Canadian Fedwatch! News Across the Nation

The Missing Articles

You might be wondering where Fed-Watch has been the last couple of weeks. Here at home, my computer finally gave up after six years of hard service. Along with stricter deadlines being imposed by our editor (I’m always notoriously late with these things) this means that I simply haven’t been able to get the articles in on time. To make up for that, I’m going to run through a few of the highlights of the last couple of weeks and try to get ahead for the next week. We’ll see how well this approach works out.

Alberta Students get Real-Time Loan Information

A couple of weeks ago, the Alberta Government announced that Alberta Students’ Finance applicants could now apply online and get back a result instantly telling them how much they’ll be receiving through student loans. The process has taken over 11 million dollars and four years to put into place. Of course, this still doesn’t address the problems with getting the paperwork to the right office, getting it processed there and getting into your course, but at least it’s a start.

Reference: Alberta Advanced Education (2005, July 18). Real-time, post-secondary student loan information only a click away: Students can now see immediate results of their funding applications. Retrieved from
http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200507/1844468FB3150-FEEB-4F84-A7BC1B7E5D2CC606.html

Third Way for Alberta Health Care

The Alberta Government has also announced it is in the planning stages of developing its “Third Way” for tackling health care. Most of the ideas in its current development seem reasonable to me, except for the one where people can decide to pay extra for “extra” medical benefits beyond what is medically necessary. The trick here is that this really does open the way for a two-tiered health care system because it all rests on what is defined as medically necessary. After all, once the way is opened, it could just as easily be decided that all that’s “medically necessary” to treat a bad knee is a peg-leg. For those that want to pay extra, however, their options might include the “special” knee surgery.

Not that I’m suggesting that’s what will happen, but any type of system that differentiates between the best care possible and the minimum care required runs that type of risk.

Reference: Alberta Health and Wellness (2005, July 28). Getting on with better health care. Retrieved from http://www.health.gov.ab.ca/about/reform/getting.html

$6 Million for Low Income Nova Scotia Students

In conjunction with the Millenium Scholarship Foundation, Nova Scotia is offering six million dollars to low-income Nova Scotia students. This money comes in the form of scholarships ranging from $500 to $2,500 to address students needs when financial aid does not meet their total required expenses for school. As well, eligible students will receive $1,000 to be applied against their student loan debt.

Reference: Nova Scotia Education (2005, July 19). $6 Million for low-income Nova Scotia students. Retrieved from http://www.gov.ns.ca/news/details.asp?id=20050719003

Ontario Consumers Get New Protections

The Ontario government has introduced some significant new consumer protection laws. These laws make it easier for consumers buying things that typically use high-pressure sales techniques (such as fitness clubs, time-shares, etc.) to cancel their purchase after the fact. It also enforces reasonably accurate estimates by home renovation companies, a protection sorely needed because once a person’s house is torn apart, it’s easy for a renovation company to force the owner to pay significantly higher costs than the amount that was first agreed on. After all, a person can not leave their house partially taken apart for very long. Another notable protection is that of negative option billing, where customers who receive goods or services that they did not request can not be made to pay for them. I have to wonder what effect this particular protection will have with respect to satellite television signals.

The final aspect of these new protections is that they are applicable to business done online, as well as by more traditional means. Personally, I am not really sure why the distinction needs to be made. In my mind, a contract is a contract, regardless of whether it was sent by mail or e-mail. Simply because something is done on the Internet does not make it significantly different from being done in other mediums.

Reference: Ontario Government Services (2005, July 20). McGuinty government strengthens consumer protection: Sweeping legislation creates new rights for consumers. Retrieved from
http://ogov.newswire.ca/ontario/GPOE/2005/07/20/c3031.html?lmatch=&lang=_e.html

September 1st is Alberta’s Birthday Bash

With publically sponsored parties going on simultaneously in ten locations across the province, the Alberta government wants to make sure the Centennial celebration doesn’t just die out with a whimper. Some of the highlights include simultaneous firework displays across the province, a live broadcast on Canadian Learning Television and Access for the evening performances, live feed over the Internet all day, free food in a number of the locations, as well as local Alberta entertainment including Jann Arden, Paul Brandt, Kurt Browning, and a selection of other semi-celebreties. Surprisingly, the little band from Hanna, Nickleback, notable for showing up in nearly anything that will have them, is not on the list.

Other things that might be of interest are the re-opening of the Jubilee Auditoriums in both Edmonton and Calgary for a gala celebration. Closed for over a year now for extensive renovations, a limited number of free tickets to the gala will be available on a first-come, first-served basis from Ticketmaster starting on August 17th.

For the basic information, check out the news release. For more detailed information, you can go to the Alberta Centennial Website at http://www.albertacentennial.ca.

Reference: Alberta 2005 Centennial Initiative (2005, July 28). Get ready for the party of the century! Alberta’s 100th birthday celebrations heat up for September 1st. Retrieved on http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200507/18504D3206D3B-6AD2-4987-8DD7B3DB5D82EAB0.html

Ontario Gives Bursaries for Northern Health Students

Healthcare is always a difficult issue, especially for remote and rural areas of Canada. There’s simply fewer people interested in living outside of the major cities, a perspective common to all professions. However, that doesn’t mean that the need for certain professions diminishes. In Ontario, they’re hoping to address the shortage of northern and rural health care workers by offering bursaries applicable only to those who live in those remote areas and study at northern universities.

“Studies have shown”, they say, “that students who come from and train in rural settings are more likely to become rural physicians.” Maybe it’s the Albertan in me, but I prefer things be addressed a little more directly. While more bursaries certainly are welcome, if the government wants to make this an assured win-win scenario, they should instead ask the students they’re helping to agree to work in a rural community for a period of time following graduation. That way, students could complete their studies while utilizing the best facilities, or in the manner that worked the best for them (say by distance education). With this scenario, the government would be assured of gaining its rural doctors following their graduation.

Reference: Ontario Northern Development and Mines (2005, July 26). McGuinty government helps northwestern students attend school of medicine. Retrieved from
http://ogov.newswire.ca/ontario/GPOE/2005/07/26/c4214.html?lmatch=&lang=_e.html

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