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Alberta-wide checkstop blitz on Dec. 3 targets impaired drivers

Alberta RCMP are warning motorists about a checkstop blitz planned for Saturday, Dec. 3.

The large-scale operation will include hundreds of sheriffs from across the province working together to stop impaired driving.

RCMP said the checkstops will run throughout Saturday and into Sunday morning. Some checkstops will be mobile and moving locations in order to cover as much of the province as possible.

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Related

  • Alberta RCMP charge suspected impaired driver with 3 young kids in van

  • 153 drivers nabbed in Alberta checkstop blitz

  • Calgary police crack down on commercial vehicles with week-long checkstop blitz

    Drivers suspected of being impaired will be subject to road-side sobriety tests that may result in immediate licence suspensions and/or criminal charges.

    READ MORE: Calgary police crack down on commercial vehicles with week-long checkstop blitz

    “Having a checkstop blitz in early December provides a very visible reminder that the RCMP, with the help of the Alberta Sheriffs, will be out on the roads throughout the holiday season on the lookout for impaired drivers,” Insp. Steve Daley said in a Thursday news release.

    The blitz is part of the RCMP’s National Day of Enforcement campaign and serves as the kickoff for Impaired Driving Enforcement Month.

    Although this specific event takes place this weekend, RCMP said it marks the beginning of a month of increased and enhanced checkstops throughout the province.

    The blitz comes as the provincial government and anti-impaired driving activists are reminding Albertans driving after smoking marijuana is no safer than driving drunk.

    On Thursday, the province issued a news release with figures it says backs up its claim. According to the government, 82 Alberta drivers killed in collisions in 2012 tested positive for drugs. By comparison, 71 drivers who died in crashes tested positive for alcohol that same year.

    READ MORE: 153 drivers nabbed in Alberta checkstop blitz

    “While society has made significant inroads against impaired driving, drugged driving is on the rise and Albertans need to be aware of that,” Transportation Brian Mason said in the statement. “In the eyes of the law, there is no difference between drunk driving and drugged driving. That is because alcohol and drugs impair a driver’s ability and increase the risk of an otherwise fully preventable crash.”

    According to the province, driving performance studies have shown cannabis use increases the likelihood of drivers swerving, having difficulty keeping a safe distance from other vehicles and speeding.

    “While SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) Alberta continues to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving among Alberta’s youth, we have received alarming feedback about the increase of drug-impaired driving and the casual attitude many young people take toward the risks associated with it,” SADD Alberta’s Arthur Lee said in a statement. “Drug-impaired driving will likely surpass alcohol-impaired driving soon and it’s a topic we’re going to address with our Alberta schools going forward.”

    According to the RCMP, 3,880 people were charged with impaired driving between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, 2016. Of those, 11 were charged with impaired driving causing death and 29 were charged with impaired driving causing bodily harm.

    With files from Phil Heidenreich

Alberta reports 1st flu death of 2016-17 season in Calgary

One person with the flu has died in the Calgary area, Alberta Health Services said Thursday.

It’s the first reported death of someone with lab-confirmed influenza in the 2016-17 flu season.

READ MORE: Calgary hit hard this flu season

An AHS spokesperson said they would not release the person’s gender and age due to privacy concerns.

The patient died on or before Nov. 26 after being hospitalized with the flu diagnosis, AHS said.

“Even healthy people can get influenza and have bad outcomes,” Dr. Judy MacDonald, medical health officer with Alberta Health Services, said. “It is important that people take influenza seriously. It’s not a walk in the park. It’s not just a sniffle or two.”

Calgary has been hit harder than Alberta’s capital city this year: there were 245 lab-confirmed cases of influenza A and three of influenza B in Calgary, compared to just 24 cases of influenza A and four of influenza B in Edmonton as of Nov. 26, AHS said Thursday.

Eighty people had been admitted to hospital with the flu in Calgary, compared to just 12 in Edmonton.

Watch below from Nov. 25: The flu is hitting Alberta hard this year and the number of people sick is much higher now than the same time last year. As Kim Smith explains, most of the confirmed cases are in Calgary.

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Related

  • Near-fatal bout with H1N1 spurs Edmonton teacher to promote flu shot

    According to Dr. Gerry Predy, senior medical officer of health with Alberta Health Services, the virus hit the Calgary region first this year before spreading elsewhere.

    “When influenza hits the province, it starts in one part and then spreads from there,” Predy said in a past interview.

    READ MORE: Flu arriving ‘a little early’ in Calgary this year, says AHS

    Last year, 62 people in Alberta died after contracting the flu.

    MacDonald said some people are at a higher risk of complications from influenza.

