Alberta Politics
Jason Kenney announces on June 18 that Alberta was about to open for good – actual Alberta politicians may not have appeared exactly as illustrated (Image: @ArtSifton).

That Delta variant COVID-19 scenario that Jason Kenney just didn’t see happening? As summer ends, it’s happening

Posted on August 23, 2021, 2:27 am
7 mins

Delta variant or no variant, Alberta would be pulling the plug on almost all COVID-19 restrictions on July 1, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney confirmed on June 18.

“On July the first, on Canada Day, Alberta’s public health measures will be lifted and our lives will get back to normal,” he asserted as Health Minister Tyler Shandro stood smiling supportively in the background. 

The real Mr. Kenney, on vacation or otherwise missing in action (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

There were sharp intakes of breath in medical circles all over Alberta, but Mr. Kenney was adamant that this was it, Alberta was open for good, and there was no way anything could possibly go wrong. 

Asked by a reporter at his outdoor “happy day for Alberta” news conference overlooking downtown Edmonton from the south side of the North Saskatchewan River if he had a Plan B in the event COVID-19 cases started to increase again, Mr. Kenney responded: “We just don’t see that scenario. … This is open for good, not just open for summer.”

“This is not a guess,” he added in his explaining voice. “This plan is based on the expert analysis of the chief medical officer, our public health team, looking at global experience and looking at the science of vaccines.”

What’s more, he added confidently, “it’s quite possible that by the time schools reopen that vaccines will be open to school aged children.”

So here we are with Labour Day approaching. Delta cases are soaring throughout Alberta – and the rest of the world. Dr. Joe Vipond, the Calgary Emergency Room physician whose predictions have a better record of being right than Mr. Kenney’s vaunted public health team, has warned Alberta could be reporting close to 5,000 cases by Sept. 20, the day of the federal election. 

As for any vaccine being approved for children under 12 in time for schools to reopen on Sept. 2, there’s no sign of it. 

Meanwhile, though, the Kenney Government’s War on Nurses is proceeding apace at the bargaining table. 

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

The government continues to demand mid-pandemic wage rollbacks from the majority of Alberta’s Registered Nurses employed by Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health and other public health care employers. Nurses are furious. 

AHS and government officials, meanwhile, still blame nurses taking vacations for the staffing shortages that are closing emergency room and acute care beds at hospitals throughout the province. On Friday, AHS informed the nurses’ union, United Nurses of Alberta, that it would be implementing emergency provisions in their collective agreement to solve “significant staffing issues.” 

Nurses will see approved vacations cancelled, redeployment to other facilities, and mandatory overtime shifts. When their overtime pay shows up on their paycheques, Mr. Kenney’s “issues managers” will publish angry tweets complaining about how much they are paid, and how many RNs show up on the province’s “Sunshine List.” This will be used as justification for the rollbacks the government is seeking through its AHC bargaining committee proxies. 

Apparently the Kenney Government didn’t notice that nursing is in crisis almost everywhere, with staff shortages growing worse as nurses give up in the face of exhaustion from the last year and a half on the front lines of the pandemic, vaccine hesitancy encouraged by right-wing governments like Mr. Kenney’s, and the personal risks they face every day. 

Calgary physician Joe Vipond, a high-profile critic of the Kenney Government (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“In the year and a half since its ferocious debut in the United States, the coronavirus pandemic has stretched the nation’s nurses as never before, testing their skills and stamina as desperately ill patients with a poorly understood malady flooded emergency rooms,” the New York Times said Saturday. 

“They remained steadfast amid a calamitous shortage of personal protective equipment; spurred by a sense of duty, they flocked from across the country to the newest hot zones, sometimes working as volunteers. More than 1,200 of them have died from the virus.

“Now, as the highly contagious Delta variant pummels the United States, bedside nurses, the workhorse of a well-oiled hospital, are depleted and traumatized, their ranks thinned by early retirements or career shifts that traded the emergency room for less stressful nursing jobs at schools, summer camps and private doctor’s offices.”

And it’s not just the United States and Canada. It’s happening everywhere. 

But the United Conservative Party, which claims to advocate for free markets, doesn’t seem to understand the law of supply and demand!

No wonder Mr. Kenney and Mr. Shandro seem to have gone into hiding – supposedly on vacation, but with no one left in charge to mind the wheelhouse of the ship of state. 

It’s got to be embarrassing to be proved so spectacularly wrong, so quickly, just as their critics warned. And that’s got to be a problem for the federal Conservatives, who would be just as happy if Mr. Kenney stayed as far away as possible from their federal election campaign. 

That’s the situation in Alberta at the start of the last full week of August 2021.

