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Alberta

NDP says covid restrictions should apply to all regions of Alberta equally

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News Release from the Alberta NDP

KENNEY’S COVID RESTRICTIONS MUST APPLY TO ALL ALBERTANS AND BE EFFECTIVELY ENFORCED

Alberta’s NDP is calling for the Premier to apply COVID-19 public health orders consistently and bring in effective enforcement. The Official Opposition also continues to call for support for families of students forced to learn at home, struggling small businesses and workers forced to work sick without paid sick leave.

“I wanted to hear a clear commitment from the Premier that he would consistently and effectively enforce the law,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley. “Instead, we have politically motivated exceptions and toothless enforcement.”

Notley noted that a majority of the areas exempt from public health orders are represented by UCP MLAs who have undermined public health orders.

Today, Solicitor General Kaycee Madu denied that his department told police to hold back on enforcement, despite his senior law enforcement official telling a legislature committee exactly that on April 6.

“He refused to come clean about enforcement. We heard yesterday from the Chief of Police in Calgary that their partners at the province told police not to issue many tickets,” said Notley. “Today we heard nothing from the Solicitor General that would dispel these directions.”

Jason Kenney also made no mention of any new support for small businesses. Personal and wellness services, health, social and professional services are due to close on Sunday, May 9, along with patio dining at restaurants and bars. All school grades are to move to online learning on Friday, May 7.

“As the Premier fails to do all that is necessary today to get COVID-19 under control, Albertans are left paying the price after enduring more than a year on Jason Kenney’s rollercoaster of confusing and contradictory restrictions,” Notley added. “They need support, but once again, Jason Kenney announced restrictions without any of the necessary support.”

“Families and businesses across Alberta are scrambling today to respond to the confusing array of public health measures announced last night,” Notley said. “Working parents are trying to figure out how to keep kids at home safely for two weeks or more. Small business owners are asking themselves if they can survive yet another closure of three weeks or more.”

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Alberta

Two deputy chief medical officers resign from their positions with Alberta Health

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Edmonton – Alberta’s two deputy chief medical officers of health are leaving their roles — less than a month after Dr. Deena Hinshaw was removed as the province’s top doctor.

Health Minister Jason Copping confirmed during question period Wednesday that both of the doctors have submitted letters of resignation.

“They are still continuing to work at this point in time,” he said in the legislature. “We are in the process of actually looking to fill those roles.”

A statement from Alberta Health said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra and Dr. Jing Hu, who are listed as public health physicians on the department’s website, have given notice.

When reached by her department email, Salvaterra responded: “Unfortunately, we are not able to comment.”

She later added that she respects and admires both Dr. Hinshaw and Dr. Hu.

“They are brilliant, hard-working, and compassionate public health physicians and I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to work alongside them for these past 14 months.”

Salvaterra, who has extensive public health experience including as the medical officer of health for Peterborough, Ont., joined the office in October 2021.

Her career in public health includes work in “the COVID-19 response, mental health, the opioid response, women’s health, poverty reduction, health equity, community food security and building stronger relationships with First Nations.”

Hu’s out-of-office message said her “last day at work with Alberta Health was Nov. 18, 2022,” and noted she wouldn’t have access to the department email after that date.

She got extensive training in China and at the University of Calgary before joining the health department in January 2020.

Their resignations came within a month of Hinshaw, who became the face of Alberta’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, being removed from her position.

Hinshaw was replaced by Dr. Mark Joffe, a senior executive member of Alberta Health Services, on an interim basis.

“Dr. Joffe will be supported by medical officers of health within AHS, by other staff in the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and by the Public Health Division,” said the statement from Alberta Health late Wednesday.

“We expect these changes to have no impact on the department’s and Dr. Joffe’s ability to meet the requirements of the Public Health Act.”

Hinshaw’s dismissal didn’t come as a surprise.

Premier Danielle Smith announced on her first day in office in October that she would be replaced.

Smith has made it clear that she blames both Hinshaw and Alberta Health Services for failing to deliver the best advice and care for Albertans as the hospital system came close to buckling in successive waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of the bad decisions were made by Alberta Health Services on the basis of bad advice from the chief medical officer of health,” Smith told reporters on Oct. 22.

Smith has not placed the blame on front-line doctors and nurses but broadly on AHS senior management. Joffe, while serving as chief medical officer of health, retains his role in AHS senior management as a vice-president responsible for areas in cancer and clinical care.

Hinshaw, an Alberta-trained public health specialist, became a celebrity of sorts in the first wave of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, as she delivered regular, sometimes daily, updates to Albertans on the virus, its spread and methods to contain it.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

— By Colette Derworiz in Calgary.

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Alberta

Alberta introduces bill for $2.8 billion in inflation-fighting payouts, rollbacks

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Edmonton – The Alberta government has introduced legislation to implement inflation-fighting rebates and payouts announced recently by Premier Danielle Smith.

Affordability Minister Matt Jones says the changes allow for help for families, seniors and the vulnerable soon.

Middle- to lower-income families, those with a household income of less than $180,000 a year, are to get $600 over six months for each child under 18 years of age.

The same income threshold and benefit applies to seniors, and the payout will also go to those on disability supports.

There will be electricity rebates and the 13 per cent provincial tax on gasoline is suspended from January to June.

The total cost of the package is pegged at $2.8 billion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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