    “Young children, especially those under two years of age, elderly individuals 65 and older, people that have heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, pregnant women… Those are all of our higher risk groups,” she said.

    “If they get it, they may be more likely to be hospitalized and have severe outcomes.”

    The massive spike in Calgary means pharmacists are fielding more questions about the vaccine.

    One of the most common questions, according to pharmacist Kaylyn Bassett, is whether a person can get sick from the flu vaccine.

    “What people have told me is, ‘Well, you know a week later after getting the flu shot, I got the flu.’ That is a total coincidence,” Bassett said.

    “Keep in mind that it can take about two weeks for the flu shot to actually become effective. So make sure you get it early.”

    With files from Global’s Kim Smith

    Watch below: Alberta has recorded its first flu-related death this flu season. The victim was a person in Calgary. But more Albertans are getting their flu shots. As Su-Ling Goh explains, some say convenience may be playing a role in that difference.

Kelly Ripa won’t rule out Billy Bush, Kardashians for ‘Live!’ co-host

Currently solo Live! host Kelly Ripa, whose former co-host Michael Strahan vacated his co-hosting spot in May, revealed a list of potential candidates for his replacement on Watch What Happens Live on Wednesday.

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She admitted to WWHL co-host Anderson Cooper that he was her top choice to replace Strahan, but also named several others who could potentially take the chair next to her.

Ripa, 46, joked that Cooper was “the one that got away.”

READ MORE: Kelly Ripa returns to Live!, speaks her mind about Michael Strahan departure

“He’s my life,” she said. “He really is. He’s the one that got away and keeps getting away and gets away all the time.”

“We really didn’t set a timeframe for ourselves, we just wanted to wait until we found the right person,” she continued. “What we didn’t anticipate was that we would have such an outpouring of interest. Our list got very long very quickly. We’ve been trying to keep it as narrow as possible, but then people pop up.”

Some of the candidates for co-host that Ripa wouldn’t rule out include Billy Bush (who recently left the Today show amid the Donald Trump “grab her p***y” scandal), the Kardashian sisters, Kathie Lee Gifford, Ramona Singer and even troubled starlet Lindsay Lohan.

WATCH BELOW: The Kelly Ripa-Michael Strahan debacle

‘You changed my life’: Michael Strahan bids fond farewell to co-host Kelly Ripa

02:10

‘You changed my life’: Michael Strahan bids fond farewell to co-host Kelly Ripa

04:51

Kelly Ripa returns to ‘Live’ and opens up about Michael Strahan’s departure



Live! is filmed in New York City, but lately there have been rumours that the show might relocate. Ripa says that’s most likely not going to happen.

“I have not heard that rumour,” she said. “That sounds like a rumour I would start, but I did not hear that rumour and I can’t imagine [it]. We’d have to do the show at 6 a.m. and getting guests to come on at 9 a.m. can be challenging. So, 6 a.m., I think, would be out of the question.”

Ripa was shocked at the initial news that Strahan was leaving his post to co-anchor Good Morning America, claiming she wasn’t told by the network or Strahan about his decision with enough advance notice. She says she was only told about Strahan’s September 2016 move to GMA less than an hour before the news about his promotion leaked to press.

READ MORE: Kelly Ripa comes clean about Michael Strahan Live! departure

Ripa abruptly took a week off of Live! following Strahan’s announcement to deal with what she felt was a slight; she received a personal apology from top executives at Disney and ABC after the incident, who said they “expressed regret for the way Kelly was told the news.”

“I needed a few days to gather my thoughts,” she said, explaining her absence. “After 26 years with this company, I earned the right.”

Ripa said the mishap was important because it opened up a conversation with ABC about mutual respect. Despite it all, she has had time to digest the situation and holds no hard feelings against the show, Strahan, or the executives.

“I’m not dealing with monsters,” she said. “I don’t think of anybody as a monster or out to get me. But sometimes stability and dependability can be misinterpreted as passive. Like, ‘Oh, we don’t have to worry about her, she’s fine. She’s fine.’ And I am fine, but I need assurances that we’re all going to be fine.”

Ripa has been a co-host of the show since 2001 when she shared the screen with Regis Philbin.

Follow @CJancelewicz

Most common fertility treatments: how they work and how much they cost

This is the latest article in a Global News investigation into fertility in Canada, and the emotional and financial impact infertility has on Canadians struggling to conceive.

***

It took Rebecca Nielsen a lot of fertility treatments to become a mom last fall.

The 41-year-old and her husband Kevin, who is a Global News employee, a met in 2009. In 2010, when she was 35, they stopped using birth control. A year later, ovulation trackers and scheduled intercourse became part of their lives.