22 Comments to: That Delta variant COVID-19 scenario that Jason Kenney just didn’t see happening? As summer ends, it’s happening

  1. Dave

    August 23rd, 2021

    I get the sense that Kenney is one of those politicians who believes just by saying something he will cause it to happen. Surely, by now he must have noticed this is not working so well for him these days.

    So much for the greatest summer ever. Yes, it started off ok, but seems to be going down hill quickly recently with a fast rise in COVID cases and no vaccinations for school kids yet.

    So, I suppose back to what Kenney has at times done best- create a distraction, deflect, hide and try to blame someone else. However his old tricks don’t seem to work so well any more. Maybe too many have figured them out, or its just harder to shift blame when you are the one in charge.

    Surely at some level he must realize this war on nurses is just going to make things worse, just like his earlier one on doctors did. However, I suspect he is still a petulant and stubborn one, wherever the heck he is hiding these days.

    Reply
    • e.a.f.

      August 23rd, 2021

      where is he hiding, check his Mom’s basement. back when he was a cabinet minister for harper, another blogger used to suggest that is where he was hiding. Perhaps Kenny believes if he prays enough his wishes will be granted because he’s such a good christian. It is a strategy which works for him, not the people of Alberta, but him. He can made delusional statements, well in my opinion, then disappear and resurface when the crisis has passed. Of course this time, COVID may not pass. On the upside Jason may stay in hiding until the next election.

      Reply
  2. Political Ranger

    August 23rd, 2021

    Yeah, welcome to reality!

    The dumbass conservatives are so wrapped up in their belief of their beliefs that they simply cannot comprehend what’s going on around them. This is true of all conservatives but especially the fervent ideologues out on the far right edges of nuttery like the UCP.

    This is not just dereliction of duty or the normal incompetence of Alberta politicos, this is criminal. These clowns are deliberately and maliciously causing harm and death to citizens as well as purposeful destruction and damage to property of a health care system that Albertans and Canadians heavily rely on and have spent $ billions to build up.
    I would like to see a class action against these useless buggers.

    Reply
    • Alan K Spiller

      August 23rd, 2021

      To POLiTiCAL RANGER Want to bet the dumb ass Albertans will try to help the dumb ass O’Toole to get elected. A large portion of seniors my seniors friends and I know are really that stupid.

      A guy said to me years ago “ You shouldn’t go around bad mouthing seniors like you do. You should pity them because they really are that stupid”. I can’t find any pity for seniors who just plain stupid.

      With so many Albertans wanting Kenney gone and Notley reinstated you would have to call them traitors, because that’s what they are. It’s bad enough we have to fight Kenney, we have his stupid senior supporters to content with also.

      The blogs on the various newspapers are filled with these fools trying to defend Kenney with their idiotic comments. Newspaper editors are to blame in many cases for not printing any letters that bash their friend Kenney.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        August 24th, 2021

        ALAN K SPILLER: My dad, is also a senior, and is in his 90s. He knew how Ralph Klein was cunning, in getting elected. Some of my surviving aunts, who are in their 80s and 90s, as well as other seniors I know, thought Ralph Klein was marvelous. They certainly were fooled. We have others who are being fooled by these pretend conservatives and Reformers, and these newspaper columnists enable it to happen, which is unfortunate.

        Reply
        • Alan K Spiller

          August 24th, 2021

          Anonymous Our family had known the Klein family since the early 1960s and we certainly knew what a jerk Ralph was. Dad called him “That sleazy bastard” long before he ever got into politics. A lawyer friend said dad was right that’s what he is.

          Like so many other conservatives my father stopped voting when Klein came on the scene. The They knew there was nothing conservative about Klein. During his time the percentage of eligible voters dropped down to the 30s and it was no secret that it was mainly ignorant seniors who were keeping Klein in power.

          Don Getty told me in 2003 that inviting Liberal Ralph Klein into the Conservative party was the dumbest thing he had ever done and I certainly agreed.

          Reply
    • Carlos

      August 23rd, 2021

      Just send these guys to Kabul, after all they are going back again to the 12th century and Jason Kenney will once again feel at home.

      Reply
  3. Just Me

    August 23rd, 2021

    I suspect Premier Crying & Screaming Midget is in Ottawa, bunkered in the CPC War Room, directing the troops. It’s his party now (in his own mind) because he picked Erin O’Toole to lead it. Kenney is serving as proxy for all those Calgary O & G interests, who are determined to see their assets nationalized, with pension funds and on the public dime, of course. There’s fat premiums to be paid for all those assets, so Kenney’s the man to make that happen.

