Alberta healthcare on verge of collapse

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jerrym
Alberta healthcare on verge of collapse

Alberta doctors warn that the province's healthcare system is on the verge of collapse as Covid cases soars due to Kenney's lax to non-existent measures to fight the diseases spread. 

Alberta's health-care system is on the verge of collapse, warns a group of physicians who are pleading with the government to strengthen public health measures to fend off a relentless fourth wave of COVID-19. Dr. Shazma Mithani, an emergency room physician in Edmonton, said a staffing crisis, overwhelmed intensive care units and mixed messaging from the province has created a “dire” situation. Her biggest fear, she said, is that doctors will need to triage patients should hospitalizations continue to mount. ...

Alberta Health Services, the province's health-care provider, said in a statement Wednesday there were 258 intensive care beds in the province, which includes 85 added spaces. It said intensive care unit capacity sat at 87 per cent - just slightly below a seven-day average of 91 per cent.

Mithani said the government needs to listen to frontline health-care workers and implement stronger public health restrictions to prevent the health system from crumbling. “This is much, much worse than I think people understand,” she said. “We, as health-care workers, are telling you that things are very dire, that ICU beds are running out, that we are stretched very thin in terms of our hospital capacity.”

On Friday, the Government of Alberta reinstated an indoor mask mandate for public spaces and an alcohol sales curfew at 10 p.m. It also announced a $100 incentive for unvaccinated Albertans who get their shots in response to an intensifying crisis.

Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta, said those efforts are “all but meaningless.” “They are worse than doing nothing at all because now it is going to delay the government from taking more definitive action,” Schwartz said during a panel discussion Wednesday with advocacy group Protect Our Province.

Dr. Darren Markland, an intensive care physician in Edmonton who was also on the panel, said the government should consider vaccine passports and a circuit-breaker lockdown, which is a tight set of restrictions for a limited amount of time to curb ongoing transmission of COVID-19. Relying solely on vaccinations won't reign in a growing fourth wave driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, added Mithani. It takes at least six weeks for people to build full immunity against COVID-19 because vaccine shots need to be separated by a month and then allow another two weeks to develop protection. In the meantime, there are no signs COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are slowing. There were 647 Albertans in hospital Wednesday due to COVID-19, with 147 of those patients in intensive care. Hospitalizations jumped by 7.5 per cent from Tuesday. Another 18 people died in a 24-hour period.

The doctors with Protect Our Province said there are risks related to government inaction. Those risks, they said, include reduced health-care access for Albertans and increased burnout among health-care professionals. Alberta Health Services announced late Wednesday that all scheduled, elective surgeries and outpatient procedures in the Calgary Zone have been postponed for the rest of the week. It said on social media the move was necessary to deploy qualified staff to intensive and critical care units. “The situation really has come to a boiling point,” said Schwartz. “It's going to be a while before the premier and the chief medical officer of health will be willing to step back and accept that these actions have failed to immediately curb transmission and by that point, we're going to be in dire, dire trouble.

https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/boiling-point-alberta-doctors-warn-of-health...

jerrym

Alberta's active Covid infection rate of 199 per 100,000 is second only to Saskatchewan's infection rate of 217 per 100,000, which has also taken a laissez-faire attitude to the fourth Covid rate according to CBC News Network, thereby showing a close correleation between the Covid infection rate and the extent to which public health measures are applied. 

jerrym

Thanks to Kenney's liberterian attitude to Covid-19, Alberta has almost twice as many active cases as the next largest caseload by province with 8,980 today compared to Ontario's 5,059, BC's 4,684, and Quebec's 4,542, thereby stretching the Alberta healthcare system close to the breaking point according to doctors. 

https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/epidemiological-summary-covid...

jerrym

And the projections for the future are even grimmer.

 

  • A group of Alberta physicians is warning that the province's health-care system is on the verge of collapse due to a staffing crisis, overwhelmed intensive care units and mixed messaging from the province.
  • They are asking the Alberta government to strengthen public health measures to fend off the province's fourth wave of COVID-19 as case numbers and hospitalizations surge.
  • New COVID-19 cases in Alberta could climb to 6,000 per day by the beginning of October, with more than 1,500 hospitalizations and approaching 500 people in ICU, according to virus modelling released Sept. 1. 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-covid-coronavirus-septemb...

jerrym

The Kenney government is now moving patients to other care settings to deal with the overburden placed on hospitals by its refusal to follow public health guidelines and instead on keeping businesses open at all costs, including deadly ones. It is also cutting non-emergency surgeries by 60%.

