Posted on May 6, 2020


EDMONTON -- Premier Jason Kenney and his UCP government have refused to agree to an emergency debate on the outbreak of COVID-19 at meat-packing facilities. 

The NDP Official Opposition had put forward the motion on Wednesday, citing the urgent need to discuss the matter as the Legislature reconvened for the first time in almost a month. However, the UCP chose not to support the motion and voted it down. 

“Albertans deserve to know what happened - they deserve answers. Unfortunately, the UCP have refused to provide any transparency about their mishandling of this outbreak,” said Heather Sweet, Official Opposition House Leader.

Since the Legislature last convened on April 9, there have been several COVID-19 outbreaks at meat-packing plants across the province. According to the latest figures by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, there are 949 cases of COVID-19 in the Cargill plant near High River, 487 cases among employees of the JBS plant in Brooks, and 36 cases at Harmony Beef north of Calgary. 

One employee has died at Cargill, which is now the site of the largest COVID-19 outbreak in North America. 

During an April 8 COVID-19 update, Premier Kenney stated, “I’m the premier and, therefore, ultimately responsible for the Government of Alberta's response to this public health emergency.”

But according to Sweet, Kenney has refused to accept any responsibility for his government's actions. 

“Just a few weeks ago, the UCP told us everything was safe in these meat-packing plants. Now there are hundreds of cases at these facilities and one worker has died,” said Sweet. “The Premier and his UCP government have refused to accept any responsibility or provide basic answers. Our caucus intended to bring the voices of workers and all Albertans’ into the Legislature with this emergency debate. But now the UCP have completely turned their backs on them.”

The motion the Official Opposition put forward included a call for an out-of-province investigator to monitor the ongoing activities at all meat-packing facilities in Alberta, and calls for a public inquiry into the Cargill outbreak, once the public health state of emergency is lifted.