Publisher's Note

  • Publisher’s Note

    by C.K. Now that winter is over and spring had finally sprung, it’s time to spend more outdoors than indoor activities.  I’m  sure that even the pets we have wants to wonder around in this wonderful weather.  I just got a glimpse of the crocuses on our rock garden and a few perennials  coming back from [...]

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Report from the legislature

Report from the legislature thumbnail

Alberta Health Services launches overcapacity protocols

New province-wide overcapacity protocols aimed at reducing peak pressures in emergency departments (EDs) and other parts of the health system during periods of high patient volume launch Dec. 20.

The overcapacity protocols announced today respond directly to Alberta Health and Wellness Minister Gene Zwozdesky’s earlier requests and directives. They involve every AHS zone and all major hospitals across our province, including facilities in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray. They were developed last month following meetings involving more than 120 physicians, clinical leaders and administrative staff from across Alberta.

These protocols build on current practices by setting new targets that when reached, will trigger immediate actions to reduce emergency department wait times by improving the ability to move admitted patients out of emergency on an as-needed urgent basis to avoid critical over-capacity situations. Actions can be escalated up to the CEO level if impact on wait times is not timely. The protocols for each facility and zone in the province are similar, but have been customized to meet the needs of the population served. The intent is to approach emergency department pressures as a hospital, zone and system-wide issue.

The protocols free up care spaces for patients in emergency departments who require hospital admission. Patients might be asked to share a room; to move to a different room or facility; to receive ongoing care in the community; or to be admitted to a hospital unit and given a stretcher or chair in a temporary location. They are also part of a larger strategy to reduce emergency department and health system pressures and will evolve over time based on feedback from staff and physicians.

As Alberta moves forward, one of our Premier’s goals is to ensure that we have the best-performing publically funded health care system in Canada. This means reducing wait times in all areas, including emergency departments, enhancing access to high quality health services across our province and ensuring that Albertans receive the care they need, in the right place and at the right time. For more on our vision for a stronger Alberta, please visit http://www.premier.alberta.ca/plansinitiatives/priorities/index.cfm.

Alberta commits to study MS treatment

The Alberta government will fund an observational study on the safety and effects of venous procedures, including the ‘Zamboni Treatment’, for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). The government is also committing to fund clinical trials if and when it is safe and ethical to proceed.

The Alberta government will provide up to $1 million for the observational study, to be conducted by researchers from the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, and other experts. The government has also committed to fund future clinical trials pending the results of the observational study, other research that is already underway, confirmation that the procedure has been deemed safe, and receipt of ethics approval.

The goal of the observational study is to determine the safety and patient-reported impact of chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) treatment procedures. The information will be used to determine whether to move forward with future clinical trials and to determine the followup care needs of Albertans who have received treatment for CCSVI. The venous procedures are not approved for use in Canada.

The three-year observational study will begin in spring 2011. Albertans who have received treatment for CCSVI in another country, those who are scheduled to receive it and other Albertans with MS will be eligible to participate.

In conjunction with the study, a secure MS research website and database will be developed where Albertans can volunteer and consent to participate in the study, as well as report on treatment they have received.

Becoming the Best: Alberta’s 5-Year Health Action Plan, was announced on Nov. 30, and provides Albertans with clear direction on what they can expect from their health care system over the next 5 years. A copy of the plan is available at www.health.alberta.ca.

Western provinces unite to improve access to Asian markets

Energy ministers from Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan signed an agreement today that will help expand and strengthen Canada’s position as an energy powerhouse.

Arising from the New West Partnership created this spring, the Energy Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will combine and build on the existing strengths of all three provinces to expand the region’s energy sector–attracting new investment, stimulating job creation and strengthening the region’s economy. The three provinces will begin working immediately on a number of projects, including developing a joint strategy to target opportunities in Asia, and improving consultation with industry. These initial activities are expected to be completed within 90 days.

Longer-term projects under the Energy MOU are expected to include regulatory streamlining, continued promotion of the region’s energy goods and investment opportunities and acceleration of the development and use of green energy sources.

Signed in April 2010, the New West Partnership is a new and far-reaching partnership between the Governments of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The three provinces commit to ongoing collaboration on innovative ways to strengthen the economy of the West. The New West Partnership focuses on four areas key to economic growth in the West:  trade, international cooperation, innovation and procurement.

The New West Partnership brings energy to market through responsible growth and development. The agreement creates Canada’s largest interprovincial barrier-free trade and investment market and sees the three westernmost provinces work together in unprecedented ways to the benefit of workers, businesses and investors in all three provinces.

Changes to recycling program keep more tires from landfills

Alberta Environment and Alberta Recycling are making adjustments to the province’s tire recycling program. With the continued goal of keeping tires out of landfills, the program will be expanding to include industrial and off-road tires. Changes will better reflect the costs of collecting, recycling and processing tires, and help sustain the tire recycling program.

There is no increase to the existing fee on car, pickup truck, and other light-duty vehicle tires, which represent approximately 80 per cent of the tires in Alberta. As a result, the average Albertan consumer is not directly affected by the changes.

Until 2006, the technology to process industrial and off-road tires was not widely available. Since then, with the introduction of new technology, 22,000 tonnes of off-road tires have been processed.

Recycling fees are a fraction of the cost of the tires. For example, the typical maximum cost of medium off-road tires with rim sizes between 24 and 33 inches can be as much as $6,000 per tire, while the recycling fee will be $100 per tire.

Changes to the environmental fees will come into effect on April 1, 2011.

Each year, more than four million tires are collected for recycling from municipal landfills and tire and vehicle dealers. These tires are processed and made into recycled material and products used in Alberta, Canada, the U.S. and overseas. More than 60 million tires have been recycled since the program began in 1992.

As the MLA for Edmonton MillWoods, I am always available to assist . If you have any questions or concerns regarding the emergency department overcapacity protocols, MS treatment research funding, the New West Partnership Energy Memorandum of Understanding, changes to Alberta’s tire recycling program, or any other matter, I can be reached in my constituency office at #218; 4128A-97 Street, or in my Legislature office at (780) 422-9299 or through email at edmonton.millwoods@assembly.ab.ca









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