    Meanwhile, as the Pandemic of the Unvaccinated rolls through Alberta, there’s no way on earth Kenney is stepping back into Alberta for the time being. I suspect his vacation will last until the federal election date, and depending on its outcome, may some weeks thereafter. Win or lose, Alberta may never hear from him again, which can be played for good and bad.

    If the CPC lose the election, Kenney will have a lot of explaining to do, but I doubt he will bother. He’s unlikely to show his face in Alberta again. If the CPC manage to eek out a win, Kenney will head back to Ottawa, return to his coveted federal career, and wreck his special brand of havoc across the rest of Canada. Why should Alberta suffer alone?

    Alberta has much to look forward to as the “Greatest Summer Ever” devolves into the “Greatest Pandemic Clusterf*ck of all Time”.

    Reply
  4. Alan K Spiller

    August 23rd, 2021

    When Ralph Klein was creating his reign of terror on doctors , nurses, and teachers one of the nine doctors I helped relocate out of the province said it best “ Why should I stay in Alberta and support my patients when they refuse to support me against this tyrant Ralph Klein”.

    What I have learned from retired doctor friends is the fact that these ignorant Reformers ignore is the fact that Canadian trained doctors and nurses are highly respected and are in great demand. They can work where ever they want to.

    When Shandro was kicking the rural doctors around he made clear that they wouldn’t leave because they are the highest paid in Canada. I think he got a huge surprise. The truth is it isn’t about wages it’s about being shown the respect they so rightly deserve. No one is more important in our lives, especially us seniors, than doctors and nurses and they deserve to be treated that way.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      August 23rd, 2021

      ALAN K SPILLER: You sure have it right. As someone who is originally from rural Alberta, Ralph Klein’s cuts made it so that the village hospital in our area closed down. The farmers in the area had to go elsewhere for medical assistance. The UCP shut down the NDP’s super lab that they got started, and with Covid-19 caseloads rising in Alberta, this made no sense. You cannot expect any sense from pretend conservatives and Reformers, can you? You simply can’t. We know the UCP wants to finish the job that Ralph Klein was initiating, to have full on private for profit health care in Alberta. The nurses in my family certainly didn’t agree with Ralph Klein’s policies.

      Reply
      • Alan K Spiller

        August 24th, 2021

        Anonymous My sister had been a lab technician at the Royal Alexander Hospital in Edmonton and she didn’t agree with anything Klein did either. Her son in-law got the highest marks ever recorded in nursing at the u of a and he was out of a job within the first year thanks to Klein. He changed careers and Albertans lost a great nurse. Another friend was one of the nurses Klein ran off and she also changed careers.

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          August 26th, 2021

          ALAN K SPILLER: One of my aunts was a nurse for years in Calgary. She is a senior in her mid 80s. Once she was talking to my dad, who is in his 90s, and is one of her older brothers, who was a nursing assistant. She brought up how bad it was under Ralph Klein. One of my cousins, who is a senior, and a retired nurse, knew her job was at risk under Ralph Klein. One of my older sisters had a friend from her nursing class, who lost her nursing job under Ralph Klein. The UCP also wants to give nurses in Alberta pink slips. Where is the sense in this?

          Reply
      • Abs

        August 24th, 2021

        Thanks to Ralph Klein and his healthcare cuts, two anesthesiologists who worked at a busy regional hospital in Alberta during the late 1990s decided to work to rule. They could no longer meet the volume of work and 24-hour coverage between the two of them. This meant that mothers delivering babies could not avail themselves of their services, except in cases of induced labor during regular hours, or scheduled C-sections. Three babies were born every day at this hospital. Mothers whose babies decided to arrive on their own schedule could not have epidurals. Think about that. Thanks, Ralph Klein. This is a story that no one spoke about. You’re hearing it now. Cruelty by conservatives knows no bounds. Women and children first!

        He truly did deserve to have a swamp named after him, wherein the storm sewers of Southeast Calgary flow. I’m surprised that it’s not full of crocodiles, alligator and snakes.

        Reply
  5. brett

    August 23rd, 2021

    At the time of the Kenney’s announcement one only had to look at the vaccination rates in Albert to see that his comments were absolute BS aimed very much at quelling the discontent in the UCP party.

    The numbers foretold the future. They still do.

    We in Alberta are in desperate need of a responsible Government.

    It is one thing to make headlines. It is another to make them because people are laughing at you and your ‘Keystone Cops’ like Cabinet members.

