‘People are furious’: Criticism over new Alberta public health measures mounts

EDMONTON –

As COVID-19 cases in Alberta surge and health-care leaders call for military aid to help beleaguered hospital staff, some are worried the latest public health measures may not help curb the fourth wave.

On Friday, Alberta reported more than 2,000 daily COVID-19 cases for the first time since May. While the next data update is expected Monday, the province has 19,201 active cases and 911 hospitalizations – including 215 ICU admissions.

The province released triage protocols to guide workers on how life-and-death decisions should be made if the province’s healthcare system is overwhelmed, and field hospitals were prepared in Calgary and Edmonton.

Other provinces pledged support to help Alberta deal with the fourth wave of the pandemic, including offers of pharmaceutical aid from Manitoba and the ability to send patients for care to Ontario.

Don Iveson, Edmonton’s mayor, told CTV News that the province should have taken the word of public health experts who were sounding alarm over the open for summer plan back in June.

“What we were promised in Alberta with open for summer,” Iveson said, “was a false promise because not enough people were vaccinated and our doctors and epidemiologists here in Edmonton were saying that at the time.

“We should have listened to them, or our decision-maker should have listened to them,” Iveson added.

That is why the City of Edmonton erred on the side of caution when it came to measures like mask mandates, Iveson said.

“Edmonton City Council takes very seriously what our healthcare leaders in the city say,” he said. “Notwithstanding the signals that everything’s fine coming out of the legislature, which were wrong.”

Iveson shared that he has heard large amounts of frustration from Albertans reacting to the newest public health measures.

“I’ve never seen Albertans this mad across the political spectrum about the situation we find ourselves in,” he said. “People are furious.

“Just call it a vaccine passport if you’re going to reverse course,” Iveson added. “Make it straightforward rather than a proof of vaccination restriction exemption program, which is an un-passport, which downloads the onus onto small businesses and municipalities like mine to have to make venue by venue decisions about whether we’re going to opt into this and that.”

The mayor said he and other colleagues in municipal governance are concerned that the program could create potential for inconsistencies across the province.

“That lack of clarity,” he said,” leads to potential for misinterpretation and potential for conflict on a store-by-storefront basis.”

Dr. Joe Vipond, a Calgary emergency room doctor and outspoken activist about the need for COVID-19 restrictions, told CTV News that the measures introduced last week by the premier “will not be enough.”

“I can tell you that the measures that were introduced on Wednesday, in my mind, won’t be enough to curb the exponential growth of cases,” Vipond said.

“And as such, we should be continuing to see growth of hospitalizations and ICU (admissions),” Vipond added. “If that’s the case, if we continue to have not just tens of people needing ICUs that we don’t have room for but dozens or hundreds, I don’t know what we can except maybe implement these (triage) protocols and that is deeply concerning.”

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Diego Romero


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