“Your prime conception years physically are between 18 to 24,” she acknowledged, “when you’re doing everything you can not to get pregnant.

“Then you’re in debt. Then you break up with your long-term boyfriend and need to ‘find yourself.’ Then you find ‘the guy.’”

By 2012, the two had tied the knot but were still struggling to make a baby.

Some couples in this situation turn to naturopaths, acupuncturists or chiropractors who specialize in fertility.

Others try to improve their chances of conception by making certain lifestyle changes (like healthier eating and cutting out certain vices), which sometimes works. Not for the Nielsens, though.

WATCH: How to have a baby: Fertility clinic founders share 5 dos and don’ts

Their family doctor suggested they reduce their stress levels and just keep trying. When a year of that didn’t work, the couple got a referral to the big guns: the Hannam Fertility Clinic in Toronto.

Nielsen estimates she had to go there every other day — either for blood work, ultrasounds or procedures — over the two years that followed. She thinks the parking alone cost her about $3,500.

The whole process cost the couple roughly $100,000, since it was before Ontario introduced fertility funding. A lot of that was reimbursed through Nielsen’s drug plan and tax credits. Family also helped.

As is the protocol with all new patients, the first step is a battery of fertility tests to try and figure out what the problem is.

“For example, if someone comes in and turns out their thyroid is unbalanced, we help them with their hormone level and they’re more likely to get pregnant naturally,” said Tom Hannam, the clinic’s founder and one of its doctors.

“Everything’s linked to everything else.”

In rare cases, if there’s a problem with the uterus or fallopian tubes, surgery might be needed.

In the Nielsen’s case, the test results were inconclusive.

So a series of “chemical cocktails” started off their treatment.

A cocktail of fertility drugs

“I was taking at one point, a vitamin mix cocktail that was a combination of 13 pills,” Nielsen said. “I used to joke you’d hear me walking down the hallways because I had so many pills in my stomach.”

That particular chemical concoction included prenatal vitamins, CoQ10, Omegas, iron, vitamins C, D and B12.

Fertility doctor Ellen Greenblatt, who’s the medical director of the Mount Sinai Fertility and IVF unit, explains there are three classes of fertility drugs:

    Oral  — tablets like clomiphene citrate (aka “Clomid” or Serophene)Off-label — letrozole (a.k.a. Femara, which is similar to clomiphene but it’s “off label,” meaning it’s traditionally used for something else — in this case to prevent breast cancer recurrence — but has been shown to also help treat infertility.) At one point Nielsen was put on HGH (human growth hormone).Injectable — a range of gonadotropins like Gonal-F, Puregon and Menopur.

Gonadotropins

Caitlin Dunne, Vancouver fertility doctor

The drugs taken (and in what dose) are dependent on the treatment, how many eggs a woman has to begin with, where she is in her cycle and what shows up in her blood work and ultrasounds.

For instance, the tests might show the uterine lining needs to be thicker in order to create an optimal environment for embryo implantation. The prescription would be adjusted accordingly.

Nielsen’s “drug cocktail” would sometimes include a combination of pills, patches and injections. Each came with their own side-effects.

“You don’t feel like yourself because you’ve been so pumped of hormones,” she admitted. “You’re tired, you’re lethargic.”

IUI — ‘Sending in the marines’

Apart from fertility drugs, the first line of offence Nielsen’s doctor recommended was intrauterine insemination (IUI). It’s a common treatment for couples with unexplained infertility that can range in price from $1,500 to as high as $4,000 in Toronto, and is often paired with a $500 sperm wash.

“It’s like sending in the marines,” Nielsen said.

“They take the best, smartest, strongest and fastest — the few, the proud, the brave —and send them in on a covert mission and hope they’re successful.”

Human sperm swimming in the fallopian tube approaching an ovum prior to fertilization.

Science Picture Co

Once the model swimmers are chosen, they’re given a little boost and shipped into the uterus through a tiny catheter that Nielsen recalls being only slightly thicker than a strand of hair and feeling no worse than a pap smear.

The hope is that the sperm will make it to the egg and fertilize it naturally.

An ultrasound technician watches a monitor to ensure the catheter releases the “marines” at the right place, while the patient lays back with their feet in stirrups.

“Then you go home and you cross your legs and you hope it takes.”

The other alternative, if there’s male factor infertility or in the case of a female same-sex couple, is to use donor sperm. Sperm is ordered from sperm banks in the U.S., that offer profiles of the donors, and then shipped to a fertility clinic.

