Monthly Archives: September 2018

Edmonton Public Library expands program helping homeless – Edmonton

Watch above: Edmonton’s Stanley Milner Library houses social workers to help those in need. As Kendra Slugoski reports, the outreach program is expanding.

EDMONTON – The Edmonton Public Library’s outreach program, which aims to support and empower the city’s homeless population, will soon be expanding to five more libraries.

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In partnership with Boyle Street Community Services, the EPL’s outreach program launched in 2011 in response to the increasing number of people seeking refuge in the Stanley A. Milner library downtown. The downtown library is currently the only location for the outreach program.

“We try to connect people to resources. We do a lot of trying to get people housing, mental house assistance, assistance with addictions, family doctors, jobs,” explained Jared Tkachuk, an outreach worker who has been a part of the program since it began.

Tkachuk says the library offers a safe and comfortable environment to at-risk individuals who may not access other existing social services. He says staff members treat everyone equally, which helps the homeless open up.

“People really get very isolated and feel helpless and hopeless and cynical about the system so we try to build up people’s belief,” he said Wednesday. “For people on the streets, which is a tough life, time and time again we hear it’s their refuge. It’s a place they come and take solace in.”

READ MORE: Progress made, but much work remains to end homelessness in Edmonton

Until recently, Dave Sheffield had been homeless for nearly eight years. He says the outreach program has been very helpful and welcoming.

“I like this place because it has computers in it and it has books; I like to read westerns,” he said. “As long as we don’t hurt the library, the library will let us stay in here.”

Dixie Campbell, who also takes advantage of the program, has been homeless for three years.

“I needed help to find a place to sleep, live and somewhere to eat,” she said. “They told me about all the outreach programs.”

READ MORE: See a homeless person in trouble this winter? #JustCall211

The EPL’s program will soon be expanding to offer services at the Strathcona, Woodcroft, Spruce Woods, Highlands and Abbottsfield branches. There are currently two outreach workers on staff -another will be hired to meet the demand.

“A lot of time people, people who are not downtown, are actually more vulnerable because they’re not close to the services,” said Tkachuk. “There are social problems everywhere, they’re not restricted to the inner-city core.”

For the first three years the program was funded by the province, but that funding has run out. The library has stepped in to cover the costs, cutting back on equipment and one staff position in order to do so.

While he doesn’t believe it should be the library’s responsibility to fund the program, city councillor Ben Henderson says he’s happy the program will continue.

“This is helping people that the province says it wants to help, that is part of their responsibility,” said Henderson. “My frustration is, we get all these great pilot programs happening and then the pilot comes to an end, and instead of going, ‘This is a great success, let’s keep on supporting it,’ the money just vanishes.”

The expanded program is expected to be running by the end of the year.

Follow @CaleyRamsay

With files from Kendra Slugoski, Global News.


Hand hygiene lacking in Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region – Regina

Regina – Health care workers might not be practicing what they preach when it comes to hand washing.

Audits conducted in February and June reveal that only about 60 per cent of Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region staff properly sanitize their hands. A shockingly low 22 per cent of workers at the Regina Lutheran Home follow proper hand hygiene.

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“Society takes a while for their behavior to change and I think we’re still in that place where we’re slowly incrementing but we’re not getting there nearly fast enough,” said Jason Tetro, a microbiologist from Toronto.

A couple of the wards with dismally low numbers include the Pasqua ICU where only 54 per cent of workers comply. In the labour and birth unit at the Regina General Hospital, only seven per cent have proper hand hygiene.

“Some say they don’t have the time to wash their hands. Some say that the product isn’t readily available to them. Some people say they just forget,” said Kateri Singer, an infection prevention and control specialist with RQHR. “The numbers are kind of a wake up call.”

The criteria is specific – health care providers need to wash their hands for 20 seconds before and after seeing a patient. They should not wear certain jewelry, nail polish or fake nails and wearing gloves is not good enough.

“There’s hand washing and then there’s proper hand washing and in terms of proper hand washing, we want to get that to 100 per cent,” said health minister Dustin Duncan.

