June 16th, 2024

Alberta introduces new rules, passport as COVID puts health system days from collapse

By Herald on September 15, 2021.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney takes questions after announcing new COVID-19 measures for Alberta in Calgary, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Dean Bennett – The Canadian Press

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, facing a COVID-19 crisis that is threatening to collapse its health system in just over a week, has reintroduced limits on gatherings along with elements of a vaccine passport system.

Alberta is also asking for help from other provinces to use their intensive care beds and staff while prepping its triage protocols, which would see doctors forced to choose who gets life-saving treatment and who does not.

The United Conservative government declared Wednesday a state of public health emergency.

“We may run out of staff and intensive care beds within the next 10 days,” Kenney said.

“Unless we slow (virus) transmission, particularly amongst unvaccinated Albertans, we simply will not be able to provide adequate care to everyone who gets sick.”

Alberta has 269 patients in intensive care in a system set up for 173. Of the 269 patients in ICUs, 218 have COVID-19 — the vast majority unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

There have been mass cancellations of non-urgent surgeries throughout the province – transplants, some cancer treatments and children’s surgeries, as staff are reassigned to COVID-19 care.

Dr. Verna Yiu, the head of Alberta Health Services, said the health system has never had so many people in intensive care at one time.

Triage has not been activated yet, she said, but staff are being briefed on rules and processes.

“If activated, the triage will be provincial in scope (and) applicable to all health facilities and critical care units in Alberta,” said Yiu.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said on Twitter that Ottawa is prepared to help.

“We’ll be there with ventilators, vaccines and people. In the meantime stay safe, get vaccinated and help each other.”

Alberta has more than 18,000 active COVID-19 cases, by far the highest in Canada.

It has been lagging on vaccinations, with less than 72 per cent of those 12 and older, who are eligible, fully immunized.

To stem transmission, Kenney’s government introduced an array of measures including a form of the vaccine passport.

Several provinces are bringing in the passports, which compel people to prove they have been vaccinated before being allowed to use non-essential services.

Kenney had resisted such measures for health privacy reasons. But critics said he did so to prevent a revolt by anti-restriction members of his caucus.

Kenney said he was reluctant to approve what he called, not a passport, but a “restriction exemption program.”

“With unvaccinated patients overwhelming now our hospitals, this is now the only responsible choice that we have,” he said.

Starting Sept. 20, people will need to show proof of vaccination to enter select non-essential businesses, including retail shops, restaurants, nightclubs, casinos, concerts and libraries.

However, businesses that opt out of the program can operate at reduced capacity and with distancing rules or restrictions, such as no more than six people at a table in a restaurant.

There is a welter of other rules to reduce capacity at weddings, funerals and private social gatherings starting Thursday.

Mandatory work-from-home orders are also in place unless it’s essential a worker is on-site. Masking in schools, previously left to school boards, is now mandatory for students in Grade 4 and up, along with staff and teachers.

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said the necessary measures were sadly preventable.

“This is a crisis of this premier and his cabinet’s own making.”

She said Kenney pushed Alberta faster and harder than any other province and refused to act for weeks when it was obvious something had to be done.

“He refused to take responsibility. He blamed in fact low vaccination rates for the fact that he ignored the evidence and went into hiding.

“What we saw today from the premier was not an apology. It was an embarrassing attempt to duck responsibility.”

Kenney pushed back on suggestions that he and his government are to blame for the crisis. His government lifted nearly all health restrictions on July 1 despite warnings of the Delta variant. No action was taken through the summer as cases and hospitalizations soared.

At the time, Kenney triumphantly announced COVID-19 was on the wane and mocked reporters who warned of the Delta variant. He announced there was no Plan B for high hospitalization rates because the government didn’t foresee it happening.

Earlier this week, the province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, acknowledged the decision to drop restrictions was wrong and that it lit the fuse on the skyrocketing caseload.

Kenney apologized for misreading COVID’s predicted path in June but said he wasn’t sorry for lifting all restrictions. He said he didn’t think a COVID-weary population would continue to follow them.

– With files from Alanna Smith in Calgary

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2021.