Sperm bank. Samples of cryogenically stored sperm being removed from the storage tank. This container is filled with liquid nitrogen, which keeps its contents at almost -200 degrees Celsius. After a sample is removed and thawed, the most healthy sperm cells are selected by a computer imaging system and then used for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to treat infertile couples. Storage of frozen sperm can preserve a man’s ability to have children if his fertility is threatened by cancer of the testis. Use of sperm from an anonymous donor can also help couples where only the male partner is infertile.

While the effectiveness of any treatment always goes down with age, IUI’s average success rate is said to be 12 to 15 per cent per cycle. It drops to about five per cent per cycle for women around 40, according to Greenblatt.

Nielsen, then 37, tried four rounds of IUI within six months in 2013. They were all unsuccessful.

WATCH: Fertility treatment success rates, explained by Dr. Caitlin Dunne of the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Vancouver

IVF, the final frontier

Nielsen hoped for a better prognosis with in vitro fertilization (IVF). It’s the most expensive fertility treatment but also has the best odds.

IVF is paired with the injectable gonadotropins that stimulate the ovaries to produce, on average, eight to 15 eggs (compared to the standard one egg that’s released a month).

Donor eggs can alternatively be used if needed. However, it’s important to note you cannot pay anyone to be an egg donor in Canada. So any exchange would have to be altruistic.

The donor would have to undergo a round of IVF for the eggs to be harvested, so it’s also not cheap.

Harvested human eggs. These eggs will be used for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment.

Fortunately, Nielsen didn’t have problems producing eggs. That first round she “whipped out” 18 of them. The ultrasounds showed her ovaries, which are typically the size of a walnut, grow to the size of chicken eggs.

She compares it to having swollen glands when you’re sick.

“You could physically feel them. They feel really heavy and sore.”

In IVF, eggs are extracted with a needle from a woman’s body. Nielsen remembers being in “more of an operating theater” rather than an exam room for this procedure.

“They sedate you but you’re not completely out of it.”

She recalls “a lady with a light on her head talking to me, saying, ‘everything is good.’”

The “exciting” part for her was finding out how many eggs were retrieved. Of the 18 she produced, 14 got fertilized right away.

There are two fertilization options in IVF. One is for the eggs to be put into a dish and sprinkled with some 100,000 sperm in hopes they’ll fertilize the egg “naturally.”

The other, which comes at an additional cost of about $1,500 and the one which Nielsen opted for, is called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI (pronounced ‘ick-see’) for short.

As its name suggests, fertilization occurs by injecting the sperm into the egg to guarantee fertilization. At this point, Nielsen didn’t see the point of leaving that to chance.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is an artificial fertilization technique. A single sperm is injected into the cytoplasm of an egg, via a microneedle. This technique is used in treatment of severe male infertility.

Getty Images

But fertilization doesn’t mean pregnancy. The embryos need to make it to Day 5 or 6 before being transferred to the uterus (called a fresh transfer) or frozen (called a frozen embryo transfer).

Only four of her 14 embryos reached any of those benchmarks. Two were put on ice (to be thawed and transferred later), and two were put in “fresh.”

None of them took. And there were no answers why.

“The cells may not divide and it may just not work,” Nielsen said.

“You don’t know why it doesn’t work… it just doesn’t work.”

WATCH: The highs and lows of IVF

After that, the Nielsens decided to try one more round of IVF, but this time, they paired it with something called pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) also known as comprehensive chromosome screening (CCS).

It cost about $5,000, on top of the $23,000 the couple was already paying for the second round of IVF. However it increased their chances of conception to 72 per cent. Other couples may see an average success rate of 60 to 70 per cent with the screening, according to fertility doctor Caitlin Dunne of the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Vancouver.

At the time (in 2014, when Nielsen was 39), the test was not recommended as an add-on for “genetically healthy” couples. Dunne says it’s now considered to be “most helpful” for women over 38 who make more than two embryos through IVF.

It involves a small biopsy of cells from what would become the placenta in each embryo. The samples are then sent to a lab, where they’re analyzed for a variety of chromosomal and genetic defects.

“What came back three weeks later,” Nielsen said, “freakin’ blows my mind.”

Of the eight embryos they had analyzed, all but one had chromosomal problems that would have either resulted in a failed implantation, a miscarriage or a baby with Down Syndrome.

The test saved them potentially multiple rounds of “heartbreak.”

Nielsen got emotional when she spoke about the day that “one genetically perfect embryo” was transferred.

“This is the magical part for me,” she said before taking a big breath.

“They put you on the gurney and wheel all the equipment into this room. There’s an incubator and on top of it there’s a flat screen TV.”

