Posted on May 26, 2020


EDMONTON - Calgary family physician Dr. Mukarram Zaidi is calling out Premier Jason Kenney for his behaviour, and the behaviour of Health Minister Tyler Shandro and his staff. Dr. Zaidi was in the news in March when Shandro arrived unexpectedly at the doctor’s home and yelled at him in front of his wife and children and neighbours about a social media meme.

“To add insult to injury, the premier’s statements have done a huge disservice by mischaracterizing the meme,” Dr. Zaidi wrote in a letter to media outlets. “He has attacked my integrity, certainly defamed me, and we fear for our safety and security. I fear for my family as a husband and as a father. The premier has not apologized, nor has he retracted his statements as of this writing.

“Let history be witness that during a pandemic, doctors in Alberta were not only fighting COVID-19 at the front lines, putting their family, loved ones and staff at risk. But they were also fighting the health minister, premier, and twenty plus staffers. For some of the premier’s staffers, it appears their jobs are to create misinformation and cultivate hate against physicians.”

Dr. Zaidi notes he has been forced to lay off two of his four staff due to changes in government billing codes, and lists several examples of corruption and harmful policy choices made by the Kenney government, such as installing the former executive director of the United Conservative Party as Alberta’s Health Advocate, tearing up the province’s contract with doctors, and chasing medical students out of the province. Dr. Zaidi also alludes to Shandro’s promotion of the controversial Babylon online health app, and his co-ownership of Vital Partners, a private health brokerage directed by his wife.

“If this continues,” Dr. Zaidi writes, “the rich and elite will have access to private health care, which will benefit the private insurance brokerages and people who have shares invested. Whereas, the elderly, poor, racial minorities and marginalized communities will have access only to online physicians with no continuity of care, adding to their morbidity and mortality. Excluding the richest Albertans, the rest of the population will find it very difficult to find a family doctor and specialists for their care.”

“I share Dr. Zaidi’s profound disappointment that Shandro’s abusive behaviour is tolerated and even encouraged in the Kenney government,” said David Shepherd, NDP Opposition Critic for Health. “Since he got a pass in March, we have seen escalating smears and attacks on Alberta’s healthcare professionals from Jason Kenney, Tyler Shandro, and their staff. It’s disgusting. Tyler Shandro must be fired.”