It’s a wonder Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s inbox didn’t spontaneously combust yesterday when the letter from the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association landed in it. 

Signed by EZMSA President Erika MacIntyre, Vice-President Cheryl Mack, and 10 other physicians, the letter was intended to take UCP MLA Shane Getson to task for a couple of Facebook posts that tried to suggest poor planning by Alberta Health Services was the cause of the crisis in the province’s intensive care units and that AHS CEO Verna Yiu is paid too much. 

Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association President Erika MacIntyre (Photo: Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association).

“It’s a good thing we have the public all up in arms fighting with each other over passports,” Mr. Getson sniffed in one of his bon mots Saturday, “otherwise they might be asking what the heck has our 20 plus billion dollar per year AHS group been doing for ICU capacity when the public that pays for the system may need it!”

Referencing a news story about Dr. Yiu’s $568,321 salary in another post, the MLA for Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland opined that “for this kind of money, and the amount we pour into the system, I think we need to be getting more bang for our buck when it comes to resource planning….”

These cheap shots – rather mild by Mr. Getson’s past standards for intemperate, incoherent, and insulting comments on social media – caused EZMSA to summon up the blood, as someone once said.

Indeed, the letter is as fine an example of righteous indignation as one has encountered for quite a spell in political discourse. Accordingly it was cc’d to Mr. Getson himself, who surely felt the burn, shameless though he may be, to Jason Copping, Premier Kenney’s just-appointed minister of health, and Dr. Yiu. 

It was also shared on social media by numerous physicians, and retweeted by large numbers of Albertans. 

Now, to succeed, righteous indignation must not be self-righteous, nor can it be so furious it strays over the line into apoplexy. So this is a fairly narrow road to travel, but I would say whoever penned the letter nailed it. 

Mr. Getson – wilfully or otherwise – does not understand the health care system he is talking about, wrote the doctors, the woes of which in fact “can be laid at the feet of the Alberta government of which Mr. Getson is a part.”

Alberta Health Services President and CEO Verna Yiu (Photo: Dave Cournoyer).

Comparing Alberta’s fourth wave surge to the deadly early waves of COVID-19 in Italy and New York when little was known about the virus, the letter’s authors call Alberta’s situation “unforgivable.”

“Your decision, Premier, to irresponsibly abandon all precautions against the Delta variant in July – and the further decision to suppress the data in August showing that the fourth wave would be extremely serious – guaranteed that the number of cases would overwhelm the system,” they wrote. 

“The complete failure to take effective public health and policy measures when the fourth wave was readily apparent has resulted in 15 Albertans dying every day. Our government continues to choose death over appropriate measures.” (Emphasis added.)

Well, I can’t quote the entire letter – I’ll leave it to readers to read it for themselves. But it is worth noting that it excoriates Mr. Getson for his “abysmal lack of understanding about our health system and public health,” “bullying and harassment” of health care workers, and his “attempted character assassination” and “egregious personal attack” on Dr. Yiu, which it characterizes as “loathsome and cowardly.” 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

“Every Albertan deserves an apology from MLA Getson and the party he represents, for his false and malicious attack on Dr. Yiu and attempted spread of misinformation. His resignation would be an appropriate way to show actual regret.” 

Well, this is the UCP, so don’t expect that to happen. 

Indeed, Mr. Getson has a bit of a history of this kind of thing. 

Alert readers will recall how he shared anti-immigration Yellow Vest posts on Facebook, accused recipients of federal CERB payments of frittering the money away on drugs, cartoons and Cheezies, suggested Albertans who wear masks cause COVID outbreaks, and incoherently attacked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “that fancy sock-wearing, paper-straw sucking waterbucks kind of thingy sort of embezzling whatever blackface painting ethics infraction.”

Whatever. Many Albertans suspected Getson’s remarks may have crudely reflected a broader UCP strategy to blame AHS leaders for the current disaster in health care. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Kenney and Mr. Copping continue to receive letters from physicians begging the government to act responsibly and impose a circuit-breaker lockdown to get the fourth wave under control. 

That includes the letter mentioned yesterday in this space from former Alberta chief medical officer of health James Talbot and critical care physician Noel Gibney, who also signed the EZMSA letter, another from the Alberta Medical Association signed by 58 ICU docs, one from the Canadian Paediatric Society, and a news release from AMA President Paul Boucher.

So far, the UCP is still wearing earplugs. 