As she held her husband’s hand, an image of the embryo they were about to put inside her was put on the screen.

“I may have just seen the first picture of my daughter and she hasn’t been born yet,” she recalls thinking.

An ultrasound of Baby Margaret

Supplied

Nine months later, her beautiful baby Margaret was born healthy, happy and “chatty.”

Nielsen says the past 14 months with her now “super funny” toddler made the emotional roller-coaster and huge financial cost all worth it.

“The crazy part? I want to do it again,” Nielsen said.

“Don’t tell my husband.”

WATCH: Mother shares her advice to couples who are just about to start fertility treatments

The infographic below takes a closer look at the most common fertility treatments,  which can either be used alone (like tablets) or in conjunction with other treatments.

Dunne explains the most common treatment combinations in the video at the top of the story.

Infographic by Deepak Sharma, Global News

READ MORE: How fertility coverage varies across Canada 

Follow @TrishKozicka

Related

  • Surrogacy in Canada: What you need to know

  • 3 birth moms and 2 parents: how open adoption worked for an Alberta family

  • Everything men and women should know about fertility testing

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Prince Harry and Rihanna take HIV tests in Barbados for World AIDS Day

Prince Harry and Rihanna have joined forces to promote the ongoing need for action in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In light of World AIDS Day, the 32-year-old red-headed royal and 28-year-old pop star took finger prick tests at the Man Aware event in Bridgetown, Barbados, where they both tested negative. “You made it seem like it hurts,” Rihanna said to Prince Harry. “It’s not as painful as you said this morning.”

READ MORE: Prince Harry And Rihanna celebrate Barbados’ 50th Anniversary Of Independence with concert and fireworks

This marks the second time in five months that the young royal has taken a test in public to lessen the stigma surrounding the disease. Back in July, Prince Harry shared a video to the British Royal Family’s official Facebook page getting an HIV blood test.

As part of his 15-day royal tour of the Caribbean, which will wrap in Guyana this weekend, Prince Harry also attended an annual Toast the Nation event in the Barbados capital in celebration of the country’s 50 years of independence, which Rihanna attended.

READ MORE: Prince Harry meets Rihanna as Barbados celebrates 50 Years Of Independence

During the event, the prince read a message on behalf of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, which paid tribute to the people of Barbados: “Prince Philip and I send our warmest wishes to the Government and the people of Barbados. On this day of celebration, I send my congratulations to you on your Golden Jubilee of Independence.”

Prince Harry and Rihanna later shared the stage at a concert Wednesday evening on the Kensington Oval cricket grounds, where Rihanna sang the Barbados national anthem and Prince Harry gave a welcome speech in front of a crowd of approximately 20,000.

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11,500 Alberta open-heart surgery patients potentially exposed to bacteria

Approximately 11,500 former open-heart surgery patients may have been exposed to bacteria during their procedure, according to Alberta Health Services.

AHS is notifying former patients after the Federal Drug Administration, Center for Disease Control and Health Canada reported a potential risk for Mycobacterium chimaera infection with certain heater-cooler units.

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Notifications are being mailed to Alberta physicians and former adult and pediatric open-heart surgery patients who had their procedures done at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, Edmonton’s Mazankowski Alberta Health Institute or the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. Potentially affected patients in Edmonton would have had their surgery between January 2012 to present while potentially affected patients in Calgary would have had their surgery between January 2013 and present, according to AHS.

Watch below: AHS said open-heart procedures are not possible without this piece of medical equipment. As such, AHS said it will do everything it can to minimize the risk until the companies who make the equipment come up with a fix.

Dr. Mark Joffe, AHS senior medical director in infection, prevention and control, said the hospital was first alerted by Health Canada about five weeks ago.

When asked why there was a delay in reporting it to the public, Joffe said the procedure for doing that is complex.

“AHS began to review our own situation. We need to be able to support patients, guardians and parents of children who may have had surgery. We need to make sure everything is in place before we put out this notification,” he said.

The risk comes as a result of heater-cooler units that are critical for cardiac surgery. The units are used to warm and cool blood during adult and pediatric open-heart surgery.

“The device has a reservoir that contains water. At the same time, [it] has to maintain its own temperature so it has an exhaust system to keep the machine from overheating,” Joffe said.

“There is a very small potential for water, a very small amount of water, to leak into the exhaust system of the heater-cooler unit and then that is exhausted into the airflow within the operating room.”

Joffe said the circumstances for this potential type of exposure are unique.

“Where there happens to be the growth of this particular bacteria, within that water reservoir, if enough of it happens to leak into the exhaust system of the heater-cooler unit, if it’s directed in the right way into the airflow within the operating room – it could land inside the surgical site, in an individual who’s having a surgical procedure.”

