By Ian Croft
With Jason Kenney’s implementation of the new guidelines on Nov. 24 opposition politicians and medical professionals released statements declaring them ineffectual at best and a complete disregard of Albertan’s health at worst.
Alberta still has the third highest number of COVID-19 cases across all of Canada and would be the last province to enact a mask mandate.
“Albertans waited 12 days, and in that time, 94 Albertans died and more than 13,000 Albertans got sick with COVID- 19,” said Rachel Notley, leader of the NDP. “Albertans waited 12 whole days expecting to see strong action, but once again, this Premier let them down. Today’s announcement is simply not enough. It’s the product of political bar- gaining inside the UCP and not the product of a serious engagement with public health advice.”
Notley also commented on how these new guidelines will do the opposite of what they were intended to do and prolong the pandemic within Alberta.
“These half-measures will mean prolonging the pandemic, prolonging the suffering, and prolonging the economic pain. It is now clear that the official position of the Government of Alberta is to do the very least to stop the spread of COVID-19. Today, Jason Kenney had one last chance to make the hard choice. He failed to do so, and now we all have to live with the consequences.”
Kenney also received backlash on the new guidelines based on the poor information that he has due to the lack of contact tracing within Alberta.
“These new restrictions are being put into place based on where transmission is or isn’t happening,” says Sandra Azocar, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “How can the government possibly claim that they are making databased policy decisions when we have virtually no provincial contact tracing data for the last three weeks?”
Azocar also called out Kenney on the basis that his speech was manipulative by how he framed those who are most affected by this pandemic requesting a lockdown to be implemented.
“Premier Kenney’s divisive framing of those Albertans who have been advocating for lockdown measures, claiming they don’t have consideration or sympathy for people whose livelihoods are dependent on their businesses, specifically women and refugees, is disingenuous at best. That kind of dismissal of Albertan’s concerns only serves to divide people rather than building on the collective understanding that we’re all trying to survive this pandemic, together. Where is the similar concern for the many racialized women working in continuing care settings, and on the front-lines of our health care system?”
Finally Mike Parker, president of Health Sciences of Alberta pointed out that the new guidelines are a clear indication that Kenney is only concerned about helping businesses stay open instead of ensuring the health and wellbeing of Albertans.
“The Premier keeps saying Albertans need to do their part while he has consistently failed to do his. He continues to put business interests ahead of the wellbeing of all Albertans. We have some of the worst COVID-19 numbers in Canada and it’s Kenney’s failure to act in the best interest of all Albertans that is to blame.”
Parker also made it clear how Kenney’s unwillingness to act will cause all Albertans unnecessary pain and suffering as these new measures fail to implement any improvement that could actually slow down the spread of COVID-19.
“The measures announced today are inadequate. While Albertans are getting sick and dying at alarming rates, the Premier is on TV talking about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Masks are not political, they are about protecting others, something Kenney has shown he has no interest in doing.”
“I realize Kenney and his MLAs believe the worst is over and that the end is in sight, but these measures ensure we will be dealing with this pandemic for a long time. We are likely only at the midpoint of this pandemic. The government needs to do what is most important right now. They need to make bold and brave decisions — a circuit breaker, which medical professionals are calling for.”
“Until we have a leader in this province who is willing to go beyond disingenuous ‘thoughts and concerns’ for all Albertans, more of us will get sick, and more of us will die.”
Local COVID Update
As we enter our first week of December, Dr. Deena Hinshaw held another live press conference to give a update on the COVID-19 pandemic within Alberta. The press conference on Dec. 1 reported 1,307 newly-identified cases of COVID-19 bringing the provinces total number of cases up to 16,628. 15,800 tests were completed with 479 people hospitalized, 97 of them in the ICU. 10 more people have died of COVID-19 across the province. Taber and the surrounding municipal district currently has 101 active cases of COVID-19 with four reported deaths since the beginning of this pandemic.
Canada as a whole now has had a total of 381,505 cases of COVID-19 identified with 303,102 individuals recovered.