Sunday, April 18, 2021
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Education Experts, Student Raise Equality Concerns Over U Of A’s Tuition Fee Hike

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About 12 courses at the University of Alberta are scheduled for a tuition hike by between 17 and 104 percent, beginning fall next year.

The increase will affect students seeking to pursue law, dentistry, pharmacy, radiation therapy, engineering, medical lab, counseling psychology, and business.

The university’s students’ union and the graduation students’ association termed this egregious and extreme via a press release, Monday.

Through a zoom call with local media, the university’s provost and VP of academics, Steven Dew, noted that fee hike is applicable to a segment of courses – those that have a much lower tuition fee compared to other institutions.

Education experts note that the hike may sound fair, as it targets students seeking lucrative career paths, but might affect those from low-income households that are looking to pursue these careers.

Tuition increase has a ceiling of 7 percent, however, Alberta’s tuition framework permits schools to ask the ministry of Advanced education for an exceptional hike, provided the hike will cause an improvement in the quality of education.

Dew added that the hike is designed to improve the quality of the programs the university offers, potentially through bringing on board new faculty members, increasing the bursaries the university offers as well as expanding its experimental learning system.

He also said that the government’s policies and well the MacKinnon panel, which is tasked with assessing its finances is in support of the institution shifting the cost of post-secondary programs to learners.

However, post-secondary funding experts have come out saying they have concerns over the equity of access need to be evaluated. Alex Usher, who heads the higher education Strategy associates, said that low incomes students are most likely to experience behavioral effects by raising tuition fees.

While the hike implies even more student debt, Usher added that this should not mean that they are getting a raw deal in the long run.
Dew noted that they will consult students and key stakeholders in the next few weeks.

A 72 Years Old Man Dies in Fire in Dollard-des-Ormeaux

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A fire has claimed the life of 72 years old man in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. The firefighters say that the fire started in the basement of a single-family home at about 5 p.m., on Woodside St. near Sunnybrook BLVD.

Patrick Fournel of the Montreal fire department says that when they arrived, the man was already dead. A 76-year-old woman was found dead on the first floor and has been taken to hospital.

The Montreal fire department has confirmed that the woman is in stable condition and there is no fear for her life. The cause of the fire hasn’t been identified although investigations are ongoing.

Still Difficult for People with Chronic Illness to Get a Vaccine to Get a COVID-19 Shot in Montreal

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For the last two years, David Gallo, 54, has been fighting cancer. Now in the middle of the pandemic, he is still doing the same. His immune system is weakened and all he wants is to get the COVID-19 vaccine without delay.

Quebec announced that people with serious chronic illness could get a shot from their doctors. However, when Gallo asked his oncology nurse how to get a shot, he was told that the hospital had no means of administering shots. He was instead advised to contact his pharmacy to get a shot.

When he called his pharmacy, Gallo was told that he couldn’t book an appointment with them and could do it online on the government portal. The Clic Sante portal doesn’t allow people under the age of 60 and not working in a high-risk environment to book an appointment even when they have a chronic illness.

Gallo among other people with chronic illness in Quebec is tired of runaround and they want answers. The trouble however seems not to be getting any better. When Gallo contacted the health minister’s office for an explanation, all he got was an email instructing him to consult his pharmacy.

“You can contact your pharmacy to find out if they will be offering vaccination. If they do not offer this service, the Clic-Sante website will allow you to identify which pharmacy near you will offer this service.”

The message that the province is putting out there is quite different from the reality. Gallo says that Quebec wasn’t organized or ready to vaccinate people with chronic illness.

“It’s frustrating because until now, what the government was putting in place seems to be working, opening the groups one at a time. And when it came to Group 8, they just missed the boat.”

Contrary to the email Gallo received, the health ministry had asked people with chronic conditions not to contact the pharmacists. However, the email indicated that pharmacists are already vaccinating Group 8.

When contacted, the regional health authority did not respond to the mixed message Gallo was getting. Annie Charbonneau, the spokesperson of Quest-de-l’lle health district said that all those hospitalized with chronic illness have been vaccinated and that the outpatient clinics will start vaccinating this week.

Atlantic Bubble Delay Causing Stress for Some University Students

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Post-secondary students who had planned to travel to or from the Island this coming week are disappointed and stressed because of the delay in the opening of the Atlantic bubble.

