Posted on Nov 30, 2020


EDMONTON - UCP Health Minister Tyler Shandro lied to Albertans today and denied that Calgary hospitals were short of oxygen due to the COVID crisis, despite a recent AHS memo warning clinical staff of the shortage.

On Friday, the leads of the Calgary zone respiratory therapy program wrote a memo to all local hospitals, titled “O2 Clinical Measures.”

“Due to the limitations of the bulk oxygen system at some adult acute care sites in Calgary and the expected increase in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to reduce the demand on the bulk oxygen system,” wrote Carmella Steinke and Dr. Jonathan Gaudet. “Clinical measures require everyone to engage in oxygen conservation measures immediately.”

In the legislature Monday, Shandro both denied that a shortage was happening and, bizarrely, simultaneously claimed the shortage was a routine issue at AHS. 

“None of that is true,” Shandro said. “This is continued fear-mongering on behalf of the NDP. This is a contingency plan of AHS as they do throughout the year. They’ve advised healthcare professionals to use oxygen when it’s clinically appropriate. This is something that happens often throughout any given year.”

The physician who released the memo on social media, an anesthesiologist at Rockyview General Hospital, said she had never seen measures like this before in her career.

“Jason Kenney and Tyler Shandro failed to prepare for the second wave of this pandemic, and a shortage of oxygen in Calgary is a truly disturbing image of an overwhelmed hospital system,” said David Shepherd, NDP Official Opposition Critic for Health. “Instead of confronting this serious problem directly and honestly, Shandro lied to Albertans.

“Every day we see more Albertans infected with COVID-19 packed into our hospitals and intensive care units because Jason Kenney failed to prepare and failed to act. This oxygen shortage is the latest sign of stress from a healthcare system trying to hold back a pandemic without any meaningful help from the premier,” Shepherd said.