until Nov. 15.

However, city workers now have to take over paying for their COVID-19 tests if they are unvaccinated.

Masters added that the current health measures in place is working to reduce the risks of COVID-19 transmission.

“We all have to do our part. We all play a role in public health. It’s called that for a reason,” the mayor stated.

“We have a number of events happening and coming up where people want to participate, so we want to see people be vaccinated for those.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Whitby, Ont. high school arts program getting noticed outside classroom

WATCH: A unique arts and media program at a Whitby, Ont., high school is helping young artists hone their skills and reach new heights.

A unique high school arts program in Whitby, Ont., has increasingly been gaining recognition outside of the classroom as its first batch of students prepare to graduate.

Before Nicholas Vilord entered the Arts and Media Program at All Saints Catholic Secondary School (AMP) in Grade 7, he said he felt as though none of his peers shared his passion for dance.

“After joining this program I feel like I’m a part of a huge group of a bunch of different people that all love what I love,” said Vilord, who has danced for 13 years.

Now in Grade 10, Vilord continues to practise the art form, alongside his fellow creative classmates.

“I learn some of their techniques and some different ways to dance from them, not only the teachers,” he said.

Rick Zheng, a media student in Grade 11, shared a similar sentiment.

“Just being surrounded by so many great artists, dancers, actors, etc., it just creates an amazing inspiring environment,” he said.

His classmate, Mariah Dion, a grade 11 vocals student with whom he took part in an extra-curricular program for young Canadian filmmakers, agreed.

“It’s so amazing to have such like-minded individuals with me in my class to discuss ideas and concepts,” she said.

First launching in 2018, AMP now includes about 750 students, all specializing in fields ranging from dance to instrumental music to visual and performance arts, said Chris Cuddy, the principal at the school which is part of the Durham Catholic District School Board.

Students generally apply to enter beginning in either Grade 7 or Grade 9, auditioning or submitting a portfolio, depending on their field.

“We take students from all varying levels,” Cuddy said. “So we have beginning artists that maybe haven’t had that outside experience or training before but we see potential in them.”

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This year AMP will see its first graduating class, with students now enrolled in grades 7 through 12. Some students have already made their mark outside out of the classroom.

“We have students that have been nominated for Junos, we have students that are appearing in TV shows, in movies,” Cuddy told Global News. “We have students that are doing art exhibitions at different galleries. We have students that are premiering their own short films and documentaries.”

Equity and access is a major focus of the program, according to Johnny Soln, a drama teacher and curriculum chair of the arts for AMP. With this in mind, there is no fee to apply or for the program itself, he explained.

He said he sees students not only improve in their respective fields but also in general life skills.

“Communication, collaboration, leadership skills, project management, the ability to think creatively,” he said, listing the various areas of growth.

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Nathan Ounger, a Grade 11 student with a passion for drama, said he has gained valuable communications skills that are applicable to his plans to become a lawyer.

“A lot of that is presenting and I will 100 per cent use those skills I have learned here,” he said.

Back alongside the stage, Vilord said he isn’t sure what his future holds, but he knows it will involve dance.

“It’s been my life all my life and it’s definitely going to stick with me for the rest of my life.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Homicide suspect turns himself into Edmonton police after Canada-wide warrant

Edmonton police say a man wanted in relation to a homicide during the summer of 2020 is behind bars.

On Monday, the Edmonton Police Service said 35-year-old Ahmed Mursal Mohamed turned himself into police following a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest.

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Mohamed is charged with manslaughter in the death of 31-year-old Abdikhadar Aden.

Aden was found by EPS in a west-end motel suite with life-threatening injuries. He was taken to hospital and died of his injuries three days later.

Homicide detectives continue to investigate the case and believe there are additional suspects.

If you have any information regarding the events prior to the 31-year-old’s death, call police at 780-423-4567 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

New aerial video shows catastrophic damage at B.C.'s Jackass Mountain on Highway 1

WATCH: Aerial video provided by the Ministry of Transportation shows just how much Highway 1 was damaged at Jackass Mountain during the first atmospheric river from Nov. 13 to 15. There is currently no timeline when this stretch will be repaired

New aerial video shows the uphill battle crews are facing in repairing some critical infrastructure following B.C.’s first atmospheric river.

