News Briefs

Fitness test for ambulance drivers causes uproar; Alberta pumps up minimum wage; Beep: It’s time to wash your hands

Fitness test for ambulance drivers causes uproar

Daniel’s Harbour, Nfld. — Ambulance drivers in Daniel’s Harbour are upset about the mandatory fitness tests ordered by the town council last month. The 10 drivers will take the tests but are unhappy the requirement was introduced without them being consulted, said a spokesman. The town’s mayor, Steve Kerry, who is also an ambulance attendant, said he felt at least three attendants would not pass a fitness test and he’s worried the town could be sued if attendants injure themselves, or others, while working. The provincial Department of Health doesn’t require ambulance attendants to prove their ability, leaving the decision up to operators. Kerry has said any attendants who fail the test will be let go.

Alberta pumps up minimum wage

Edmonton — To keep pace with salary increases in the province of about five per cent, Alberta’s minimum wage will increase from $8 an hour to $8.40 an hour on April 1. Last June, the provincial government announced it would base minimum wage increases on the average weekly wage index, which is based on Statistics Canada’s annual survey of employment, payroll and hours. About 70,000 Albertans (3.5 per cent of the working population) earn minimum wage. The majority of them are 15- to 19-year-olds working in the food service and hospitality industries. For more information, visit

Beep: It’s time to wash your hands

Toronto — New electronic sensors will detect whether health workers caring for patients have washed their hands or not, which could decrease the number of hospital-acquired infections. The system, developed by researchers at the Toronto Rehab hospital, uses electronic sensors over a patient’s bed to signal a device worn around a health worker’s neck, which will beep if the worker hasn’t washed her hands. Over the next two years, two wards at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and two at Toronto Rehab will test out the system.

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