Ontario education workers' union to issue results of strike vote amid talks with province

WATCH ABOVE: Ontario education workers demand raise as contract expires.

TORONTO — A union representing thousands of education workers in Ontario is expected to announce today whether its members support going on strike amid contract talks with the province.

Members with the Canadian Union of Public Employees have been voting on a potential strike mandate from Sept. 23 to Oct. 2, and the union plans to unveil the results at a news conference this morning.

CUPE has asked the province for annual raises of 11.7 per cent, equal to about $3.25 per hour, arguing workers’ wages have been restricted over the last decade and are not enough to keep up with inflation.

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It says the Ford government is offering a two- per-cent raise to education workers making less than $40,000 a year and a 1.25- per-cent wage hike to everyone else, which it says amounts to between 33 and 53 cents an hour.

CUPE represents 55,000 workers including early childhood educators, school administration workers, bus drivers and custodians.

Labour deals for Ontario’s five major education unions expired on Aug. 31, and CUPE is scheduled to resume bargaining talks with the province on Thursday.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Suspicious package found in vehicle closes Ambassador Bridge

A suspicious package was found in a vehicle at the Ambassador Bridge, closing North America’s busiest land border crossing connecting Detroit, Mich. and Windsor, Ont., late Sunday evening.

Motorists were asked by Windsor police to use the Detriot-Windsor Tunnel instead as the bridge would remain closed for an “undetermined period of time.”

On a daily basis, the border crossing handles roughly $400 million in goods travelling between Canada and the U.S. on a daily basis. Overall, it facilitates nearly a quarter of the trade activity between the two neighbours.

More to come.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Festival of Grape brings together thosuands of wine lovers in South Okanagan

Thirty teams are competing for the title of Grape Stomp Champion at the 25th annual Festival Grape in Oliver, B.C.

“The Grape Stomp has been a tradition with this event,” said Ian Lobb, Oliver Tourism executive director.

“There’s incredible costumes, a lot of stomping and squishing of the grapes and a relay race, so it’s a real spectacle to watch.”

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To win, it takes teamwork, stamina and a good sense of humour.

“It was really squishy, occasionally you got the stems ,” said Kendra Kruger, who participated in the relay race.

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In between heats, there’s plenty of wine being poured, delicious food being ordered at food trucks, a market to explore and live music to dance to.

“The Festival of Grape started back in ’97 as a way to celebrate the harvest and wineries and the industry as a whole and it’s blossomed into what it is today,” said Lobb.

Making the 25th year of the festival, one to remember.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

University of Lethbridge researcher recognized for gut health study

A University of Lethbridge researcher is being recognized nationally for her work studying the effects of gut health on the brain. Jaclyn Kucey finds out how these studies can help patients living with inflammatory bowel diseases.

Canada has one of the highest prevalence rates of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the world, with more than 300,000 people affected and 35,000 of those being Albertans, according to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.

“By 2030, one per cent of Canadians, including Albertans, will be living with the disease,” says Kate Lee, vice president of research and patient programs with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.

Lee explains that IBDs are progressive autoimmune diseases that affect an individual’s gastrointestinal tract, causing inflammation of the gut and leading to pain and scarring.

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“It’s very unpredictable bowel movements,” said Lee. “These are grown-ups who, as adults, are unable to control and predict when they will have the bowel movements, so it’s something that leads to a lot of anxiety and stress, especially when they leave their homes.”

In most cases, people diagnosed with the disease are between the ages of 20 and 30.

“So really the prime of their lives when they’re becoming independent,” said Lee. “Then they’re having to deal with this devastating disease.”

Lee says scientists have found that the industrialization of a nation contributes to growing case numbers.

Research on these diseases has led scientists to discover how important the gut microbiome is to our health.

Dr. Chelsea Matisz has researched gut health at the University of Lethbridge for five years. She is one of three women recently recognized by The Royal Society of Canada for the Alice Wilson award for her work on studying how gut health affects the brain and mental health using mice models.

“People think, well, of course, you’re anxious or depressed because you have these chronic illnesses, but it’s actually not just the psychological burden of disease,” Matisz said. “But rather changes in your brain resulting from the gut inflammation that can drive these mood disorders.”