Alberta will move more patients to other care settings to free up space in hospitals so overrun with COVID-19 cases that some children's surgeries, cancer surgeries and transplant operations are being cancelled.

Dr. Verna Yiu, the president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, says there may be 200 potential patients that could be moved into continuing care in the next week or two.

Yiu said intensive care beds are 130 per cent over capacity, and critically ill patients are being directed to overflow wards.

"We are experiencing significant capacity challenges. We continue to do all that we can to increase capacity, particularly in our ICUs, where pressure on our staff, physicians and resources is intense," Yiu said Thursday.

Non-emergency surgeries were cut by as much as 60 per cent provincewide last week and the Calgary health zone has cancelled all non-urgent procedures for the rest of the week. ...

Alberta has averaged more than 1,000 daily COVID-19 cases for two weeks. There are now 679 people in hospital with the illness, 154 of whom are in intensive care.

Yiu said there are 231 people getting critical care when you add in the non-COVID patients. Even with the extra beds, the ICU capacity is still high at 87 per cent.

Almost 90 per cent of the COVID patients in ICU are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, and Yiu urged more Albertans to get the jab.

"Health care is a finite resource and we need the help of all Albertans to protect it," she said. ...

Premier Jason Kenney has staunchly refused to mandate proof of vaccination for anyone who wants to use non-essential services such as restaurants, clubs and sports events.

The premier has questioned whether so-called vaccine passports violate health privacy, but said his government will make available a downloadable QR code for those who need to show proof of vaccination.

A number of Alberta businesses and sports teams are demanding or will be demanding patrons show proof.

https://www.prpeak.com/coronavirus-covid-19-national-news/alberta-to-mov...

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

A redux of Manitoba's experience during the third wave.

jerrym

The local news video below warns that the Northern Health Region of Alberta is on the verge of collapse with Covid out of control, according to nurses and doctors there, many of them quitting because of total burnout, thanks to the unvaccinated and Kenney's policies. 

https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=2278606

 

jerrym

Here's an update on the Alberta Covid crisis: 

 

  • Alberta's ICUs were at 155 per cent of capacity on Tuesday. The province has continued to add surge beds to keep up. 
  • Non-emergency surgeries have been cut by as much as 60 per cent provincewide and the Calgary health zone has cancelled all non-urgent procedures for the rest of the week.
  • The Alberta Medical Association is calling on the province to reinstitute strict public health measures, including vaccine passports. In a release on Tuesday, the AMA says that's the only way to deal with the jump in case numbers and patients in the ICU. It says increasing vaccination rates is critical, but that won't be enough to shrink the current wave and that all other options need to be considered. 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-covid-coronavirus-septemb...

jerrym

Alberta’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, admitted today that " the decision to lift almost all COVID-19 public-health restrictions in early July set the province on the trajectory towards the current wave of the pandemic." She is part of the problem because she followed Kenney's directions on Covid when she knew as a medical professional what would almost certainly be the consequences. 

With a level of candour not seen at her public appearances, Dr. Deena Hinshaw told a Zoom meeting with Primary Care Network physicians Monday night that she regrets her role in creating the narrative that the pandemic was over.

“I feel very responsible for the narrative that has made it more complicated to try to put additional public health measures in place,” she said. “Whether or not it was my intention, what was heard at the end of July was, ‘COVID is over, we can walk away and ignore it,’ and that has had repercussions and I deeply regret how that has played out.”

Hinshaw also expressed regret over the decision to end most contact tracing but said it would be too difficult to ramp that back up during the fourth wave, in part because so many staff are needed in other places.

In May, Premier Jason Kenney announced a three-stage process for lifting COVID-19 restrictions, promising that the province was “open for summer.”

By July 1, along with rolling back most contact tracing outside of investigations in high-risk settings, the province had lifted the rules around indoor and outdoor social gatherings, as well as capacity limits in businesses, recreation, large events like concerts or sports, and other settings. The provincewide mask mandate was also lifted.