    Reply
  6. Abs

    August 23rd, 2021

    Today a news article popped up about the doomed Franklin expedition. I could not help but think of this government. Where is our premier? Where is our health minister? Abandoning ship again in the middle of yet another crisis? Should we call this “pulling a Tracy Allard”? Nah, more like “pulling a ScoMo”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/dec/21/scott-morrison-hawaii-horror-show-pr-disaster-unfolded

    Why is it that all these stories end up in Hawaii? Following Ockham’s razor, maybe Kenney is there, too. Can we look forward to his face embedded in a hibiscus flower shirt soon?

    Reply
  7. Scotty on Denman

    August 23rd, 2021

    Kenney’s Alberta—wide open for the best summer ever!—might not be a prime vaycay destination for most folks, but for election campaigning rivals to the Conservative Party of Canada it is an absolute must!

    Not that Justin Trudeau expects to win many —if any—Liberal seats in Wild Rose country, but as a foil to CPC Leader Erin O’Toole’s accusations that he’s been light on the Covid file, there’s no better place to stump than Kenney’s Deltaberta which is, next to JT, lighter than a sea of bics at a hot summer tRump rally.

    With word that Green leader Annamie Paul will be focusing her party’s campaign on the Toronto riding she hopes will elect her to her first seat in the House of Commons, as well as the perennially exclusive Quebec focus of the eponymous Bloc, not to mention the likelihood that O’Toole will be giving Kenney wide berth despite Alberta being the Western centre of his own party, we can expect the other half of the ballot to take advantage of these absences: two to determine how the balance of power will likely be split, and one to determine how much the right-wing vote will likely be split.

    It’s almost too ironic to believe that the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh will enjoy more advantage in ConBlue Alberta than either Trudeau for the Liberals or Maxime Bernier for the far-right People’s Party—the former having bought a bitumen mine-to-tidewater pipeline for Alberta said to be worth 12 billion dollars and the latter having ploughed the same furrowed brow of far-right extremism the Alberta premier made goo-goo eyes with during his own pursuit of power.

    Indeed, Jagmeet might think his prayers have been answered on every front his rivals will be concentrating their forces. And the light shines brightest in Alberta. On the most pressing front, Singh can let his two main rivals throw sticks and stones at each other on Covid, that issue of which the vast majority of Canadians are mighty tired, while he deftly focuses on a familiar NDP issue: labour relations with respect healthcare workers and Covid everywhere in Canada which, as it happens, can’t be better illustrated than in Alberta where the UCP government persistently wages ideological warfare against nurses struggling to meet the heightening wave of Delta Covid exacerbated by tRumpublican-like policies. Singh doubtlessly appreciates that you just can’t make this stuff up and be believed, but that most Canadians—even most Albertans—believe Kenney’s contrarian Covid policy is to blame for his province’s almost incredible Covid ranking.

    And, while the big two squabble about how big bucks should or shouldn’t have been spent on Covid, the NDP leader provides a much needed breath of fresh air by proposing to spend some of that largesse on health matters Canadians might want to be more enduring than Covid—that is, universal public dental care and pharmaceutical coverage. Again, the beam of light shines brightly on the Alberta stage. Yeah, there’s even a good chance the NDP can grab a couple more seats in the sea of landlocked ConBlues.

    On the environmental front, recently boiling in record-breaking heatwaves and still roiling in smoke from widespread wildfires—with dubious relief from drought and heat, more surely expected than ever, coming in the form of polar bone-freezing vortexes and spring-melt flooding—the NDP might have gotten lucky: primarily a workers’ party which can’t always advocate for complete shutdowns of polluting industries which employ so many unionized workers— like “Extinction Rebellion” crusaders demand of environmentalism—this campaigning NDP finds itself fortunately pitted against climate-change deniers, climate-action charlatans and, luckiest of all, two parties which restrict their campaigns to very particular parochia despite their ostensible enviro-creds —neither in Alberta (nor most of the country, for that matter). While the NDP has long challenged the two big parties on the environment, almost by rote, and challenged the electorate’s psephological lizard-brains with appeals to vote tactically where and when necessary, it had no hand in (like the Liberals did), nor could have predicted the Greens’ current pickle. Naturally, that will relieve a lot of vote-splitting that has worried Dippers in many ridings, but more importantly this time it leaves the environmental front wide open for the NDP: it has always had to be competitive with the Greens on this file, and should shine brighter in the current circumstance.

    Finally, Singh is a man of colour who has addressed Black Lives Matter and tRump-provoked attacks on Muslim and Asian Canadians. But on all the big fronts, Covid, the economy, and the environment, indigenous nations have had to bear much more than the rest of us. And Canada owes them so much more than it has atoned for. I hope the NDP will address this file more prominently. In this case, Alberta isn’t necessarily the most adventitious stump.

