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Sask. monkeypox response questioned at international conference in Montreal –



Saskatchewan’s track record for dealing with infectious diseases has been called into question on the international stage.

The 24th International AIDS Conference was held in Montreal last week. The world’s increasing number of monkeypox outbreaks became a topic of discussion, given the spread of cases in recent months.

One researcher expressed concern that some regions do not take such outbreaks seriously enough, singling out Saskatchewan in the process.


“We know that in Saskatchewan there’s been many challenges, both with HIV and sexually transmitted infections, especially among vulnerable populations including Indigenous communities,” said Marina Klein, research director and professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases and chronic viral illnesses service at McGill University in Montreal.

While Saskatchewan has only reported two cases of monkeypox, both in July, there have been more than 19,000 cases reported in 78 countries in the last several months.

Comparisons have been made to HIV because the disease is most easily transmitted through prolonged face-to-face or sexual contact. The majority of the cases reported have been among men who have sex with other men.

Saskatchewan has seen elevated HIV transmission rates for years, often having the highest rates in Canada.

There were a record-breaking 237 diagnoses in 2021, an increase of nearly 30 per cent from the previous year and more than double the national average.

The province also struggles with other sexually transmitted infections.

For example, Saskatchewan’s rate of syphilis cases grew by 891 per cent from 2016 to 2020, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, also two to three times higher than the national rate. Much of those increases are seen in vulnerable communities, including among First Nations.

Saskatoon’s Prairie Harm Reduction has begun providing information to clients about the risks and cautions associated with monkeypox.

Kayla DeMong, the executive director, says groups such as hers have reason to be concerned as any easily spread disease or sickness is worrisome to agencies that work with the vulnerable in Saskatchewan.

“It’s hard to put a lot of faith in our province when we’ve consistently seen some massive gaps when it comes to sufficient planning for health pandemics and endemics in vulnerable populations,” she said.

Kayla DeMong, executive director at Prairie Harm Reduction, says groups such as hers have reason to be concerned because they work with the vulnerable. (Submitted by Kayla DeMong)

She chalks that up to a lack of consideration from those who lead the fight to contain these diseases.

“Often when plans are made, they’re not made [with] vulnerable populations in mind,” she said. “They’re made for a general population.”

She noted that numerous Saskatoon-based organizations that work with vulnerable people meet regularly to discuss the challenges facing their clients, including monkeypox. 

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry will only say the risk of catching the disease is low in Saskatchewan, and that the province is keeping a close eye on cases.

“The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health is working with the Public Health Agency of Canada to investigate all reports of potential cases of monkeypox in Saskatchewan. Public health authorities and clinicians are advised to be vigilant and to consider monkeypox in their differential diagnosis of patients presenting with unusual rash, plus other clinical signs consistent with monkeypox,” a written statement provided by the ministry reads. 

The statement also indicates that information is being disseminated. 

“Public awareness and education is being provided through the Government of Saskatchewan website, social media and various outreach efforts. The Saskatchewan Health Authority is currently in the midst of doing outreach work with identified high risk groups. The Ministry of Health is also working with various community organizations and businesses (food banks, gyms, clubs, etc.) to better inform the public about potential risks.”

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The Key Role of Trustworthy Babysitters in Balancing Work and Family Life




Are you a busy parent in constant pursuit of the elusive work-life balance? We know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging it can be to juggle professional commitments while still having quality time with your children.

That’s why we’re here to discuss an essential ingredient that unlocks the secret to harmony: trustworthy babysitters.

What Characteristics Parents Should Look for When Choosing a Babysitter?

Parents should look for a few key characteristics when choosing a babysitter. A good babysitter should be patient, responsible, and reliable. They should also be comfortable with children and have prior experience caring for them.

Besides, the babysitter must be able to communicate effectively and follow directions well. The babysitter should be someone the parents can trust to care for their children in their absence.


Strategies for Parents to Establish Reasonable Anticipations

As a parent, finding babysitters you can trust to care for your children is vital. However, it is also important to establish reasonable expectations for your babysitters.

