Alberta Politics
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro (Photo: CBC).

Coronavirus pandemic? What a peculiar time for the health minister to pursue a fight with Alberta’s physicians

Posted on March 13, 2020, 3:04 am
6 mins

Hey! It’s Friday the 13th in the age of the coronavirus. Are you feeling lucky?

Apparently Tyler Shandro and Tara Jago are.

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw (Photo: Screenshot of Government of Alberta video).

Leastways, Alberta’s heath minister and his “issues manager” were yesterday when, global coronavirus pandemic and all that stuff notwithstanding, they were busy on social media yelling at Alberta’s physicians and their supporters for not knuckling under to the United Conservative Party’s compensation rollback demands.

Spending is out of line with comparator provinces,” huffed Ms. Jago in an epically ill-timed tweet that set off the mother of all ratios. She was repeating a UCP talking point that may have had some currency a couple of weeks ago but, rather like the stock markets, has lost a certain amount of value in the past few days.

For his part, Mr. Shandro offered a patronizing tweet discourse trying to explain why he’s right and the Alberta Medical Association is wrong about his planned pay cuts while the docs are rolling up their sleeves to cope with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Premier Jason Kenney was in Ottawa, apparently more worried about the parlous state of the oil industry than the actual physical health of Albertans, demanding more money from the federal government so that the UCP can continue its campaign to have the lowest corporate taxes in North America.

Tara Jago, Mr. Shandro’s “issues manager” (Photo: Twitter).

As for requiring, even temporarily, that workers who have to take time off to “self isolate” or recover properly get paid sick leave, Mr. Kenney didn’t seem too sure about that. He thought employers could be counted on to do the right thing.

Seriously, what’s wrong with these people? Like Donald Trump, as long as Twitter’s up and running, they just never stop campaigning and gas-lighting, even when they have a majority government and three years left in their mandate. Under the current frightening circumstances, it’s bizarre.

You’d think they’d want to take a breath, put their ideological projects on the back burner for a few months, talk sweet to the province’s furious doctors, not to mention the other health care workers who are almost as mad, and try to help the rest of us ride out the storm as safely as possible.

I can assure you that’s what a majority of the population of Alberta wants right now at this disturbing moment in history.

Meanwhile, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health called for all gatherings of more than 250 people in the province to be cancelled — with a few political-sounding exceptions, like church services, in addition to some practical ones, like grocery stores.

Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions President Linda Silas, a candidate to lead the Canadian Labour Congress (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s statement also applied to any event with more than 50 people that includes international participants, health-care professionals or high-risk populations such as seniors.

Dr. Hinshaw also recommended that Albertans not travel anywhere outside the country, including to the currently mismanaged United States, and if they’re coming home from anywhere, that they isolate themselves for two weeks, long enough to induce cabin fever in most of us.

This was phrased as a request, not a demand, possibly a failure of nerve by the political level of government. Nevertheless, the decision appeared to be greeted with relief yesterday by most Albertans — although that consensus is bound to fray if the situation drags on, as seems likely.

Linda Silas pauses campaign lead CLC to focus on coronavirus response

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, another politician of another sort was demonstrating what politicians ought to do in circumstances like these.

Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions President Linda Silas suspended all campaign activities in her bid to become the next president of the Canadian Labour Congress to focus on concerns related to the coronavirus crisis in Canada.

Let us be clear: Linda is still in this race,” her campaign said in a news release. “But Linda believes we must all turn our focus to the larger challenge facing Canada and the world.”

As it happens, in her current elected position, she is ideally positioned to do that, already leading an effective campaign to keep health care workers and the rest of us safe in the face of COVID-19.

Linda’s leadership is a model for all of us in this crucial moment,” the news release said. The premier, his health minister and their various issues managers would benefit from taking note.

10 Comments to: Coronavirus pandemic? What a peculiar time for the health minister to pursue a fight with Alberta’s physicians

  1. Farmer Dave

    March 13th, 2020

    It’s really to bad Alberta currently has such weak leader like Jason Kenney during a major crises. What has he done for Alberta? Nothing for our medical system except trying to destroy it. He only cries to the Feds how bad they are treating Alberta not giving any money to the oil and gas sector. Kenney is the weakest leader Alberta has ever seen.

  2. Just Me

    March 13th, 2020

    Of course Kenney can’t wait to say something like, “We’re all in God’s hands now” because his base to give him high fives for giving a shout out to the Invisible Avenger. Either way, the very people the UCP has been beating all year – health care professionals – are the ones who are most at risk for exposure to this contagion. They are also the ones providing the care that the UCP will take credit for, of course.

    At least Kenney didn’t throw another hissy fit when PMJT went into self-isolation after his wife’s positive test to COVID 19. Concern for the health of loved ones, what would Kenney know about that?