Some students going home after the winter semester now have to self-isolate for 14 days, whereas others had to cancel plans to visit family in the Maritimes during a break before summer work.

“I felt quite defeated,” said Atlantic Veterinary College student Brittany Dow regarding the news that the bubble will not be opening before May 3 at the earliest.

“This was sort of my last chance to get home and see my parents [in New Brunswick] before my fourth-year clinical rotations started. Once those start, I knew I wouldn’t have a chance to go home,” she added.

Dow just completed her 3rd-year veterinary exams and only has a two-week break before her rotations begin on May 3.

“Fourth year, it’s exciting, but it’s a big stressor weighing on me. And I was really hoping to get home and just decompress with my family before that all started,” Dow said.

“It feels pretty stressful heading into that … not having that physical support there is pretty tough and intimidating.”

‘Hope to return to normalcy’

For Dalhousie student, Rachel Murray, the delay in the bubble’s opening means she has an unexpected two-week self-isolation period ahead of her.

She said she has been doing her 3rd year pharmacy courses online from home in Prince Edward Island throughout the year but had to travel to Halifax this week for in-person exams.

“It was upsetting to get the news, probably because I hadn’t planned for it,” said Murray.

“I had planned to return within the Atlantic bubble … having this hope to return to normalcy.”

Murray counts herself lucky that she can self-isolate in a separate room in her parents’ home, though said there’s still a mental toll to that.

But for Islander Keith Ford, the news of the bubble postponement did not come as a surprise.

Ford’s daughter Sydney is planned to graduate this year from Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., and was intending to move home Monday.

Now, she will be self-isolating in a separate room in her parents’ home.

“We had a plan A and a plan B, and now plan B is the one we’re going with,” said Ford.

Ford will drive to New Brunswick to get his daughter and go back home the same day, meaning he will not have to self-isolate upon returning to P.E.I.

Dr. Heather Morrison confirmed that parents are eligible for the same-day isolation exemption when picking up their kids from institutions of higher learning in another Atlantic province.

“You do not stay overnight, you don’t shop, you don’t visit other public places on your way to pick up your son or daughter,” said the chief public health officer.

“Pack a lunch where possible and use drive-thru options and pay at the pump where possible, if you need gas.”

‘I know it’s a challenge’

The province additionally recommends the student wears a mask in the car and sits in the back seat of a car.

Morrison also added that the province could support students who don’t have a location to self-isolate and have to go back to the Island before the bubble opens.

“I know it’s a challenge for [students], as it is for everybody,” said Morrison.

According to Dow, not reuniting with her family is a tough one to take, but she understands the reason behind the bubble delay.

“Being in veterinary medicine, I’m well aware of why these public health measures have to be put in place,” said Dow.

“But that doesn’t mean that we as students don’t still struggle and don’t still get affected, our mental health by this. And a lot of people at school are really struggling.”

A 24 Year Quebecer Hospitalized with COVID-19 Tell Young People that Virus is Very Serious and Painful

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Roxanne Smith is tired and sick of young people of her age saying that COVID-19 isn’t real or not that serious. Smith, 24, also didn’t believe that the virus could hit young people very hard until she landed in the hospital for weeks.

Smith thought that there was more exaggeration or maybe Francois Legault was putting the situation strong than necessary. In early April, she was very sick, fighting to breathe and to fall unconscious. She couldn’t talk, walk or remember anything.

On April 2nd, she tested positive for the U.K. COVID-19 variant and still didn’t believe the results. According to Quebec doctors, the new variants are hitting young people much hard than the original virus.

The average age of people being admitted to hospital with COVID-19 is 10 to 15 years younger than in the earlier waves. Recently, the virus also claimed its youngest victim, a 16 boy who succumbed while in a Montreal hospital.

Smith, a mother of three and a law student, said she had no serious health problems before the infection. She, however, had health issues during childhood that were suppressed.

She is now feeding on a tube and will undergo months of physical therapy and other appointments. At the moment, she is just like a 90-year-old, she can’t run, read or concentrate.

Smith noted that she would be dead if she waited longer to go to the hospital. This summer, she was planning to go camping with her kids, but that won’t happen. She will need a lot of sleep and will have a lot of appointments.

