‘It means a lot to me’: Edmonton’s New Year’s baby for 2019 is a girl – Edmonton


It was just eight minutes into the new year that 2019’s first baby was born in Edmonton.

Alberta Health Services said baby Tia was born at the Royal Alexandra Hospital’s Lois Hole Hospital for Women at 12:08 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2019.

Tia is the first child for new mother Mila Lonan Bocauto, and being a New Year’s baby makes the birth extra special.

“It means a lot to me,” Bocauto said. “It was a surprising one because I didn’t know it was going to be a New Year’s baby.”

Baby Tia is Edmonton’s New Year’s baby for 2019, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019.

Morris Gamblin, Global News

READ MORE: Edmonton’s 2018 New Year’s baby is a boy

Bocauto said her baby girl came into world earlier than expected. Tia, she said, was not due until Jan. 22.

WATCH: B.C.’s first baby of 2019 arrives in New Westminster

The new mother suspects a recent move may have sped up the process.

“I was moving stuff to a new apartment, so I was carrying all that heavy stuff and walking a lot,” Bocauto said.

The 43-year-old mom said moving to a new apartment caused her to stay up until 1 a.m. on Dec. 31. A couple of hours later, she woke up to discover her water had broke.

“I phoned the Lois Hole and they told me to come in,” she said.

“I went in at around 7 a.m. and they admitted me right away.”

Baby Tia was born at 12:08 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2019 in Edmonton.

Morris Gamblin, Global News

READ MORE: Edmonton’s 2017 New Year’s baby is truly a bundle of ‘Joy’

It took another 17 hours before Tia was born, but Bocauto said her new baby girl has been a terrific newborn.

“She’s been good,” Bocauto said. “She’s not crying too much.”

Working as a caregiver, Bocauto has helped take care of the elderly, but she is looking forward to now also taking care of her of her own child.

“It means a lot. This is my own,” she said.

Bocauto said she will be busy when she gets home from the hospital, not only taking care of Tia but finishing moving into her new apartment.



© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Fall of the romaine empire: What a string of scares means for the lettuce’s future


The ubiquitous green is a top-selling “high margin product,” particularly at this time of year, according to Sylvain Charlebois, food policy professor at Dalhousie University.

“The entire supply chain is paying for this, including grocers, agents and brokers,” Charlebois said. “Everyone is hit by an alert like that.”

As of Monday afternoon, Canada had seen 22 reported cases of infection. Major grocery store chains across Canada, such as Sobey’s and Safeway, have pulled romaine lettuce from their shelves, even in Alberta and British Columbia.

But it’s not just romaine lettuce that will bear the burden. Charlebois suspected that all lettuce sales will be affected, as consumers may just avoid the aisle altogether.

“The reason why we are seeing frequent problems is because of consumer demand,” he said. “Consumers are looking for affordable food products.”

It is “concerning” that the public ends up not knowing what actually happened or exactly where the contamination source may be, he added.

StarMetro reached out to Sobey’s, Safeway and the Overwaitea Group but received no response as of publication time. However, at a Vancouver Safeway location and a Nesters Market location on Sunday, signs advising against romaine were posted on the doors and all along the produce section.

In a precautionary move, the vast majority of restaurants in B.C. opted to stop selling romaine, said Ian Tostenson, president of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association. Since Caesar salads aren’t often a main dish, he said, most restaurants were able to work around it.

Calgary Co-op also followed suit and pulled between 15,000 to 20,000 units — individual products ranging from romaine lettuce itself to packaged salads — from its shelves, according to a statement from produce operations director Lawrence Wright.

Calgary Co-op said it relies on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to inspect imported food and ensure it isn’t contaminated, but more must be done.

“There is a very large focus in the industry to improve the traceability of fresh produce, but we are not where we need to be currently,” Wright said in the statement.

The challenge for food safety investigators is identifying the specific origin of the product — the farm and date of harvest — according to a statement from the CFIA.

The agency begins its sleuthing process based on the food history of patients, collected by public health officials. Once common products, stores or restaurants are identified, a further investigation is conducted with suppliers, distributors or wholesalers, the statement reads.

But the lag between the consumption of the food, the onset of symptoms and the completion of the tracing process is often longer than the shelf life of the product, it adds.

