Show us the science, Premier Kenney, says AFL – AFL

Politics, not public health, driving Kenney’s lifting of COVID protections

EDMONTON – Premier Kenney’s lifting of almost all provincial COVID-19 public health protections today is too soon for our health care system and for the safety of our frontline workers, says the Alberta Federation of Labour. Albertans need their government to act in the best interest of the public, but Kenney is risking unnecessary deaths for a decision clearly based on political considerations, rather than on science or any concern for frontline workers.

“Today, I am calling on the Kenney UCP government to finally be open and honest with Alberta workers. Show us the science behind this decision. Show us that this decision is based on the best possible data, not the political agenda of the Premier.” says Gil McGowan, Alberta Federation of Labour president.

McGowan points to the City of Edmonton mask mandate bylaw which states it would remain until “active COVID-19 cases for the City of Edmonton remain below 100 per 100,000 population for 28 consecutive days.” The latest data, February 23, 2022, puts Edmonton at 194.5 cases per 100,000 – and that’s with what many experts have said is inadequate testing.

While many Albertans are understandably tired of wearing masks, there are thousands of workers who have relied on the provincial mandate to keep themselves and their families safe while they earn a living. We all look forward to the day when deaths and hospitalizations are down and we can interact with each other normally again. But right now, that’s simply not the reality of the situation.

“Where is the consideration for frontline workers and their safety?” says McGowan. “Frontline health care workers continue to be exhausted and demoralized with the high numbers of COVID patients. Frontline retail workers and education workers who work in close, frequent physical proximity to others continue to face high exposure to the virus. The COVID-19 virus is one of the most serious workplace hazards in Alberta and data shows over the past two years 15,066 lost-time claims were submitted to the WCB.”

“Albertans remember Kenney declaring Alberta ‘open for summer’ before the disastrous and deadly fourth wave. They remember UCP MLAs thumbing their noses at public health safeguards and downplaying the seriousness of the virus. They remember the government’s inaction leading to massive workplace outbreaks, including those with our province’s meat packing facilities, hospitals, and continuing care facilities. This government’s woeful leadership has not only undermined the health and safety of Albertans, but also trust in this government,” says McGowan.

“Kenney’s decisions are premature, reckless and irresponsible and despite his rhetoric, the pandemic is not over. Wearing a mask until it is safe not to do so is not a hardship and we are afraid these irresponsible decisions will lead to more unnecessary deaths over a longer period of time. Albertans should be able to trust their government to act in the best interest of the people, but it seems this government only cares about big business and Kenney only cares about his political survival,” concludes McGowan.


Ramona Franson
Director of Communications, AFL