Tag: Millions

Anchorage Assembly directs millions to Health Department for winter homeless sheltering

The Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday redirected millions of dollars toward sheltering homeless residents during the upcoming winter and to local housing efforts.

Members also unanimously approved a resolution laying initial groundwork for the possible use of a recently vacated city office building. The resolution asks that Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration present details to the Housing and Homelessness Committee on Sept. 20 regarding possible use of the former Solid Waste Services administrative building at its old Central Transfer Station site in Midtown as a congregate shelter, warming area or navigation center.

The funding measure, passed in a 9-2 vote, directed about $4.1 million to the Anchorage Health Department to cover shelter beginning in mid-October. Assembly members Kevin Cross and Scott Myers voted against it. Member Meg Zaletel did not participate in the vote.

The measure comes as the city hurries to prepare for sheltering at least 400 to 450 people who are living outside this summer. Private shelters in the city are largely full. Hundreds of people are living in large encampments and in dozens of smaller camps dotting the city’s green spaces and public lands. City plans so far have focused largely on sheltering people in hotel rooms, though officials have said the city needs at least one congregate shelter.

In a last-minute change Tuesday night, members also directed $1.3 million to the nonprofit Anchorage Housing and Affordable Land Trust to purchase vacant and abandoned properties to renovate and turn into housing for people who have been experiencing homelessness.

Jason Bockenstedt, executive director of the trust, said the housing project is contingent on dollar-for-dollar matching funds. The full $2.6 million would allow the trust to open 30 to 40 units of housing. Those

Federal government struggling to get rid of millions of extra COVID-19 rapid tests

The federal government is sitting on a stockpile of 39 million extra rapid tests for COVID-19 and is struggling to get rid of them without chucking them in the trash, an internal Health Canada memo shows.

As the Omicron variant of the virus began to tear across Canada at the end of 2021, the government rapidly bought up rapid antigen tests, distributing most of them to the provinces so people could swab themselves for the virus at home. 

Now that far fewer people are subjecting themselves to the brain-tickling sensation of a COVID-19 test outside of hospitals and other health-care settings, the government appears to have more than it knows what to do with.

“Acknowledging the volumes of tests in play and the challenge of divesting such quantity over a time-bound period, it is expected that disposal of expired tests would be required,” staff wrote to Health Canada’s deputy minister in a memo signed March 25.

The memo was obtained through federal access-to-information laws. 

Rapid tests were considered both important and valuable in early 2022, as regular test capacity was reserved only for certain cases in most provinces. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canada has spent roughly $5 billion on rapid tests. 

Even after the initial rise in Omicron infections settled down, the government continued to accumulate tests in case the country was hit with another large wave of infections.

That wave never came, and as public health restrictions were gradually lifted, the government found itself with a stockpile of some 93 million tests as of March 21.

By July 25, the store of tests was still sitting at over 90 million, Health Canada said in a statement.

Provinces and territories now have enough supply of their own to give eight tests to each Canadian. The federal health department

Millions to go to health-care system as Manitoba incentivizes physician recruitment – Winnipeg

Manitoba is investing millions of dollars in initiatives to retain physicians and improve the workplace environment.

The investment comes on the heels of a recruitment push, as the province seeks to integrate more staff into its health-care system. Announced on May 11, the provincial government will put $13 million toward reimbursing physicians for their licensure fees over the next two years.

An additional $350,000 will be used to provide doctors access to a secure messaging platform. Named Cortext, the platform aims to connect staff in collaborating on diagnostic and treatment decisions faster.

It is expected to roll out later this month.

Health Minister Audrey Gordon said the investments are part of a broader, overall commitment to recruit and train more health-care professionals.

“We are reimbursing physicians for their annual professional licensing fees and providing them with the technology they need to create a more balanced work environment helps to make Manitoba a more competitive place to practise,” said Gordon.

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Gordon noted that nurses and allied health-care professionals are also eligible for the reimbursement of their annual professional licensing fees.

Commenting on the province’s investments, Doctors Manitoba said it was encouraging. President Dr. Candace Bradshaw said the agency is looking forward to the implementation of additional resources.

“These steps act on some of our recommendations to the province to tackle Manitoba’s physician shortage, including from the rural health summit we co-hosted with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce last year,” said Bradshaw. “We look forward to additional resources to support and expand Manitoba’s physician complement, which will result in better access to medical care for Manitobans.”

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