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Alberta plans to implement new supports and incentives for businesses that opt ​​for the vaccine passport program, including a one-time $ 2,000 grant, higher fines for people who harass staff who enforce COVID-19 rules, and legal protections for the employers who require their staff to be vaccinated.

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The changes are intended to help companies participate in the restriction waiver program which, by requiring proof of vaccination, is paying off as part of the province’s efforts to increase vaccination rates, Prime Minister Jason said. Kenney at a press conference Thursday.

“The bottom line is this: Vaccines are essential to prevent a collapse in our health care system and even more preventable deaths, and we are doing everything we can to vaccinate as many Albertans as possible,” he said.

“The waiver program is another part of these efforts and it is paying real dividends. That’s why we are making it easy to use, helping businesses use the program, and protecting Alberta businesses and workers who have implemented this program. “

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Small and medium-sized businesses that require clients to be vaccinated, show a negative COVID-19 test, or a medical exemption, can apply for a one-time $ 2,000 grant intended to offset costs within the next four to six weeks.

The upcoming new law protecting employers who require staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is intended to ease your concerns about potential legal issues, Labor, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer said.

“That is why we are moving forward on this legislation, to provide absolute certainty that they can implement a vaccine mandate for their workers, as well as implement the program (vaccine passport) without worrying about frivolous lawsuits,” he said.

Fines for violating health orders, including mistreatment of workers who are enforcing them, will also be increased to $ 4,000 from $ 2,000. The government is also allocating $ 1 million for industry associations to develop or acquire workplace safety training for staff to handle challenging situations that may arise when enforcing the rules.

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Schweitzer said increasing fines is meant to prevent workers facing the public from being harassed, such as in cases where people don’t want to show identification, which is “completely unacceptable and we want to send a strong signal that that kind of behavior will not be like that. ” tolerated in Alberta. “

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The rate of COVID-19 vaccinations has recently stabilized after seeing an increase after the restriction waiver program and new COVID-19 rules were announced.

1,254 cases, 13 deaths

Another 1,254 COVID-19 cases were reported in Alberta on Thursday, and 13 more people have died, Medical Director of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said at the press conference.

The positivity rate was around eight percent, the fourth day in a row below 10 percent, which, according to Hinshaw, is encouraging news.

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“But it is too early to declare victory. This weekend presents a significant risk … to keep the numbers low, we need all Albertans to have a safe Thanksgiving. “

By Thursday, the number of people hospitalized for the disease rose by nine to 1,083, including 248 in the ICU, an increase of one. The Edmonton Zone had the most in the ICU with 109.

Active cases were reduced to 18,411. But Alberta still leads the country in active cases, reporting almost three times more than BC, the province with the second most active infection. There were 4,304 and 4,539 active cases in the Edmonton and Calgary areas, respectively.

Schools will not move online

As of Thursday, there were COVID-19 alerts or outbreaks in 751 schools, and 52 of those had outbreaks, Hinshaw said.

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There were 835 schools with alerts or outbreaks in May when students switched to studying online, but the prime minister said similar action is unlikely now.

Last spring’s move was not due to the virus spreading in classrooms or making children sick, but due to staffing problems with many isolated teachers, Kenney said.

“What is different now? Vaccination, ”he said. “I think it’s fair to assume that more than 90 percent of teachers and school staff are vaccinated.”

Hinshaw said existing health rules are slowing the spread of the disease, even in school-age children, but if there was “significant transmission,” they can consider it.

When Health Minister Jason Copping was asked about how the government is preparing to get vaccines approved for younger children, he said the plans are still in the works, but could be distributed in schools.

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Starting next Tuesday, schools will begin notifying parents if a child was exposed at school and some districts will have rapid tests available. Information on outbreaks and cases is now also reported online.

Doctors ask for mandatory vaccinations

Meanwhile, the Alberta Medical Association is asking the government to do Mandatory vaccinations for all public social gatherings, jobs where groups of people work together, and to attend school in person for children who can be vaccinated.

He also called for the opportunity for more health professionals to provide policy advice to the government amid the pandemic.

Last month, the group also called for a firewall lockdown, which could target places like bars, nightclubs and indoor dining, or set strict capacity limits.

When asked if an abrupt closure was necessary, Kenney said cases are moving in the right direction and new rules introduced last month, particularly around indoor social gatherings, are having an impact, but they will consider more. measurements if necessary.

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Reference-edmontonjournal.com

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