Friday Focus: Rising COVID Cases

COVID-19 dominated headlines again this week, with a renewed focus on the questionable decisions made by the UCP and Dr. Hinshaw. 

Health care professionals have roundly criticized Dr. Hinshaw’s attempt to explain and justify ending COVID-19 testing and mandatory isolation for people with COVID-19. We’ve seen opposition to the government’s plan in Alberta from sources including members of the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association, Health Canada and 300 members of the Alberta Medical Association who practise pediatric medicine

In an op-ed Dr. Hinshaw stated there was a need to move on to other matters including the opioid crisis and syphilis and learn to live with COVID without “extraordinary measures.” Extraordinary challenges require extraordinary measures. But even so, are contract tracing, masking in confined spaces, and isolating the infectious so extraordinary, or simply prudent behaviour?

While other healthcare concerns, especially the opioid overdose crisis, require more focus, failing to protect against COVID adequately won’t help us deal with other health-related matters. Instead, it could have the exact opposite effect in both the near term and the long term.

We need to take a preventative approach, not a reactive one. A fourth wave will be a far greater cost to our healthcare systemー to say nothing about our economy. Surely the government and our health care officials can walk and chew gum at the same time. And if they can’t, they need to step aside for those who can.

The Allan Inquiry

Last Friday, Minister Savage received the Allan Report. This public inquiry instigated by the UCP to look into foreign funding for anti-fossil fuel environmental groups has been a fiasco from the very start. 

The government alleged that environmental groups are receiving massive sums of foreign money aimed at hurting Alberta’s oil and gas industry. This highly politicized inquiry received 5 deadline extensions and cost Alberta taxpayers $2.5 million dollars, only to find that less than 5% of the funds received by environmental groups could possibly have been focused on Alberta’s oil industry. 

But the wasted time and money is not even the biggest concern here. 

The official report allegedly uses terms like “anti-Albertan.” This is very serious.  Demonizing those who disagree with government policy and treating them as if they are enemies of the state has no place in our province. This kind of incendiary language creates a climate of fear and intimidation and seriously harms public discourse. 

If the UCP wants to do the right thing here, they must tone down the rhetoric. Instead of allowing rumours and innuendo to fester, the government should release the report immediately for all Albertans to see. That way they can judge the contents of the report, and the government who commissioned it, for themselves. 

This public inquiry and COVID-19 policy might not seem related; it's important to remember that both these debacles stem from the same root cause: a hyper-partisan political climate where facts come second and a political party's base comes first. The Alberta Liberals will keep fighting, not just for better policy but a better approach to politics.

The Alberta Liberals and I believe in the politics of listening and collaboration. We want to hear what you think about these and other issues. Let’s talk. Please reach out to us at [email protected] to let us know what matters to you.