In an open letter to Prime Minister Jason Kenney, 65 infectious disease doctors from across Alberta are calling for immediate province-wide access restrictions to non-essential indoor businesses and services for people who are not immunized against COVID-19.
The letter, dated September 13, is addressed to the Prime Minister, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, and to the Medical Director of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
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“We, Alberta infectious disease physicians, write to convey our gravest concerns about the safety of the province’s current approach to COVID-19 and to request immediate province-wide restricted access for non-immunized individuals to indoor public spaces with in order to access essential services, ”the letter says.
“This measure can immediately reduce new infections, thus relieving pressure on hospitals and avoiding widespread closures, now and in the future.
“Hospitals and ICUs in the province are under enormous pressure and have reached a point where it is unclear if we can provide safe care for Albertans, or for how long. The number of COVID-19 patients needing ICUs currently exceeds the total number of fully staffed ICU beds.
“While the augmentation capacity allows for additional beds, human resources cannot be expanded in a similar way,” the letter continues.
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The group of doctors says that at the current rate, the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to the ICU will double every two weeks. The group notes that more than 90 percent of Alberta ICU patients with COVID-19 are either unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.
“Our healthcare system is truly on the brink of collapse,” says the doctors’ letter.
They say they do not believe current measures “go far enough to interrupt transmission.” They also say the health care system is so overwhelmed that the lack of stricter measures “will have devastating consequences, further compromising our ability to care for Albertans with any medical condition.”
The letter goes on to say: “We are calling for urgent and decisive action to break the chains of transmission of COVID-19.
“To avoid broad restrictions like those required in previous waves, we call for the immediate implementation of immunity certificates that people must provide to enter any indoor public space for the purpose of accessing a non-essential service.
“This would ensure the safety of people who chose not to get vaccinated, allow companies to continue operating safely, and provide a strong incentive for vaccination.”
Doctors write the vaccination certificate and the rules of access “must be imposed by the provincial government, as is done in almost all other Canadian jurisdictions.”
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The letter states that if the province cannot implement this type of vaccine passport system, Alberta should immediately regain family restrictions, such as limiting the size of indoor gatherings, closing higher risk businesses (indoor restaurants and bars ) with government support for business, and work-from-home rules.
“We, the undersigned, firmly believe that only strong and decisive leadership through the above actions can prevent an imminent public health crisis in our province,” the letter concludes.
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On Monday, Alberta Health Services announced that up to 70 percent of elective surgeries and outpatient procedures in the Edmonton area were being postponed in an effort to create “sufficient ICU and inpatient capacity” to handle COVID-19 activity. . AHS said only cancer, urgent and emergent surgeries would be performed.
Last week, AHS postponed “all scheduled elective surgeries and many outpatient procedures for the remainder of (the) week” at Calgary hospitals.
The reductions allow AHS to free up space for patients requiring hospital care and critical care support, while allowing front-line personnel to deploy to areas of greatest need.
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Provincial officials have been asked repeatedly over the past few weeks why Alberta has no current plans to introduce a vaccine trial program.
During a press conference Friday at the Rocky Mountain House, Shandro was questioned again about whether Alberta will have a system similar to British Columbia, where residents have proof of vaccination on an app or scannable card, and along with it, the Province. General restrictions will be put in place that prevent unvaccinated people from entering some settings, such as nonessential businesses.
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Shandro said the government is prioritizing ensuring that companies or workplaces that want to implement their own restrictions can do so quickly via a secure QR code.
“When it comes to the question of whether it will be a government mandate, we have – as we have communicated before, the prime minister said before – we are now allowing those workplaces and companies to make those decisions,” he said. .
“We will continue to examine the evidence on how that affects our uptake of vaccines. If there is evidence … as we see the vaccine passports, since they are enabled in other provinces, I am happy to see that information.
“But right now, we have made the decision that these decisions are driven by those workplaces and those companies.”
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On Monday, the Calgary and Edmonton Chambers of Commerce added the voices of their members to the call for a mandatory vaccine passport system at the provincial level.
Leger recently conducted a poll for cameras on this issue and most Alberta businesses supported the idea.
“When faced with more restrictions, companies tell us that vaccine certification will allow them to stay open with much more certainty than current measures,” said Deborah Yedlin, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
“In light of increasing cases and stagnant vaccination rates, vaccine certification is an easy way to keep our economy open and boost vaccination rates.
“We have seen it work in other jurisdictions.”
The survey found that 70 percent of businesses and 74 percent of citizens support a passport or vaccination certification.
The survey found that 13 percent of companies and 12 percent of the general population oppose vaccine certification.
Both houses are pushing the province to adopt a government-led vaccine certification to protect the health and well-being of Albertans as part of “measures that support a safe, sustainable and permanent reopening.”
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The main reason companies said they supported a vaccine certification was to avoid widespread lockdowns (61 percent), followed by ensuring worker health and safety (58 percent) and strengthening consumer confidence (58 percent). hundred).
“Businesses and residents have clearly indicated the need for a standardized framework to ensure consumer confidence and protect worker safety,” said Jeffrey Sundquist, president and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.
“As other jurisdictions move forward in implementing vaccine certifications, we cannot be left behind and local businesses risk losing their competitive edge when it comes to attracting workers, customers and investors.”
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“Despite overwhelming support for vaccine passports from business leaders in Alberta, Prime Minister Jason Kenney and the UCP still refuse to take the obvious step of implementing one that would keep Albertans safe, keep businesses open and protect jobs, “said Deron Bilous, an NDP critical of economic development.
Instead of implementing a vaccine passport, Kenney has imposed new restrictions on companies. These restrictions were implemented on very little notice and without any financial support for the affected companies, further hurting economic growth and risking job losses. “
On September 3, Alberta announced a province-wide mask mandate for indoor environments and a change to alcoholic beverage laws, with liquor service closing at 10 p.m.
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Leger’s poll asked 1,000 citizens in Edmonton and Calgary and 71 members of the Edmonton and Calgary chambers, and was conducted between Aug. 19 and Sept. 1, 2021.
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