Opposition Calls for Cross-Party Committee to Examine Alberta’s COVID-19 Response

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Alberta’s NDP opposition wants a committee made up of politicians from both sides of the aisle and independent MLAs to investigate the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In a press conference Tuesday, Rachel Notley, leader of the NDP, said that House of Opposition Leader Christina Gray will present a motion on the first day of the fall session, which is expected to be October 25, to establish an all-party committee to conduct a review of Alberta’s COVID-19 response.

“The powers of the committee would be broad,” Notley said. “They would be allowed to compel political, public service and third party witnesses and compel government ministries to publish documents.”

Prime Minister Jason Kenney and House Leader Jason Nixon said Tuesday that a review of the government’s response will eventually take place, but now is not the time.

Alberta has battled through the fourth wave of the pandemic with a high number of cases overwhelming the health care system, prompting requests for military assistance on the ground and the cancellation of thousands of surgeries.

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“We have heard reports of people being forced to wait for brain tumors to be removed, to wait for kidney transplants, and we know that more than 800 children had critical pediatric surgeries canceled or delayed,” Notley said.

“I have traveled to all corners of this province and the message has been the same: the government of the PCU has failed and it is the people of Alberta who are paying the price with these failures.”

This is not the first time that the Opposition has lobbied for the government’s response to the pandemic to be reviewed. In August they called for an independent review led by a retired judge and modeled after Walkerton’s investigation into contaminated drinking water in Ontario.

Notley said Gray would send a draft of the motion to Nixon and the independent MLAs this week along with a request for an all-party meeting before the legislature begins again to discuss the establishment of the all-party committee.

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In a statement provided by his press secretary Paul Hamnett on Tuesday, Nixon said that the existing structure in the legislature already allows for the government’s response to COVID-19 to be discussed and that there is no need for a separate committee.

“The Prime Minister also promised a comprehensive review of the Alberta government’s COVID response as pressures ease on our healthcare system. However, right now we must face the immediate challenges of the pandemic. I will also seek the health minister to update the house on COVID-19 at the beginning of the session, ”he said.

Kenney reiterated that now was not the time for a review at a press conference on Tuesday.

“There will be plenty of time for the legislature, external bodies, to come in and do a comprehensive review, lessons learned. But right now I think we need all hands to focus on the immediate challenge we face, “he said.

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Reference-edmontonjournal.com

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