ALBERTA NEWS HEADLINES WEEK ENDING Jan 2, 2021

Scanning the web for Alberta news and views Inspired by Verna Milligan & Carol Wodak

QUOTABLES:

I am saddened and heartbroken at the news of the death of Sgt. Andrew Harnett with the Calgary Police Service. I wish to extend my condolences to Sgt. Harnett’s family, friends, co-workers, and the entire Calgary Police Service at this very difficult time.

Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu
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Growing list of Canadian politicians caught travelling abroad despite pandemic

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has declined to discipline members of his government for travelling abroad as it emerged staff like MLA Pat Rehn travelled to Mexico and Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard was vacationing in Hawaii.

Two education ministry press secretaries were also vacationing in Hawaii after photos surfaced of them on a beach. They have since deleted their social media accounts.

Kenney confirmed that his own chief of staff, James Huckabay, travelled to the U.K. and came back via the United States on Boxing Day. 

Allard’s Instagram account posted a video of her delivering a holiday message in front of a Christmas tree at the Alberta Legislature Building while she was away from Dec. 19 to Dec. 29 – a move she denies was to cover-up her location.

Rehn’s Facebook photos of him in a Mexican cave wishing people a merry Christmas were shared widely online, along with other posts urging Albertans to stay home and save lives.

Kenney said he has since issued a directive orderings staff not to travel abroad. 

But Kenney’s stance on why he’s not disciplining member of his government – insinuating that guidelines were “unclear,” is being met with derision.

“This idea that people were unaware of what the travel rules were – it’s not like there’s ambiguity in November or early December, its been the same set of rules since March,” said political science professor at Mount Royal University Duane Bratt on CTV’s News Channel Friday.

“That’s a long period of time. It doesn’t meet the smell test. And the problem is when you’ve got a government preaching personal responsibility, and then you see people in Hawaii…posting pictures of themselves, like there wasn’t a problem,” Bratt said. 

“People knew what the rules were. People knew what they weren’t supposed to do.”

Late Friday, CTV Calgary confirmed Calgary-Klein MLA Jeremy Nixon was also vacationing in Hawaii. He will be returning on the “earliest available flight” after being told to return home, according to the premier’s office.

Calgary-Peigan MLA Tanya Fir also issued a public apology Friday after travelling to the U.S. to visit her sister. “I have since returned and will abide by the Premier’s new travel directive. I sincerely apologize for this situation wholeheartedly,” she wrote on Facebook.

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Alberta COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-out

Q: Who receives the COVID-19 vaccine first?

A: AHS is working closely with Alberta Health to ensure that the healthcare workers included in this phase are selected based on their level of interaction with COVID-19 positive cases and with populations most vulnerable to COVID-19, as well as their role within the frontlines of the COVID-19 response.

With not enough vaccine available to offer immunizations to everyone at the same time, Alberta is undertaking a phased approach. To date, two products, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, have Health Canada approval.

AHS is working within the immunization allocation parameters outlined by Alberta Health to provide immunization to groups as vaccine supply becomes available. Exact amounts and timelines are subject to change and the approach will be amended as needed depending on vaccine supply.

Alberta Health, with input from AHS, has identified the following key populations to be included in the sequenced phased approach:

Early Phase 1: December

  • Focus on acute care sites with the highest COVID-19 capacity concerns:
    • Healthcare workers in intensive care units
    • Respiratory therapists
    • Staff in long term care (LTC) and designated supportive living (DSL) facilities

Phase 1A: January (timeline subject to change depending on vaccine supply)

  • Respiratory therapists
  • Healthcare workers in intensive care units
  • Staff in LTC and DSL facilities
  • Home care workers
  • Healthcare workers in emergency departments
  • All residents of LTC and DSL, regardless of age

Phase 1B: February (timeline subject to change depending on vaccine supply)

  • Seniors 75 years of age and over, no matter where they live
  • First Nations, Métis and persons 65 years of age and over living in a First Nations community or Metis Settlement
  • Healthcare workers in medical, surgical and COVID-19 units and operating rooms

Phase 2 (April to Sept 2021)

  • Work to identify sequencing for Phase 2 groups is underway. Decisions will be made in 2021. While Alberta Health has not finalized details, frontline healthcare workers are expected to be included in Phase 2.

Phase 3 (Fall 2021)

  • Anticipated start of roll-out to the general public

Healthcare workers identified for immunization in Phase 1 were selected as the first to receive the vaccine as a way to support acute care capacity and to protect populations at highest risk of severe outcomes. This includes those who provide care to residents in LTC and DSL, as well as home care staff, to help ensure their higher-risk clients can remain in their homes and prevent hospital admissions.

At this time the sequencing for Phase 2 is to be determined. Discussions are underway with Alberta Health. Additional information will be shared as timing and availability of vaccine is known.

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