Hinshaw said that at the time, the level of vaccination that the province was seeing suggested it was “reasonable” to start “walking down that path.”...

“But of course, the expectations did not match reality, and very shortly after we started that endemic path, we could see already … within a couple of weeks that we weren’t seeing that decoupling that we expected and really had to shift and walk back. Clearly, we’re in a significant challenge right now with respect to our acute-care system,” she said.

Hinshaw said it’s clear the province is dealing with a “crisis.”

https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/alberta-covid-19-update-sept...

 

jerrym

Alberta has "experienced surges in COVID-19 cases since lifting protective measures in the summer. On Tuesday, Alberta reported 1,434 new cases and nine deaths."

On Tuesday, Alberta reported 1,434 new cases and nine deaths. ...

On Monday, Alberta’s top doctor admitted the summer relaxation was a mistake — one she “deeply regrets. I think that trajectory was set when we removed all the public health restrictions at the beginning of July,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a call with the Calgary Primary Health Care Network. ...

On July 1, Alberta unveiled its “Open for Summer” plan, which decided to ease measures, like ending asymptomatic testing and no longer notifying close contacts of exposure. At that time, the weekly average was 57 new cases a day. That number continued to decline until July 22, when the average shifted to 61 new cases over seven days. On Aug. 1, the weekly average moved to 178 new cases per day; by Sept. 1, that weekly average was at 1,082 new cases a day. ...

While the mask mandate has returned to Alberta, albeit with exemptions, Parks said it’s far from enough. “We haven’t really implemented any really strategic targeted public health measures that will stop the onslaught and slow the number of cases we have right now,” he said. “Other than a mask mandate and asking people nicely to not congregate or drink after 10 p.m., Alberta hasn’t done anything to slow this curve.”

https://globalnews.ca/news/8192647/alberta-saskatchewan-covid-19-spike-c...

jerrym

Kenney apologized for his Covid policies that have put the overloaded healthcare system at risk of collapse but didn't apologize for keeping things open in the summer. The question is how much impact this will have on O'Toole for wishy-washy vaccination policies and on Trudeau calling an election in the middle of the fourth Covid wave. Heh, business and elections before lives.

Premier Jason Kenney apologized for his government's recent COVID-19 response as he introduced a proof of vaccination program and implemented new restrictions for the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kenney started off the press conference by apologizing for moving Alberta too quickly from a pandemic to endemic based on provincial modelling.

"I know that we had all hoped this summer that we could put COVID behind us once and for all, that was certainly my hope and I said that very clearly," said Kenney. "It is now clear that we were wrong, and for that I apologize."

A reporter asked the premier to what degree the events that happened between July 1 and now were a reflection of his leadership, and if he would give Albertans more than "we were wrong, and I apologize."

"We were wrong in talking about moving this from pandemic management to endemic management in July and August. I frankly don't think we were wrong to lift public health restrictions in July we actually saw that case counts and the Delta variant to continue to stabilize and come down through most of July even after large public events."

However, Kenney stuck by his Open for Summer plan that eventually saw mounting cases and hospitalizations, and a slow vaccination uptick.

"I also think it's critically important to understand that at least in this society that you can't sustain serious intrusions into people's lives permanently. And so no, I don't apologize for this decision to relax public health restrictions in the summer supported by the data."

Kenney says that there would've been "massive" non-compliance and anger from people if they had maintained "lockdown-style policies" throughout the summer.

"Yes, I said a lot of optimistic things in the summer, because I think it is the job of a leader to convey a sense of hope and optimism, not a sense of despair and pessimism, and from the perspective of where we were in July there were good reasons to be hopeful and optimistic."

The reporter doubled down on his question, asking Kenney again if he thought his leadership failed between July 1 and now, if at all.

"I don't think this is about me, I think this is about protecting our hospitals, and we have to do what is necessary to do so."

Wednesday marked the most Albertans ever occupying ICU beds in the history of the province, with the CEO of AHS announcing it was asking neighbouring provinces for help managing the situation.

"I don't apologize for not maintaining lockdown-style policies permanently but I do apologize for having predicted we could be open for good."

University of Calgary associate professor Lorian Hardcastle says an apology from the premier would have shown Albertans that he’s capable of changing and approaching the pandemic differently than he has in the past.

