Albertans Deserve a Premier Who Supports Good Data and Evidence-Based Health Policies

July 14, 2022
EDMONTON

Albertans Deserve a Premier Who Supports Good Data and Evidence-Based Health Policies

Whether it’s drug poisonings, heat waves, EMS Red Alerts or COVID-19 – the UCP government have consistently obstructed the collecting and sharing of good data in decision making


The recent article by independent investigative journalist Charles Rusnell,The Opioid Toll, by Neighbourhood, that Alberta Tried to Hide,” paints a damning picture of how the UCP government operates. The article shows that rather than formulate their response to the ongoing drug poisoning crisis with good evidence, the provincial government hid important information from the public that contradicted its ideological approach. The government has since refused calls from harm reduction groups to release recovery and treatment program data. 

The recent article by independent investigative journalist Charles Rusnell,The Opioid Toll, by Neighbourhood, that Alberta Tried to Hide,” paints a damning picture of how the UCP government operates. The article shows that rather than formulate their response to the ongoing drug poisoning crisis with good evidence, the provincial government hid important information from the public that contradicted its ideological approach. The government has since refused calls from harm reduction groups to release recovery and treatment program data. 

“The UCP ignored community members, health advocates and experts when making decisions about supervised consumption sites in Edmonton, and when the neighbourhood data didn’t back up those decisions, they plowed ahead anyway while hiding that data from the public,” said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “Alberta is in a drug poisoning crisis; a serious public health crisis with record deaths. We won’t get out of it by covering up the data and making ideologically-driven decisions void of evidence.” 

But drug poisoning data is just one of many examples. During last summer’s extreme heat dome, 619 people died in British Columbia, the majority of whom were seniors, and their provincial government has responded with an evidence-based strategy for future extreme heat events. Here in Alberta, an estimated 66 people died, yet no comprehensive data or analysis has been released to help plan for future heat events. 

When it comes to Alberta’s ongoing EMS Red Alert crisis, it has been left to frontline workers and their union to collect, FOIP and share data in order to show Albertans what is really happening in our emergency services. 

When justifying their decision to remove mandatory masks in schools, the government fought hard in court to keep the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health a secret. And on Tuesday, the government further restricted access to the already limited COVID-19 PCR testing program, meaning Alberta will have even less information to rely on when responding to a growing seventh wave of this pandemic. 

“Once again, this government would rather declare the pandemic over, and declare their abstinence-only approach to the drug poisoning crisis a success, than consider any evidence to the contrary,” said Gallaway. “It is all part of a pattern with this UCP government, to cover up data that doesn’t support their ideological decisions or to stop collecting it altogether information that could be vital in informing life-saving public health decisions”

“These are quite literally life-or-death issues, yet over and over Albertans are being asked to accept this government at their word, while they’ve proven to us again and again that they can’t be trusted to put the public interest first. Albertans deserve better,” concluded Gallaway.

Friends of Medicare is calling on all UCP leadership candidates to publicly commit to running a government that believes in collecting and transparently sharing good data, and making public health decisions based on evidence.

- 30 -