COVID-19 notebook

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

COVID-19 can’t be used as threat

Members of the Alberta RCMP have reported being threatened in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
In the past several days, RCMP officers have reported being threatened and being coughed on by members of the public who claim to be COVID-19 positive. It is a crime to do so.
“The threat to transmit the COVID-19 virus is a threat to the well-being and health of our members which is a criminal offence,” says assistant commissioner John Ferguson, Alberta RCMP’s Officer-in-Charge of Criminal Operations.
“To actually carry out these threats would be an assault on a peace officer.”
Currently, there is only one recorded incident that has led to charges in Wetaskiwin, Alta. The individual was charged with assault on a police officer and failure to comply with the Public Health Act.
Members of the public are reminded to adhere to current public health guidelines with respect to slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Scams rising during pandemic

Even the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t stopping people from trying to rip off others.
Alberta RCMP are warning Albertans of an increase in COVID-19 related scams.
“The most common reports are fraudulent merchandise sales and phishing e-mails,” says Fraser Logan, Alberta RCMP Media Relations.
He adds the fraudulent merchandise sales frequently involve the sale and/or giveaway of health-related products such as facemasks and COVID-19 tests.
“There are also ‘free’ products being advertised where the victim must pay a fake shipping fee,” says Logan.
The phishing e-mails impersonate agencies such as the Red Cross, the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health, Public Health Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency, and more.
“Typically, individuals are contacted through e-mail…and provided a link which prompts them to fill out personal and banking information. In some cases, the link contains suspected malware.”
Other scams that occur involve individuals being advised of fake positive test results, donation campaigns, door-to-door decontamination services, and self-assessment surveys.
RCMP remind the public to never give out personal or financial details if they did not initiate the call, and to report suspicious texts or e-mails to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

MLAs called back to work

Government House Leader Jason Nixon called Alberta MLAs back to the Legislature April 7 to debate important legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members will consider several pieces of legislation on issues ranging from municipal emergency preparedness to providing increased support to survivors of human trafficking.
“…we must continue our work to enhance protections for vulnerable Albertans – such as survivors of human trafficking. We also want to ensure that mobile home tenants are placed on equal footing with other renters in terms of dispute resolution…” says Nixon.
“We are also better supporting municipal operations regarding COVID-19 by making further changes to the Emergency Management Act,” he adds.
Government will ensure MLAs are doing all they can to adhere to the best practices outlined by the chief medical officer of health.

Have a winning ticket? No worry!

If you were one of the lucky people who had a winning lottery ticket set to expire from March 17 to Sept. 17, you need not worry about it.
Lottery players now have an additional six months to claim prizes on tickets that would have otherwise expired, the Western Canada Lottery Corporation announced April 7.
The change is made by the WCLC to align with other Canadian lottery agencies.
WCLC recognizes that efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 has affected winners’ ability to claim prizes. WCLC supports winners who have chosen to respect social distancing.
The extension applies to Lotto Max, Lotto 6/49, Daily Grand, Western Max, Western 6/49, Extra, Pick 2/3/4, Poker Lotto and All-In and Keno. Sports Select games are also included such as Proline, Point Spread, Over/Under, Pool and Props. Zing instant scratch tickets may also be claimed six months later than the expiry date printed on the back.

Town of HP applauds fed’s move

Some good news has arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal government announced April 8 that 100 per pent of wages will be covered in its Canada Summer Jobs program.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, announced temporary changes to the program will help create up to 70,000 jobs for youth between 15-30 years of age.
The big change is private and public sector employers can receive up to 100 per cent of the hourly wage subsidy for each employee.
For the Town of High Prairie, it means there will be no cost for the five approved positions this spring and summer.
The Alberta Government scrapped its STEP program earlier this year, where the Town formerly hired its summer staff, mostly comprised of students.

Visits to continuing care limited

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health has ordered a province-wide ban on visitors to long-term care centres, licensed group homes and other facilities as part of the ongoing work to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect Albertans.
The ban was announced April 7.
No visitors will be allowed unless a resident is dying or the visitor is essential for delivering care that cannot be delivered by staff.
The new restriction applies to all licensed supportive living, long-term care and other continuing care facilities in Alberta. It also applies to all residential addiction treatment operators licensed under the Mental Health Services Protection Act.
Family, friends and religious leaders will still be allowed to visit a resident who is dying. In these cases, only one visitor can enter at a time and they cannot interact with any other residents while in the building.
Exceptions will also be made if an essential visitor is needed to provide specialized care for a resident.

Hospital parking fees suspended

Albertans will no longer have to pay for parking at any of the province’s hospitals.
The Government of Alberta is directing Alberta Health Services to temporarily suspend parking fees for health-care workers and the public during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Free parking began April 3.

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