"I think that people are really concerned about the lack of leadership; there's a perceived absence of the leaders in the past few weeks and I think that people wanted him to stand up and admit what they got wrong," said Hardcastle. "Perhaps not be so defensive about the Open for Summer plan."

Independent MLAs Drew Barnes and Todd Loewen are now calling on Jason Kenney to resign from leadership.

A statement reads: "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."

Barnes and Loewen were kicked out of Kenney's caucus in May for openly challenging Kenney's health rules and leadership.

https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/i-apologize-kenney-says-alta-wrong-for-covid...

jerrym

The Alberta healthcare system being on the verge of collapse is making international news, despite all the problems with Covid around the world, as the following article from the UK's Guardian illustrates. 

A surge in coronavirus cases has pushed the healthcare system in the Canadian province of Alberta to the verge of collapse, as healthcare workers struggle against mounting exhaustion and a growing anti-vaccine movement in the region.

The province warned this week that its ICU capacity was strained, with more people requiring intensive care than any other point during the pandemic – nearly all of them unvaccinated. ...

Alberta has long boasted of its loose coronavirus restrictions – including advertising the previous months as the “best summer ever” as it rolled back those few restrictions. It has also been the site of North America’s highest caseloads.

In a province with a long history of skepticism towards government, the pandemic has become fertile ground for protests and anti-vaccine rhetoric, including from elected officials, firefighters and police officers. During the ongoing federal election, the People’s Party of Canada, a fringe rightwing party that has come out against public health measures has seen its largest support base in rural Alberta.

That skepticism towards masks and vaccines has come at a steep cost, say frontline workers.

On Monday, more than 60 infectious-disease doctors wrote a letter to the premier, Jason Kenney, warning of a catastrophic outcome if the province did not address the escalating caseload. ...

“Our healthcare system is truly on the precipice of collapse,” the physicians wrote. “Hospitals and ICUs across the province are under enormous strain and have reached a point where it is unclear if, or for how much longer, we can provide safe care for Albertans.”

The province has cancelled elective surgeries as resources and space are allocated to Covid patients. ICU beds, meanwhile, are at capacity.

“As soon as those breathing tubes come out, we’re kicking people out of ICU to make space for someone else,” said another nurse. “It’s getting bleak. It’s hard to watch.”

Nearly 79% of eligible Albertans over the age of 12 have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 71% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated – one of the lowest rates in the country. An average of 78% of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated.

While these rates dwarf those in the United States, the relentless spread of the Delta variant highlights how catastrophic outbreaks can occur if even a tiny fraction of the population resist public health measures.

According to the province’s chief medical officer of health, roughly 90% of people in the ICUs are unvaccinated or partly vaccinated. ...

Joe Vipond, an emergency room doctor in Calgary and vocal critic of the government, called the latest surge “intentionally cruel. This was always part of the plan – letting younger, low-risk people get infected to build herd immunity. I just think they didn’t realize how much illness would result from it.”

He says mounting pressure from a voter base skeptical of public health restrictions led officials to declare Alberta “open for summer” on 1 July and removed many of the mitigation measures they had in place. The government also said it would no longer require people testing positive for Covid-19 to isolate – a plan it quickly scrapped.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/15/canada-alberta-healthcare-...

jerrym

With Covid growing exponentially in Alberta, the Kenney government has established at Covid protocols that mean who gets to live and who dies if the system can no longer handle everyone. 

If COVID-19 pushes Alberta's health-care system past the breaking point, critical care will be reserved for patients with the greatest chance of survival, according to a government document that details how those life-and-death decisions would be made.

Physicians are bracing for the grim possibility of rationing care.

Premier Jason Kenney warned Wednesday, as he announced new restrictions, that the acute-care system could run out of staff and critical-care beds within 10 days.

The critical care triage protocol, a 52-page document developed by Alberta Health Services, describes how the health-care system will cope if intensive care units (ICUs) no longer have the resources to care for every critically ill patient.

Revised most recently in May of this year, the protocol has never been enacted but health-care workers are now being briefed on the document, in preparation for the worst. And provincial health officials continue to warn, Alberta's acute care system is teetering dangerously close to a collapse.