The video shows catastrophic damage on Highway 1 at Jackass Mountain.

The location, south of Lytton, shows road crews along the highway before the camera pans down and shows the highway sheared off and completely washed away.

A piece of machinery can be seen working below.

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Transportation Minister, Rob Fleming, said Tuesday CN Rail crews are working alongside workers from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to repair the road.

“It’s hard going work,” Fleming said. “There’s no question about that.”

He expects another update later this week but there is no timeline on when it could reopen.

Highway 1 remains closed from Lytton to 14 kilometres south of Jackass Mountain summit.

The highway from Hope to Boston Bar has reopened.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Saskatchewan legislation protects employers from lawsuits over COVID-19 measures

The Government of Saskatchewan has moved to prevent employers from being sued for implementing measures found in the Public Employers’ COVID-19 Emergency Regulations or the Employers’ COVID-19 Emergency Regulations.

The Saskatchewan Employment Act was amended Tuesday to say that “no action or proceeding lies or shall be commenced or maintained against an employer” if that employer acts in good faith to implement the above regulations.

“That’s being done generally across North America,” said Labour Relations Minister Don Morgan, adding that the legislation isn’t limited to employee vaccine mandates.

“It’s broad general thing that would cover anything related to COVID-19 — signage, lack of signage, whatever else might reasonably arise from it. The threshold is that they must act in good faith.”

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Morgan said the changes don’t come in response to any particular legal challenge.

“We aren’t trying to target a specific lawsuit that’s been started or being threatened,” he said.

“But we know that COVID-19 vaccines, etc., are a worldwide issue right now and we want to be able to encourage our employers to have some comfort that they’re not going to be subject to lawsuits.”

The action comes through an amendment to the Saskatchewan Employment Act, which received royal assent Tuesday.

The legislation applies regardless of when a perceived transgression may have occurred.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Co-op acquires Western Canadian Husky retail fuel sites in $264M deal

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) has marked its largest retail acquisition in the co-operative’s history.

On Tuesday, FCL announced an agreement with Cenovus Energy Inc. to purchase 181 Husky retail fuel sites in an investment on behalf of local Co-ops totalling $264 million.

The acquired fuel sites include gas bars, on-site car washes and convenience stores in locations across Western Canada.

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FCL said during a virtual news conference on Tuesday that the move will strengthen Co-ops’ presence in Western Canada and bring their unmatched service and support to new geographic areas.

“By building on our network of gas bars, FCL can increase the use and capacity of the Co-op Refinery Complex in Regina and the Co-op Ethanol Complex near Belle Plaine, Sask.,” said FCL CEO Scott Banda on Tuesday.

“Co-op members will also benefit from this acquisition as any increase in profitability is shared with Co-op members and those returns help build the communities of Western Canada.”

Banda also noted that the investment puts FCL in a position to move forward with initiatives such as transitioning to a low-carbon economy indicated by recent announcements highlighting planned investments in carbon capture and renewable diesel production.

“We are committed to enhancing the sustainability of our fuels and recognize the important role co-operatives play in responding to the needs of our communities, members and customers.”

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FCL will transfer the sites to a number of independent local Co-ops once the deal is complete.

According to Banda, FCL partnered with Parkland Corporation to piece together the accepted offer. This came after Husky announced in 2019 that they would be placing assets up for sale.

The sale will see 337 sites be sold between Parkland and FCL at a bill totalling $420 million. 156 of those sites will go to Parkland for $156 million.

The Calgary-based company says it will sell 156 of the retail fuel stations to Parkland Corporation for $156 million.

Tony Van Burgsteden, vice-president of finance for FCL, noted how it was a three-year process between starts and stops and negotiations stalling in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said once Husky and Cenovus announced a merger which was concluded in early 2021, the assets returned to the market in late summer of 2021.

