A letter from the leaders of several unions representing health workers in Alberta asks Prime Minister Jason Kenney to ask for help from both the military and the Red Cross as the health system struggles to keep up with the demands placed on him. imposes the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“(We) urge you in the strongest terms to call on the federal government to immediately deploy the armed forces, the Red Cross and all available medical personnel resources from other provinces to help the overwhelmed hospitals in our province,” it reads in the letter, dated September. 18.
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The document, signed by United Nurses of Alberta President Heather Smith, Alberta Health Sciences Association President Mike Parker, CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill and Alberta Federation of Labor President , Gil McGowan, underscores the dire situation facing the province’s health care system.
“Our assessment is that Alberta’s health care system is not just ‘on the brink’ of collapse; we believe that it is actually collapsing in front of our eyes, ”the letter reads. “There are no more nurses in our province that can be deployed. There are no more paramedics. There are no more respiratory therapists. There are no more support staff. The tank is empty. The well is dry.
“Our members have gone further for 19 months, but they are concerned that this wave of the pandemic is the one that will crush them.”
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Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Kenney announced that his government would implement new COVID-19 measures, including a vaccine passport program, in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the healthcare system from stretching. beyond your ability. .
“We may be left without staff and intensive care beds in the next 10 days,” the prime minister said.
“Unless we reduce transmission (of the virus), particularly among unvaccinated Albertans, we simply will not be able to provide adequate care for everyone who becomes ill.”
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The number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions in Alberta has increased dramatically in recent weeks. As of Friday afternoon, Alberta Health said the province had 19,201 active coronavirus cases and noted that 911 people are in Alberta hospitals with COVID-19, 215 of whom are in ICUs.
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When asked to comment on the letter, Steve Buick, press secretary for Health Minister Tyler Shandro’s office, said “the military and the Red Cross would have limited capacity to provide clinical resources.”
“So to date no requests have been made to them,” he wrote in an email. “If and when your help is needed, for example, to provide equipment or logistical support, such as transporting patients, we will support requests as appropriate.”
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is currently campaigning for re-election, said this week that his government will offer support to Alberta during the crisis, including sending fans to the province.
Alberta Health Services President and CEO Dr. Verna Yiu said this week that as hospitals sell out, efforts are underway to increase response capacity. He said he has reached out to his counterparts in other provinces to see if they can accommodate Alberta patients or send staff to Alberta if the situation deteriorates to the point where such action is necessary.
Since Kenney’s press conference on Wednesday, British Columbia Prime Minister John Horgan has said his province will do everything it can to help Alberta, but failed to offer hospital beds or staff.
Prime Minister Kelvin Goertzen said Manitoba will send pharmaceuticals to Alberta to help with the COVID-19 situation.
Yiu confirmed Thursday that Ontario has offered to help Alberta weather its public health storm as well.
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In their letter on Saturday, union leaders said they believe Kenney’s “constitutional role as prime minister” is to formally request the help of the federal government.
“They cannot act unless you ask them to act,” the letter says.
“So please, on behalf of our beleaguered members on the front lines of this crisis, and on behalf of all Albertans, we officially ask you to turn to the federal government for help.”
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The letter also notes that earlier this year, military medical units were deployed to hospitals in Ontario as they struggled to keep up with patients during the third wave of the pandemic.
“It is late and the situation is discouraging,” says the letter from the union leaders. “By itself, the federal deployment of resources will not be enough to achieve this. But it will help you.
“The bottom line is that we need more aggressive action from your government to reduce the viral transmission that is driving this crisis.”
READ MORE: Alberta Sees Rise in COVID-19 Vaccines, 2,020 New Cases Confirmed Friday
On Friday, Alberta Health reported that the province had identified 2,020 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours. The government department said Alberta’s active case count was 19,201 as of Friday afternoon.
Of those, 911 were in the hospital with COVID-19 and 215 were in intensive care units due to the illness.
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