RQHR acknowledges the numbers might not be completely accurate as workers could be more inclined to wash their hands properly when an auditor is standing in the room. Over the last few years, companies have been marketing electronic monitoring devices for hand washing.

“You tend to not only have more valid statistics, they’re more trustworthy, but you also get lots more numbers,” said Tetro.

Saskatchewan doesn’t currently have a provincial standard when it comes to monitoring hand washing; however Duncan said he’s not opposed to having that discussion.

Plan for outdoor pools may be years away – Regina

WATCH ABOVE: Mike McKinnon reports on how major renovations to Regina’s outdoor pools could be a long ways off

REGINA – The splashes of water have turned to snow drifts, but just a few months ago Maple Leaf Pool was a hub of activity.

The kind of activity Kathleen Wilson of the Heritage Community Association would sorely miss.

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“Especially when kids are off in the summer, this is where they spend their days,” Wilson said. “We don’t have any other recreation facilities in the neighbourhood, so this is it.”

At 68 years old, the pool is showing its age – just like the other four outdoor pools in Regina, all of which have hit the half-century mark.

Under the city’s options for renewal, one plan would see Maple Leaf Pool close.

“Rather than eliminate an option before going out to engage the community, we decided to go and look at all options,” said Laurie Shalley, the city’s acting director of community services.

Shalley said Regina could spend more than $30 million on the pools, so they want the next two years for public input.

The city is likely to hear from community groups asking for upgrades, and soon – especially for young children.

“Some of the other pools have a wading area so it’s more accessible for (children under three years old),” said Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway, who leads the board of directors at the North Central Community Association.

Dewdney Pool in North Central is among the busiest and the smallest in Regina.

The first rebuild of a pool might be five years away. Until then, $300,000 per year will go into maintenance.

“We believe we can keep all five pools open until a decision is made,” Shalley said. “We do have an annual budget available if there are any urgent repairs required.”

The city expects to hear residents want the outdoor pools to continue being maintained as is, with community groups making it clear they want to keep their place to swim.

“I feel people will lose a sense of belonging in the neighbourhood if we don’t have space like this,” Wilson said.

SEE BELOW: The options Regina city council may consider for rebuilding aging pools

Follow @mikemckinnon


Man rescues infant from car upside down in watery ditch – National

PORTLAND, Maine  — A Maine logger helped save an infant from drowning when he crawled into a car that was upside-down in water and used a knife to cut the straps off her car seat and pull her out, police said.

The baby wasn’t breathing and another bystander performed CPR, reviving the girl, police said.

Leo Moody, 44, of Kingman, was driving home from work Monday when he saw a flipped SUV in a culvert in Kossuth Township, about 175 miles northeast of Portland. Moody said he called 911 and rushed to the vehicle.

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Moody said one of the SUV’s passengers told him her baby was in the back seat, and he swam to the vehicle and cut through seatbelts to free the child seat. He said he then took the 3-month-old to the banks of the culvert and handed the baby and seat to another passer-by, Wade Shorey of Greenbush. Shorey, 32, performed CPR on the child, resuscitating her, Moody said.

Moody said it was cold and his hands were chilled to the point where he couldn’t feel them while he was cutting the straps, and he “kept telling myself, don’t drop the knife.” He said he always carries the knife — usually for peeling an apple or whittling a piece of alder.

“They come in handy, I guess. Monday night really proved it,” Moody said.

Police confirmed that Moody crawled into the SUV and freed the baby and that Shorey performed CPR. The infant was submerged for a short time and initially was not breathing and was unresponsive, police said. After being resuscitated, the girl was crying and alert. She was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor for observation, police said.

Shorey, a forester, said he took a refresher course in CPR this past spring. He said resuscitating the baby took about one or two minutes.

“He passed the car seat to me and said, ‘Take it,’” Shorey said. “I got the baby out of the car seat and started doing CPR.”

