May 28th, 2024

In the news today: First Nations people more likely to leave ER: data

By The Canadian Press on April 22, 2024.

A treatment room in the emergency department at a hospital is pictured in Calgary on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. Researchers say First Nations patients are more likely to leave Alberta emergency departments before receiving care than non-Indigenous patients. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed on what you need to know today…

First Nations patients more likely to leave ER without care, study says

Researchers say First Nations patients are more likely to leave Alberta emergency departments before receiving care than non-Indigenous patients.

They say a new study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows that anti-Indigenous racism is part of the reason why.

Lead author Patrick McLane of the University of Alberta says provincial data from 2012 to 2017 showed 6.8 per cent of First Nations patients left emergency departments before being seen, or against medical advice.

That’s compared to just 3.7 per cent of non-First Nations patients.

McLane says after controlling for variables such as other patient demographics, geography or type of diagnosis, First Nations status was the only apparent explanation for the difference.

Here’s what else we’re watching …

Passenger fees fuel profits – and travellers’ ire

The money you pay for checked bags, seating upgrades and on-board snacks makes up a growing share of airline revenue, but it’s up for debate whether the charges amount to junk fees or greater choice for travellers.

Numbers from airline consulting firm IdeaWorksCompany show that Air Canada took in two billion dollars in ancillary revenue in 2022, up from 1.3 billion five years earlier.

WestJet recently introduced a new service tier where economy-class passengers can pay for extra legroom, early access to overhead bins and a free alcoholic drink.

Popularized by budget carriers more than 15 years ago and heavily relied on by Canadian players such as Flair Airlines, ancillary revenue is increasingly critical to the industry, helping insulate companies from fluctuations in fuel price and competition.

The federal government has pledged to crack down on “junk fees” charged by carriers, prompting the National Airlines Council of Canada to demand greater clarity from Ottawa and arguing that fees give customers greater flexibility.

Critics question falling cellphone price claims

As the federal government touts measures meant to curb the cost of Canadians’ cellphone bills, some say there is a disconnect between what consumers are paying and the rhetoric surrounding price declines.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau drew the ire of social media users when he posted on X that his government had cut the cost of cellphone plans in half since 2019, “in part by increasing competition.”

Trudeau was promoting a plan in last week’s federal budget, which cited Statistics Canada data from December 2023 that showed cellphone plan costs declined by 50 per cent since December 2018.

But many consumers say they don’t feel as though they pay less than they were five years ago.

Some say it’s clear evidence of competition in the marketplace and that consumers are getting more bang for their buck through new offers, such as bigger data packages, international roaming perks, or voice-to-text voice mail services.

Others argue that while customers are paying less per gigabyte of data, those deals might be influencing people to purchase bigger data plans than necessary.

Canadian children languish in Syrian camp: lawyer

A Toronto lawyer says five Canadian children are languishing in a squalid detention camp in Syria after Ottawa denied their mothers permission to come to Canada.

The development is the latest setback for Canadians among the many foreign nationals in ramshackle centres set up after the war-ravaged region was wrested from militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Lawyer Asiya Hirji says she applied for temporary resident permits on behalf of two women with Canadian children in al-Roj camp in February 2023 and was told last month they had been refused on security grounds.

Neither mother is a Canadian citizen, and the Canadian fathers of the children are no longer in the families’ lives.

Alberta NDP leadership deadline looms

It’s deadline day for anyone seeking to buy a membership to pick the next leader of Alberta’s Official NDP Opposition.

Members have until midnight to buy a membership ahead of the June 22 vote to pick a replacement for Rachel Notley.

There are five candidates, including party stalwarts Kathleen Ganley and Sarah Hoffman, but political observers say it appears the race is Naheed Nenshi’s to lose.

Nenshi, the former three-term Calgary mayor, has been drawing hundreds to party events, and the party says it will release updated membership numbers next month but is expecting record sales.

Big Alberta ranch gets protection from development

An agreement to protect a sprawling ranch in southern Alberta from development is the largest of its kind in the country, the Nature Conservancy of Canada says, and will allow the family that owns it to continue raising cattle there.

The 22,000-hectare McIntyre Ranch was founded south of Lethbridge, Alta., in 1894 by William McIntyre and it remained in his family until his son, Billy, died in 1947.

A longtime family friend and employee, Ralph Thrall, bought the property after Billy’s death and the Thrall family continues to own and operate it today.

The agreement, formally announced Monday in recognition of Earth Day, is a partnership between the Thrall family, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Ducks Unlimited that gives both organizations conservation easements on the property in perpetuity to prevent it from future development, crop planting, or even wind and solar farms.

In return, Thrall says his family continues to own the property while getting a financial boost for their ranching business.

The Nature Conservancy says McIntyre Ranch contains some of Canada’s most significant uninterrupted blocks of rough fescue grasslands and over 1,000 hectares of wetlands which it says support an abundance of wildlife. It also provides carbon storage and water filtration.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2024.

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