Matisz’s research extends to what changes happen in the brain after short-term gut inflammation and potentially using psilocybin, cannabinoids or vitamin d to help anxiety and depression associated with chronic gut inflammation.

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Jody Ginther was diagnosed with Crohn’s and Colitis in 1998. He says the initial impact on his life was significant, only having a matter of minutes to find and use the washroom.

“Trying to stop my vehicle and hope that I could get to a facility that had a washroom,” said Ginther. “It was extremely difficult.”

Ginther said his flare-ups got so bad that he had to get his large intestine surgically removed.

Ginther says having research like this done in southern Alberta is impressive, and he’s hopeful her work will get us closer to a cure.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Stars of TV series 'Rust Valley Restorers' host 2-day car auction in Shuswap

Fans of the show Rust Valley Restorers have another chance to own a piece of Mike Hall and Avery Shoaf's collection of antique cars. Today was the first of a two-day live no reserves auction and as Sydney Morton tells us hundreds of people worldwide are bidding on the vintage vehicles that are waiting to be restored.

A year after auctioning off more than 550 antique cars, the gavel is coming down again at Rust Valley Restorers in the Shuswap.

Last year, the auction drew bidders from around the world, but Rust Valley Restorers T.V. personality Mike Hall kept 60 of his favourites. Now, he’s parting with even more of his collection of vehicles that need restoration work.

“I’m up to 120 again. I don’t know what happened,” said Hall.

“We’ve been generously allowed to use the storage yard from the church next door for the last three years, they’re very good people, but now they have plans to develop it. I have 30 days to have this whole lot cleared off, so either I start double stacking or I have to get rid of about 80 cars.”

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The auction is also being filmed for the popular T.V. show.

“The last auction, I tried to keep Dodges because I kind of have an affinity for Dodges. This time, I’m basically trying to keep Coronets and Super Bees,” said Hall.

The auction will leave only about 25 cars on the lot for Hall and his team to restore.  So far, it looks like finding buyers shouldn’t be a problem.

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“We have lots of activity,” said Todd Schwindt, EG Auctions.

“We have about 600 people online who have registered to bid and about every minute since we started we keep getting new bidders.”

The auction not only attracts car enthusiasts but also fans of the popular Rust Valley Restorers show and Hall.

The Rust Valley Restorers auction wrapped up Sunday, Oct. 2

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Crowds gathered for final swim as Edmonton's 65-year-old Scona Pool closes its doors for good

WATCH ABOVE: An emotional Sunday afternoon for Edmontonians who had a passion and love for an iconic pool that is closing its doors for good. After 65-years of being a popular spot, swimmers took their final dip at Scona Pool. Chris Chacon reports.

It was an emotional afternoon for Edmontonians who had a passion and love for the iconic Scona pool — which closed its doors for good on Sunday after 65 years in business.

“It’s been a heck of a lot of fun,” Scona Swim Team head coach Kirby Feng said.

In August, council voted to permanently close the decades-old facility after a report found it needed ongoing costly repairs and had significant system failures.

It also pointed out that there are three other City of Edmonton pools within five kilometres of Scona Pool: Bonnie Doon, Confederation and Kinsmen.

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A commute that poses a problem for some that live nearby.

“It’s tough for people in this community and area to see it close. They have long association with the pool, it’s been very easy for them to get to the pool, and now to access aquatic activities, they have to go further,” Edmonton Public Schools Ward F trustee Julie Kusiek said of the community pool.

“It will be a little bit of a barrier and there are some people with mobility issues who really aren’t able to go anywhere else,” Elaine Solez, with Friends of Scona Rec, added on the issues this closure may cause.

Ward Papastew Coun. Michael Janz said while the closure is a loss to the community, people will eventually be able to swim at Rollie Miles Leisure Centre.

“Looking forward, our goal is to get a new rec centre, a replacement rec centre on the other side here and that’s moving well on its way with city council,” Janz said.

But, it’s a project that’s still years away from completion.

