Alberta briefs – December 3

Premier Ed Stelmach is downplaying the growing debt load being carried by Alberta Health Services after reports suggested it could reach $2 billion next year.

Stelmach says no hospitals to close due to debt load

EDMONTON — Premier Ed Stelmach is downplaying the growing debt load being carried by Alberta Health Services after reports suggested it could reach $2 billion next year.

The premier says there are no plans to close hospitals or long-term care centres as the health care delivery agency reduces spending and pays down its debt.

But Stelmach offered no new details on cost-cutting measures that already include hundreds of planned bed closures and a hiring freeze.

He says the health superboard will provide the government with a plan on how it will pay down the deficit and the debt over an extended period.

Expo bid supported

EDMONTON — Premier Ed Stelmach is offering strong words of support for the City of Edmonton’s bid to host a worlds fair in 2017 with an energy-related theme.

But Stelmach stopped short of offering a firm commitment to help finance the Expo, which would require the province’s backing.

He says the province will give very serious consideration to the city’s proposal to host the event, which is expected to cost at least $2.3 billion. The premier says Alberta will likely be emerging from the recession in 2017 and it would be a good time to showcase the province and Canada.

Cleaner energy projects funded

EDMONTON — Alberta is spending $25 million on research to cut pollution from energy projects.

The money will be spent to investigate cleaner ways of dealing with waste from oilsands plants instead of dumping it in tailings ponds.

There is also funding to improve the way land is reclaimed from energy projects and on technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The research will be done at the University of Alberta.

Man accused of beating baby daughter makes court appearance

CAMROSE — An Alberta man accused of beating his baby daughter made a brief court appearance.

The 23-year-old man from Camrose, who cannot be identified to protect the identity of the child, was arrested last week after his 10-week-old baby arrived at an Edmonton hospital with serious injuries.

Police charged the man with aggravated assault, and drug-related offences.

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