Kenney’s $100 Solution

At the end of May Jason Kenney unveiled an aggressive reopening plan that would lead to the best Alberta summer ever and on July 1 he lifted all but a handful of Covid-19 restrictions.

Two months later we crashed.

On Sept 3 we had 1401 cases, 515 Albertans were hospitalized, 118 of them were in ICU. Our ICUs are at 95% capacity, elective surgeries have been postponed, our healthcare professionals are burned out and our healthcare system is on the verge of collapse.

Why? Because 30% of eligible Albertans are unvaccinated and the Delta variant is running wild.

Not to worry. Jason Kenney has a plan.

After scouring the globe for solutions (he’s open to “any promising new option”* and left “no stone unturned”) and spending two whole days in cabinet reviewing the recommendations of Dr Hinshaw and AHS and Alberta Health officials, he emerged with what he said was a simple message: “if you’ve been holding out, you just haven’t gotten around to it, it’s now literally worth yourwhile” to do the right thing.

He’s going to pay unvaxxed Albertans 18 years and older $100 for their first or second jab.   

Kenney justified his plan with the argument that if it comes to a choice between (1) a sustained crisis in our hospitals, (2) widespread restrictions, or (3) finding a way to get the attention of vax “latecomers” he’d choose (3).  

But there’s a fourth alternative he didn’t consider. A way to boost the vaccination rate that doesn’t punish those who don’t have to be bribed into doing the right thing. It’s called a vaccine passport, a system that requires proof of vaccination before people can go to restaurants, gyms, cinemas and bars.

Health writer, Andre Picard, says vaccine passport systems are necessary and beneficial because:  

  • They reward those who got vaccinated with more freedom.
  • They induce the unvaccinated to get their shots (BC’s vax appointments tripled and Quebec’s went up 50% after their governments announced their programs).
  • They provide clear rules that benefit businesses and the general public, thereby avoiding further lockdowns.

77% of Albertans support a vaccine passport system.

Four provinces, BC, Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba have adopted such programs, but Kenney ignored these Canadian examples, choosing to follow in the footsteps of Colorado. He is going to gamble $20 million in an attempt to raise Alberta’s vaccination rate by 5 percentage points by giving unvaccinated Albertans over the age of 18 a $100 debit card.  

Colorado?

On Aug 23, Colorado announced it would give a $100 Walmart gift card (while supplies last) to any unvaccinated Coloradan aged 12 and up. At the end of two weeks, Colorado boosted its vax rate by 1%. The rate for one shot went from 62.6% to 63.5% and the rate for two shots went from 56.1% to 57.2%.

Kenney’s plan doesn’t include all eligible Albertans, only those 18 and up so it will be harder to reach the target, but the supply of pre-loaded debit cards appears to be limitless.  

However if Colorado is anything to go by, we’ll be lucky to get a 1 percentage point uptick in our vaccination rate. Seems to me the $20 million would be better spent on nurses’ salaries and covid protection for children in schools.  

Money vs morality

The most troubling thing about Kenney’s $100 plan is it’s mercenary.

No one should be paid to “do the right thing,” paid to stop exposing their families, friends and communities to the risk of illness and death and driving our healthcare system into the ground.

This is immoral.

But we are not surprised. We live in Kenney’s Alberta. Our faith in our democratic institutions, our public service systems, even ourselves, is severely strained.   

We are now at the point where we debate how to rid ourselves of the anti-vaxxers requiring medical attention. Should they be pushed out of ICUs when beds become scarce? Should they be treated in field hospitals by unvaccinated medical staff? Should they be forced to pay a premium for healthcare?  

These are ethical questions that challenge the principle of universal healthcare, the medical profession’s duty to provide care and our duty as citizens to see beyond our own selfish needs and support the greater common good.

These questions will not be answered by issuing a $100 government debit card to someone who is otherwise able to get a vaccination against covid-19.  

Instead of kowtowing to the vocal minority, it’s time Kenney acted in the interests of the majority of Albertans who did the right thing to protect themselves, their families and their communities. He must implement a vaccine passport system to move us closer to the post-pandemic normal.

Anything less is immoral.

*All quotes from the Kenney press conference Friday Sept 3.

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76 Responses to Kenney’s $100 Solution

  1. Greg Spaetgens says:

    Hi Susan, how awesome that you are back with your faithful following of which I am one! I hope you have had a great and battery-charging (ie restorative) summer and ready to give the sinister ones among serious and deserved hell.

    Love, Greg

    >

  2. rubennelson says:

    Bless you. As he appears to me Kenney is a mercenary utterly devoid of an ethical sensibility worth of the name. This in spite of his RC affiliation. he tossed out ethical considerations when he characterized them as “abstract messages.” We have evidence that he is quite capable of pursuing financial gain without serious ethical considerations. Watch out, Albertans, when ethics go, we will be next.

    • Ruben, I agree. In 2 years Kenney has destroyed everything he touches. He started by corrupting the democratic process (earplugs in the Leg because who needs to hear the Opposition), firing the election commissioner investigating his sketchy leadership win, misrepresenting the state of the books (the auditor general found a $1.5 B misstatement), crippling education and healthcare, and now he’s corrupting individual Albertans by paying them to “do the right thing”. What if $100 isn’t enough, will he boost it to $500? $1000? Or will he just let people fall sick and maybe die.
      Doing the right thing and acting for the greater common good is not a commercial transaction involving a payor and a payee.