Smith says that it is hard to believe that young people think the COVID-19 rules don’t apply to them. It is indeed serious and very painful.

“Seriously, the pain is just incredible. I’m just 24 years old, and I had it…and I was very, very, very, very sick.”

A Quebec Teacher Escape with Minor Injuries after being struck by a Vehicle during an Early Morning Picket

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On Wednesday morning, the teachers’ strike was disturbed by a deliberate action of a 54-year-old Sherbrooke man. The female teacher was picketing alongside her colleagues in Sherbrooke, Quebec when a vehicle broke the picketing line and struck her.

It was around 9:30 am when the incident happened just outside her high school. Sherbrook police spokesperson said that the woman escaped with minor injuries. The man was later apprehended in his home but was released on a promise to appear in court.

The suspect is thought to have a connection to the school and is probably a father to a student in the school. The teacher union condemned the action terming it as unacceptable.

Early Wednesday, thousands of teachers across Quebec held protests which began at midnight and lasted until 9:30 a.m. since March 2020, teachers have been serving without a contract.

In a phone interview, Robert Pigas, a grade 5 and 6 teacher at St. Patrick Elementary west of Montreal said that the strike is not only about salary. He added that despite being the lowest paid in Canada, teachers want better working conditions. That will include smaller class sizes and allocation of more resources to special need students.

“We have more kids that require more time, and we’re still split up between all our students.”

He adds that parents are also supporting them either by join them in the picket line or keeping their children out of online classes. The teacher union also said that the strike is meant to pressure the management without affecting students.

The union spokesperson said that the government has a fair offer to the public sector. He added that now is the time for the government to reach an agreement with the various unions.

Whitehorse City Council Approves Drive-Through To Be Built On Range Road Near Airport

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Whitehorse city council has approved the building of a drive-through restaurant just off the Alaska Highway. On Tuesday, the councilors voted on a zoning amendment as the area was already zoned to allow for an eating or drinking establishment. Although the area was not zoned to allow a drive-through restaurant, six out of seven councilors approved the initiative. Councilor Steve Roddick is the only one who voted against it.

Although the name of the restaurant is not yet officially revealed, it is known that it’s going to be a Dairy Queen drive-through.

Councilor Samson Hartland said that one petition in favor of the drive-thru had more than 2,200 signatures.

Samson added:

“I think it’s time that we start to develop our highway infrastructure, in lockstep with other orders of government. This is quite a surprise it became such a contentious issue or a flashpoint for us last week, because for me, in my mind, it’s been time, for quite some time.”

Councilor Roddick explained why he rejected the amendment:

“I would be just as excited as the next Yukoner to see the return of Dairy Queen. But this vote is not a referendum on Dairy Queen. It’s a vote on whether or note to allow a drive-thru on the Alaska Highway, and I don’t think that’s a development pattern that’s in the long-term interest of the city.”

In 2016, another proposal for an Alaska Highway drive-thru was suggested further north, and city staff rejected it.

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King Changes Staff At The Top Of Provincial Government Bureaucracy

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Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King has decided to make some changes in the ranks of the senior provincial government. After notifying the public that Paul Ledwell is leaving the key post of clerk secretary to cabinet and deputy minister to the premier of the executive council, King announced more future changes.

Paul Ledwell will be replaced by Dan Campbell, who had been deputy minister of finance since May 2019.

Premier Dennis King said:

“Paul [Ledwell] has been instrumental in leading a professional and responsive public service in Prince Edward Island over the past six years. I want to thank Paul for his service to Islanders in his role with the province of Prince Edward Island and best of luck in his next adventure.”

The other changes within the provincial government’s senior management are:

  • Dan Campbell, clerk of the executive council & secretary to cabinet.
  • Christopher Gillis, deputy minister of priorities and intergovernmental affairs.
  • Denise Lewis-Flemming, deputy minister of finance.
  • Jonah Clements, deputy minister of justice and public safety and deputy attorney general.
  • Sonya Hooper, assistant deputy minister of early years (Education & Lifelong Learning).
  • Lisa Thibeau, assistant deputy minister of mental health & addictions (Health & Wellness).
  • Stefanie Corbett, chief executive officer of Innovation PEI.
  • Karen MacDonald, chief executive officer of Island Waste Management Corporation.
  • Daniel MacDonald, acting chief executive officer of P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission.
  • Tyson Bradley, chief executive officer of the P.E.I. Energy Corporation.
  • Mary Hunter, executive director of Skills PEI.