The accident happened when Stephen McGouldrick lost control of his SUV on an icy stretch of Route 6 and rolled the vehicle down an embankment into 2½ feet of water, police said. McGouldrick and two other passengers suffered minor injuries and were treated and released from a hospital.

Moody said McGouldrick and one of the passengers had swum to shore and were “hysterical” in the aftermath of the SUV flip. He helped the other passenger — the baby’s mother — out of the vehicle and she told him the baby was in the back seat.

Moody’s wife, Betsy, said her husband arrived home soaking wet, cold and shaken up after the rescue.

“Just another reason why I love him — thinking of someone other than himself,” she said.


Vancouver ballet teacher charged with sexual exploitation gets bail

WATCH: A former ballet instructor in Vancouver has been accused of having a sexual relationship outside of the academy with an underage student between the ages of 16 and 18. Jeremy Hunka has the details.

A Vancouver ballet teacher who is facing sexual exploitation charges after allegedly having a sexual relationship with an underage student is now out on bail.

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According to Vancouver police, 49-year-old Alejandro Vargas Gomez  worked as an instructor at the Goh Ballet Academy and in January 2014 allegedly began a sexual relationship with a student who was between 16 and 18 years of age at the time.

Director of Goh Ballet, Chan Hon Goh told Global News that Vargas is no longer employed at the academy and she is in “complete shock” over the news.

“I only got the news less than three hours ago,” Goh said. “I really don’t know. None of us knew. What? How? I don’t really have the words for it but what’s paramount is the safety and well-being of all of our students here.”

Vargus started working at the academy in 2011 and was their senior instructor and choreographer. He only taught the advanced and senior dancers, which included students 13 years old and up. Prior to working at Goh Ballet, which was established in Vancouver in 1978, Vargas was a ballet master, choreographer and member of the artistic council of the National Dance Company in Mexico.

Gomez has been charged with two counts of sexual exploitation and one count of luring. He is currently in police custody while the investigation continues.

Gomez has made a brief court appearance on Thursday. He was released after posting $10,000 bail. The court also ordered that he has no contact with the alleged victim or witnesses.

The Goh Ballet Academy is cooperating with the police investigation.

VPD is asking anyone with concerns or information about this incident to call the Sex Crimes Unit at (604) 717-0600.

Attempted robbery: two Subway restaurants hit in less than 48 hours – Lethbridge

Lethbridge police are investigating another incident at a local Subway restaurant that took place this morning. Around 8:30a.m. employees at the Subway along the 1600 block of Mayor Magrath Drive South were approached by a a masked male intent on stealing cash. Staff subsequently fled from the restaurant to a neighbouring business and called police.

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“What ended up happening was a suspicious subject came into the restaurant, the employees recognized that as a possible threat, they fled the building before the subject had the opportunity to get any cash,” said Staff Sergeant Jeff Mantyak.

Police on scene say the employees were shaken and did not wish to speak to the media.

This is the second robbery involving a Subway location in less than 48 hours. Monday night, a lone male armed with a weapon entered the location along the 3700 block of Mayor Magrath Drive South. Sam Patel is the owner and manager of that location.

“We were not even sure these things could happen here,” said Patel. “So we were not much worried about security but now we are.”

The investigation has determined the male was wearing clothing similar to the subject in Monday’s robbery and appeared to be carrying the same kind of weapon.

“Of course we’re very mindful of the similar type activity between the other day and today, we’re looking into that,” said Sgt. Mantyak. “But at this point it’s still under investigation.”

Police are still on the lookout for Monday night’s suspect. The subject is described as a Caucasian male, approximately 20-30 years old, six-feet tall, 240 lbs., with short dark hair and a slight dark beard. He was wearing a black toque, red hoodie, black overcoat, runners, large, white-rimmed sunglasses with dark lenses and had something covering his mouth.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police 403-328-4444 or Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-8477. Crime Stoppers will pay cash for information leading to an arrest.