Watch below: AHS says infection is very slow to develop

The machines are only used in three facilities in the province: at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary and the Mazankowski Alberta Health Institute and Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.

Joffe said there is no exact number on how many patients are in Edmonton or Calgary, though the Edmonton program is larger so more patients from the Capital Region may be impacted.

He said there is also no exact number for how many patients are adult and how many are pediatric. He said about 10 per cent of open-heart surgery patients in general in the province are children.

Joffe said there is an extremely low risk of infection to those who may have been exposed, adding it is less than one in 1,000. He said no infections have been identified to date. M. chimaera infections grow slowly and may take months or years to develop.

“On average it develops approximately 18 months after surgery. It could start earlier, [after] a few months. It can even go out to five years after the surgery,” Joffe said, adding it can be fatal.

“This would be the type of infection that will begin slowly, will gradually get worse. An individual with that kind of infection would find their health deteriorating, declines over a period of time.”

Symptoms include fever, persistent and profuse night sweats, unintentional weight loss, muscle aches, fatigue and red, heat or pus at the surgical incision site. Joffe said it cannot be spread by person-to-person contact but it can be treated with antibiotics.

At this point, Joffe said open-heart surgeries are critical and there have always been risks involved with the procedure. AHS will continue using the heater-cooler units and advise patients of the risk involved.

“At this point Health Canada has issued some recommendations that we are following. Primarily, that involves ensuring we are following manufacturer instruction for disinfection, cleaning, maintenance of the equipment. There is a risk mitigation strategy whereby we try to ensure that the machines, these heater-cooler units are positioned in the operating room and the exhaust is directed away from the patient instead of potentially towards the patient,” Joffe said.

He adds manufacturers are expected to come up with a fix for the issue, such as a better filtration system, which is expected in the next few months.

2nd hottest November in Saskatoon history, December deep freeze coming

After the second warmest November ever recorded in Saskatoon, we plunge into the deep freeze into December!

November Numbers

Saskatoon just saw the second hottest November ever recorded in the city!

Temperatures averaged out just shy of two degrees above freezing throughout the month (technically 1.9 degrees) – a whopping eight degrees warmer than normal!

This is incredibly impressive, especially when averaging out 30 days of data.

It was the second warmest November ever recorded in Saskatoon.

SkyTracker Weather

READ MORE: October 2016 is way wetter and colder than normal in Saskatoon

There was only one other year where the city saw a warmer average temperature, which was 99 years ago in 1917, when we averaged out at 2.7 degrees.

It was the warmest November in recorded history in Regina, Estevan, Key Lake and Yorkton, and was the second hottest ever in Prince Albert.

It was the warmest November in recorded history for much of Saskatchewan.

SkyTracker Weather

It was the warmest November in recorded history for much of Saskatchewan.

SkyTracker Weather

Precipitation-wise we saw 9.2 millimetres of rain and melted snow and other forms of precipitation throughout the period, slightly below our normal amount in November of 13 millimetres.

Saskatoon Forecast

Here is your Saskatoon SkyTracker 7-Day Weather Forecast.

SkyTracker Weather

Today

The first day of December and meteorological winter kicked off on a mild note with temperatures only dipping back to -4 overnight, warming up to -2 by noon!

This is quite impressive, especially given that our normal daytime high for this time of the year is -6 and an average overnight low is -14.

Cloudy skies started the day and will continue right through the afternoon with the mercury sitting around -2 for the remainder of the day.

Tonight

Clouds stay around tonight with temperatures dipping back to around -5.

Friday

-10 is around what it’ll feel like with wind chill when you wake up tomorrow morning before temperatures push up to around -2 for an afternoon high, which has become a trend for daytime highs this week.

It will once again be a mostly cloudy day with a bit of clearing possible into the evening.

Weekend

A developing low pressure system will quickly swing through on Saturday bringing with it the clouds and a decent chance of snow.

Behind that system we should see some clearing on Sunday as we start to dive back into the deep freeze.

Big upper trough starts to set in later this weekend.

SkyTracker Weather

Temperatures should hold up around -2 or possibly even pushing up to -1 on Saturday before falling back a few more degrees for a high on Sunday and then dropping toward minus double digits late in the day.

Work Week Outlook

Arctic air invades Saskatchewan for the first full week of December.

SkyTracker Weather

The real deep freeze settles in early next week as arctic air plunges in under mostly cloudy skies with a chance of flurries, dropping temperatures back into double digits on Monday before falling even further into minus teens for Tuesday.

