AJLCF opens investigation into Elks-Stamps match due to air quality concerns

The CFL Players’ Association says Alberta Occupational Health and Safety is investigating the CFL’s decision to play the Edmonton Elks against the Calgary Stampeders on Monday, despite conditions. smoky in Calgary.

The Stampeders rallied from a 15-point deficit to defeat the Elks 35-31 at McMahon Stadium. The contest went ahead despite Environment Canada’s Air Quality Health Index for Calgary being between eight and 10 throughout the day.

The CFL and CFLPA have a policy in effect since 2019 that on-field activities must either be canceled or halted when the air quality rating exceeds seven.

The AJLCF believes that Monday’s match should not have taken place due to poor air quality. The union says it informed the CFL in writing twice — before and after kickoff — that the contest should not take place due to unsafe working conditions.

In its brief to the CFL after kickoff, the AJLCF said air quality levels in Calgary were unsafe and posed a threat to the health and safety of players on the field. He asked the league to delay the game until those levels drop to seven or less.

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The union also added that if the game goes ahead, it would bring the matter to the attention of Alberta Occupational Health and Safety. The AJLCF says a complaint has been filed and the OHS is currently investigating the matter.

A game can start with an air quality of seven, provided conditions do not worsen. But Environment Canada’s CAS for northwest Calgary was still at nine o’clock four hours after kickoff.

Smoke from the wildfires spread all the way to Calgary on Saturday night. Environment Canada’s air quality index on Monday showed nine out of 10, or “high risk.”

Both the CFL and the union monitored air quality readings in Regina on Sunday, but the game between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers went as planned because conditions got worse. are improved there.

“The biggest problem we have right now is that the league is trying to change its policy,” said Brian Ramsay, general manager of the AJLCF. “They have informed us that they will not stop games until (an air quality reading of) nine o’clock and that is unacceptable.

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“These policies have been followed since 2019.”

This year, poor air quality has caused a number of CFL teams to move their practices to indoor facilities. And in May, the Roughriders’ green-and-white scrimmage was canceled after two trips due to poor air quality caused by wildfire smoke.

“Prior to the Labor Day Cla*sic in Calgary, beginning at noon, air quality measurements were taken inside McMahon Stadium every 30 minutes until the end of the game,” said a CFL spokesperson. “Each of these readings was shared with the league office, the AJLCF and the two competing teams.

“This procedure is in accordance with protocol for games where there has been a potential threat to air quality, as has been the case for a number of games this season. All readings taken during warm-ups and throughout the game were considered “moderate”. As with any subject, the CFL is happy to discuss all procedures and practices with our partners at the AJLCF.

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The union and league are scheduled to meet Thursday in Vancouver. The meeting was scheduled before Monday’s game, but the issue of air quality was pushed to the top of the agenda.

“None of our guys want to stop things, our guys want to play football,” Ramsay said. “The CFL wants to put its members at risk, at the risk of long-term consequences.

“This comes from the same group that vehemently opposes workers’ compensation or any type of long-term rehabilitation for long-term injuries.”

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