Alberta Opposition presses health officials over pandemic response

Alberta MLAs from both sides of the aisle had the opportunity Tuesday morning to ask health officials detailed questions about the COVID-19 pandemic response.

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Officials, including Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Alberta Health Services CEO Dr. Verna Yiu, appeared in front of the Public Accounts Committee.

Read more: Alberta’s COVID-19 surge a cautionary tale. Vaccines alone ‘won’t be fast enough’: Tam

MLA Rakhi Pancholi pressed Hinshaw on a FOIP obtained by the NDP. It includes a Sept. 2, 2020 email from an AHS official to an Alberta Health official.

“We are getting multiple requests internally from AHS for COVID-19 projections for the next six months and beyond. I wanted to know if AH is doing any modelling work so that we can avoid any duplication,” Hussain Usman wrote.

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“There is some modelling-related work I’m aware of but nothing planned regarding projections. This is purposeful: we’ve been advised not to pursue projections as there are too many uncertainties.

“Given that the outcomes of such work may not be supported by all leadership, I would suggest not pursuing this work yourselves,” Amy Colquhoun responded.

Read more: Alberta to adjust COVID-19 masking, isolation, testing rules over next month

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Pancholi asked Hinshaw who advised staff not to pursue such projections.

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Hinshaw responded that there is a difference between projections and modelling and that longer-term projections are often unreliable.

Read more: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney denies scapegoating chief medical officer for COVID-19 failures

When pressed, both Hinshaw and Yiu said they were not aware who would have advised staff not to pursue projections.

Read more: COVID-19 ICU admissions slam Alberta hospitals; Hinshaw says ‘the move to endemic was too early’

MLA Marlin Schmidt asked Hinshaw what lessons she and her staff learned from the second wave of the pandemic that they then used going into the third wave.

Hinshaw responded that they discovered each wave is not entirely preventable as the virus has mutated. She added the importance of re-opening cautiously was one realization.

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