August 3, 2021
Enough is Enough! Friends of Medicare protests removal of Alberta's public health measures
For the past 4 days, Albertans have been coming together to say Enough is Enough! Ongoing protests have been held each day in Calgary and Edmonton against this government’s reckless decision to end the most basic public health measures we have to deal with COVID-19 and the variants facing the province, Canada, and the world.
The Alberta government has announced that by August 16 they will:
- End nearly all public health measures, including masking;
- Close all testing centres;
- Require those with serious symptoms to get tested at a doctor's office or the Emergency Unit at a hospital;
- Largely do away with tracing contacts of people infected with COVID-19;
- Remove isolation requirements for people who test positive;
- Stop asking people with mild symptoms to get tested; and,
- Stop issuing medical data on COVID-19.
Friends of Medicare joins organizations and individuals across Alberta in vehemently opposing these actions which will recklessly endanger public health. We are not calling for increased restrictions, we are asking that the government keep in place the most basic and necessary measures to protect those that have not been vaccinated, those that cannot get vaccinated, and our children who are not yet eligible for vaccination.
“We all want COVID-19 to be over, but by taking it upon themselves to reclassify it from pandemic to an endemic and downgrading COVID-19 to a mere ‘respiratory virus’ despite all medical evidence is a dangerous and irresponsible overstep by this government,” says Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. “Kenney and all of his MLA’s who have been extremely quiet, have no moral authority to walk away from their responsibility to deal with this ongoing crisis.”
We have heard from doctors that they were uninformed of the government’s impending plans to move COVID-19 testing from designated facilities to doctors’ offices and ERs prior to Dr. Hinshaw’s public announcement on July 28. Little, if anything, has been communicated to them as to whether they will be provided with appropriate PPE to deal with potentially COVID-positive patients, or how the government intends to keep other patients and staff safe in their wait rooms and offices.
As for emergency departments, the province’s ERs are already being stretched to their limits, and over the past few months, it has become rare that a day goes by without an announcement of bed closures due to lack of staffing.
Since the very beginning of this pandemic, contact tracing has been pivotal in informing public health decisions worldwide. As COVID-19 cases are once again growing in Alberta, and as new variant strains continue to emerge, contact tracing will remain imperative in identifying exactly where pockets of infection are occurring, and ensuring we have the data that is essential for any future necessary population health decisions.
“This government’s attitude is: if we don’t know about the problem, then we don’t need to deal with it,” says Azocar. “The lack of leadership when it comes to doing even the minimum to protect Albertans is an act of political cowardice.”
We are also concerned that the removal of isolation requirements when people have tested positive will make it increasingly difficult for those that are sick to stay at home, without employer sick pay or job protections. We can expect that more people will be going to work sick and workplace transmission will worsen once again.
“You cannot will COVID-19 away by burying your head in the sand and pretending it is gone,” continues Azocar. “With leadership and governance there is a social contract that those that have been elected will work on our behalf. This government is continuously destroying that contract and betraying their constituents by putting all of us at risk.”
Friends of Medicare will continue to protest the removal of Alberta’s public health measures on August 16. We call on our friends, supporters, and all Albertans to phone and write to their MLAs, the Health Minister, and the Premier to let them know that Enough is Enough! We must not allow our government to abandon Albertans by neglecting their responsibility to uphold the testing, tracing and isolation measures that are imperative to keep us safe.
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