February 8, 2022
Removing COVID-19 protections is a short-sighted decision based on politics, not evidence
Although the Premier insists it will be “a careful and prudent plan,” the government’s track record suggests otherwise
Today, Premier Jason Kenney revealed via Tweet that he will be announcing his government’s plan to lift Alberta’s public health measures. Last summer the government tried a similar approach, leaving Albertans needlessly vulnerable.
“Here we go again. Each time the UCP government has lifted public health protections they’ve rushed to do it too soon and been met with outcry from concerned public health experts, health care workers, and advocates,” says Chris Gallaway, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. “But throughout this crisis, we’ve been repeatedly ignored by a government more concerned with protecting private profits than the health and wellbeing of the people of this province and our health care system.”
Kenney says the decision to lift measures will be contingent on declining hospital numbers, but as it stands, there are still more COVID-infected people in Alberta hospitals than ever before in the pandemic. Research from the University of Toronto shows that Alberta has higher rates of excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic than any other province.
“Our hospitals are still overcapacity, we’re facing staffing shortages throughout our health care system, and surgeries are still being canceled, yet this government continues to dodge their responsibility for protecting the safety of health care workers and patients,” says Gallaway. “Our health care workers have been invaluable over the past two years, and they deserve all the support we can give. What they don’t need is their government recklessly adding to the immense pressure on our health care system.”
The ongoing fifth wave has barely shown signs of curbing, and its impact is still being acutely felt throughout our health care system. But while Kenney initially stated his intention to lift restrictions in March, or late February, the timeline has since shortened dramatically, following protests in Coutts, and across Canada.
“This province’s pandemic response continues to be made based on political whims and short-sighted ideological bents, rather than evidence, and what’s best for protecting our collective public health,” says Gallaway. “The UCP government continues to play games with Albertans’ health and safety. But as we’ve already seen, this pandemic won’t end just because they say so.”
“Our provincial government must learn its lesson from its repeated past mistakes and finally put evidence—and the health of Albertans—first,” concluded Gallaway.
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