NOTE: This post has been edited to reflect the fact Mr. Getson’s posts, which were reported to have disappeared for a while, are now visible on his Facebook pages. DJC

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  1. Maybe Getson has learned a little bit, but not a lot, from his master about deflection and distraction. He is like the little yappy dog barking his head off, very annoying, but not accomplishing much other than further diminishing the image of his boss and party. Perhaps this is what they would have called a bozo eruption a few years ago under an earlier version party leader.

    Kenney can’t say things such as this himself, so either he gets Getson to do so, or someone has really slipped his leash. Therefore, how harshly Kenney comes down on Getson will be a clue as to which is the case.

  2. Ignorance is in an unlimited supply with these pretend conservatives and Reformers we have in the UCP party. Albertans are ending up paying for it, in more ways than one. Had Albertans listed to people who said the UCP were no good to begin with, we wouldn’t be in this horrific mess right now.

    1. Well they elected a Premier that was under investigation for ELECTION FRAUD at the time. I have to ask “why do they have a surprised feeling??????” Those stupid people got the “government they voted for”. Unfortunately the rest of us have to suffer through it as well. The UPC are ass clowns!

  3. Enough already with this vile attack on Dr. Yiu, and so many other HCWs who have been doing an extraordinary job in these horrendously difficult Covid times.

    What a fabulous letter (from EZMSA) that should cause a serious burn on the ever thuggish Getson, though his apparent rhino skin will probably save his ass. He needs to be fired immediately,

  4. This is clearly the shock doctrine neo-liberals love to destroy anything public.
    Medieval Jason Kenney is 20 years behind schedule but that is no surprise. He is ready to start propaganda against our health care system and this was just the first salvo.

  5. One wonders if Mr. Getson would be perfectly fine with a private sector male oil executive with Dr. Yiu’s years of education and experience, in charge of a company of equivalent size and value, earning that much? Chances are, such a person would be paid much more.

    Getson refers to a highly-educated woman in a position of authority in the only terms he understands: women are for banging for a buck. What a crude, disgusting piece of work he is. The latent violence in his choice of words is obvious. Women are to be controlled with the threat of physical and sexual violence, especially those who dare to become more educated and powerful than pathetic men like Gerson, whose skillset is limited to brute force and ignorance. Alberta is no place for women in the UCP era.

    The silence from Getson’s boss, Jason Kenney, and the rest of the UCP caucus is stunning. Silence is complicity. They’re okay with it. So rape culture is part of the Alberta experience. This will never be okay.

  6. There is a rule among populists that resonates even to this day: the elites can never be trusted.

    Getson has decided to paint Dr. Verna Yiu as the fault for all the bad that has befallen Alberta, the antics of the “Greatest Summer Ever” notwithstanding. She is paid an exorbitant amount of money, more than any of Getson’s voters will ever see in a lifetime; therefore, she must be corrupt and this is all her fault. Laying blame and mistrust in elites (AKA the smart people) is how Trump scored so much mileage during his thankful brief presidency. Getson is trying to do the same thing in the hope of gaining a similar effect. While it remains to be seen if the yokels in Red Deer are as dumb as the yokels in the Deep South, they feed off the same conspiratorial teat.

    At some point, as the whole public healthcare system comes crashing down, even Kenney will point the blame (again) at corrupt healthcare workers, nurses, and doctors, before singing the praises of universal for-profit health in Alberta.

    You know it’s coming. Think of Getson’s brain-dead missive as the canary in the coalmine for what’s to come.

  7. And what exactly, as a member of this UCP Government, is Mr. Getson doing to help Albertan get through this health crisis?

    A big fat ZERO is bad enough, however Getson is well past O on the minus scale.

    Kenney will not have the guts to comment. This is what it has come to in Alberta. Freedom of choice has a price and has unintended consequences. As does a complete lack of leadership.

  8. The thing i liked about the middle east
    was that if you committed a crime against a family
    they would plot revenge for generations.

    Even mistreat a camel as a calve
    and they will remember your smell
    and tear down your tent in the night
    and trample you to death 25 years later.

    15 deaths a day by the killer kenney klown krew kowards protecting their asses and idiots “freedumbs”
    The Alberta blue magoos won’t even remember this by the next election cycle.

    Sars Covid 19 masks/vaccines/lockdowns/mandates were an I.Q test.
    We were failed. Remember that smell.

  9. Days before the 2019 provincial election radio host Charles Adler raised warning flags during his Kenney interview about bozo eruptions and knuckle draggers. Mouthpiece Getson is performing to expectation.