Over $1.1 billion in unspent funds at Veterans Affairs since 2006: documents

WATCH ABOVE: The NDP wants Veterans Affairs to provide adequate benefits to family members of deceased reservists, as they are with Cpl. Nathan Cirilllo’s family.

OTTAWA – Veterans Affairs Canada has returned $1.13 billion to the federal treasury in unspent funds since the Conservatives came to power in 2006 – cash that critics say should have gone towards improved benefits and services.

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The figure, which surfaced this week in the House of Commons, has led to renewed criticism of the Harper government, which is already smarting over its frayed relations with disgruntled former soldiers.

Data tabled in the House in response to a written question shows roughly one-third of the so-called lapsed funds were handed back between the 2011 and 2013 budget years when the government was engaged in a massive deficit-cutting drive.

READ MORE: Ottawa to change reservist death benefits following Global News story

The Conservatives often trumpet how much the budget for veterans care has gone up under their watch – right now it’s about $3.4 billion a year, up from $2.8 billion when the Tories took office.

What they don’t say is that anywhere between 4.7 per cent and 8.2 per cent of the total allocation has been allowed to lapse because of the department’s inability or reluctance to spend it all, said NDP veterans critic Peter Stoffer.

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino met Wednesday in Quebec City with select organizations representing ex-soldiers, but some of the loudest critics of the department’s spending on benefits and services were not invited.

On Tuesday, Stoffer put a pointed question about the lapsed funds to Fantino, who answered by tallying up the government’s total spending on the veteran’s department – roughly $30 billion since 2006.

READ MORE: MP Peter Stoffer questions support for soldiers with mental health issues

“It means improved rehabilitation for Canadian veterans,” Fantino said. “It means more counselling for veterans’ families. It means more money for veterans’ higher education and retraining. It means we care deeply about our veterans.”

But that didn’t answer the question of why so much of the budget has been allowed to lapse, said Stoffer, noting that the overall budget of the department is something the government is committed to under the law.

The use of lapsed funding to reduce the federal deficit is an exercise that’s being practised across all departments, he added.

“The deputy ministers … have obviously been told by the higher-ups that, ‘This money has to come back to us in order for us to have our books balanced, and that way we can use that money for other purposes, like income-splitting.”‘

Over the last two fiscal years, all federal departments allowed more than $18 billion in budgeted funding to lapse, according public accounts figures released at the end of October.

READ MORE: Veterans plea for military to join protest of Harper government

Frank Valeriote, the Liberal veterans critic, said ex-soldiers who’ve been denied benefits will look at the unspent funds and feel “hoodwinked, completely abandoned” and wonder why they’ve made sacrifices for their country.

“It is reprehensible and unconscionable what they’re doing so that the government can create an image of fiscal responsibility,” he said.

The Quebec City meeting came on Wednesday at a time when multiple Conservative sources say there is concern that the party’s reliable support in the veterans community is bleeding away because of the loud and prolonged battle.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, say there is growing frustration within the party over Fantino’s apparent inability to forge positive relationships with veterans, unlike his predecessor, Steven Blaney.

Beyond veterans, long considered a natural constituency for Conservatives, there are signs the Tories are in trouble with ordinary Canadians on the issue. A newly released internal poll on public perceptions of the Canadian Forces suggests the treatment of veterans was registering strongly with respondents.

“Problems that veterans face (42 per cent) and soldiers returning home (29 per cent) were top of mind for many Canadians when asked what they recalled about the (Canadian Armed Forces),” said the Phoneix Strategies Perspectives survey, conducted last May, but released by National Defence online this week.

The survey of 2,025 people found more than two-thirds (67 per cent) of those asked recalled recently seeing, reading, or hearing about issues faced by returning soldiers or their families.


Southern Alberta woman’s life turned upside down after horrible accident

Carrie Morrison is a mother of two. She just started her dream job when, suddenly, her life was turned upside down.

Morrison was driving home from work on August 26th, when her vehicle plummeted 70 feet down an embankment near the Crowsnest Pass, leaving her paralyzed from the neck down.

