Sandbags in a tsunami: Alberta’s ‘lockdown’ too little too late

Jason Kenney had the temerity to get up in front of the province today and declare himself a success while he announced strict lockdown like measures that were forced due to the failure of his government to act in a timely manner as Alberta’s Covid19 situation went from mediocre to disastrous.

Citing the provision of poor-quality PPE at the start of the pandemic, the ‘leading edge’ million-dollar contact tracing app that has traced exactly 19 exposures in 10 months, and testing and tracing that now doesn’t know where over 85% of exposures occurred – Kenney defiantly pointed fingers at everyone but himself for Alberta’s failure to contain the pandemic.

Today’s announcement might have been worthy of celebration had it been delivered 4-6 weeks ago – when doctors, nurses, public health professionals (who don’t report directly to the inept Health Minister), businesses, opposition, and anyone with an ounce of critical thought saw the impending crisis.

Instead, it’s a move too little, too late.

Already I’m seeing posts about people finding ways to break these rules so that they can be with their family and friends through the holidays. And who can blame them?

Our leaders have pandered to those who haven’t followed the public health guidance all along. And now those who have are missing out on time with family and friends as a result. The UCP are still making exceptions for faith communities.

While this may slow the rate of growth, the public are fatigued. And it will not do enough to bend the curve.

Idiots who don’t believe in science, and don’t respect the government are already planning events to protest.

Families are openly planning to defy the ban on social gatherings over the holidays.

And while the government claims to be in the corner of the economy – Alberta’s is dead last in the country in terms of growth and jobs.

Inevitably, the government is going to have to take even stronger measures to contain this spread before vaccine supply is sufficient to return us to some sense of normalcy.

Our hospitals are mere days away from collapse as warned at Edmonton City Council’s emergency meeting today.

What measures would be needed now? A full circuit break lockdown. The only things allowed to open would be grocery and pharmacy. Everything else closed for four to eight weeks.

The government would need to prepare to spend. Work collaboratively with the feds to suspend mortgages, commercial rent collection, and to pay wages to all affected workers. Put a moratorium on all evictions. Provide grants to food banks. Expand coverage of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan to cover all virtual counselling and therapy sessions with any licensed provider in Canada.

This would give our hospitals a chance to get under control. It would protect business owners from losing their life savings and livelihoods. It would ensure that all people would come out as close to whole as they could on the other side. It would help protect the mental health and wellness of those being isolated.

Today’s actions are merely sandbags to a tsunami, and we’re still weeks away from the crest.

Robbie Kreger-Smith is a consultant for restaurants, communications, and marketing with previous partisan political experience in Alberta.

Connect: @RKSAlberta

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