Friday Focus January 7th: The New Year Ahead

The New Year is an exciting time. It’s filled with promise and possibilities. I’m excited to talk with you about what’s in store for the Alberta Liberal Party this year. 2022 is going to be a pivotal year for our party. 

However, I know that the ongoing pandemic is at the forefront of everyone's mind right now. 

We are currently dealing with the latest surge in COVID cases, this time spurred by the highly contagious omicron variant, which is proving a more significant challenge to contain than previous variants. Sadly, what isn’t unique is the UCP government’s failed response. Relaxed restrictions and insufficient data have undermined the public health response from the Alberta government. For example, as more people rely on at-home rapid testing, the government doesn’t provide a way to report a positive test. The Government has also stopped tracking or at least stopped reporting the percentage of those hospitalized who are unvaccinated. We need a government that learns from experience and is better prepared for what we may be facing.

We especially need a more proactive approach to COVID in our schools. Despite protests from both parents and teachers, Alberta students will be sent back to classrooms for in-person learning on the 10th. We know schools are a major vector for transmission right now. We also know that inadequate numbers of educators have received their booster shots. In addition, there is a shortage of N95 medical masks, proven to be more effective than the medical masks currently being handed out in schools. 

We should be delaying in-person learning until we can secure a supply of N95 masks for our schools while also prioritizing school staff for booster vaccine shots. While we can all appreciate how important in-person learning is, a few more weeks of online learning will do less harm than a rush back to the classroom. It’s the prudent, pragmatic and evidence-based way to handle this issue, and it’s in line with what parents, teachers and experts are advising. Taking this cautious approach may not stop the omicron variant, but it will help to slow down its spread.

Thankfully, 2022 isn’t all gloom and COVID. In the first half of 2022, we’ll start our Leadership Race. I have no doubt we’ll see fantastic candidates step forward and vie for Leadership. However, the Leadership Race won’t be the only chance Liberals have to make their voices heard this year. We will also be hosting our policy convention, where party members will set the Liberal policy agenda for the 2023 election. These events will help grow our party and illustrate how positive and pragmatic politics can build a stronger Alberta. 

Of course, beyond just the marquee events of the year, we’ll continue to build our party through more local events. Last night, we hosted a successful and fun “Virtual Pints and Real Politics”. And mark your calendars for a special online event on January 26th. We’ll be announcing more in the coming days so make sure you're subscribed to our emails to get the details. 

Don’t forget to renew your annual membership for 2022, although if you are one of our valued monthly donors, your membership automatically renews.

With the support of Liberals like you, I know we can seize the opportunities of the year ahead. 

Here’s wishing all of you a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.