Posted on Mar 5, 2021
ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF COVID-19 IN ALBERTA AND STILL NO INDEPENDENT REPORT ON UCP’S HANDLING OF THE FIRST WAVE
EDMONTON – Today marks one year since Alberta’s first presumptive case of COVID-19, and there is still no sign of the promised third-party review into the UCP’s handling of the first wave of the deadly pandemic.
The review was meant to help inform the province’s response to future waves of the pandemic, and a $475,000 contract was awarded to KPMG on August 14, 2020.
Staff in the Ministry of Health told reporters that the third-party review should be expected in early 2021, though an exact timeline was not announced.
“We are now three months into the second wave of the pandemic in our province and there is still no sign of a report designed to help the government learn from their first wave mistakes,” said Alberta NDP Critic for Health David Shepherd. “Albertans are watching this UCP government make the same mistakes today that they did in the first wave, and putting Alberta seniors and workers at unnecessary risk. We’re calling on Jason Kenney to release this comprehensive review, as he promised to do.”
The first wave of the pandemic included serious outbreaks at seniors’ facilities and meat-processing plants. Today, the COVID-19 outbreak at the Churchill Manor retirement home in Edmonton sits at 36 cases between residents and staff, which includes 19 variant cases. The Olymel meat-packing plant in Red Deer is the source of 511 total cases in the province, and 3 deaths. The plant re-opened for operations yesterday, over the objections of workers.
“Workers are scared to go back to work at Olymel. Alberta was the site of one of the worst outbreaks at a meat-packing plant at Cargill early last year, and one year into this pandemic the UCP have not learned from their mistakes,” said Alberta NDP Critic for Labour Christina Gray.
“The UCP continues to fail Alberta seniors as well,” said Alberta NDP Critic for Seniors and Housing Lori Sigurdson. “Jason Kenney promised to protect our most vulnerable from the pandemic, and just yesterday the Minister of Seniors and Housing shamefully dodged responsibility for what is happening at Churchill Manor.
“Residents at Churchill are living amidst mouse excrement while the facility deals with an outbreak that includes 19 variant cases. Residents and families are terrified. This has been a consistent fear for those with loved ones in facilities for an entire year because the UCP are repeating the same mistakes over and over again.”