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Vancouver Coastal Health shirks B.C.'s policy to publish COVID-19 school exposure events –



Now that class is back in session, new cases of COVID-19 have begun to pop up at schools across the province.

To find out which schools have reported exposure events, all you have to do is go to your region’s public health website, where a list is regularly updated.

Unless you live in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

That’s because Vancouver Coastal Health has not been following the same policy for notifying the public when there’s a COVID-19 exposure event within a school. Vancouver Coastal Health covers Vancouver, Richmond, the North Shore and Coast Garibaldi, Sea-to-Sky, Sunshine Coast, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.

The other health authorities — Interior Health, Island Health, Fraser Health and Northern Health — have all stated they will update their online school exposures list with information on possible exposures within schools.

“We are providing this information so school staff, students and parents can be assured that public health is following up in their community and exposure risks are being mitigated to the best of our ability,” the four authorities say on their individual websites.

Vancouver Coastal Health has the same information written on its school exposures page, but it is currently showing no exposure events, even though it confirmed to CBC News it has seen cases in schools.

“We are aware of and will continue to see cases of COVID-19 occurring in staff and students,” the authority wrote Sunday in an email.

Provincewide approach

At her Monday COVID-19 health update, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there is one provincewide publication approach for COVID-19 exposures in the province. However, she believes there has been a miscommunication with her colleagues at Vancouver Coastal Health.

“We expect that Vancouver Coastal would adhere to what everyone else is doing, as well as our provincial standard,” she said.

Cases in schools

Since students returned to classrooms about two weeks ago, there have been at least 20 COVID-19 exposures reported by health authorities and schools.

There have also been unconfirmed reports of cases at two West Vancouver schools, one Vancouver school and one Richmond school, all within the Vancouver Coastal Health region — but you won’t find that information listed on their website.

A physical distancing sign is pictured outside of Hastings Elementary prior to the first day of school Vancouver, British Columbia on Wednesday, September 2, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Vancouver Coastal Health said in a statement that when it comes to confirmed cases in schools or other settings, it notifies all people exposed in the most direct manner.

“This is more effective than public notifications and respects patient confidentiality,” it wrote in a statement.

“When we aren’t able to directly reach all people who may have been exposed in a timely manner, we use other means, including a letter or public notification.”

Vancouver district PAC calls for transparency

But that’s not sitting right with all families in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

“I want to see it posted, sooner rather than later,” said Gordon Lau, chair of the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council.

Lau, who has two children in Vancouver’s public education system, says he has no doubt that VCH is properly notifying everyone directly exposed. But he says it’s important that the information is posted to help build public trust in the health authority.

As well, he says it allows parents to stay informed.

“By allowing parents to see what is happening at the district level, we can better see what’s happening in the big picture and assess for our own families what the level of risk is in our community,” he said.

“When we see the absence of information on VCH’s website it is honestly disappointing and we are unable to do that assessment and understand exactly what is happening in our schools and we’re unable to make the choices we need to make for our families.”

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Alberta exempts energy companies drilling wells or building pipelines from property taxes for three years – Edmonton Journal



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But the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) warned that the models under considerationwould cause “potentially devastating impacts on rural Alberta” and could cost rural municipalities more than $290 million in 2021 alone.

Allard said Monday the government would not be choosing any of those previous models.

Instead the government estimates its three-year plan will save the industry between $81 and $84 million.

“These measures are intended to provide much needed certainty to industry investors, municipalities, and other taxpayers for the next three years,” Allard said.

Meanwhile, Allard said the government will be startinga longer-term review of the system, including the ongoing issue of energy companies’ unpaid property taxes.

Tim McMillan, president and CEO of Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the property assessment values being used under the current system are not accurate so he doesn’t view the changes for the next three years as a tax break.

“This is an interim measure, as we’re working to correct a broader system issue that has built up over a very long period of time,” he said.

RMA president Al Kemmere said he hasn’t crunched the numbers yet to see exactly how much municipalities will lose under this plan but said it will be “nowhere near what we were looking at under the proposals.” He said he believes members of the association are willing to do their part.

Kemmere saidunpaid taxes continues to be his organization’s top priority and that some members are on the cusp of not being able to pay their bills. Municipalities estimate they are owed approximately $173-million.

