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EDITORIAL: Provincial government failing Albertans in COVID-19 response

If the incentive of a potential $1 million was not enough to get a COVID-19 vaccine, the Alberta government is hoping a $100 gift card will be. Those numbers are not reversed. Rather than the chance for a million, a guaranteed $100 is the government’s
September 9, 2021
Cartoon by Patrick LaMontagne/ www.lamontagneart.com.

If the incentive of a potential $1 million was not enough to get a COVID-19 vaccine, the Alberta government is hoping a $100 gift card will be.

Those numbers are not reversed.

Rather than the chance for $1 million, a guaranteed $100 is the government’s plan to get vaccine stragglers a pair of vaccine shots in the arm.

If you are disappointed by this, you are not alone.

Financial incentives to receive the vaccine have shown to not bring people in droves to get inoculated, but the government is continuing to hope it will work.

As of Sept. 3, 78.3 per cent of eligible Albertans have got their first dose and 70.2 per cent have both doses. It is among the lowest in the country.

However, Alberta is the highest in Canada in terms of both the number of active cases and active cases per 100,000 people as of Tuesday (Sept. 7).

The number of active cases is most alarming, with Tuesday showing 13,495 confirmed cases.

Alberta has more than double the active cases of the next province – Ontario, which has more than three times the population – and the situation in hospitals is rapidly deteriorating.

Hospital staff are already on the verge of burnout – in addition to the province wanting them to take a three per cent pay cut – while the province races to bring in contract nurses from out-of-province in a sign of desperation.

While Premier Jason Kenney called the fourth wave a “crisis of the unvaccinated” at his Sept. 3 news conference, the provincial government continues to let people down and find ways to trip over themselves when it comes to its COVID-19 response.

The domino effect of reopening far too soon is now being felt, as businesses are again facing restrictions, masks are wisely once again mandatory for indoor public spaces and alcohol service is stopped at 10 p.m.

The 10-day mandatory quarantine for people with COVID-19 continues and contact tracing and testing will remain for now.

Most alarming is the postponing of many surgeries across the province.

In the Calgary Zone – which the Bow Valley is part of – up to 30 per cent of scheduled surgeries, endoscopy and outpatient visits are being postponed. Though urgent and emergency procedures are not impacted, the situation is less than ideal.

Provincial leaders were largely silent, absent and missing when cases were rising in August.

As cases grew, Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw were silent and failed to present the data that led to their July announcement of removing nearly all public health restrictions.

Though it has since been reversed, the data that led to the decision continues to be absent.

Since the province has been largely mute on releasing modelling projections, others have had to pick up the slack.

In August, the B.C. COVID-19 Modelling Group – an organization of more than a dozen medical academics and epidemiologists – forecasted up to 6,000 new cases a day in Alberta.

The released data came shortly after the province’s Aug. 13 announcement to have public health restrictions stay in place, but a Sept. 1 release from the group again forecasted up to 6,000 new cases a day by the start of October, along with potentially 1,500 hospitalizations and up to 500 people in the ICU.

The situation for the coming months is likely to be grim for Alberta, but hopefully everyone had the best summer ever in 2021.