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DEC. 21-DEC. 27, 1993


Premier Ralph Klein's tough fiscal restraint policies are driving welfare recipients out of Alberta and into B.C., Premier Mike Harcourt charged this week as verbal sparring continued between the two provincial leaders.

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Statistics showed that close to 26,000 Albertans have been off welfare since April and 2,840 Albertans have applied for welfare in B.C., since the government began tracking those numbers in August.

Critics blamed the shift on B.C.'s comparatively more generous welfare rates, which paid a single, unemployed person $535 a month, $141 more than Alberta's basic rate of $394.

The numbers also indicated that B.C. has received a total of 10,494 out-of-province applications for income assistance this year, more than one-third of new cases.

A recent comparison of both systems showed that benefits were easier to obtain in B.C., which lays fewer welfare fraud charges and has lower standards for recipients seeking employment.

Meanwhile, a B.C. government report reveals widespread welfare fraud among Somali families living in Surrey.

The report, released less than two months after Social Services Minister Joy MacPhail denied that Somalis were abusing the system, cited the use of phony rent receipts, expired work permits and faulty passports as common problems.DEC. 21-DEC. 27, 1983


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A Christmas cold snap swept across Canada and the U.S this week, setting record low temperatures in Vancouver and plunging the entire province into a giant deep freeze.

With a low of -12 Celsius, Wednesday was the coldest Dec. 21 on record, while Thursday's low of -11.5 was the coldest Dec. 22 on record. Nighttime lows in the south and central interior ranged from -25 to -35.

On Christmas Eve, high winds briefly knocked out power to about 25,000 residents of Coquitlam, Maple Ridge and New Westminster, while close to 6,000 additional homes in the Fraser Valley had no electricity well into Christmas Day.

Many Gulf Island residents were also left without power over Christmas as wintry storms knocked over trees and downed power lines.

Efforts to restore power were hampered by a B.C. Hydro strike that forced dozens of supervisors and managers into action to undertake repair work.

And in Terrace, more than 3,000 homes were without power after a powerful natural gas explosion that officials said was triggered by an underground frost heave.

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During a 10-day period starting Dec. 17, high winds, snowstorms and freezing rain claimed more than 200 lives in various parts of the United States.

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