Increasing criticism is being directed at Premier Jason Kenney for Alberta’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The calls from doctors and political experts for the premier to step down are growing louder following Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s admission that lifting pandemic restrictions for the summer was a mistake. The mounting pressure for change also comes as the number of COVID-19 patients in Alberta’s intensive care units reaches record highs.
The premier has yet to respond to the criticism. Kenney has not addressed the province or answered questions from media since Sept. 3, when he announced the $100 vaccine incentive.
The premier was scheduled to make remarks at an oil and gas conference in Fort McMurray Wednesday, but that appearance has been cancelled. Instead, Kenney called an emergency meeting with his COVID-19 cabinet committee.
Duane Bratt, a political scientist at MRU, is questioning the premier’s pandemic leadership, asking how many Albertan’s lives need to be put at risk to keep the UCP together.
“I don’t know how they can survive this,” said Bratt. “You often hear wealthy people in hospitals say ‘money can’t buy your health’. Well, neither can party unity.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also taking aim at Kenney’s leadership, and says he feels bad for the millions of Albertans that are fully vaccinated.
Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s former chief medical officer of health, says he hopes the UCP will learn from past mistakes. Following Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s comments about how the pandemic has been handled, Talbot says he’s interested to see how the government will now act in a time of crisis.