Alberta Politics
Rachel Notley addresses a news conference in the Legislature’s rotunda yesterday (Photo: Screenshot of news clip).

Latest leak shows AHS modelling forecasts Intensive Care Units packed with COVID-19 patients by mid-December

Posted on December 02, 2020, 2:12 am
8 mins

In the first unauthorized information leak of December, Alberta’s NDP Opposition revealed yesterday Alberta Health Services case modelling projects about 775 Albertans will be in hospital with COVID-19 in just two weeks.

More than 160 of them will be in intensive care units, further straining the overstressed provincial health system’s ability to cope, Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said. 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Alberta’s United Conservative Party premier, Jason Kenney – who is apparently prepared to do almost anything to keep the province’s bars, restaurants and casinos open – has been claiming for more than a month the province doesn’t have any recent coronavirus caseload modelling.

“Yet the premier has indicated that he will not even review his grab-bag, lack-of-evidence, inconsistent measures until Dec. 14,” Ms. Notley told reporters outside the Legislature’s chamber yesterday. 

“Health care workers are already exhausted and overwhelmed, hospitals are already nearing the brink, we’re already running out of oxygen,” the former NDP premier said — the last point a nod to the previous day’s leak, the last one in November, that oxygen use in several major Alberta hospitals is now being rationed because of the number of COVID-19 cases. 

Two weeks of COVID case modelling may be all her party could get its hands on, Ms. Notley added, but “I do believe that they probably have information for more than two weeks.”

Of course the government does. And when governments pursue unpopular, clearly dangerous policies, and hide the facts about them, as Mr. Kenney’s UCP has been doing, public spirited leakers will leak. So expect more of the same. 

And when those leakers leak, paranoid and secretive governments like Mr. Kenney’s will accuse the leakers of personal betrayal and virtual treason.

That is what UCP officials were doing at the end of last week when leaked audio tapes of senior officials meeting revealed how cabinet has ignored the advice of Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw while using her expertise as a shield against criticism of their half-hearted pandemic-control measures. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Photo: Justin Trudeau/Flickr).

Well, whatever the Kenney Government says to defend its efforts to control COVID while hurrying to reopen the economy, it’s pretty hard to claim they’re a success by any measure. 

November was the worst month so far in Alberta since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. There were 6,002 active cases of the disease on the first day of the month. There were 16,628 on the last day. The province regularly set new infection records throughout. 

As for the premier himself, a new Angus Reid Institute survey suggests he’s the second least popular premier in the country, with only 40 per cent of Albertans approving of the job he’s doing. 

That had even usually compliant political columnists assailing him for coddling his party’s far-right base — apparently anti-maskers to a man and woman — while he refuses to implement sound and popular public health measures to suppress the virus. 

But just because November was the worst month of the pandemic so far, there’s absolutely no reason to believe it’ll be the worst month of 2020. 

After all, there are still 30 days left in December! 

Mr. Kenney’s strategy for fixing the pandemic is the same as his plan for fixing the economy after collapse of the fossil fuel industry. He’s waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine to make the pandemic go away, just like he was waiting for Donald Trump’s re-election and a couple of new pipelines to Make Alberta Great Again. 

If they both fall through, he’s got a fall-back plan: Blame Justin Trudeau. 

So what could possibly go wrong? Other than Christmas and New Year’s, of course.

Surely by New Year’s Day Mr. Kenney will be even less popular than Manitoba’s Brian Pallister, who according to the Angus Reid pollsters is right now the Dominion’s least popular premier.

Ecojustice vows to press on after court denies bid for injunction to halt Alberta inquiry

Ecojustice Canada Society Executive Director Devon Page (Photo: Ecojustice).

Ecojustice Canada Society vowed Monday to press on after the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench dismissed its application for an injunction to suspend Alberta’s fatuous Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns until the inquiry’s legality can be established. 

The Ecojustice court challenge will continue, Executive Director Devon Page said. 

“This inquiry is nothing more than a political stunt, without a legitimate objective or transparent fact-finding process, and Ecojustice remains committed to challenging the inquiry’s legality in court in the coming months,” he said. “Canadians should be free to criticize Alberta’s unsustainable oil and gas policies without fear that judicial processes will be manipulated to silence them.”

The court found that the harm posed by the inquiry is “speculative” until its much-delayed public report is released.

MP accuses premier of ‘heartless disregard’ for front-line health-care workers

Edmonton Strathcona NDP MP Heather McPherson (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

New Democrat Heather McPherson, Alberta’s only non-Conservative Member of Parliament, has called on Premier Kenney to access Ottawa’s temporary wage top-up for essential workers.

“I implore you to set aside your differences with the federal government and access the $300 million in federal funding still available to top up the wages of Alberta’s essential workers who are risking their lives for us during this pandemic,” the Edmonton Strathcona MP urged the premier in an open letter Monday. 

After an official inquiry by the federal NDP last week, Finance Canada revealed Alberta has been dipping into the Republican playbook and refusing to touch the federal money, presumably to avoid having to give Prime Minister Trudeau some of the credit. 

The UCP may also be reluctant to give health care workers even a temporary raise when their longer-term plans for cuts to their wages. 

