Alberta briefs – March 22

The Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton is closing eight mental health crisis treatment beds.

Hospital closes mental health beds

The Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton is closing eight mental health crisis treatment beds.

The executive director for Addiction and Mental Health in Edmonton says the beds are being closed due to a shortage of psychiatrists.

Mark Snaterse says two psychiatrists have retired and another is to leave at the end of the month.

He says three new psychiatrists have been hired but won’t start work until later this year.

He says the hospital hopes to reopen the treatment beds by early fall.

In the meantime, Snaterse says remaining staff will try to treat the same number of patients.

Proud peahen recaptured

Proud as a peacock, a female of a version of the exotic bird has finally been recaptured in Edmonton after flapping around outside for days.

The peahen flew the coop from its owner a few days ago but was finally netted by fire fighters and animal control officers on Sunday.

The big bird has been taken to a wildlife sanctuary for safe keeping.

Neighbours were worried the peahen might be injured by the cold.

Animal Control Officer Sarah Crolln says the owner could face a stiff fine for having a prohibited animal in the city.

Layton wants involvement

Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton hopes a motion that would make it harder to prorogue Parliament will help get more Canadians involved in the political process.

The NDP motion requiring the prime minister to seek the consent of the House of Commons to shut down Parliament for longer than seven days was passed in the House last Wednesday.

The motion is not binding on Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has said that only a constitutional amendment could rein in the prime minister’s prorogation power.

Harper sparked an angry public backlash when he announced Dec. 30 that he was proroguing Parliament until March 3 — almost six weeks later than it had been scheduled to resume business after the Christmas break.

Layton, speaking during a stop in Edmonton Sunday, said the prime minister has left a bitter taste in the mouths of Canadians who are concerned about the health of parliamentary democracy.

He says the motion is an important first step in tapping into what he sees as a growing desire by Canadians to bring about parliamentary reform in areas such as the Senate.