“We were hoping Scona Pool could stay open until the new rec centre was built — and the new rec centre is currently in the design phase,” Solez said. “So it’s a minimum of three years, but we have no end date at this point.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Dominant Raptors feed off crowd to beat Jazz

EDMONTON – The Toronto Raptors opened their exhibition season on Sunday by being simply dominant in their Canadian home away from home.

Pre-season or not, holding an NBA team — even one that is in rebuilding mode like the Utah Jazz — to just 33 second-half points is remarkable. And that’s what the Raptors did in a 114-82 blowout win at Rogers Place.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse said a lot of what he called the “middle roster” player who saw the majority of the minutes in the game did some very good things to disrupt the Jazz.

“A lot of deflections, a lot of challenges at the rim, changing shots, good rebounding, perimeter-shot contests were pretty good,” he said. “I think I got to see a ton of the middle of the roster, which was good. It was helpful.”

Leading by only one entering the second half, the Toronto Raptors began the third quarter by going on a 17-3 run in the pre-season opener for both teams.

The Jazz, a team that is in a rebuilding process after stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell were traded away during the off-season, looked very much like a club starting from scratch, shooting 32.6 per cent from the floor on the night and committing 23 turnovers.

“We’ve done a lot through our first four practices to come together as a team,” said Jazz coach Will Hardy, who said it was important to see how this new version of the Jazz did in a “competitive environment,” even it was just the first game of the pre-season.

“We’re looking for everybody to communicate and problem-solve as a group. The young players, to earn a spot in the rotation, they’re going to have to do the dirty work, they’re going to have to step up to an NBA level of physicality.”

A capacity crowd at Rogers Place watched the pre-season curtain raiser. Tickets sold out for the NBA Canada Series game just minutes after they went on sale, and lower bowl tickets were going for more than $700 each on secondary sales sites.

“The crowd is into it, it’s the one chance they get to see us in their hometown or home area,” said Nurse. “And, they usually bring it. It’s cool because, listen, there’s a lot of pre-season games that you go through that there is zero energy and almost leaning toward negative energy. We don’t have to go through that, and it’s fun.”

Guard Fred Van Vleet said that the Raptors received “rock-star treatment” since they touched down in Edmonton on Saturday. “Hopefully we put on a good show,” he said. Van Vleet, expected to be one of the stars of the team again this season, played just 9:39 in Edmonton, scoring three points.

“It was a good practice, guys were flying around,” said Van Vleet, as dozens of fans pressed up against the glass of the Hall of Fame room chanting his name as he tried to speak to the media.

“I’m not even going to try and grade it by any stretch. There were a lot of breakdowns, a lot of mistakes, that’s to be expected. But I thought we played with great energy.”

The Raptors were led by 11 points and 10 rebounds from Chris Boucher, one of five Canadian players to see the floor in the game. Kelly Olynyk (no points, six rebounds) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (no points, five rebounds) got onto the floor for the Jazz, while Dalano Banton (nine points), and Khem Birch (five points, five rebounds) also saw time for the Raptors.

Of the 18 players on the Raptors game roster, only Thaddeus Young did not score.

“It just shows the support we have, playing in Canada, the fans supporting us wherever we play,” said Boucher. “It definitely made the environment better, but it’s still a pre-season game. There is still stuff we have to fix. But the fans definitely helped to make it feel like it was a real game.”

The Jazz debuted a new-look starting lineup with the twin towers of seven-footer Lauri Markkanen and Olynyk, one inch shy of seven feet, in the front court. Markkanen finished as the Jazz’s top scorer with 20 points.

Raptors’ seven-foot rookie Christian Koloko made the most of his time on the floor, bringing the crowd to their feet with a highlight-reel second quarter put-back dunk, and later using his massive wingspan to stuff a dunk attempt. Koloko finished with seven points and three rebounds.

Edmonton native Matthew Kallio was one of the officials on the floor for the game. He was a non-staff referee for the NBA and also officiated at the Tokyo Olympics, but found out in August he’s going to become a staff official for the league. He’s relocated to Calgary, but being part of this game in his hometown was special.