“The doctors prognosis is if they had to give me an answer now is I would leave here a quadrapelic,” says Morrison from her hospital bed in the Calgary Foothills Hospital.

Her only ray of hope is a slight feeling when she moves her elbows.

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“I do have feeling in my elbows and a really fuzzy feeling to my wrists. It’s hopeful, but not promising.”

Morrison will likely spend at least another six months in Foothills Hospital before coming back to her home in Lethbridge.

Her best friend Libby Hengerer has been by her side for emotional support.

“It’s been very difficult seeing one of your best friends lying helpless, losing her independence, and it’s breaking my heart,” explains Hengerer.

Morrison’s 10 year old son is now staying with his father, while her 19 year old daughter is with her grandmother.

“My kids are struggling . I have a 10 year old that does not understand and a 19 year old that needs her mom.”

Libby has started a fundraiser in hopes of taking the financial strain of Morrison and people are reaching out from all over the world.

“Knowing the fundraiser is doing as well as it does put my mind at ease,” says Hengerer.

If you would like to help Carrie Morrison visit the link below.


Gay couples exchange vows in Montana after ruling – National

HELENA, Mont. – As they stood linking arms and holding bouquets, Linda Gryczan and Constance Enzweiler of Helena married Thursday after waiting 31 years.

They were the first same-sex couple in the city to legally wed after a federal judge overturned Montana’s ban on same-sex marriage the day before.

“We’ve been married for 31 years in our hearts. The next 31 we’ll be married in the state,” Gryczan said.

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  • Gay marriage ruling means high court review likely

  • Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada gay marriage laws in court

  • Kentucky governor vows gay marriage appeal

Gryczan has a history with Montana gay rights issues. She was the lead plaintiff in a 1995 lawsuit challenging a separate state law that made gay sex illegal. That led to the unanimous 1997 Montana Supreme Court decision that ruled the law unconstitutional.

She had kind words Thursday for two plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led to Wednesday’s ruling on the voter-approved ban. Adel Johnson and Sue Hawthorne were married in Washington state but came to the courthouse to celebrate.

“Thank you, thank you, for sticking your necks out,” Gryczan told them.

Former Montana Supreme Court Justice James C. Nelson married Gryczan and Enzweiler and said he supports the ruling by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris to throw out the ban, calling it a stain on the state’s constitution.

“I can’t tell you how big a decision that is,” he said. “It basically says that gay people have the same rights as everybody else, as they always should have.”

Statewide, 47 same-sex couples from 13 counties received marriage licenses Thursday, said Jon Ebelt with the state Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Randi Paul and Jill Houk of Billings lined up for theirs before dawn at the Yellowstone County Courthouse. Less than two hours later — and just minutes after paying $53 for a license — they wed in a courthouse hallway as friends, supporters and members of the media crowded around.

For Paul, a 28-year-old legal assistant, the occasion marked the realization of a dream of getting married in her home state.

“I’m a super Montanan. That’s a big part of who I am. The prospect of getting married somewhere else was upsetting,” she said.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox is appealing the ruling, but won’t seek an immediate stay to block same-sex marriages while the case is pending. His spokesman, John Barnes, said the state was waiting for a San Francisco-based federal appeals court to set a schedule for the case.

Some couples said they were eager to say their vows in case Fox’s appeal prevails.

Danielle Egnew, a 45-year-old Billings musician, said she and Rebecca Douglas, 44, wanted to marry “in a positive legal climate.” She said the two already have a date for a larger ceremony — Sept. 15 — but were exchanging vows Thursday to be safe.

Montana, Kansas and South Carolina have continued their legal fight against gay marriage despite rulings in favour of the practice from federal appeals courts that oversee them.

In South Carolina, Republican Attorney General Alan Wilson said he would fight to uphold the state’s constitutional ban even though the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday denied his emergency request to block gay marriages being performed there.

The first licenses were issued Wednesday in Charleston, South Carolina, and a lesbian couple exchanged vows on the courthouse steps.

