KENNEY’S COVID RESPONSE IS FAR TOO LITTLE, FAR TOO LATE
EDMONTON – Premier Jason Kenney failed to confront the out-of-control spread of COVID-19 infections in Alberta today, and emerged from 12 days of hiding to announce a small package of half-measures.
“Albertans waited 12 days, and in that time, 94 Albertans died and more than 13,000 Albertans got sick with COVID-19,” said Rachel Notley, Leader of the NDP Official Opposition. “Albertans waited 12 whole days expecting to see strong action, but once again, this Premier let them down.
“Today’s announcement is simply not enough. It’s the product of political bargaining inside the UCP and not the product of a serious engagement with public health advice.”
After months of claiming that his school re-entry plan was safe, Kenney is ordering students in Grades 7 through 12 home for online learning. But he offered no plan for families of students with complex needs who rely on in-person support.
“In July, our caucus proposed a 15-point plan to ensure Alberta had safe schools and smaller class sizes in September,” Notley said. “The UCP refused to implement it, claiming schools were safe and not the source of community spread. To date, we’ve seen more than 500 schools with cases of COVID-19. There are thousands of students, teachers and staff in isolation as we speak.”
Kenney announced no meaningful changes to retail stores, restaurants or bars. Kenney’s mask policy applies only to the Edmonton and Calgary zones, and adds little to those cities’ existing mask bylaws. Alberta remains the only province in Canada without a province-wide mask policy, despite having the highest number of active cases of any province in Canada.
“These half-measures will mean prolonging the pandemic, prolonging the suffering, and prolonging the economic pain,” Notley said. “It is now clear that the official position of the Government of Alberta is to do the very least to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Today, Jason Kenney had one last chance to make the hard choice. He failed to do so, and now we all have to live with the consequences.”
Alberta reported 1,115 new COVID cases and 13,349 active cases today, with 348 people in hospital and 66 in intensive care. Over the past 24 hours, 16 Albertans lost their lives.