Mr. Kenney’s “heartless disregard” for its front-line health care workers “doesn’t have to continue,” Ms. McPherson said in a statement. 

11 Comments to: Latest leak shows AHS modelling forecasts Intensive Care Units packed with COVID-19 patients by mid-December

  1. Kim Poirier

    December 2nd, 2020

    Oh my god David, it seems like reason has left the building. What the hell are you people going to do? Also, please, don’t go out. Don’t come to BC. Unless you are a Dr., in which case, you’ll have to quarantine. I’m so sorry for your situation.

  2. Dave

    December 2nd, 2020

    I expect the leaks will continue, as the UCP starts to look less like a natural governing party and more like a one hit no wonder kind of party.

    I don’t think the mainstream media here has quite figured out yet the Hinshaw leak happened partly because the UCP was trying to hide behind her recommendations, claiming they were following what she advised, but refusing to say exactly or all of what she said. The local media is not quite as swift as the national media, but I think they will eventually figure out they were being played by Kenney with all the faux outrage about this leak.

    I suspect we may hear more about the projections and modeling, the UCP and Kenney claims does not exist any more. It is true that without a good contact tracing app, the UCP is driving fairly blind, but AHS still does need to plan for the near future based on current trends and it does not look good right now.

    Some politicians are inclined to secrecy, because they know it would be politically embarassing if the truth comes out. I suspect Kenney is one of those types, who is most effective when his actions are not very scrutinized. Unfortunately for him, I think the UCP ship of state is going to become even more leaky, as they try harder to conceal both their actions and the seriousness of the current situation from the public.

  3. Abs

    December 2nd, 2020

    If facts and evidence supported the UCP government’s actions, the UCP wouldn’t have to hide them. No matter what name they give Covid projections, the fact is that they are suppressing facts. This is not how democratic governments behave. They seem more concerned about witch hunts. So here they are, nine months in a leaky boat, not much longer can they stay afloat.

    Vaccines for Albertans are already being rumored to be the next “oil and gas handouts”. Unless the federal government supervises these clowns, oil and gas workers will go first, followed by NHL players and families, and used car salesmen. Punishment for anyone with a health condition will put them to the end of the list, just behind “big education”, NDP opposition members and doctors. UCP donors? Very high priority. Very important. Whatever they do won’t be supported by science, facts or sound public health policy. They might even demand a “vaccine levy” (donation to their party in exchange for services provided). Nothing would surprise me at this point. They are as corrupt as any banana republic.

  4. Bill Malcolm

    December 2nd, 2020

    My brother in Alberta sent me the link to Braid’s opinion piece in the Calgary Herald yesterday. Looks like someone in the right-cheering media is waking up to UCP illogic. However, he notes friends of his family members in Cochrane just outside Calgary remain convinced that there is no virus. Apparently, the Dakotas weirdness is present in Alberta too — complete denial of reality.

    The overwhelming case load which has overwhelmed contact tracers in Albertacities has allowed kenney to exercise his magnificent ideological brain and decide by divine logic what businesses should stay open. Why bother with information from say, Nova Scotia, where contact tracing is still working? — This is what has led to the closure of restaurants, bars, gyms and casinos as places of community spread here. The 60-odd location list of places from which patrons are requested to get a Covid test immediately are on the NS coronavirus website. There are only a couple of supermarkets and no overcrowded illegal parties, of which there have been several broken up recently, on that list.

    Yesterday, the reporting of over 4,000 regular and 800 mobile quick tests on Monday led to the flushing out of a mere 11 cases, and 3300 tests today brought in 17. This in a population area 40% the size of Calgary.

    I’m not prepared to believe that city life in Halifax proper is so completely different to Calgary that community virus transmission occurs in completely different ways. The only real difference is God whispering in jason’s head.

    Heartless? kenney not willing to take $300 million from Canada to give a bonus to essential workers is beyond that. Only someone whose brain is so clogged with hate, yes, hate and rubbish ideology can possibly reject that offer for deserving denizens of Alberta. The man should be tarred and feathered and rode out of town forthwith for gross negligence and dereliction of duty. His behaviour will likely lead to a December where people needlessly die, and the hospital system becomes choked beyond help. Apparently he has a complete lack of human conscience. It’s all quite beyond belief to me as Alberta outruns both Ontario and Quebec in active Covid cases. I guess that’s the Alberta advantage.

    • jerrymacgp

      December 6th, 2020

      “…the Dakotas weirdness is present in Alberta too — complete denial of reality…” So: Out & about on some errands yesterday — masked & distanced, which isn’t all that hard to do here in the small city of Grande Prairie — I saw both sides of the phenomenon. In Staples, in the local mall, & in two downtown local small businesses, I didn’t see a single person not wearing a mask indoors, and one of the small businesses was also limiting numbers in their store. Of course, this city has a mandatory mask bylaw in place, which is more nuanced than I think is ideal but seems to be working; it was drafted to only come into effect if the city & county together were put into “watch” status by public health, which they were, and will be lifted if we get out and stay out of watch status for two weeks. (The County of Grande Prairie No. 1, however, does not have a mask bylaw in place).