Wilson noted the nation’s top court has not yet resolved conflicting rulings by federal appeals courts. He said a decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding gay marriage bans in several Midwest states means the matter likely will go to the high court.

Amy Wagner, 56, and Karen Langebeck, 48, of Livingston were among the first Montana couples to get their license after spending 22 years together.

“Being able to get married and introduce Karen as my wife — that’s a big deal,” Wagner said. “Now I have a way to describe this relationship that everybody understands.”


Associated Press writer Bruce Smith in Charleston, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

Yahoo replaces Google as Firefox’s default search – National

SAN FRANCISCO – Yahoo will supplant Google’s search engine on Firefox’s Web browser in the U.S., signalling Yahoo’s resolve to regain some of the ground that it has lost in the most lucrative part of the Internet’s ad market.

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The five-year alliance announced Wednesday will end a decade-old partnership in the U.S. between Google Inc. and the Mozilla Foundation, which oversees the Firefox browser. The tensions between Google and Mozilla had been rising since Google’s introduction of the Chrome browser in 2008 began to undercut Firefox. Google’s current contract with Mozilla expires at the end of this month, opening an opportunity for Yahoo to pounce.

READ MORE: Mozilla Firefox add-on lets users see how websites are tracking them

Even though Chrome is now more widely used, Firefox still has a loyal audience that makes more than 100 billion worldwide search requests annually.

Yahoo is hoping to impress Firefox users as the Sunnyvale, California, company sets out to prove that it’s still adept at Internet search after leaning on Microsoft’s technology for most of the results on Yahoo’s own website for the past four years.

Financial details of Yahoo’s Firefox contract weren’t disclosed. In a blog post, Mozilla CEO Chris Beard said the new deal offers “strong, improved economic terms” while allowing Mozilla “to innovate and advance our mission in ways that best serve our users and the Web.”

Google accounted for 90 per cent, or about $274 million, of Mozilla’s royalty revenue in 2012. Mozilla hasn’t released its annual report for last year.

Besides dropping Google in the U.S., Mozilla is also shifting Firefox to Baidu’s search engine in China and Yandex in Russia. Firefox users still have the option to pull down a tab to pick Google and other search engines as their preferred way for looking up information online.

READ MORE: Yahoo faces pressure from investor urging AOL takeover

Yahoo Inc. CEO Marissa Mayer, a former Google executive, hailed the Firefox agreement as Yahoo’s most significant partnership since forging the Microsoft deal in 2009.

“We believe deeply in search — it’s an area of investment and opportunity for us,” Mayer wrote in a Wednesday blog post.

Yahoo plans to unveil a “clean and modern” search engine on Firefox next month and then roll out the new model on its own website early next year, Mayer wrote.

The redesign will primarily affect how Yahoo’s search engine’s results are displayed, and not the way that requests are processed. The search technology will continue to be provided by Microsoft Corp. as part of a 10-year deal Yahoo signed in 2009, according to Mel Guymon, Yahoo’s vice-president of search.

In various public remarks since becoming Yahoo’s CEO two years ago, Mayer has expressed disappointment with Microsoft’s search technology. That has spurred speculation that she might renegotiate or end the Microsoft search partnership next year when Yahoo has an option to re-evaluate the deal. Yahoo currently receives $88 of every $100 in revenue generated from ads posted alongside the search results on its website.

READ MORE: Marissa Mayer defends strategy in face of criticism

Those payouts have helped Yahoo boost its revenue from search advertising for 11 consecutive quarters, compared with the previous year. Despite those gains, more searches have been shifting to Microsoft’s Bing search engine, causing Yahoo to slip further behind its rivals. Yahoo is expected to end this year with a 5.6 per cent share of U.S. search advertising revenue, down from 6.6 per cent in 2012, according to the research firm eMarketer.

Yahoo’s stock gained 52 cents to $51.10 in extended trading Wednesday. The shares have been hovering around their highest levels in more than 14 years, largely because Yahoo owns a large stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., a rapidly growing e-commerce site in China.