Some tips for establishing reasonable expectations for babysitters include:

  1. Set clear expectations: Sit down with your babysitter to discuss bedtime routines, dietary preferences, and any necessary medications.
  2. Allow flexibility: While clarity is vital, also provide room for your babysitter to use their judgment and feel comfortable in their role.
  3. Trust their expertise: Once expectations are set, trust your babysitter’s judgment as a professional caregiver to avoid undermining their authority and creating discomfort in their role.

Determining a Fair Payment Plan

Determine your babysitting budget, factoring in your income and family size, while researching local rates. Account for the babysitter’s experience and qualifications, giving preference to those recommended by trusted sources.

Engage in open negotiations with your chosen babysitter. This aims to find a mutually agreeable arrangement that accommodates both your budget and their needs.

Tips on Finding Trustworthy and Compassionate Caregivers

When seeking a caregiver for your child, to ensure you find the right fit:

  • Seek recommendations from trusted sources such as friends, family, and neighbours who may have suggestions for caregivers in your area.
  • Conduct online research to review feedback and check references to gauge candidates’ qualifications and experience.
  • Request references and contact details from the caregivers’ previous employers or families they have worked with.
  • Trust your instincts and ensure you feel at ease with the caregiver, ensuring they are someone you can entrust with your child’s well-being.


Being able to trust your babysitter means you can have peace of mind knowing your child is safe and cared for.

Spending some time researching online reviews or asking friends and family for recommendations will help you find the perfect fit so you can feel more at ease while juggling work commitments in today’s hectic world.

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Facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home



THUNDER BAY — St. Joseph’s Care Group and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit have declared a facility-wide COVID-19 outbreak at Bethammi Nursing Home, part of the St. Joseph’s Heritage complex on Carrie Street near Red River Road.

The respiratory outbreak at the 112-bed facility was declared effective Sept. 15 but only announced publicly on Monday.

No details were provided with regard to the number of people affected to date.

Restrictions are now in place for admissions, transfers, discharges, social activities and visitation until further notice.




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Alberta COVID hospitalizations up 73% since July: health minister



Three weeks after the start of the school year, Alberta’s health minister provided an update on the spread of airborne viruses in the province.

Adriana LaGrange also said more information about flu and next-generation COVID-19 vaccines will soon be released.

“Now that we will be spending more time indoors, we need to make doubly sure we are following proper hygiene protocols like handwashing and staying home when sick,” LaGrange said. “It also means respecting those who choose to wear a mask.”


Global News previously reported that influenza vaccines will be available on Oct. 16 with the new Moderna vaccine formulated to target the XBB.1.5 variant likely to be available at around the same time. On Sept. 12, Health Canada approved the use of the Moderna vaccine.

“More information on immunizations against respiratory viruses including influenza and COVID-19 will be available shortly,” the health minister said.

LaGrange said there have been 28 cases of influenza and five lab-confirmed cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) since Aug. 28.

“This is consistent activity for this time of the year,” the health minister said in a statement.

The end of August or the beginning of September has typically marked the beginning of flu season for provincial health authorities.

LaGrange also provided an update on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

From Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, there were a total 92 new hospitalizations and three ICU admissions, bringing the total to 417 in hospital and seven in ICU, a 73 per cent increase of COVID hospitalizations from the last reported info.

On July 24 – the last update to the province’s COVID data dashboard – there were only 242 in hospital.

“Sadly, five Albertans died during that period due to COVID-19,” LaGrange said.

LaGrange said the reporting dashboard is being refreshed to include RSV, influenza and COVID-19 data, work that was originally expected to be completed on Aug. 30. The latest data on the province’s influenza statistics dashboard is dated July 22.

“This work is currently underway and will be available in the coming weeks,” LaGrange said.

She said data for the dates between July 24 and Aug. 27 will be available when the new dashboard goes online.

Amid more hospitals continent-wide reinstating masking requirements in the face of increased hospitalizations, the health minister made no mention of any such moves for Alberta hospitals. Acute care COVID-19 outbreaks in Alberta jumped from Sept. 5 to 12, with 146 per cent more healthcare workers and 55 per cent more patients testing positive for COVID.

LaGrange stressed the “collective responsibility” to prevent the spread of airborne viruses like COVID and influenza.

“As a mother and grandmother, I understand the anxiety that comes with sending your children back to school. I want to reassure you that Alberta’s government has the health and well-being of all young Albertans top of mind,” the health minister said.

–with files from Meghan Cobb, Global News



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