Wind chill values could push toward the -30s mid-week with morning temperatures possibly even dipping into the -20s by later on in the week.

Jodine Siebert took this Your Saskatchewan photo near Borden:

Dec. 1: Jodine Siebert took this Your Saskatchewan photo near Borden.

Jodine Siebert / Viewer Submitted

Saskatoon weather outlook is your one stop shop for all things weather for Saskatoon, central and northern Saskatchewan with a comprehensive look at your local forecast that you can only find here.

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‘Nashville’ Season 5 trailer: Country music show returns to pluck your heartstrings

The holidays have come early for fans of Nashville: Canadian broadcaster W Network has released the trailer for Season 5, and also announced a sneak peek of the first hour of the two-hour premiere on Thurs., Dec. 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The season itself begins on Jan. 5, 2017.

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Nashies (as the show’s fans are often called) have been waiting patiently for new footage of the show since it was cancelled earlier in 2016. American network CMT resurrected the show after Nashies put up a fight to get it back on the air.

READ MORE: Nashville saved, picked up for Season 5 by CMT after fan outcry

Nashville is set against the backdrop of the city’s music scene, and follows Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) and Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). Both women face personal and professional challenges as they navigate their paths as artists and individuals. Surrounding them and often complicating their lives are their family, friends and, in some cases, lovers, as well as the up-and-coming performers and songwriters trying to get ahead in the business.

Music City can mean so many things to different people. In Nashville, musicians and songwriters are at the heart of the storm driven by their own ambitions. Some are fuelled by their creativity and passion for fame. Others struggle to cope with the pressures of success and are doing everything in their power to stay on top.

READ MORE: Cancelled TV shows: Castle, The Muppets and many more

The new season begins with Rayna and Deacon (Charles Esten) facing a new normal with Maddie (Lennon Stella) now back home and Highway 65 struggling financially. The shocking news about Juliette creates a wave of emotions throughout Nashville and sets Rayna off on a journey of discovery.

Watch the ‘Nashville’ Season 5 trailer, above.

The two-hour season premiere of Nashville will debut on W Network on Thursday, January 5 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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WATCH: Car plunges 40 feet off highway into roaring creek on Sunshine Coast

A Surrey woman’s life was saved in a dramatic rescue after her car plunged about 40 feet into a creek in Madeira Park on the Sunshine Coast last week.

Emergency crews were called to the 12000-block of the Sunshine Coast Highway around 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 23 after the woman’s SUV fishtailed and plummeted off the roadway, over a waterfall and into the rushing creek below.

Police say the car came to a rest on its side in the swollen creek bed, on the edge of another drop-off, with the driver’s side of the vehicle under the water level.

The driver, Carolynne Drane, was the sole occupant of the car, had to be extracted by rescue crews.

Before I knew it, I was going over that cliff, and I thought I was going to die, Drane told Sunshine Coast RCMP after her ordeal.

Drane found herself immersed up to her neck in the frigid water after the crash. She was able to release her seat belt and climb out of her seat, onto the exterior passenger side, only to be soaked by water rushing over top of the vehicle.

The driver, Carolynne Drane, talks about her horrifying accident.

Rumina Daya | Global News

ChangSha Night Net

She says she could see other cars on the highway, but no one could see her.

Drane had to make a tough choice between staying in her car and risking hypothermia as well as the possibility that the vehicle could be pushed further downstream, or trying to swim to either side of the creek, where she would almost certainly be swept over the next waterfall.

She decided to move into a corner inside her vehicle where she could get herself partially out of the water to try to preserve her body heat. Investigators say doing so may have helped to save her life.

They say a passerby, a man who was visiting the Sunshine Coast, spotted Drane.

He happened to be in the area, because he was recommended to look at the stunning waterfalls.

BC Ambulance Service and the Pender Harbour Volunteer Fire Department were the first to respond and worked quickly to make sure the vehicle did not get pushed farther towards the next waterfall. Sunshine Coast RCMP, members of Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue and the Sechelt Volunteer Fire Department also rushed to help, with the Sechelt Fire Department using their ladder truck to lower one of their members down to the vehicle.

PHOTO: A rescue crew member seen helping to get Drane out of her car (Courtesy: Sunshine Coast RCMP)

After about 3.5 hours, Drane was pulled out of her car and airlifted to hospital, where she was treated for hypothermia, a broken nose, a concussion and soft tissue damage. She has now been released.

She is very grateful for everyone’s efforts to rescue her.

Const. Harrison Mohr with Sunshine Coast RCMP told Global News it was not safe to remove the vehicle right away because of the dangerous location and high water levels.

