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December 16, 2017
December 5, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Royal Alex in the news

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Here are some stories worth digging into a little bit more, and some deeper looks at issues in Edmonton. For a general sense of what’s going on in the city, check our Friday Headlines

Let’s start at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, for a couple of stories. 

There was a rally at the Alberta Legislature to ask the provincial government to do something about the closure of a fertility clinic at the Royal Alex, and consolidation of services at a single private clinic in Edmonton. 

This story’s been going for a few weeks after the closure was announced and has seen some twists, turns and spin all along the way. Essentially, the clinic is private but was supported by the public system by being in the hospital. People still had to pay though. The government doesn’t really want to be seen as supporting private healthcare and we have the doctors at the clinic leaving to join Edmonton’s sole private operation. Or they are leaving because of the closure. The timing of that is subject to spin.

Tens of thousands of people signed a petition to keep the Royal Alex clinic open, and hundreds turned out to the rally. It doesn’t look like that’s going to keep a second fertility option in Edmonton though. Friends of Medicare and AUPE were out in support of the rally, which brings up the question of whether this should be a publicly funded service, it not at least still part of the public system in some way. Patients are also worried about the costs and wait times going up more than they already are with just one private clinic having a monopoly in Edmonton.

Since it looks like we won’t get to keep the clinic at the Royal Alex, nor will we see this become a public healthcare service, people using the clinic have to make some quick decisions.

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Longread: The work happening at the Royal Alex for patients with drug addictions and overdoses is becoming an excellent example of how hospitals can go beyond treating acute injuries and medical conditions and heal more than just body. 

There‘s lots of downtime in hospitals. So if you are sitting there with pneumonia, why shouldn’t we be helping you apply for housing, and getting your ID done and filling out the income support application?

In a similar vein, there’s a west-end clinic doing some great work for the homeless, expanding the idea also of holistic services for people who need care.


Changing commutes

We got commuting information in the last batch of data from the 2016 Census. More people are headed to work every day, with climbing numbers of those of us taking public transit, walking or cycling and car-pooling. Even though I write this from my home office, I’m in the minority since telecommuting hasn’t really changed in 20 years, with only about 6% of employees working from home. Thanks for nothing, Internet!

In Edmonton, we don’t have as many people choosing sustainable transportation options to get to and from work as in other major Canadian cities, but we do have the biggest jump in public transit riders. And we also saw a big increase in people biking to work everywhere.

These numbers are likely to keep going up as we expand our LRT system to the southeast and west in the next decade. Not to mention the bike lanes are gonna keep comin’! It’s slowly getting to the place where someone who takes the bus won’t be such an anomaly they get their own news story.   


Transit drivers attacked

The Edmonton Journal’s Jonny Wakefield dug into violence that Edmonton Transit drivers face on city streets. One is assaulted every week (on average). The consistent harm drivers face raises questions of how to better protect them, on buses in particular. ETS tried out some safety shields years ago but didn’t stick with them, but obviously we need to try something to keep our drivers safe.

Somewhat related… major legislation related to workplace safety was tabled at the Alberta Legislature last week, and CBC’s done some good work looking into workplace deaths, even as our province hits employers the hardest.  


Public engagement

Tuesday

City council has its last meeting of the year this week. You can see the agenda online. This one’s got a lot of big items, including an update on the Metro Line’s continual failures, how much it would cost to demolish Northlands Coliseum, various councillor initiatives for the next four years, funding business improvement areas, what’s going to happen about workplace harassment and complaints, our double-booked sporting events in 2020, fees for adult businesses, and a whole pile of private reports (if we’re lucky we’ll hear what was decided). 

Bateman lands proposal image: City of Edmonton

There’s an open house for the big redevelopment proposed for the old Wild Earth Foods and Bakery site on 99 Street in Old Strathcona (called the Bateman Lands). This is the second go-round for the project after a single 30-storey tower got no traction. 6 – 8 p.m. at the ATB Financial ArtsBarns.

Wednesday

Along with a regular council meeting, we’ve got the budget adjustments this week. This is scheduled for Wednesday, with time on Thursday and Friday if needed. The agenda is online. Since Edmonton now operates with a multi-year budget cycle, this isn’t the full 2018 budget, just changes that may be needed and allocating money that hasn’t been set for any particular items yet.  

Want to land yourself some community garden space? The City is offering up garden plots on vacant land it owns, and you can learn more at a session Wednesday night, 6 – 8 p.m., at the Edmonton Tower.

You can hear some of the stories captured through the Edmonton Public Library’s Voices of Amiskwaciy project Wednesday night. 7 p.m. at the Citadel Theatre’s Zeidler Hall.

Thursday

Back at Edmonton Tower Thursday, 4 – 8 p.m., it’s the final Engage Edmonton event. This has been billed as a festival of public engagement and rotated around Edmonton giving people a chance to offer feedback on a number of City initiatives. 

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