By Kenyon Stronski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
As the rejuvenating weather of spring recedes into summer, the Alberta government has officially announced an “Open For Summer Lottery.”
The basis for the lottery, as Premier Jason Kenney noted, is to help encourage every eligible Albertan to be vaccinated, as quickly as possible.
“Alberta has been one of the leading provinces on vaccinations for months, and that great credit goes out to everyone at AHS and the 1,340 pharmacies across Alberta for making everything happen,” said Kenney.
Today, there is a level of protection in the province that greatly surpasses what it was months ago, with 2.63 million Albertans or 68.7 per cent of everyone 12 and above receiving at least one dose of the vaccine, Kenney explained.
“With 20 per cent of Albertans having the second dose. The leading number in Canada.”
“I want to thank every Albertan that has gone out of their way to do the right thing for their own health, their loved ones and friends and the province by getting ‘the jab’ and sticking it to COVID,” he added.
But, Kenney pointed out, Albertans are not across the finish line just yet.
“That’s why Alberta’s government is stepping up to get creative and to encourage more people to get the vaccine with our ‘Open For Summer’ vaccine lottery.”
Over the last few months, cases and hospitalizations have decreased dramatically with businesses and sectors opening up for work once again. Some restrictions, however, will remain in place until the province hits 70 per cent of first doses for eligible Albertans.
Kenny hammered home the notion, “I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to celebrating Canada Day. I certainly hope, as we normally do — with outdoor celebrations in our neighbourhoods and communities — backyard barbecues, and of course, fireworks to top it all off.”
But the clock is ticking, according to Kenney. “If we’re to have a back to normal Canada Day, we have to have that 70 per cent no later than June 17.”
“Currently, we are 46,361 first doses from that goal,” he noted, earlier this week.
“The government has done what they can do to encourage vaccination, delivered vaccines to every corner of Alberta, offered free parking and transit clinics and have just worked to deliver vaccines, as conveniently as possible.”
“We need everyone who’s still on the fence or those who want to get a shot but have just been putting it off to get their dose now. We’ve seen a real drop-off in the last week-and-a-half in first dose(s) administered. Yet, there are lots who want to — but just haven’t taken the plunge yet.”
Kenney said the Alberta government is reaching out to those fence-sitters — an estimated 600,000 people — to get their first dose, so Alberta can enter that last stage of re-opening. Which is where the lottery comes in.”
“If you have not gotten your first dose, then now is the time. You’re not only losing out on the best health protection available, but you’re also saying no to the chance to win a million dollars.”
There will be three lotteries over the coming months, the first can be registered for now if you’re 18 or older and have received the vaccine.
The winner will be announced at the start of Stage 3. The second will open in August and will begin Aug. 24 for those who have had two doses. The third following in September, with Albertans who have two doses by Sept. 23 will be eligible to apply. These draws are $1 million each.
“Now, your vaccine shot is also a shot at becoming a millionaire. The time is now, get your shots and let’s get Alberta open for a great summer,” said Kenney.
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro said for those who think $3 million seems like a lot, “we’re spending this money to ensure widespread immunity that benefits every Albertan.”
“Whether you’re entering the draw or not, getting the vaccine benefits every Albertan — whether or not you’re entering the lottery. COVID has already cost us billions, but this lottery is aimed at reducing the cost going forward. This is an investment in Albertans and our province’s future,” Shandro added.
Don’t wait, Shandro said, “get your shot and get a shot at winning.”
You can apply for the “Open For Summer Lottery” at alberta.ca/lottery.