As COVID cases continue to rise in Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney is urged to own up to his mistakes as leader, with some criticism coming from within his party and from the province's top doctor.
Following the decision to lift all public health restrictions on July 1, Alberta has seen a spike in COVID cases unparalleled elsewhere in Canada. The province has not recorded less than quadruple-digit numbers of daily new patients since August.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, addressed the issue via Zoom. According to CTV News, she stated that while the provincial government believed lifting all restrictions would result in more cases overall, they thought the number of severe cases would not go up.
In reality, Alberta's hospitals have been pushed to their capacity with COVID patients. It has been reported that other medical procedures have been postponed or cancelled due to the increase in COVID-related hospitalizations. One man even had his brain tumour surgery cancelled.
"I deeply regret how that has played out," Dr. Hinshaw said. "By kind of mid-to-late August, we realized this is a significant problem," but "We need to pull back, and we're still in that process."
Alberta recently reintroduced indoor mask requirements, among other restrictions, in an attempt to slow the spread. On Tuesday, the province announced they would be rolling out a proof of vaccination system on September 16th.
Nonetheless, many have been critical of Premier Kenney, accusing him of bowing to the wishes of a vocal minority of voters who oppose restrictions, citing alleged violations of personal freedoms.
MLA Leela Aheer, Kenney's former Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism, and Status of Women, has called for the premier to admit that he made mistakes during his handling of the pandemic.
"He must show some humility and admit he was wrong," Aheer tweeted, quoting a Calgary Sun column by Rick Bell.
As Global News reports, Aheer was ousted from her position as Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism, and Status of Women in July following vocal criticism of Kenney's COVID-19 policies. However, the premier denies that her demotion was related.
UCP members Drew Barnes and Todd Loewen were dismissed from the party via caucus vote in May over their criticism of its handling of the pandemic.
While Aheer represents one wing of Kenney's United Conservative Party, criticism has come from those who say the premier has done too much as well. Global News reports that MLA Peter Guthrie expressed concern that Kenney blamed the rise in cases on the unvaccinated, although the vast majority of COVID-19 patients in ICUs are unvaccinated.
While Kenney and his government scramble to fix the current crisis, it remains to be seen whether he will claim responsibility for the mistakes many say he has made thus far.