“There’s a lot of honour and pride,” he said. “It’s been a long journey, a lot of work to get here. But, at the same time, it’s a basketball game. I love this game. But I will cherish the moment after the game, after the work is done.”

The first game Kallio ever officiated was at Edmonton’s Rosslyn School. Kallio was a junior-high student, and was asked to ref a junior game because no other ref was available.

“I decided to throw a whistle around my neck and hop on the floor because my (physical education) teacher asked me to.”

And, does the attention the Raptors get in the rest of country suggest that, even though the Vancouver Grizzlies came and went, is it time for another team in Canada?

“Expansion is not an easy topic,” said Nurse, “But from the little I do know, the growth of the game has been pretty rapid here, recently. And that would help any city with a beautiful arena like this one.

“I think the overall growth of the game across the country would certainly make a team very viable.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2022.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Alberta government commits $20.8M to fight human trafficking

The Alberta government is providing $20.8 million over the next four years to implement recommendations from a star-led task force on human trafficking.

Country singer Paul Brandt, chair of the Alberta Human Trafficking Task Force, personally thanked Premier Jason Kenney during the funding announcement Sunday at Edmonton International Airport for his willingness to prioritize the issue, and for putting faith in Brandt to lead the group.

“Premier Kenney’s longtime personal dedication and commitment to the issue of human trafficking is authentic and is admirable,” Brandt said.

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“He’s the only political leader I’ve met in my 17 years of advocating for trafficking victims and survivors who took the time and initiative to personally write a plan to address this horrific crime.”

The money will establish an office to combat trafficking as well as a centre of excellence for research and data collection — recommendations the government accepted when the task force presented its report in March.

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said the goal is to launch the office by next summer.

Other task force recommendations that will be supported include a new grant for community projects and Indigenous-led and culturally appropriate services. Civilian positions that will focus on supporting victims and survivors throughout human trafficking investigations will also be funded.

“Human trafficking is far more prevalent — way more common — than the stats would suggest because it’s a hidden crime,” Kenney said at the announcement.

“It festers in the dark. There are victims who face fear, shame and self-doubt and some who will never report what they’ve gone through.”

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The task force was appointed in May 2020 and engaged with nearly 100 experts and survivors of trafficking to provide guidance on how to best implement the government’s action plan to fight human trafficking.

The government has said human trafficking includes sexual exploitation, forced labour trafficking and trafficking in human organs or tissues.

Kenney, who will be replaced as premier when his United Conservative Party selects a new leader on Thursday, noted he started fighting human trafficking over 20 years ago when he was an MP and joined a group of international parliamentarians on a coalition to fight the practice.

Later as Canada’s immigration minister, he said he took steps to make it easier for human trafficking victims who had migrated to Canada to obtain safety and protection.

In winter 2019, he said he committed the UCP to a nine-point action plan to combat human trafficking, which led to the Protecting Survivors of Human Trafficking Act, which took effect in May 2020.

Brandt said it was exciting to be part of the funding commitment at the airport, where he said he stood in 2019 for a partnership with the facility and other groups in the Edmonton region to fight trafficking, which he called “modern day slavery.”

“It has been our dream that special focus and permanent funding would one day become a reality. Today is that day,” Brandt said.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Paramedic burnout a growing concern as staff shortages continue in B.C.

With the past few years filled with natural disasters, heat waves, and a pandemic, it's no surprise BC paramedics are dealing with excessive burnout. As Victoria Femia reports, there are growing concerns that issues surrounding their mental health are only getting worse.

With the ongoing paramedic shortages across B.C., burnout and mental health issues are hitting first responders worse than ever and in a way the union has never seen before.

“Thirty per cent of our paramedics are either off on workplace psychological injuries or are on treatment on our Clinical Incident Stress Management program seeing a psychologist or a mental health professional,” said president of Ambulance Paramedics of B.C., Troy Clifford.

“Or they’re at work managing with self-care or with a physician.”

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Calls for more available mental health resources for first responders are increasing because, without them, the APBC believes the industry could lose even more paramedics.