“This means that by the time an investigation starts into potential food items, the perishable goods are no longer in the marketplace … available for testing,” the statement says.

According to Lawrence Goodridge, professor of food safety at McGill University, fruits and vegetables are more prone to outbreaks because consumers ingest them raw.

Goodridge said it’s difficult to determine the source of an outbreak because of how we detect contamination in the first place.

In order for a public health alert to happen, a sick person has to go to a medical professional and typically give a stool specimen. But many people who are sick don’t go to the hospital, and even if they do, doctors may not take a sample. Instead, they send them home to drink fluids and rest, he explained.

“For every person that is sick with a food-borne illness, there’s likely 25 more people that we don’t know about,” he said. “It takes a lot of time for officials to know there’s an outbreak.”

Meanwhile, researchers have yet to fully understand all the ways that veggies can be contaminated, and questions remain around whether there is something specific to romaine that makes it more susceptible to bacteria.

“Once we figure that out, we need better ways to control these risks,” he said. “We know that climate, extreme rain or wind can cause and have caused outbreaks.”

Goodridge said growing vegetables in greenhouses is one way to decrease — but not eliminate — the risk, as it keeps the plants indoors and away from wild animals. According to Health Canada, leafy greens can become contaminated in the field by soil, water, animals or improperly composted manure.

But despite the public-health alerts in both Canada and the U.S., some vegetable producers in Western Canada aren’t too worried. Some are even optimistic that these scares may increase consumer interest in buying locally grown greens.

“We’ve seen these things before, and they tend to blow over,” said Gert Lund, who owns Lund’s Organic Farm out of Innisfail, Alta. “Once this stuff is no longer in the daily news, people tend to just go along with their lives and forget about it. It’s not a long-term impact for us.”

The organic farmer said his operation only grows in season and, right now, they’re down to selling root vegetables — turnips, onions and carrots — out of cold storage. Had the contamination warnings hit in July or August, Lund said, he may have been in some trouble.

There are also crucial differences between farms like Lund’s and major farms in California.

The farmer said he’d visited California lettuce farms before and described them as very intense operations. Some grow three monocrops of produce a year, which puts a lot of stress on the soil and environment. This means farmers often spray their fields with pesticides very heavily to kill microbes that would themselves actually kill E.coli.

“We’re a small family farm here,” he said. “Down there, they’re gigantic farms. They have hundreds of people working there.”

E. coli also tends to thrive in wet, warm environments — and California’s growing season fits the bill. This can pose a serious risk of contamination, especially given the way lettuce is actually eaten.

“The leaves themselves are the crop, so it’s not like a fruit,” said David Karwacki, CEO of The Star Group, a Canadian organization of fresh produce companies. “You’re growing these actual leaves in an environment that needs to be pristine because that’s what people are consuming.”

The organization’s Inspired Greens greenhouse facility in Coaldale, Alta., grows roughly 12 million heads of lettuce a year inside pathogen-free pots that are also biodegradable. A trio of lettuce types can be seeded and transplanted without ever being touched by human hands, The Star Group said in a statement. Harvesting at the greenhouse facility is still done by hand, but Karwacki said workers “are dressed up like they’re in an operating room.”

Several small-scale B.C. farmers told StarMetro that buying local helps consumers know the farmer and how the food got to their plate. In addition, many small farms do not use raw manure.

Yet Charlebois disagreed, arguing people can get just as sick from buying local food as much as imported produce.

“You are a consumer exposed to risks no matter what you buy. That said, the scale of these alerts are massive as a result of building these incredible economies of scale,” he explained. “If Arizona makes a couple of mistakes, an entire continent is affected as a result.”

That’s why better traceability systems — knowing lettuce’s journey from farm to plate — are needed to limit the impact of outbreaks, he added.

“I do think we will spend a romaine-lettuce-free holiday this year,” Charlebois said. “Why bother importing when you know nobody is going to buy it? Goodbye romaine lettuce, hello baby kale.”

Brennan Doherty is a work and wealth reporter with StarMetro Calgary. Follow him on Twitter: @bren_doherty

Melanie Green is a Vancouver-based reporter covering food culture and policy. Follow her on Twitter: @mdgmedia

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Why the U.S. could lose the next big war – and what that means for Canada


It was more than the usual sky-is-falling rhetoric we’re used to seeing in national security reports out of Washington.

