Opposition NDP calls for public inquiry into Alberta’s COVID-19 response


Alberta’s Opposition New Democratic Party is calling for a public inquiry into Premier Jason Kenney and his government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

Sarah Hoffman, who is deputy leader for the NDP, says an independent review is necessary to look into the United Conservative Party government’s decision to end isolation requirements, contact tracing and asymptomatic testing.

Kenney has not publicly addressed the issue since Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced the changes last Wednesday.

Alberta is one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to announce it will lift isolation requirements this month for people who test positive for COVID-19, even as cases continue to grow.

“It is clear that Albertans can no longer trust their own government to keep them safe,” Hoffman said Tuesday.

Multiple protests have taken place in both Edmonton and Calgary since the changes to Alberta’s COVID-19 response were announced.

As of Thursday, quarantine for close contacts became no longer mandatory but just recommended. Contact tracers will no longer notify close contacts, but they will continue to investigate cases in high-risk settings such as continuing care facilities. Asymptomatic testing will no longer be recommended.

On Aug. 16, a further scaling down of the rules is planned:

  • You will no longer be required to isolate if you test positive for COVID-19, but isolation will still be strongly recommended. 
  • Isolation hotels and quarantine supports will no longer be available. 
  • Testing will be available for symptomatic people only when needed to help direct patient care decisions.
  • After Aug. 31, testing for COVID-19 will be available only for patients whose symptoms are severe enough to need care in hospitals or physicians’ clinics.
  • Masking won’t be required in schools. 
  • Masks will no longer be required on public transit and in most continuing care facilities. 

“A full public inquiry is necessary because it allows Albertans to understand what happened over the course of this pandemic and to plan for the future, so we don’t repeat the same poor decision-making process again,” Hoffman said.

A third-party report into Alberta’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, being prepared by KPMG, will be posted later this week, according to a post on Twitter by Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

Read more at CBC.ca