      On the other hand, there was an anti-mask protest on the sidewalk in front of City Hall on 98 Street, just across from the public library, where I was just popping by to pick up a book on hold. The numbers in the group of protesters were pretty large in relation to the size of the city — roughly 68,000 people, with another 17,000 & change in the county. They weren’t masked, of course, and they were clustered far too close together & in groups of much more than 10, but at least they were outside.

  5. Anonymous

    December 2nd, 2020

    Let’s face it, the UCP are on the wrong track. Whatever they attempt to do, just makes matters worse. 2023 cannot come soon enough!

  6. Dave in Sask

    December 2nd, 2020

    There is an interest article on global by a European doctor named Pascal Sacre about the PCR test and how the samples need to go through 35 or more magnifications to produce a result. I wonder how accurate these test are.

    I am wearing my mask in Sask as required by the provincial government but having no symptoms I am not getting tested.

    Are these test just really for the flu which annually kills thousands of people mostly seniors like me.

    • jerrymacgp

      December 6th, 2020

      Mr In Sask: “…Are these test just really for the flu which annually kills thousands of people mostly seniors like me.” So, viral swans for respiratory infections are all done basically the same way, using a nasal or naso-pharyngeal swab then sent to the lab. The lab (at least here in Alberta) then tests for a battery of viruses, like influenza A & B, parainfluenza, RSV, etc. The test for SARS-CoV-2 is just the newest one.

      As for influenza mortality, Alberta’s stats in the past few years have been much fewer than 100 deaths a year, and fewer than 10,000 lab-confirmed cases per year. For instance, in 2019-20 there were 8,470 confirmed cases of flu, and 39 deaths in hospital from flu. I haven’t looked up Sask statistics, but I expect they’re comparable on a per capita basis.

      Nationally, PHAC reported a total of 220 deaths from confirmed influenza in the 2018-19 flu season: So, the available evidence shows that it isn’t “thousands of seniors every year” that die from flu. I suspect that much of this low mortality is attributable to mass immunization of seniors and those with chronic conditions.

      There is good evidence, however, that COVID-19 is more lethal for those that get it than flu. It isn’t as lethal as Ebola or anything, but with almost 600 deaths & counting in Alberta, we’re seeing a case fatality rate of 3.1% nationwide, & 0.89% in Alberta. These numbers are pretty dicey in terms of data quality, given the wide disparities in testing patterns both by jurisdiction & by time frame, so must be taken with a truckload of salt, but still, COVID-19 clearly kills more people than the flu does. It’s also harder on survivors, with by some estimates 1 in 10 cases becoming so-called “long-haulers” with long-term sequelae like chronic lung disease, cardiomyopathy & kidney failure.

      Once we see a vaccine actually being administered, I expect we’ll see a rapid decline in bad outcomes like deaths, but it’ll be many months before we can see society getting back to anywhere near status quo ante-pandemic.

  7. Just Me

    December 2nd, 2020

    Today’s event was especially entertaining, in a comically dark way.

    Shandro opens his statement by saying, “I am pleased to announce…” I guess he’s thrilled by a rising bodycount and hospitals packed to over-capacity. I didn’t know there was some kind of a record involved. Are there prizes?

    Kenney appears and declares that he’s requesting field hospitals from the federal government. PMJT comes to save the day and Alberta from the UCP? I have been of the belief that Kenney wants to hand the pandemic response off to the feds and make it there problem. It’s not like being the premier is supposed to be about dealing with public health emergencies. The Angry Midget has better things to do, like more tax cuts, more deregulation, and applying 18th C. principles to a 21st C. world.

    Don’t be like Alberta, indeed.

  8. Mike in Edmonton

    December 4th, 2020

    Well, well. Four field hospitals to service 750 additional Covid-19 cases. Will the Red Cross and the army also supply the doctors, nurses, medications; the cleaning staff and supplies; security (imagine soldiers in battledress patrolling the perimeter of the parking lot); food, water, electricity and sanitation; and who’s going to pay for all this?

    Oh, wait. It says here:
    that AHS will provide hospital staff. Such a relief for all the hospital bosses! Now they’ll have to juggle exhausted, burned-out staffers not only inside their facilities but also in the pop-up tents outside! Yaayy!! Does this mean the layoffs are on hold?

    Merely asking for this help is a sign of the utter desperation that now overwhelms Kenney and his Klowns. Imagine asking Justin for help! Still, the surprise is that he’d bend his neck even this far to beg The Enemy in Ottawa for assistance.

    Kudos to Devon Page and Ecojustice for not backing down. There’s something about the judge’s decision to dismiss the case, though. “Justice Karen M. Horner said she agreed with the province and the commissioner that there is no evidence that the release of information from the inquiry will negatively impact the reputation of Ecojustice”–from this article:

    Maybe not. But what about Ecojustice’s argument that the inquiry was politically motivated, in violation of the intent of the Public Inquiries Act? Did Justice Horner even mention this? “They’re making us look bad” is less important than “They’re breaking their own rules to make us look bad.”

  9. mamaligadoc

    December 23rd, 2020

    With respect !!!


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