“So, that when (paramedics) go into these situations, they know how to deal with it and then when they get overwhelmed they have resources to help as opposed to what the historical practice has always been where we just keep moving on until that wave hits and we can’t move forward anymore, which means we lose more paramedics and dispatchers to injuries,” said Robert Parkinson, Ambulance Paramedic BC Health and Wellness Director.

Over the last few years, BC paramedics have been dealing with an ongoing opioid crisis, a pandemic, natural disasters, and a record-breaking heat wave, all of this resulting in an uptick in emergency calls, intense pressure, and even more shortages.

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With paramedic shortages come ambulance delays, leaving paramedics with a feeling of guilt for not getting to a scene in an appropriate amount of time.

“When we can’t do our best that’s psychological injury,” said Clifford.

“Because of system failure, bureaucracy, or operational stressors, not because we can’t treat the patient. So when we see a call holding or we’re in a hospital on a holding pattern waiting to drop off a patient and we know there are serious calls holding. Somebody’s loved one is waiting for an ambulance.”

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On a regular basis, many communities in the Okanagan are operating without enough paramedics to staff the available fleet of ambulances, leaving them at risk of delayed response times.

“The smaller communities where we have two ambulances on a regular basis were down to, I’d say over 50 per cent of the time was down to one ambulance in those communities,” said Clifford.

The Ambulance Paramedics of BC will officially be at the bargaining table Monday, now that their collective agreement is up. They plan to address the disparity in wages and benefits between other first responder agencies.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Red Deer doctors say hospital surgical program on 'brink of collapse'

Several of the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s top doctors have penned a letter to Alberta’s health officials saying its surgery program could be on the “brink of collapse.”

According to the letter, the hospital is seeing several resources limited, and it’s impacting the hospital’s operating rooms.

The letter reads, “If urgent action is not taken to rectify the shortage that we are facing, we will be unable to continue caring for the nearly 500,000 Central Alberta residents who depend on our center for surgical care. The repercussions of such a collapse would be catastrophic for both the health system and for patient care, and we need immediate measures to be taken to prevent this.”

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Red Deer hospital urologist Dr. Ravin Bastiampillai says those “repercussions” could be felt as early as this month.

“We could get to the point in October where we won’t have the capacity or the capability to be able to offer emergency surgeries,” says Dr. Bastiampillai.

“And that would be potentially very significant and potentially catastrophic for the health and wellbeing of central Alberta patients.”

While he says there are enough surgeons, he adds there is a lack of anesthesiologists and other surgery support staff.

“You need all three of those components to run a successful operation and if any one of those components is not available, you can’t run that procedure.“

Because of the shortage, many elective surgeries have been postponed, and soon, it could impact emergency surgeries altogether.

Anesthesiologist Dr. Arun Anand says part of the problem stems from departing staff, who left the hospital for various reasons.

“There’s been a shortage of aesthesis for about two years and I don’t think that’s really been taken super seriously to try and retain and recruit people,” says Dr. Anand.

According to Dr. Anand, other hospitals he’s worked at average about 10 emergency surgeries daily. However, in Red Deer, that number is as high as 60.

And with the anesthesiologist shortage, it’s left the on-call sheet towards the end of October empty; meaning no anesthesiologists, no surgeries.

“It’s quite a dire situation with what’s happening at the end of October and I think we really need to take some action,“ he says.

The urgent, five-page letter was addressed to Alberta Minister of Health Jason Copping as well as to AHS, and signed by six of the hospital’s chiefs: Dr. Glen Vajcner, Dr. Krishna Maragh, Dr. Christopher Cham, Dr. Arone Pabbies, Dr. Rodrigo Neira, and Dr. Stephanus Van Zyl.

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These doctors are asking for emergency funding to recruit more anesthesiologists, as well as a “review of stipends and overhead relief” to retain anesthesiologists and surgeons at RDRHC. They’re also looking for increased training positions for nursing and anesthesia.

When asked about what will happen if they don’t get the support they need, Dr. Anand says he’s unsure.

“I’ve never heard of this happening anywhere else and the fact that we got to this point,” says Dr. Anand.

“How did we get here, how did we even let it get to this point. That’s the biggest concern,” he adds.

Global News has reached out to Copping’s office but did not receive a response.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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