An average of 20 new COVID patients are admitted to ICU every day, said Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services during a news conference Thursday. "I can not stress enough how serious the situation is in our hospitals," Yiu said. As of Thursday, Alberta had 268 patients in intensive care in a system set up for 173. ...

Phase 1 would be deployed if 90 per cent or more of Alberta's critical-care surge beds are in use — during what is described as a "major surge." ...

Phase 2, the highest level of triage, would be triggered if Alberta reaches the criteria for a "large-scale surge" — when critically-ill patient demand outstrips available beds, ventilators and human resources.

The framework outlines exclusion criteria — medical conditions that would mean the difference between treatment in the ICU or not.

These specialized departments care for a hospital's most ill patients, including advanced COVID-19 patients who require ventilators to survive. 

Under Phase 1, patients with life-threatening conditions such as severe dementia, severe burns, those who have suffered a massive stroke or are in a deep coma, may be denied entrance into the ICU. 

The barriers to treatment increase under Phase 2, with more stringent measurements applied based on the health and age of each patient. 

Staff untrained in critical care would be widely deployed in ICUs.

People over 60 with poor chances of survival  could be denied admission to the ICU. Only children with the most severe medical needs, such as organ failure, would be admitted to ICU under Phase 2. 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/emergency-covid-triage-alberta-1...

jerrym

Trying to manage a constantly growing covid crisis and a collapse in his own support, Kenney has rearranged the deckchairs on the Titanic by changing health ministers. 

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro will be shuffled out of his portfolio at a cabinet ceremony scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, a senior government source has told Postmedia. ...

Shandro has faced heavy criticism for more than a year and a half over his handling of the health portfolio.

Amid the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a protracted dispute between the government and doctors, the NDP Opposition repeatedly called for Shandro’s resignation as health minister.

In March, 2020, after Shandro took fire for confronting a Calgary doctor in his driveway, Kenney rejected calls for his removal, saying it was understandable Shandro became “passionate” in defending his spouse.

After doctors voted down a contract offer from the province in April 2021, Kenney again rejected calls to fire Shandro, saying he had his “full, 100 per cent confidence.”

In a written statement Tuesday, NDP Leader Rachel Notley called news of Shandro’s shuffle “welcome” but said it is not a solution to the crisis going on in Alberta hospitals.

“It is clear that the responsibility for Alberta’s pandemic mismanagement rests on the shoulders of every UCP member and therefore it is incumbent on them all to take responsibility and chart a more effective path on behalf of Albertans,” Notley said.

“A cabinet shuffle will not ease the immense pressure on our hospitals from this severe fourth wave. It won’t reschedule the life-saving surgeries of thousands of Albertans. It won’t recover our economy. And it won’t help everyday families looking for leadership. Albertans deserve better.”

Tuesday’s move comes as the province is dealing with a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alberta currently has the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the country.  The latest wave has put heavy pressure on the health-care system, particularly in intensive care units, leading to the cancellation of all surgeries that are considered non-essential.

Officials with Alberta Health Services announced last week that they were reaching out to other Canadian provinces asking for ICU spaces and skilled labour.

https://calgaryherald.com/news/politics/kenney-to-shuffle-his-cabinet/wc...

jerrym

In desperate straits over Covid Alberta has asked Ottawa to airlift Covid patients to other provinces. Ottawa offered help before the election but Kenney waited, fueling speculation he wanted to avoid embarassing O'Toole who had supported Kenney's laissez-faire Covid policies. 

Alberta's UCP government is asking Ottawa for help to lessen pressure on the province's health-care system, which is overburdened with COVID-19 patients.

Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver formally requested aid and an immediate meeting with federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair in a Tuesday letter.  He asked for the federal government to provide aero-medical evacuation capability to relocate patients out of Alberta, and intensive care unit (ICU) registered nurses and respiratory therapists to assist in Alberta's critical care response. 

"Federal assistance in these two areas has the potential to create significant relief to the health-care system," McIver wrote.

Alberta's ICU capacity is currently at 87 per cent, but without added surge beds — which health-care workers have said are not adequately staffed — the province would be at 169 per cent of its baseline capacity. 

There are 222 COVID-19 patients in the province's ICUs. There are nearly 1,000 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19, and the province has identified more than 20,900 active cases.

Surgeries have been cancelled across the province to free up health-care workers to deal with the crisis. 

