Alberta needs action to address future waves of COVID-19

Alberta needs action to address future waves of COVID-19

Health experts say Alberta is likely in, or on the verge of a seventh wave. Other provinces including Ontario, Quebec and BC have already declared a seventh wave.

The highly contagious BA.5 variant is hitting Alberta at a time when our health care system is already struggling with staffing shortages, dozens of temporary facility closures, an EMS crisis and a drug poisoning crisis, and while we’re facing the potential for summer heat waves to put further strain on the system. Yet the UCP government has repeatedly ignored calls for policy changes to protect Albertans and to manage the pandemic over the long-term.

“While the UCP government may prefer to pretend the COVID-19 pandemic is over, the fact is that our wastewater numbers are up, case numbers are up, and fatalities continue, making it clear that the highly contagious BA.5 sub-variant is spreading quickly through Alberta, just as it has in other provinces and countries,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “The provincial government needs to take action to protect Albertans and our already struggling public health care system.” 

In the more than two years since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, Friends of Medicare, along with labour unions, health care workers and other advocates, have repeatedly called for action, including paid sick days for all workers, improved working conditions in seniors’ care, and better ventilation in schools, workplaces, and public buildings. The UCP government has repeatedly opted to ignore those calls, and have acted quickly only when it means supporting the interests of their corporate friends, prioritizing policies such as accelerating the corporate tax giveawaycancelling WCB premiums for employers, and passing legislation to protect private long-term care facilities from being sued.

"Alberta is now facing a seventh wave of this pandemic, yet our provincial government has no plan to protect Albertans from yet another wave of COVID-19 spreading unchecked through the population, no plan for fourth dose booster shots, and no plan to mitigate the burden it will have on our already strained health care system over the months ahead," said Gallaway. "They continue to ignore the care needs of an increasing number of long COVID patients being added to the system with each subsequent wave, or the downstream impact this will have on our health care system for years to come."

To date, 4,636 people have died of COVID-19 in this province. Albertans have suffered for too long while waiting for this government to come up with a credible pandemic response. It’s long past time that UCP government finally put people before profits by taking the necessary action to protect our public health care system now and over the long-term.

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