Islander’s Comments On The Atlantic Bubble Delay

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Last Tuesday, the four Atlantic premiers have announced that the reopening of the Atlantic bubble will be delayed until at least May 3. When they heard this news, people on Prince Edward Island immediately started sharing their opinions on social networks, and in this article, we can see some of their reactions.

Some of the Facebook users, like Miriam Mimi, agreed with this decision.

She wrote:

“We have been very fortunate on P.E.I. Kids are in school and can play sports. We can go do our shopping, eat in restaurants, have small gatherings. I think if we open up the bubble too soon, we’ll find ourselves losing all of those privileges.”

Chris Vessey in Nova Scotia also agrees with the delay, although he is worried about his family:

“As parents age, we lose precious time with them, time that can never be replaced. Yet these sacrifices are necessary for the good of all. The able-bodied might be fine, but the elderly, the young, and the chronically ill are at risk.”

Yet, not all of the islanders were happy. Brittney Dow, a vet student, was upset to hear the news that the bubble opening was postponed once again:

“Bubble is now set to open on my first day of rotations and I don’t have a break until August. Feeling extremely depressed and drained.”

Janice Whalen wrote something similar:

“University students coming home after their final exams will now have to self-isolate for two weeks. They were looking forward to going back to work and earning money. It puts them at a disadvantage in the summer job market.”

Boyd and Arlene Rose stated that they miss their families and that the delay is a huge disappointment:

“We’ve been taunted since January with potential dates of reopening and it’s so disappointing when it doesn’t happen. We just want to see our family.”

Erica Lynn Lavoie has posted this question:

“Does it really matter how we feel? Ask my six- and three-year-old, who cry all the time for Nana and Papa in New Brunswick.”

First Nation Chief Fires Back At Premier Higgs For Claims That Tax Arrangement Created A Filthy Rich Reserve

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First Nation Chief Ross Perley, whose reserve has only witnessed a small part of the overall tax sharing revenue, notes that he does not think the system has been unfair to the community.

Chief Perley said that Premier Blain Higgs should be happy with his community’s industriousness rather than attacking tax-sharing deals for their unfairness to some of the reserves.

He said that the premier and aboriginal affairs minister ought to be happy with the progress the first Nation communities are making rather than repressing them.

On Wednesday, while on one of Fredericton’s morning shows, Higgs said that the tax deal isn’t working for some first nations because Maliseet Madawaska First Nation got 40 percent of total revenue last year.

He said this while responding to a question by a listener who wanted to know why the government hasn’t raised taxes on wealthy individuals in New Brunswick, such as the Irvings.

Based on recent figures provided by the Department of Finance, Tobique first nation posted the lowest revenue in 2020 of the 13 that runs a revenue-sharing deal, which brings it to just $230000.

However, Perley noted that he is not uncomfortable with his community’s success. Neither does he take the premier’s explanation as a reason to terminate the arrangement.

Maliset Madawaska’s runaway success is fueled by their Grey rock Retail Complex based along the Trans-Canada highway close to the exit that leads to Edmundston.

The business brought the community $18m worth of revenue under the tax deal in 2020, which is one-100th of the $1.9bn that Forbes estimates the Irvings are worth.

The province’s minister for aboriginal affairs, Arlene Dunn, distanced herself from the comments the premier made regarding the tax deal.

She noted that she does not feel the same way about the $18m that the first nation accrued last year.

On Tuesday, Higgs and Dunn stood on the same podium. This is when they informed the other 13 bands that they would be canceling their tax deals.

Some of the deals will terminate in 2022, and the rest in the next 90 days.

However, Dunn said that she regrets how the chief from the affected community got wind of the impending termination. She presented the information at a conference call with finance minister Ernie Steeves. She read a statement that had been prepared beforehand.

The tax arrangements allowed retailers operating in the first nations to retain 95 percent of overall tax revenue. Recently, new provisions were included when the deal was renewed in 2017 that caps it at $8m. The first nations keep anything above that.

Higgs notes that other than being unfair to other first nations, the deal is equally unfair to non-indigenous service providers and businesses operating close to the reserves.