Posted on Jan 25, 2021
KENNEY’S VACCINE PLANNING LAGS FAR BEHIND OTHER PROVINCES
EDMONTON - Premier Jason Kenney’s COVID-19 vaccination plan for Alberta has vastly less detail about when different workers and age cohorts will be vaccinated than plans released by BC, Ontario, and other Canadian provinces.
“Jason Kenney bragged in early December that Alberta was entirely ready to rollout vaccines when they arrived but here we are in late January with the bulk of the plan still to be determined and the premier telling a different story every other week,” said David Shepherd, NDP Critic for Health. “Canadians in other provinces are being given a clear plan, while Kenney is only giving Albertans confusion.
It is time for the Premier to park the political games and have our public health officials release a detailed rollout plan for the vaccine — this is the only way to build public confidence and set ourselves up for a strong economic recovery.
Alberta’s plan has no detail at all after the end of February’s Phase 1b. Phase 2 is slated to start in April but, according to the government website, “work to identify sequencing for Phase 2 groups is underway. Decisions will be made in the coming weeks.”
In December, Kenney promised all Albertans would be offered the vaccine in the summer. Then on January 9, his office said he “misspoke” and that widespread vaccination would start in the fall. Then on January 14, Kenney said it could start in the spring. Meanwhile, the government website still says the “anticipated start of roll-out to the general public” is scheduled for “Fall 2021”.
The Ontario vaccination plan says vaccines will be offered in March to “frontline essential workers, including first responders, teachers and other education staff and the food processing industry” as well as older Ontarians in decreasing five-year age cohorts. The general public can expect to be eligible in August. Ontario has published the full membership of its vaccine task force and an ethical framework document describing how prioritization decisions are made.
The plan announced by BC last week describes when each five-year age cohort of the population can expect their first and second dose of vaccine. British Columbians aged 75-79 can expect their first dose in April and second dose in May, anyone 40 to 59 will get their first jab in July and second in August, and 18 to 24-year-olds can expect both doses in September. The BC government has also published an ethical framework document.
Saskatchewan provides detailed reporting of first and second doses administered by region, as well an age-cohorted plan for older residents. Widespread vaccination is expected to start in April.
Paul Wynnyk, the chair of Alberta Vaccine Task Force, hasn’t spoken publicly in more than a month, after being introduced by Health Minister Tyler Shandro.
“I get countless emails and phone calls and messages every day from Albertans who want to know what the plan is and when their turn will come,” Shepherd said. “Many of them are extremely frustrated at not knowing how these decisions are being made, or even who is making them. It’s long overdue for Paul Wynnyk to provide daily technical briefings to Albertans.
“The vaccine rollout is the single most important task for the Kenney government. I am extremely concerned that he is once again losing focus, distracted by travel and expense scandals and by trying to shift the blame for losing $1.5-billion of Albertans’ money in a risky gamble on Donald Trump’s re-election.
“Jason Kenney needs to put Albertans’ safety ahead of saving his own political skin.”