“There were pretty rapid negotiations from that point forward and a tremendous amount of work by all the parties involved,” stated Van Burgsteden.

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FCL says the purchase is subject to certain customary closing conditions, including a review by Competition Bureau Canada. Banda said this is a necessary step considering the magnitude of the transaction.

The review will also determine which sites will remain within the transaction or whatever dispositions FCL will have to make.

FCL expects the deal will likely close by mid-2022.

What does this mean for Co-op members

Banda said a main focus of this deal is to become more competitive in areas of the country Co-op has not yet touched.

He discussed how the size of this acquisition will allow Co-op to grow and create opportunity in Saskatchewan, along with preserving FCL’s retail network.

“All of that drives the economics of FCL overall, and if we can be more profitable as a group, we will then be able to distribute more patronage to local Co-ops and ultimately to individual members,” Banda explained.

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The FCL CEO added that it’s also about growing the brand and system while filling in retail voids particularly felt in Alberta and British Columbia.

“This deal strikes a positive balance between the current and future needs of our Western Canadian customers.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Quantity and quality of education for detained Ontario youth varies: report

TORONTO — The quantity and quality of education offered to youth in Ontario’s detention centres varies greatly by facility, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened those discrepancies, according to a new report by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

The report, based on interviews with youth who spent time in facilities and adults involved in the youth justice system, says there are major differences in the number of hours of education available to youth in each centre.

There are also differences in the scope and depth of programming available, with participants in some facilities voicing concerns that youth were being granted high school credits without having learned the material in order to make the centre “look good,” it says.

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Combined, these lead to “vastly different educational experiences and opportunities for a youth, depending on the facility they happened to be placed in,” the document released Tuesday says.

The amount and quality of schooling in facilities was also notably different to what’s offered to students attending mainstream schools in the community, where the standard school day is five hours excluding breaks, the report found.

It notes that Ontario school boards are not legally required to provide education in youth detention centres, but instead do so through voluntary partnerships that can be cut short at any time, “leading to significant disruptions to youths’ education.”

“The idea that youth jails could be schools, places of hope, places of education and places of growth is supposed to be the silver lining behind the heartbreaking story behind every kid that’s behind bars,” Michael Bryant, the CCLA’s executive director, said Tuesday.

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“The good news is that in some institutions, people are working very hard to deliver the best schooling they can to kids in jail. The bad news is this: I’m sorry to report that in some institutions, the youth jails are little more than human warehouses, a place where kids don’t get better, and probably get worse.”

The report says the discrepancies have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but appear to be caused by differences in organizational culture.

Some facilities seem to treat youth as “security threats to be managed,” rather than students who deserve an education – particularly in cases where the majority of youth are Black, the report says.

In one security-focused institution, a decision was made to separate youth living in different units due to a belief that allowing them to mix would pose a threat to security, the report says. As a result, schooling hours were split between living units, meaning one group could only attend in the morning, and the other in the afternoon, it says.

The document lays out 19 recommendations, including establishing minimum standards for education in youth detention centres, and an audit of the educational programs currently available there.

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The research project began in 2016 and involved more than 50 interviews, about a quarter of them with youth. All participants were self-selected volunteers.

All youth who participated had to be 16 or older and have spent time in a detention centre in the last five years.

The CCLA says it was given access to conduct interviews in four facilities earlier this year, which meant they had to be done remotely due to the pandemic. In comparison, interviews with adult participants began in 2017.

It also says that only male-identifying youth volunteered to take part in the project, and no Indigenous youth participated, meaning “many critical youth perspectives are missing.”

A spokesperson for the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services said it’s important that the province provide youth with “the right supports and interventions that respond to their unique needs, while also ensuring accountability.”

“Youth in custody have access to education through local school boards, to ensure a continuum of learning,” Krystle Caputo, director of communications for Merrilee Fullerton, wrote in a statement. “We also deliver programming to help youth build their strengths so that they can become positive, productive members of society upon release.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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