It came from some pretty sober, respected voices in the defence community.

A special commission report, presented to the U.S. Congress this week, delivered one of the most stark — even startling — assessments in the last two decades of the limits of American military power.

The independent, nonpartisan review of the Trump administration’s 2018 National Defence Strategy said the U.S. could lose future wars with Russia or China.

« This Commission believes that America has reached the point of a full-blown national security crisis, » reads the 116-page document written by 12 leading defence and security experts and released Wednesday.

« If the United States had to fight Russia in a Baltic contingency, or China in a war over Taiwan, Americans could face a decisive military defeat. »

Those are sobering words for Canada, in light of this country’s contribution of over 450 troops to the NATO-led deterrence mission in Latvia.

Time for a defence policy rewrite?

And it has prompted a call from at least one Canadian defence expert for a re-assessment — perhaps even a full-blown rewrite — of the Liberal government’s own defence policy.

More than simply another rote, boilerplate plea for fatter U.S. defence budgets, the commission’s report lays out in precise detail the kind of geopolitical threats Washington — and, by extension, other Western capitals — are facing from rivals and enemies at many levels and in multiple spheres.

« The security and wellbeing of the United States are at greater risk than at any time in decades. America’s military superiority — the hard-power backbone of its global influence and national security — has eroded to a dangerous degree, » says the report.

« America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt. If the nation does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave and lasting. »

The report acknowledges that the U.S. and its allies may be forced to fight a localized nuclear war in the future, given how Russia has restored the once-unthinkable concept to its military planning and training exercises.

The commission also paints various grim scenarios that could confront western allies between now and 2022, including an invasion of the Baltics under the guise of a « peacekeeping » mission to protect Russian minorities:

« As U.S. and NATO forces prepare to respond, Russia declares that strikes against Russian forces in those states will be treated as attacks on Russia itself — implying a potential nuclear response.

« Meanwhile, to keep America off balance, Russia escalates in disruptive ways. Russian submarines attack transatlantic fiber optic cables. Russian hackers shut down power grids and compromise the security of U.S. banks. »

The consequences, said the report, would be severe: « Major cities are paralyzed; use of the internet and smartphones is disrupted. Financial markets plummet as commerce seizes up and online financial transactions slow to a crawl. The banking system is thrown into chaos. »

While the report doesn’t mention U.S. President Donald Trump by name, it notes the effect of his bruising rhetorical fights with world leaders and criticism of international institutions, such as NATO.

« Doubts about America’s ability to deter and, if necessary, defeat opponents and honor its global commitments have proliferated, » said the report.

Cautious optimism

At this weekend’s Halifax International Security Forum, Canada’s marquee defence conference, some leading experts struck a less pessimistic note and suggested that the West still has a major technological lead on Moscow.

« Russia is a great country. It is a great country, historically. But Russia is also a failing country, » said Peter Van Praagh, president of the Halifax Security Forum, at the opening of the event on Friday.

« Russia does not have the same advanced tools that NATO has, that Canada and NATO and the American alliance (have). »

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan also expressed cautious optimism about the threat.

« In NATO we’re taking this extremely seriously. We’re learning from the various missions that are ongoing, » he said.

The Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, sails into Hong Kong for a port call on July 7, 2017. (Kin Cheung/The Associated Press)

A former military adviser to one of Sajjan’s predecessors said Canada could learn from the commission exercise, which was meant to challenge the Trump administration’s defence plans.

« It’s certainly something we don’t we have, » said Richard Cohen, an ex-army officer who served as former defence minister Peter MacKay’s adviser. « Our government would never dream of inviting anyone to come and criticize its defence policy. »

The current government sought extensive input before the new Canadian policy was presented 18 months ago.

The U.S. commission report calls on NATO and its allies to »rebuild » substantial military forces in Europe, among things.

Cohen said that, if anything, should trigger a fresh look at the Liberal government’s own defence policy.

« Our defence policy is predicated on the kind of asymmetric warfare we have faced since the end of the Cold War and it really ignores the looming strategic threats that Russia, China and maybe some others pose as well, » he said.

« At least the United States realizes this growing strategic threat, » Cohen added, noting that the current Liberal defence policy makes only passing mention of China « in very gentle terms » and limited references to Russia.

« If the United States is in a national security crisis, then we’re in a national security crisis. »


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