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Les Elford

I don’t know if it is just me, ….. But I am kind of confused after that UCP press conference Wednesday September 15, 2021. I will admit I have never been one of the brightest bulbs in the room. 
Was that an apology by Mr. Kenney; or not? Am I missing something???  I feel like I am missing something. If so; please someone help me out; because I am confused and……. well kind out exhausted over having my expectations of leadership dashed again. 
That’s why I am such a fan of the KISS principle.
The KISS principle did not appear to be apparent or visible tonight. 
I hate sounding like a jerk and being so critical of others (that is exhausting) and have been tempted to just “suck it up… shut up and keep quiet”. But the lyrics of the following song tell me not to do that.  
This whole circumstance appears to be simply symptomatic and a result of; The “Sound of Silence”.
Yes Mr. Kenney; whether you will admit it ……or not, you and your fellow team /cult members silence; has resulted in the unnecessary death and suffering of many innocent Albertan’s. 
I don’t know how you are able to look at yourselves in the mirror, without tears welling up in your eyes. All because of your; “Sounds of Silence”, your ideology. I am torn as I am a strong believe in freedom of choice, freedom of speech.
Your unwillingness to listen to medical experts who were begging you for weeks and weeks. All they received from you and your pals was; “Sounds of Silence”. 
Now here we are …. We all know the rest of the story. Sadly; we don’t know whether there will be a happy ending or more sorrow to come. 
What does the song the sound of silence mean?
“Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” Lyrics Meaning. by SMF · Published January 20, 2020 · Updated January 20, 2020. First off it should be noted that “the sound of silence” is not a good thing. Rather it is indicative of people being unable to effectively communicate with each other, particularly on an emotional level.” (You Tube)
 Sound of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel)
“Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence”
“In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence”
“And in the naked light, I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence”
“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed.
In the wells of silence”
“And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”
And whispered in the sound of silence”
Songwriter: Paul Simon
I recognize we have been asked to become human guinea pigs, and I don’t like it very much either, yet in order to keep myself, my family and loved ones and strangers safe according to medical expert advise; I complied and got fully vaccinated.
Am I worried about the long term after effects/side effects of an unknown / unproven vaccine? Sure I am.
But we are in a situation not of our making that is not in our control and I have chosen to put my health, trust and safety in the expertise of medical /scientific experts. In doing so, my hope is; I have done my part to help protect those who are around me who are not vaccinated as well as those who are.
I can only hope they will eventually show me the same courtesy, and together we can get through this mess and get our lives back.

Southern Albertan

“Kenney declaring public health emergency, to Alberta: ‘I apologize….I don’t apologize.’ ”
Quote from this blog: “And so much for his rumoured promise to federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole’s campaign not to make any announcement until a day or two after Monday’s national election. (It says something about just how bad things have become in Alberta until Tuesday to drop this bomb. The federal Cons are said to be furious.)”
We have a disastrous COVID mess in Alberta now. “Thanks Kenney!”

pursuit diver

I hope it was worth blowing the doors wide open for the Calgary Stampede! What is a few lives, loss of wages for those that had to isolate that made more than the $500 per week after suffering other financial losses, long lasting side effects of having COVID and many more impacts, all for the Calgary Stampede to happen!
We all cringed when we heard the sudden removal of restrictions, knowing the Stampede would create a rise within weeks and we started betting ( not money ) on when the 4th wave would hit. AND WE WERE NOT MEDICAL SPECIALISTS OR PROFESSIONALS IN FIELDS THAT SHOULD KNOW IT WOULD IMPACT OUR PROVINCE!
Money rules and in the end it will cost multiple times more when all is said and done than slowly removing the restrictions as the Delta variant proved to be a major foe across the globe, with numbers already rising in North America at that time!


Yesiree. A kenney wise and a pound foolish.


Time to take this uneeded experiment in American/Republican “play to the lowest denominator” politics, and bury it.
Not only have they been destroying the medical system on the altar of their Randian God, they’ll also let people die before they are forced to make a logical and social decision.
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of these idiots and their foil-wearing “base”.