Health Minister Tyler Shandro was notably not a signatory on the letter. The embattled minister was shuffled into another cabinet portfolio on Tuesday. Jason Copping is taking over the key cabinet position. ...

Blair said federal officials have offered help to their Alberta counterparts throughout the past week. "I have made it clear that when a request is received, it will be approved. We will work together to provide for the people across Alberta," he said in a statement posted to social media.

Duane Bratt, a political science professor at Calgary's Mount Royal University, said he believes the delay was a deliberate strategy."They were putting partisan political interests ahead of the health and wellbeing of Albertans. There's no other way of describing it," he said.

Alberta asked other provinces for help last week when it declared a state of public health emergency. Neighbouring provinces Saskatchewan and British Columbia had said they could not offer assistance due to demands on their own health-care systems, but distant provinces like Ontario have offered help. ...

In early summer, Kenney announced that COVID-19 was effectively defeated and that even if cases rose in the future, they could be accommodated by the health system. He said he was so sure COVID-19 was finished that he didn't envision needing a fallback plan, and accused journalists of fearmongering for discussing the possibility of a dangerous fourth wave.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-asks-ottawa-for-covid-19-...

jerrym

The UCP caucus is split over Kenney's handling of the Covid crisis. 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney faced down a restive and divided United Conservative Party caucus Wednesday, focusing on COVID-19 while managing to avoid a straw vote on his leadership.

UCP backbencher Searle Turton said it was a wide-ranging caucus meeting, but there was no vote of confidence on Kenney’s leadership. He said the focus of the debate was the pandemic. “There was discussion about the party, about unity, about how we got here, about COVID. There were no votes by caucus. There was lots of robust discussion about the pandemic.”...

Kenney has been challenged by some of his legislature members for decisions on COVID, which has escalated into a crisis that has overwhelmed the provincial health system and forced Alberta to seek outside help. Some of Kenney’s caucus members have criticized his health measures as being too little too late, while others say he has gone too far and violated individual rights by imposing a form of voluntary vaccine passports. ...

Joel Mullan, the party’s vice-president of policy, has already called for Kenney to resign and says enough constituency associations have signed on to force an early party review and vote on Kenney’s leadership. Kenney isn’t slated to face a mandatory leadership review until late next year. But Mullan has said 30 constituency associations have promised to pass resolutions to call for an earlier review. If that happens, Kenney could face a vote by the membership in about three months and would lose the top job unless he wins at least a simple majority.

https://globalnews.ca/news/8213486/alberta-premier-faces-down-ucp-caucus...

 

jerrym

The video in the url below discusses how the Covid crisis is leading to demands for Kenney to resign from both sides of the UCP caucus.

As COVID-19 rages through Alberta, intensive care units there are filling up with patients like never before, fuelling more calls for Premier Jason Kenney to step down over how he handled the crisis. As Heather Yourex-West explains, there are concerns a political shakeup would only make things worse.

https://globalnews.ca/video/8214104/growing-pressure-on-kenney-to-resign...

jerrym

More and more people are calling for Kenney to resign but the Cons are paralyzed into inaction. 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney survived a highly anticipated showdown with his caucus this week over his leadership.

And there is no one happier about this news than NDP Leader Rachel Notley.

In the days leading up to Wednesday’s caucus meeting, United Conservative Party MLAs had been leaking ominous statements to local media about what was going to happen. There was going to be a confidence vote. Interim party leaders were already being sized up. Right-wingers in the caucus who are anti-vaccine and anti-vaccine passport were allegedly loaded for bear. Well, it appears the great coup collapsed owing to a lack of spine.

Somewhere out there, former premier Alison Redford must be shaking her head. Ms. Redford resigned in March, 2014, after effectively being forced out by her caucus over a series of petty controversies, including the fact that she took her daughter and a friend on a government aircraft a few times. She also started plans to convert government office space into an apartment near the legislature to be used by the sitting premier of the day. This caused an uproar. There was a small spending scandal.

But in all, it was nothing, and I mean nothing, compared with the disastrous reign of Jason Kenney. Even before the pandemic, Mr. Kenney’s tenure had been marked by one embarrassing initiative (hello, energy war room) after another (hello, inquiry into foreign funding of environmentalists). He was elected, in part, thanks to a phony war he waged against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Mostly, Mr. Kenney created distractions from the deep economic and fiscal problems facing the province. And then the pandemic arrived and Mr. Kenney authored a master class in how not to lead during a crisis.