  3. Murphy

    March 13th, 2020

    What potential positive outcome can Albertans expect? Tailgunner Jay is crying poor, and his grifter-yokel colleagues are busy dismantling the socio-economic structures of the province based on economic claims that are simply lies.
    The province, as of October 2018, had the highest GDP per capita of the provinces, highest personal disposable income per capita, and the highest rate of employment. Under these conditions, the populace was stirred to vote out the NDP and accept the word of people who can only be accurately described as con-artists: that the province is broke and public spending is out of control. According to RBC, we had the lowest personal expenditures in the country on goods and services, as a portion of GDP, in the country. So we had low government spending relative to GDP, low personal spending relative to GDP, and a significantly larger GDP per capita, but we were in a dire predicament that required immediate tax relief for the beleaguered ownership class and assaults on public services.
    There is no hope for this place. The only reason the NDP got in was because the grifter-yokels split between those who pretend that they’re not gay, don’t cheat on their wives and take drugs, and the ones who openly embrace those pursuits. Ain’t going to happen again any time soon.
    I was on an drilling rig in the spring of 2015, and the band of dyslexic tenth and eleventh-grade graduates who were my colleagues were up in arms about how the NDP would destroy our livelihoods. By this time we were already on reduced hours, going from two weeks on and one off to two and two. I left the industry right after the election that year, and due to fate and circumstances, took a job with another drilling company in October of 2016. Almost every truck had one or more F*@k the NDP decals affixed to it, mostly pictograms in keeping with the literacy level of the operators. Given the KON strategy of “less learnin’ more earnin'” that came in with the drunken wife-beater over twenty-five years ago, I don’t see much hope for a more enlightened group of voters in this future Oklahoma.
    At the time of the 2008 collapse the Alberta GDP per capita was twice that of the national average. Where did the money go?
    Janice Mackinnon, Tom Olsen and every other Kon mouthpiece should be put in a floating survival suit and sentenced to six months in a tailings pond and fed cans of cold ravioli.

    • Murphy

      March 14th, 2020

      I forgot to add that as our super-fresh awesome boom built prior to the 2008 collapse, 42% of Calgarians, the city where Great Calgarians were paying for Can-con superstar musicians to play their Christmas parties, 42% of the population was low-income. What better society could we have than a super-heated economy piling money up for the Great Calgarians and 400 000 people living on $1700 per month in the City of Living Gods. On the bright side, Ken King has been called home to run a Peavey Mart in God’s Kingdom. Funny story related to me a couple of years ago. One of my colleagues was working a part-time retail job. The Great Calgarian King came in, tried on a few garments, found one that tickled his fancy, and took pret-a-porter at face value, attempting to exit the premises exempt from the customary transactions. When informed that he would actually have to pay for his goods, King replied, “don’t you know who I am?”. Perhaps one day a study will be made of the impact of small-town Saskatchwan hustlers on the political and economic life of Alberta. It seems that they transplanted their insider-status-seeking Chamber of Commerce mentality onto the political and economic body of the province with the most economic and thus political power, pound-for-pound, in the country, and among the results is high school drop-outs operating the Energy, Health and/or Education ministries with the inevitible cronyism and ineptitude we have all enjoyed for the last thirty years, and a relentless expression of their self-entitled ethos.

    • The Sheep Look Up

      March 14th, 2020

      Given the UCP’s total and on-going mishandling of the Covid 19 pandemic – interfering with the Chief Medical Officer so she cannot order what most jurisdictions are doing: – no school closures, no shut down of international air flights, no shut down of the border with that failed state to the south, and no quarantine of people who have come back from overseas AND their households, exposed nurses and others being told to work until they show symptoms so they can infect others, and coming soon, a call for retired docs to stand by to be screwed again. No money for test kits or even thermal imaging systems that are taken for granted pretty much every where else in the world, both portable and in airports.
      We can look for a needless increase in infections and deaths. Every Covid 19 death in Alberta is now blood on the UCP’s hands.

  4. Abs

    March 13th, 2020

    In today’s press conference, Tyler Shandro spoke at length about 8-1-1. Also, docs getting $20 for Covid phone calls. Says they will do whatever is necessary to fight Covid. But what about those April 1 budget cuts? Not mentioned.

    JK said the budget will be passed as it is, yada, yada. His focus still seems to be on writing letters to Ottawa for money.

    Don’t worry, all the kids can still go to school. What can go wrong? Wash their hands. Problem solved.

  5. Abs

    March 14th, 2020

    Today it has been reported that the layoffs of health workers are on pause — delayed, not cancelled. Delayed until when? I still think that if a nurse on the front line of this pandemic believes she will be laid off in a couple of months anyways, she might decide the risk is not worth it.

    I say cancel and rewrite the budget. Passing it as it stands provides no guarantees for our greatly changed health system, and the aftermath of this crisis on our province in general.

    Shaking my head at the moment, because Kenney’s UCP are too afraid of losing face, and not afraid enough of this pandemic. Either that, or they do not value severely normal human lives at all. The contrast between B.C.’s televised press conference yesterday and Alberta’s was stunning, just stunning.

  6. jerrymacgp

    March 15th, 2020

    David: “Linda Silas suspended all campaign activities in her bid to become the next president of the Canadian Labour Congress” … do you happen to know if Ms Silas has any (serious) challengers in that election, who they are, & whether they plan to follow suit? Has the CLC made any decisions about its convention, which I believe is scheduled for Vancouver in May?


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