COLUMN: The Government of Alberta has a credibility problem where it comes to COVID-19

Province has shown that the health restrictions are absolutely ‘toothless’

Kevin J. Sabo

By Kevin J. Sabo For the Advance

The Government has a credibility problem where it comes to the handling of the COVID-19 file.

It’s been just over a year since the province has been in the midst of the pandemic. Whether it is as big of an issue as the politicians and media are making it out to be is definitely up for debate.

What isn’t up for debate is the fact that the United Conservative Party government headed by Jason Kenney has a credibility problem, where it comes to dealing with pandemic.

Remember back in December when ordinary Albertans were encouraged to stay home and not travel due to the pandemic, and then it became known that several members of the party travelled for holidays, including Kenney’s now former chief of staff? That was strike one.

Or who can forget the restaurant in Mirror that opened repeatedly despite shutdown orders? The owner was charged for violating the restrictions, yet before the matter even ended up in court all charges were dropped.

Then there was Ralph Klein’s niece who opened her salon, again defying health restrictions. She was also charged, yet the charges were dropped, this time due to an ‘administrative error’.

Finally, there is Grace Life Church west of Edmonton, and Pastor James Coates.

Coates is still in jail; however, the church continues to hold packed Sunday services despite being charged as an entity and receiving shutdown orders, with no enforcement. Add to that the revelation last week that Pastor Coates has had all but one of his charges for violating the health restrictions dropped.

Simply put, the United Conservative Party has backed themselves into a corner as far as the health restrictions go. Case counts are beginning to climb again, particularly with the new variant strains of the illness.

The province was supposed to make a decision on whether or not restrictions can be eased further on March 22nd and whatever they do, I don’t think it’s going to be good for Mr. Kenney.

The Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services have shown time and time again that the health restrictions we’ve been dealing with for the last year are absolutely toothless.

If they keep the restrictions in place, I can see most people ignoring them due to the lack of enforcement up until this point. If they don’t, I can see cases spiking again.

A lot of the argument I hear for relaxing the restrictions is that the virus has a 99.5 per cent survival rate, or that it is really just a bad ‘flu’ so what is the fuss?

What is often not talked about is the 20 to 30 per cent of cases that struggle with the after-effects of the virus even months later. Something else not discussed is the lethality of the virus in those dealing with other conditions.

Some people argue that the restrictions are against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and those arguments would be correct, a federal judge in British Columbia recently said so. He said that before continuing on that urgent situations such as the emergency health situation the world finds itself in can override the charter for a period of time, to protect the public from itself.

I’m not saying that I agree with the restrictions.

I can see the arguments from all sides. However, if the restrictions are going to be put in place for everyone’s protection, I’m saying they should be enforced and then let the courts sort out the right and wrong of it.

Regardless of which way the Government of Alberta decides to go with the restrictions, it is only going to succeed in further eroding whatever credibility they have left.