    Reply
  8. Jimmy

    August 23rd, 2021

    Some parts of the province have a two dose, fully immunized rate of a little over 50 percent. The mainstream press continues to minimize the relevance of this fact through continued use of the overly euphemistic term ‘vaccine hesitancy’. It not hesitancy. It is refusal and denial. Some provincial and municipal politicians, supposed leaders, have chosen not disclose personal vaccination status claiming privacy. More dog whistling directed to the selfish, the ignorant, and the ‘freedom fighters’.
    Maybe the time for a fire wall is nearing. Not the Stephen Harper type One designed with the intention to contain this horrible and deadly disease. Despite all of the well publicized and overly repetitive finger pointing, blaming, and playing the victim rhetoric originating here many Albertans do not feel ill will or malice toward the people of other provinces or to the national government. Let’s hope that all Canadian people remain safe and Covid free whilst here in Alberta doing so becomes increasingly difficult

    Reply
    • jerrymacgp

      August 25th, 2021

      Jimmy: “It not hesitancy. It is refusal and denial.” While I don’t doubt that this is a factor in the lower immunization rates in rural & small-city Alberta, I don’t think it’s the only one. AHS’ parsimony, lack of understanding of the communities it is supposed to serve, and its top-down decision-making structure are also contributors.

      Case in point: the free-standing COVID immunization clinic set up in downtown Grande Prairie (in the Montrose Cultural Centre, which houses the GP Public Library and the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie, as well as a large open function hall and some rentable meeting rooms) was only operating 8 hours a day, albeit 7 days a week. This in a community full of shift workers, oilfield workers with their crazy 14-hour days & 15 on-7 off schedules, and one of the demographically youngest cities in the province. The clinic needed to be open in the evenings at least, if not quite 24/7, to accommodate people with these abnormal work schedules. It’s no good to say, “their employers should just let them off for an hour or two to go get the shot” when they have to travel two hours every morning at the crack of dawn just to get to site to start work — and two hours at the end of the day to get home again.

      Proactive outreach to work camps and oilfield leases with mobile clinics would also have been helpful. But all of this costs money — shift differential and weekend premium for nurses & other staff in clinics that run more than bankers’ hours, and leasing vehicles to run mobile outreach clinics. I suspect if you look at other smaller centres around the province you’d find a similar story.

      By the way, neither AHS nor the province has paid the City of Grande Prairie one thin dime for its use of the Teresa Sargent Hall, the open function space in the MCC that was used for the immunization clinic — which has since closed. I thought this government believed in user pay … ?

      Reply
  9. jimmy

    August 23rd, 2021

    another typo. there should be a period to end the sentence Harper type, before the next sentence begins with the word One. Sorry Dave

    Reply
  10. Carlos

    August 23rd, 2021

    Oh Yes they are all so good in respecting those people that really work and not just bully its citizens just like the NDP government in BC – this is how they treat those that have the brains to think that our heritage and our great resources should not be used to be turned into toilet paper
    I see you all should see this great display of the BC Taliban police and our Human Rights constant bragging

    https://youtu.be/gjLRuuHnUJ8

    Are we not so proud of Social Democrat Paul Horgan

    Reply
  11. Just Me

    August 23rd, 2021

    The mock-up of the infamous Chicago Tribune “Dewey Defeats Truman” erroneous headline is very timely and hilarious.

    I always that Kenney was “Uncle COVID”.

    Reply
  12. e.a.f.

    August 23rd, 2021

    “nothing could possibly go wrong”. How many times have we heard this line in our lives only to have things go sideways, upside down, and down the toilet.

    When it comes to diseases, especially new ones, there is no “positive forecasting”. If Jason had only read about the polio years or T.B. years or the AIDS years which are still on going. They can treat AIDS now but you still get it, you still can die of it. Kenny most likely knows Albertans aren’t the brightest tools in the shed, they voted for him or perhaps he thinks, fooled them once, I can fool them twice.

    It makes sense that Kenny would be in Ottawa working on the election. Lets hope the people of Canada don’t make the mistake Albertans did.

    It truly isn’t about the money, its about working conditions and respect. Medical staff will burn out and as they do their co workers will note the toll burn out takes on a person. They’ll quit. There are other places in Canada and the world where they can work. Jason may not have figured it out, but people who quit because their jobs make them sick can qualify for E.I. I’d suggest most nurses, care aids, doctors are staying on the job for now out of loyalty to their patients and the population in general, but as COVID worsens, many will walk away. Some never recover from burn out. Let Jason and his cabinet start cleaning bed pans for awhile.

    Jason just doesn’t care about the people of Alberta. The sooner they understand that, the better for their health.

    Reply

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