He opened Alberta up for “the best summer ever” when health professionals in his province and across the country were telling him not to. But because he had a wing of his caucus, call it the Wild Rose faction, breathing down his neck over masks and lockdowns, he felt he had no choice.

The result was the fourth-wave catastrophe we are now witnessing. Worse, Mr. Kenney disappeared to Europe for two weeks while ICUs began to fill up close to capacity. He reluctantly announced a vaccine passport program after vowing he never would. He swapped his health minister, Tyler Shandro, out of the job, in a naked attempt to make it look like he was making people pay a price for the mess the province is in. ...

Mr. Kenney has only won the right to fight on for another day. There will be a leadership review in the spring, instead of next fall. If his popularity numbers remain as rock bottom as they are now, there is no way he could survive such a test. There would be a vote and he would lose.

A change in leader is the only hope the UCP has of holding on to power: a new leader, a new voice and mea culpas galore for the disastrous job the party has done since winning election in 2019. That pretty much has to be the only strategy.

But we can never lose sight of the real story here. The real story is all the needless death from COVID-19 in Alberta caused by a government’s selfish desire to put politics ahead of the health and safety of the public. That is a scandal that should cost the person responsible for it his job. Mr. Kenney should do the honourable thing and resign. ...

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-jason-kenney-should-do-t...

jerrym

The Albertan healthcare system is in such desperate staits that it has called in the Red Cross and military for extra medical practioners thanks to Kenney's reckless treatment of Covid. 

The federal government says it will come to Alberta’s aid as the province’s hospitals face an overwhelming wave of COVID-19 patients.  Bill Blair, the federal minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, says Ottawa will help with Alberta’s request for more critical care medical staff and Armed Forces’ help airlifting patients to other provinces. “The Government of Canada will support the provincial government’s recent request and provide the necessary support,” Blair wrote in a statement posted on social media Thursday. The federal assistance includes a range of capabilities, including the deployment of (Canadian Armed Forces) medical resources and/or aeromedical evacuation capability, as well as the deployment of Canadian Red Cross resources.”

Alberta has asked for help from the federal government and from other provinces as it deals with a rise in COVID-19 cases that threatens the viability of the health system. Alberta Health Services said there are 310 patients in intensive care, the vast majority of whom have COVID-19. Of those with COVID-19 in critical care, most are not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all. This is the highest number of people in critical care in Alberta at any one time since the pandemic began in early 2020. The United Conservative Party government has scrambled to create extra critical care beds, effectively doubling the original baseline total of 173, and has redeployed staff to manage them.

The result is the mass cancellation of non-urgent surgeries across Alberta. Doctors are being briefed on how to decide who gets life-saving help and who doesn’t should remaining resources become depleted. There are more than 20,000 active COVID-19 cases and more than 1,000 people in hospital with the illness. Deaths are on the rise. There were 29 fatalities reported Tuesday and 20 more on Wednesday, including the first person under age 20.

In Calgary, Alberta’s Opposition NDP leader said it’s time Premier Jason Kenney hand over public health decisions related to the COVID-19 crisis to medical professionals. Rachel Notley said it has become clear that Kenney is more focused on his political survival than on the pandemic. “It never should have come to this,” Notley said. “Jason Kenney knew his plan wasn’t working as early as July and he did nothing. In fact, he left (on a vacation). All through August and into September the UCP refused to act while the crisis escalated. “Now all Albertans are suffering the consequences of the UCP’s collective inaction and ineptitude.”

Notley said sound public health decisions are being undermined by political compromises. She called for those decisions to be turned over to Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical health officer, backed by an independent scientific panel of advisers. “(Albertans) are demanding better leadership from their government to get through this pandemic. But instead of taking action to protect Albertans, Jason Kenney and the UCP seem to be laser-focused on protecting themselves,” said Notley.

Some United Conservative constituency associations are pushing for an immediate review of his leadership. Joel Mullan, the party’s vice-president in charge of policy, has openly called for Kenney’s resignation, saying the public and the party have lost trust.

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