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OPEC Is On The Brink Of A Crisis –



OPEC+ Is On The Brink Of A Crisis |

Cyril Widdershoven

Dr. Cyril Widdershoven is a long-time observer of the global energy market. Presently, he holds several advisory positions with international think tanks in the Middle…

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    The OPEC+ member countries are on the brink of a financial crisis if the latest assessments of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are accurate. The IMF has presented a very bleak outlook for an economic recovery in the Middle East and Central Asia, predicting a 4.1% contraction for the region. The main driving factor behind this bearish outlook is the IMF’s forecast that oil prices will remain in the $40 to $50 range in 2021. An extension of the current low oil price environment for another year would badly hurt oil and gas exporting countries, which includes all of the OPEC+ members. In its statement, the IMF predicted an economic contraction of 2.8% in April for the Middle East and Central Asia. IMF director Jihad Azour highlighted a large disparity in the projected economic loss of oil-importing and exporting countries, forecasting a negative 6.6% growth for oil-exporting countries, compared to a contraction of 1.3% for oil-importing countries. With many of the OPEC+ members being rentier-states, the need for higher oil prices cannot be overstated. A vast part of the government budgets of OPEC member states depends on oil and gas-related revenues. As such, all OPEC countries are looking at significant budget deficits this year, especially Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait. Former OPEC member Qatar is in a similar situation, even as it tries to mitigate the damage by increasing its LNG exports. As both oil and gas demand has seen significant demand destruction this year, prices for both have plunged. At present, Brent oil prices are still 40% below their pre-COVID levels.  There is little hope of a significant rise in prices any time soon as global oil and gas storage volumes are still at historically high levels, and demand looks set to dip again due to new COVID-related lockdowns and a further economic recession. The frequently cited breakeven price for the Saudi government budget is $80 per barrel, although Saudi government budget discussions seem to revolve around an oil price of $50. Iraq has also stated that it expects price levels of $50 per barrel for 2021. These optimistic predictions seem to be based solely on Chinese post-Covid economic figures, which have proven to be highly untrustworthy and don’t take into account the fact that global demand for Chinese products will also need to pick up. The impact of the second wave of COVID cases in Europe and America will undoubtedly hurt this demand for Chinese goods. Related: Biden’s $2 Trillion Energy Plan Could Crush Natural Gas

    But of all the parties that will suffer from low oil prices and the continued impact of a global pandemic, OPEC+ members will suffer the most. Some oil and gas producers were already in a dire financial situation before COVID, including Libya and Venezuela. The major oil market contango and storage glut has been largely overlooked recently, but it still very much exists. Reports of demand recovery in some markets appear to be more wishful thinking spurred by multi-trillion-dollar cash injections rather than a viable economic recovery. OPEC and the IEA both agree that demand is still fledgling, having both cut world oil demand forecasts. The IEA cut its outlook for worldwide oil demand to 91.7 million barrels per day this year while OPEC brought its forecast down to 90.2 million in 2020. OPEC reiterated that future cuts could still be made.

    With the financial environment outlined above, OPEC+ members can no longer afford to base their economic stability and future on hydrocarbons alone. Economic diversification has to be put in place, even if the effects won’t be felt for years. Government budget cuts are imminent and could destabilize the region if not done prudently. OPEC+ discussions on stabilizing the market should not be focused at present on price levels or market share only. The real question is how to create a market that is resilient enough to cope with Black Swan events without toppling the current ruling elite. Instability is not only increasing in the Arab producer regions, but also in Russia where sanctions and low oil prices are taking their toll.

    OPEC+ members cannot simply bet on the death of U.S. shale as it is an industry that has proven incredibly hard to kill over the years. U.S. shale will almost certainly reemerge, possibly in a different form, but it is reasonable to assume the sector itself is far from dead. Leaders in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Moscow, and Kuwait City now have to find a way to survive. With oil at $50 per barrel in 2021, some OPEC members will be in a real crisis. With that in mind, a conventional OPEC+ JMMC statement today or tomorrow will be seen by some as a white flag.

    By Cyril Widdershoven for

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      Stay Safe and Follow Public Health Advice This Halloween | Ontario Newsroom – Government of Ontario News



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