Posted on Apr 5, 2021


EDMONTON - Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley is calling on Premier Jason Kenney to immediately re-introduce public health measures to protect Albertans from the rising danger of the COVID-19 pandemic’s third wave.


“Albertans’ lives are at stake and there are proven measures that could be protecting them,” Notley said. “I was shocked that Jason Kenney failed to do this on Thursday. He laid out a compelling case to take action and then failed to act. Jason Kenney is a weak and ineffective premier.”


In his remarks on April 1, just before the Easter long weekend, Kenney said “we know with great certainty that we will have close to 500 COVID patients in hospital just two weeks from now. If growth continues on its current pace, that will turn into about 1,000 people in hospital a month from now … and so on.”


Kenney also described the new COVID variants as “more virulent” and “more lethal.”


“Let’s be clear,” Notley said. “Jason Kenney said that hundreds upon hundreds of people will be hospitalized in the next 14 days and then did absolutely nothing to prevent even more people from being infected over this long weekend. He said if we stay on this current path we will have 1,000 people in hospital with COVID inside of a month — more than we have ever seen at any point in this pandemic — and yet he did nothing to change course.”


The Official Opposition is calling for a re-introduction of the government’s January 18 public health restrictions, which effectively contained the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in Alberta, but with schools remaining open for the time being. 


The Opposition also urges the government to convene an urgent conversation with teachers and school districts to determine how to keep students, staff, and families safe through to June. This should include widespread rapid testing in schools, dedicated school contact tracing, the hiring of additional staff, and the creation of an Alberta Learn From Home fund.


Renewed restrictions must be accompanied by renewed support for Alberta families, businesses, and workers, including the $125 million in unspent money from the Small Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant program, and the more than $100 million in federal money meant for the still-unlaunched Alberta Jobs Now program. 


“If he knows our current path will take Alberta back into public health restrictions, then what is Jason Kenney waiting for?” Notley asked. “His dithering and delay means more harm to small businesses and workers, more chaos in schools, more intense pressure on our healthcare heroes, more infections, more serious life-changing illness, and more lives lost.”


At the beginning of the second wave, the first time Alberta saw more than a thousand new cases in a day was November 14, at which point there were 240 people in hospital with COVID. Even as new cases continued to soar Jason Kenney waited three and a half more weeks to act. When he finally did, on December 8, there were 1,727 new cases that day and 654 people in hospital. Between November 14 and December 8, 239 Albertans died.


“The Premiers of BC, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec have all re-introduced public health measures to keep their residents safe. But Jason Kenney is dithering and worrying more about his political future and political base than the lives of Albertans. I cannot believe that his failure to act is based on professional public health advice,” Notley said.


“Jason Kenney must release the internal modelling and written recommendations from Dr. Deena Hinshaw that he has hidden from Albertans. He must re-introduce the measures that effectively contained the spread of COVID over the winter — and he must do it today.”