Hey folks,

It’s Jeremy (@JeremyApprl1025). As promised, I’m back today for another roundup of the day’s top Canadian news stories. I would also like to take this opportunity to announce that I have defeated Ganon in Breath of the Wild, which is by far the most exciting thing I’ve done in a while. 

Anyways, today we’ve got: disciplinary measures taken against Alberta healthcare workers who participated in an illegal walkout to protest the government eliminating thousands of hospital jobs in the midst of COVID; the prime minister’s first meeting with the new United States president; the toll COVID-19’s second wave has taken on inmates in federal prisons; the leader of a Canadian neo-Nazi party getting arrested for alleged hate crimes. 

Without further ado: 

Nearly 800 Alberta Healthcare Workers Disciplined For Participating In Wildcat Strike

In October 2020, thousands of healthcare workers across Alberta participated in a single-day wildcat strike to protest the United Conservative government’s decision to eliminate thousands of hospital jobs during a pandemic. 

According to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), which represents many of them, 771 employees are grieving letters of reprimand they received for their participation in the walkout on October 26, while another 27 workers have filed grievances for suspensions they received, some of which lasted upwards of five days. 

And there are likely more workers who were disciplined but not appealing, the union says. 

“(Alberta Health Services) has created as many grievances from one day of protest as they would normally face in two years from AUPE,” said Bonnie Gostola, the union’s vice-president.

On the upside, no workers were fired for participating in the wildcat strike, which the Alberta Labour Relations Board deemed illegal. 

The government says it also reported eight nurses to the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta. If the college decides to act, it could limit the nurses’ ability to work in the field.

Jason Foster, an associate professor of human resources and labour relations at Athabasca University, says disciplining that number of workers is unprecedented. 

Typically, after a wildcat strike the employer punishes suspected ringleaders, or the union itself. 

“When I first saw the number, it was —  my jaw hit the desk. That’s astounding,” Foster said, adding that the government is clearly trying to send a message to other public sector unions not to attempt similar actions in the future. 

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley criticized the “incredible level of hypocrisy” of the government disciplining striking healthcare workers and not those who flout COVID-19 restrictions. 

Notley said, “We can rain discipline down on front-line health-care workers who react to being told they were about to be fired after being on the front line for months in the middle of a pandemic. But Jason Kenney cannot discipline … those small groups of Albertans who are literally putting their neighbours and their communities at risk.”

DIG DEEPER: Alberta Is Closer Than Ever To A General Strike

Trudeau, Biden Meet (Digitally) For The First Time

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had his first face-to-face meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden yesterday. They previously spoke over the phone when Biden announced he was cancelling the permits for the Keystone XL pipeline that would have brought oil from Alberta’s tar sands to Gulf coast refineries. 
  • “The United States has no closer friend than Canada. That’s why you were my first call as president, my first bilateral meeting,” said Biden at the virtual meeting that was short on substance. 
  • The topics of their discussion included COVID-19, of course, and the imprisonment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in China. They also addressed climate change and racism. 

COVID Cases More Than Doubled In Federal Prisons During Second Wave

  • According to a report from Canada’s prison ombudsman, new COVID-19 cases reached 880 at a dozen correctional institutions from November through January, compared with 361 cases at six institutions in the pandemic’s initial wave. 
  • About 70 per cent of the more recent rash of cases occurred at the country’s two largest prisons — Saskatchewan Penitentiary and Manitoba’s Stony Mountain Institution — which disproportionately affected Indigenous inmates. 
  • The report calls on Correctional Service Canada to prioritize the early release of older inmates and those with underlying health issues, in addition to allowing some prisoners to do their correctional programs in the community rather than behind bars. 
  • From the Canadian Press: More broadly, the ombudsman asked Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to consider closing aging, costly penitentiaries in favour of rehabilitation outside prison walls. “Beyond the impacts of COVID-19, a more rigorous, humane and cost-effective community-based approach to corrections is long overdue,” the report said.
  • The Correctional Service says it has vaccinated about 600 older and medically-compromised inmates and intends to inoculate the remaining 12,500 prisoners in the spring. 

ICYMI: Leader Of Canadian Neo-Nazi Party Arrested For Promoting Hate

Travis Patron, the leader of the neo-Nazi Canadian Nationalist Party (CNP), was arrested in Carlyle, Sask., last week for wilfully promoting hatred against Jewish people. This is the first time the leader of an officially-registered Canadian political party has been charged with a crime. 

The charges against Patron, 29, stem from a 2019 video on social media called “Beware the Parasitic Tribe,” which cast Jews as “swindlers” and “snakes,” who “infiltrate the media […] hijack the central bank, and […] infect the body politic like a parasite.”

In case his intentions weren’t clear enough, Patron called on supporters to “remove these people, once-and-for-all, from our country.”

Via Haaretz: CNP is registered with Elections Canada as a political party that can run candidates in an election, but it won’t get federal political party status until it has elected members of Parliament. That seems unlikely in the near future since its three candidates in 2019 garnered only a few hundred votes.

The maximum sentence for wilfully promoting hatred is two years in prison. 

DIG DEEPER: Surprise! Some Alberta Wexit Bros Are Also Nazis

That’s it for your February 24 Passage Daily. Your boy Robert Hiltz will be back tomorrow with more news and analysis from an unapologetically left perspective. 

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