South Peace News
Central Peace-Notley MLA Todd Loewen is one of 17 MLAs opposing the Alberta government’s announcement April 6 to proceed with stricter restrictions due to the COVID pandemic.
“As MLAs, we are calling on our government colleagues to recognize the plea of our constituents,” reads the letter first signed by 15 MLAs.
“After 13 painstaking months of COVID-19 public health restrictions, we do not support the additional restrictions imposed on Albertans yesterday, and we will continue advocating for a transparent path forward that provides certainty to Alberta families, communities and businesses.”
Premier Jason Kenney announced the restrictions amid rising COVID-19 infections and cases and its variants.
Alberta’s daily new case counts were just below 1,000 over the Easter long weekend, with variant cases surging – going from roughly 100 a day three weeks ago to 676 new cases identified April 6.
“So now, variants are pretty consistently over half of our new cases, over 40 per cent of our total active cases,” said Kenney.
The new restrictions which have since gone into effect include:
- indoor dining at restaurants will once again be off the table. Outdoor patios are still allowed to operate at restaurants and bars, and establishments can still offer take-out and delivery;
- indoor gatherings still being banned and outdoor gatherings capped at 10 people;
- retail stores will also see their capacity reduced once more to 15 per cent from 25 per cent;
- group fitness activities have been banned. One-on-one fitness with trainers is still allowed;
- performance activities like dancing, singing, playing instruments and acting are also restricted;
- libraries are closed until further notice.
The letter from the 15 MLAs opposing the restrictions says they acknowledge the physical and mental health effects that COVID-19 has taken on the vulnerable.
“We have always been concerned about the health and safety of the most vulnerable and are grateful that vaccinations are well underway.”
They pointed out in early 2021, the government announced a clear path to reopen the province and restore confidence for small businesses and communities.
“We believe that yesterday’s announcement to move our province backwards, effectively abandoning the plan that Albertans had worked diligently over the past months to follow, is the wrong decision.
“We have heard from our constituents, and they want us to defend their livelihoods and freedoms as Albertans. For months, we have raised these concerns at the highest level of government and unfortunately, the approach of the government has remained the same,” the letter adds.
Meanwhile, the Opposition NDP was quick to react. April 7, they said the 15 MLAs were undermining public health measures in place to stem the tide of COVID-19.
The NDP also called upon Kenney to take “immediate action” against his UCP MLAs.
“When we are seeing 1,000 or more new cases a day and rapid growth of deadly variant cases, it is incredibly irresponsible and dangerous for elected officials to campaign against the public health measures that can keep Albertans safe,” said David Shepherd, NDP Health Critic.
“Kenney’s silence as his MLAs undermine healthcare workers doing their jobs to keep Albertans safe is another example of his weak and ineffective leadership.
“Once again, UCP MLAs are flaunting the rules while Alberta families and businesses make excruciating sacrifices to keep their communities safe,” he adds.
The NDP did not forget Alohagate during Christmas when several MLAs chose to travel.
“Kenney promised Albertans a culture of discipline in his caucus after Alohagate. Clearly he has failed,” Shepherd said.
The message disturbs Shepherd.
“This is not about a public debate or a difference of opinion,” said Shepherd.
“This is about elected officials using their positions to actively attack and tear down Alberta’s health care heroes for their own political gain.”