  10. Judging by Getson’s background in “construction” I suspect that he likely can only communicate in crudity. No doubt we can count on him fuming about uppity wymmins being overpaid and not doing their real jobs, like having enough babies. Considering Dr. Yiu’s ethnic and racial background, Getson will probably pile in with something about smart asians taking all the jobs from white people (Dumb white people?) Judging by Getson’s droopy eyed expression, he might be a passionate talk radio listening day-drinker and the ideal access to the typical UCP voter.

  11. It is laughable that Shane Getson questions the salaries of Dr. Yiu and the AHS leadership who, in addition to running a very complex organization in extremely challenging times, have to put up with ongoing criticism and harassment from the likes of Mr.Getson. They deserve a raise for the sh*t and abuse spewed about them from the moronic losers in the UCP.
    Perhaps, we should question the salaries paid to Kenney and his UCP MLA’s for being the most incompetent and dysfunctional government in the history of our province.

  12. As the adage goes, “penny wise and pound foolish.” In Mr. Getson’s case, there is more than one species of deep foolishness on display here, mixed possibly with outright stupidity, callousness, and cynicism, not to mention dishonesty.

    While it may be true that Dr. Yiu’s salary is high, relative to most Albertans and most civil servants for that matter, neither her salary nor her competence is the issue here. The issue that Mr. Getson is trying to deflect his audience from is the UCP’s gross incompetence and mismanagement. Compared to other costs related to the pandemic, the salaries of AHA staff barely register.

    It strains credulity to think that Mr. Getson must not have considered what all that extra ICU capacity costs. Why would we want to have excess ICU capacity when we don’t need it? Yes, we now have to ramp up capacity for the pandemic, but the cause for the need to ramp up capacity is not the fault of Dr. Yiu or other AHA staff. Rather, it is the result of poor planning and poor decision making on the part of Kenney and the UCP. They were the ones after all who said that the rate of hospitalizations would be decoupled from infection rates based on bad, cherry-picked data from the UK and other places; they were the ones who said we would be open for summer and open for good.

    Nor does it appear that Mr. Getson and his ilk have considered other costs that the mismanagement of this pandemic has created: the cancellation of many so-called “elective” surgeries that would have had a meaningful impact on people’s lives, the unnecessary sickness and death, the burnout of our health care providers, and many others too numerous to list. Mr. Getson must be deeply stupid to not see these and other costs and take them into consideration. Or, perhaps he does know but does not care. I am not sure which is worse.

    Whatever the reason, his complaints align with the typical conservative playbook. Break the public health care system, claim it is broken and too expensive, and then propose privatization as way to solve the problems in the public system. That surely is the way to a more expensive health care system that has poorer outcomes – we need look no further than our neighbors to the south for an example. Of course, it must be galling to these callous libertarians and free enterprise idealogues to see that the pandemic provides more than ample proof to the electorate of the value of a public health care system, whatever its faults. If it were not for our public health care system, we would be in a much worse place.

    If he is going to complain about bad planning and bad decisions, he should look no further than the example set by his dear leader, Jason Kenney. What savings could we have made had he not decided we were open for summer in July and had he not been blinded by his faux concern for privacy regarding vaccine mandates? I am sure the savings, both human and financial, would have been significant.

  13. So Getson was in construction before politics? Well, lemme put it this way for him. The market for medical Dr administrators is competitive. One must pay competitive rates to get talent. Getson may at least remember this from construction and ooh . . . Free Market Economics 101. Anyway nuff said

    By next election with any amount of luck, this bonehead will be sent packing. Also I am quite sure the good doctor has probably disposed of his comments in the same place they send bio-hazard waste. His comments were really quite asinine. To use an expression from my days at the U of A, “dumb as a sack of hammers.” Appropriate perhaps.

  14. While it is righteous and fine to go off on the UCP never forget who is actually behind the scenes advising both Kenney and Moe, and on the public dimes of both provinces, a certain lego-haired malignant narcissist.

  15. Conspicuously absent in this word-salad of circular reasoning and straw-man arguments (and the predictably vapid remarks in the comment section), is a discussion of just where the budgeted increase in ICU capacity went. How do U.S. states with similar populations as Alberta have hundreds more ICU beds? How does a sclerotic bureaucracy staffed by pernicious public sector unions have no accountability? Oh let me guess the answers…..I just don’t understand how health care works.

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