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Two dozen and counting: Sask. hospital has a staff baby boom

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CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV Regina’s Cole Davenport


Published Thursday, February 21, 2019 7:00PM EST

Two dozen women who work at the same Saskatchewan hospital are all currently off on parental leave — and more new parents are expected to join their ranks.

“It’s been crazy,” nurse and new mother Kelly Vatamaniuck told CTV Regina. “There’s been a new baby pretty much every month since March 2017.”

The new parents all work at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Estevan, a city of just over 11,000 people that’s 200 kilometres southeast of Regina.

Fellow nurse Vanessa Dumais is also part of the hospital’s baby boom.

“Like every month there was one: October, November, December,” she recalled. “And then I was like, ‘Oh man, I’m pregnant too and maybe it would be funny if someone comes out next month and says they’re pregnant!’ And sure enough, there would be.”

‘CHALLENGES IN THE SHORT-TERM’

The parents currently on leave represent more than 10 per cent of the hospital’s staff.

“We have a young staff and it speaks very well to our future, but does present some challenges in the short-term,” Greg Hoffort, the hospital’s executive director, said.

The main challenge, Hoffort explained, has been finding temporary replacements — as well as conducting all the necessary training and orientation — for the new parents.

“We’re a facility that has in the neighbourhood of 200 fulltime equivalent staff, so it’s significant,” he said.

More parental leaves are also on the horizon.

“We’re all trickling back in and new ones are going off,” Dumais said.

“So many of them are starting to have baby number two,” Vatamaniuck added.

Kim Friess is about to join their ranks.

“I’m excited that I’m off work now and I’m having my baby,” she said. “I can join this group of girls and be part of all the fun!”

‘FORMED OUR OWN LITTLE FAMILY’

While having so many people on parental leave might be putting the hospital in a bit of a staffing bind, the new mothers say that it also gives them an incredible support network as they navigate the inevitable ups and downs of having little ones at home.

Chelsea Meyer is another new mother who works at the hospital.

“I feel like when I went off with (my son), if it was three in the morning, some of my other friends were also up at three in the morning,” she said. “I could text them and at least we could kind of keep each other company, so it was nice that way.”

“We talk all the time,” Vatamaniuck added. “We help each other with any situation we might have. Everybody has a problem one day or the next and it’s been a good support, especially for me, because I don’t have a lot of family around here.”

Mallory Olson is one of the newest members of this growing club.

“Being a new mom can be lonely, especially if you don’t have a lot of support,” she explained. “I know a lot of us don’t have family from the city, so we’ve kind of formed our own little family.”

For more, visit CTV Regina.

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LIFESTYLES

Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

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LIFESTYLES

Top environment official urges Canadians to back Ottawa’s ambitious plans to tackle plastic trash

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The second in command at the federal Environment Ministry challenged Canadians to continue to speak up about the problem of plastic pollution and push elected officials, scientists and businesses to do more.

Quebec MP Peter Schiefke, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, made the comments online at Vancouver’s annual zero waste conference on Friday.

He said most Canadians want solutions to curb the tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic garbage that ends up as litter each year on the country’s beaches, parks, lakes and in the stomachs of animals. 

“Making sure that message is heard with industry stakeholders, elected officials and make sure that they are constantly putting pressure on it … so we notice that this is something that Canadians want, the backing of Canadians to go and undertake these huge challenges,” he said.

Schiefke filled in for  Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson at the last minute after Wilkinson was called away to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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LIFESTYLES

OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass one of the most expensive fares in Canada

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OTTAWA — OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass is one of the most expensive passes in Canada, and transit riders are facing another 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares on New Year’s Day.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Transit Commission meeting on the 2021 budget, CTV News Ottawa looked at the cost of a monthly adult bus pass at transit services across Canada. Ottawa ranks behind the TTC in Toronto, Mississauga’s “MiWay”, Brampton Transit and Vancouver “TransLink” Zone 2 access to the suburbs for most expensive transit fares in Canada.

The cost of an OC Transpo adult monthly bus pass is currently $119.50 a month.

The 2021 City of Ottawa budget includes a proposed 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares. If approved, an adult monthly transit pass will increase $3 to $122.50, while a youth pass will increase $2.25 to $94.50 a month.  The cost of an adult single-ride cash fare would rise a nickel to $3.65.

The TTC is the most expensive transit service in Canada, charging $156 a month for an adult fare. MiWay charges $135 a month, and the cost of an adult monthly pass with Brampton Transit is $128.

Metro Vancouver’s transportation network “TransLink” has three fare zones. The monthly bus pass cost for “Zone 1”, which covers Vancouver, is $97 for adults. The “Zone 2” fare, which covers Vancouver and the suburbs of Richmond and Burnaby, is $131 a month.

Edmonton Transit Service, which includes a Light Rail System with 18 stations on two different lines, charges $97 a month for an adult monthly bus pass.

An adult monthly bus pass in Calgary costs $109 a month.

The survey by CTV News Ottawa of transit fares across Canada shows Gatineau has higher transit fares than Montreal and Quebec City. The STO charges $99 a month.

A monthly adult bus pass costs $88.50 in Montreal and $89.50 in Quebec City.

The cheapest adult monthly bus fare is in Charlottetown, at $58.50 a month. A monthly bus pass in Whitehorse costs $62 a month.

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