He says the car is still in the creek, and it’s still far too dangerous to remove it.

“It may stay there for some time until water levels drop,” said Mohr.

Police are investigating, but Mohr says it was raining heavily at the time of the incident and the highway in the area has a lot of tight corners.

Police are asking that residents in the area spread the word to their friends and family so that others are not alarmed if they happen to see the vehicle in the creek.

PHOTO: Drane’s car, still in the water, as seen from the edge of the creek on Nov. 30, 2016

They are also asking people not to stop to try to take pictures as the road is narrow in that area.

“There are not a lot of places to pull over,” said Mohr. “We certainly would not want to see another collision occur from people trying to take pictures or get a look at it.”

Ontario youth with mental illness waiting months for help, auditor general finds

Ontario’s government watchdog says kids and teenagers struggling with severe mental health problems are languishing on hospital wait lists and the consequences can be devastating.

ChangSha Night Net

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk found in her annual report that youth mental-health agencies have been overwhelmed by a 50 per cent spike in hospitalization cases since 2009 and the government has not analyzed the reasons behind the increase or taken steps to address it.

“It is crucial that the government do its best to understand the reasons for these troubling statistics and that it can provide timely and appropriate treatment and avoid the potential high social and financial cost of not dealing proactively with the issue,” Lysyk said in a statement Wednesday after tabling her report at Queen’s Park.

READ MORE: Ontario schools are missing ‘perfect opportunity’ to address mental health amid rash of youth suicides

The auditor general said it was troubling that many of the findings in the report were similar to those identified in audits from 2003. She noted the Ministry of Children and Youth Services continues to fund agencies based on “historical spending instead of the current mental health needs of the children and youth they serve.”

Currently the ministry is spending $438 million to treat more than 120,000 children and youth across Ontario for mental health problems like depression, anxiety and eating disorders, among others.

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Lysyk’s findings are consistent with a Global News investigation earlier this month that examined the mental health crisis facing young people in Ontario.

Global News found suicides in Ontario among 10 to 19 year olds rose from 54 in 2013 to 81 in 2014, according to the latest data from the provincial coroner’s office. And nearly 2,500 teenagers age 10 to 17 were hospitalized due to intentional self-harm from 2013 to 2014, up from just over 1,500 in 2010 to 2011.

READ MORE: Poor oversight of Ontario road and transit contracts cause for concern: auditor general

Kim Moran, CEO of Children’s Mental Health Ontario, said Lysyk’s report is a clear indication the Liberal government is turning its back on young people with mental health issues.

“Ontario just isn’t prioritizing children and youth in desperate need of mental health services,” Moran told Global News. “The report articulated that children are waiting too long, but there hasn’t been any increases in resources to help these children.”

The CMHO released its own report on Tuesday, which found that more than 9,000 young people across the province are waiting anywhere from three months to a year and half for urgent mental health care.

“When kids wait too long for the care the problems can get more serious. That is probably the biggest concern,” she said. “Sadly, too many kids are dying by suicide. That’s what can happen when kids wait.”

The auditor general’s report looked at psychiatric hospital services in the province, specifically auditing four hospitals:

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby.The Royal Ottawa Health Group in Ottawa and Brockville.Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care in Penetanguishene.

READ MORE: What happens when mental health education isn’t taught to kids

At Ontario Shores, children had to wait more than three months to receive help for severe eating disorders. And at Waypoint, the wait list for one of its out-patient programs was so long in 2015/16, the hospital temporarily stopped adding new people.

“Our audit of hospital records over the past five years found evidence of two people who died by suicide while waiting for help,” the report said, while not naming the hospital.

A shortage in psychiatric care in Ontario is also costing taxpayers. In 2015/2016 the government spent nearly $10 million to send 127 youths to the United States for treatment.

WATCH: Ontario man said he wished there was more of an emphasis on mental health education when he was in school

Her report found that funding for these four hospitals — which house roughly half of the long-term psychiatric beds in the province — hasn’t kept up with inflation, let alone the increase in demand.

Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau said he is committed to acting on recommendations outlined in the report.

“While we have made significant progress in improving access to child and youth mental health services, we know there is more work to be done,” Coteau said in a statement. “Our government is committed to Moving on Mental Health, our action plan to deliver a co-ordinated and responsive system for parents and young people.”

The minister adds that that work is already underway including “a new funding model for children’s mental health services based on need, changes that will hold service providers more accountable to ensure efficient use of government resources, and better use of data to assess agency performance and improve services.”

However, the auditor general found that while some steps from the Moving on Mental Health plan have been implemented since 2012, the strategy has faced delays and it is unclear when it is expected to be fully implemented.