Independent MLA Drew Barnes expressed disappointment in the Alberta government’s announcement Sept. 15.
The Medicine Hat MLA indicated for the past 18 months, the Premier Jason Kenney has failed to provide the flexibility and resources necessary for our health system to adapt to the seasonal nature of this pandemic. As a result, there are only about 260 acute care beds available to serve an entire province with a population of 4.4 million.
“The rise in the number of Covid-19 patients this fall was entirely predictable, and the government’s failure to adequately prepare is negligent. Let me be clear; this is not a failure of our front-line doctors and nurses. This is a failure of management. This is a failure of government,” said Barnes.
As a direct result of this failure, our province now faces a new round of mandatory health restrictions. The Premier is going so far as to break his promise not to “facilitate or accept vaccine passports.”
“Vaccine passports” are a coercive measure designed to segregate from society the 20 percent of eligible Albertans who have exercised their legal right not to be vaccinated.
“People have already contacted me telling me they have lost their jobs due to not being vaccinated. Many healthcare professionals feel betrayed that they were good enough to work during 18-months of the pandemic unvaccinated, but are now facing termination. Vilifying and banishing hundreds of thousands of Albertans from daily life will immediately damage our economy and disrupt supply chains. If this action continues it would clearly violate Albertans’ rights,” added fellow Independent MLA Todd Loewen.
“While such a divisive policy may help distract Albertans from Jason Kenney’s failures, it will NOT fix the capacity issues in our health system,” said Barnes.
Barnes and Loewen are offering five solutions to help address the current situation:
1 â€” The government should take a direct role in health care management to immediately expand acute care bed access by opening facilities specifically to serve Covid-19 patients.
2 â€” Rescind the layoffs of all healthcare workers made due to vaccine mandates. This is not the time to fire perfectly healthy nurses or support staff who are urgently needed on the front lines.
3 â€” Ban proof of vaccine requirements and vaccine mandates while expanding rapid testing options. There is no reason to sideline a sizable percentage of the workforce when the vast majority are perfectly healthy. As current vaccine options do not prevent people from contracting Covid-19, rapid tests are a far more effective way to determine health status.
4 â€” The government should shift its policies towards the long-term management of Covid-19 by making the health system more flexible to seasonal demands. This disease will be present in society for years to come; treating every wave as a public health emergency is not viable.
5 â€” The immediate resignation of Premier Kenney. Inconsistent and negligent management of the pandemic has destroyed public trust. For the good of the province, the Premier must immediately resign so that public trust can be restored.
“From the beginning of the pandemic, the mantra has always been, “We’re all in this together.” This is not a time for vilifying people or dividing our society with vaccine passports and vaccine mandates,” said Barnes.
“Yes, there are challenges. But Albertans have a long history of rising to meet challenges. We can and will do so again. And when we do succeed, it will be because we chose to do so together,” said Loewen.