Albertans persist in protests over lifting of all COVID-19 protections

Dr, Joe Vipond speaks to rally in Calgary

THE PROTESTORS KEEP COMING BACK. Day after day. For six days in a row on August 4. At the legislature in Edmonton, in Calgary and Lethbridge and many other places all across Alberta. Hundreds of them. Every day. They want the government to drop its decision to make Alberta the first province to throw caution to the winds and simply learn to live with the virus.

Effective July 29, close contacts are no longer to be notified of exposure by contact tracers nor will they be legally required to isolate. Asymptomatic testing is “no longer recommended,” the government said.

On Aug. 16, infected individuals won’t need to isolate. Isolation hotels will close as quarantine supports end. Provincial mandatory masking orders will be lifted but face coverings in some acute care facilities might be required.

The government used the once wildly popular Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, to add credibility by making the announcement. It didn’t help.

Entire population at risk

Dr. Joe Vipond, an emergency room physician based in Calgary, told a crowd of about 200 people in Calgary on July 31 that Hinshaw should resign.

“It’s quite evident now that public health is not actually putting in policies to protect the health of the public. I think this is a travesty, and I think she should resign,” he said to applause.

“I can’t believe we have somebody who went into the practice of medicine for the specific purpose of protecting community health — the health of entire populations — and is putting that entire population at risk. I don’t know what to say, people. That’s crazy.”

‘The culmination of everything’

In Edmonton, approximately 250 people went to the legislature to protest, also on July 31.

“We’re going to keep saying the same thing until the government listens,” said Dr. Tehseen Ladha, assistant professor at the University of Alberta in the faculty of medicine.

“This time with community organization and public protest, it really is owned by everyone who’s there. I think that’s really the message. There have been so many decisions by the provincial government that people have been upset, angry, anxious about. This [rally] is the culmination of everything.”

The Alberta Medical Association, the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Edmonton Zone Medical Association—and unions—are among those strongly opposed to the government covid decisions.

CUPE support for grassroots effort

A post on the CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) website urges its members to support the rallies in their call on the government to “rescind this reckless policy and adhere to the best practices set out by health organizations worldwide.”

The post goes on to ask all CUPE locals to attend and promote rallies in their communities in order to “support this important grassroots effort”.

The post ends with information about where and when the rallies are being held.

Calgary’s mayor, Naheed Nenshi, called the government move the “height of insanity”.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu, called the Kenney government’s decision to drop COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and mandatory isolation an “unnecessary and risky gamble”

No evidence to support opening up

A report in the Globe and Mail says Hajdu asked the Alberta health minister, “to explain the evidence and rationale behind the province’s changes” in the face of the rampaging Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Columnist David J. Climenhaga notes that “most of the evidence points to the likelihood there wasn’t much evidence at all behind the changes announced Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw.

“As for the rationale, ...the Kenney government’s rationale boils down to the desire to be able to say they opened first—fingers crossed that it doesn’t kill too many Albertans and make the United Conservative Party’s re-election chances even dimmer than they appear right now.”

Alberta has the most active cases of COVID in the country while it drops testing. Six hundred thousand children under the age of 12 are scheduled to return to school next month while the Delta variant runs wild.

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