  3. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Welcome back. It’s been quite a summer with the UCP. They have so badly mishandled the covid situation in Alberta, that we once again have the highest per capita rate of people with covid in Canada. This $100 reminds me of Ralph Klein and how he was buying off Albertans. Terrible.

    • Thanks Dwayne. The only upside of Kenney’s horrible reign is that he’ll go down in the history books as the worst premier Alberta has ever had. This will put paid to his federal aspirations…I’m convinced he thought he’d whip lovely conservative Alberta into shape and then ride back into Ottawa to spread the conservative word (I mean that in the religious zealot sense) to the rest of the country. There’s no way that’s going to happen now.

  4. lungta mtn says:

    Anything less is immoral.
    ‘This is not a time for moral judgements’: Kenney responds to criticism of $100 vaccination incentive
    https://globalnews.ca/video/8166208/this-is-not-a-time-for-moral-judgements-kenney-responds-to-criticism-of-100-vaccination-incentive
    so
    I am going to offer any UPC MP $100 to resign and leave office

    • Sharon Hundert says:

      Actually consider making a $100 donation to the NDP. Unfortunately a UCP MLA thinks they are invaluable.

      • lungta mtn says:

        I’m not donating Sharon: it is $100 to have them leave office.
        Exaggerated self worth is a prerequisite for any political aspirations of any color.

    • lungta mtn: I couldn’t believe it when he said that and in the next breath said it was “now literally worth your while” to get vaccinated. In other words, protecting the health and well being of your loved ones, friends and community is worth $100 dollars. “What are you waiting for?” he said. All I could think of was a used car salesman shouting “Buy now and we’ll throw in a microwave!”
      I don’t think he has a clue how morally offensive his “personal monetary incentive” is.

  5. Sharon Hundert says:

    Welcome back Susan! Once again you have summed things up beautifully. Premier Pinocchio has a knack for choosing the most ludicrous solutions. It is amazing how the vacation did nothing to restore his brain.

    • Katie Pearlman says:

      Not really the most ludicrous solution, actually simply ‘the path of least resistance’. It’s lazy and cheap. We know there are those who just have not been able to get the jab, because of their work schedules. Why not spend OUR MONEY on making it more convenient for them to be able to be vaccinated? But no, cases rise. Again a cheap way to herd immunity. Next week we will be in crisis as we will have no more beds in ICU’s in the Province. Already this inadequate government has called in nurses from other Provinces. But sure just go ahead and give people $100 for getting the jab. Will the rate of vaccination skyrocket? Probably not But let’s reward the ever important base! They deserve to be rewarded for prolonging the pandemic, A vaccine passport is the way we need to go now. Let’s reward those who are doing the right thing for our community and penalize those who aren’t! What a concept!
      It takes bravery for a government to admit they made a mistake. And that is what this government sorely lacks!

      • I agree with you Katie. Even Doug Ford admitted he’d made a mistake and announced vaxx passports last Wed, which coincidentally was the first day of Kenney’s two day cabinet meeting. You’d think that after two days of intense discussion with Dr Hinshaw and officials from Albert Health and AHC they could have come up with something better than Colorado’s $100 jab.
        Kenney said the Colorado plan was “successful” presumably because vax appointments went up by one percentage point. He admits he needs to bump up the vax rate by 5 percentage points. So how’s he going to get there?
        And why did he ignore vax passports which have been shown to significantly increase vax rates in BC, Man, Ont, and Que, as well as Israel, France and other European jurisdictions.
        I think he’s pandering to his MLAs who are beholden to their anti-vax base. I suspect he was afraid that if he went with vax passports a significant number of his MLAs would defect and he’d be facing a leadership race.
        In the end this is all about holding on to power.

      • Joanne M Helmer says:

        I think there is not a single act that Kenney takes that is not about his holding on to power.

    • Agreed Sharon. And boy was he defensive about being away on vacation. His garbled response to the question: where were you when this whole thing blew up was: he was on a 2 week personal break, it’s the only one he’s had since 2015, he’s done more news conferences in Aug than any other premier, he was in daily contact with his staff and officials, Shandro was here and it’s conventional “for obvious reasons” (meaning there are no reasons) for premiers to lay low in federal elections.
      The only relevant thing he said was he got briefed. But nothing he said explains why (with the exception of the booster for the old and vulnerable) no one, not even Shandro or HInshaw, lifted a finger to deal with the alarming spike in cases and hospitalizations during the 2 weeks he was gone.

  6. Jim Boland says:

    Absolutely bang on!
    Seems to me that businesses would thrive if there was a vaccine passport. Vaccinated individuals would feel better/safer going out to stores, bars, restaurants, theatres, live performances… if they knew that everyone there was fully vaccinated. The minority wouldn’t be allowed in so then they have the inconvenience of being restricted!! This is really a no brainer and yet, the UCP can’t even figure it out!!

    • Jim, I 100% agree with you. The papers are full of stories where business owners are quoted as saying they’d be happier if the government implemented a vax passport system so the burden wouldn’t fall on them. They’re deathly afraid there will be a huge spike in cases and they’ll be shut down again. Kenney rejected the obvious solution for political reasons and has alienated many business owners in the process. Not a smart political move.

  7. Geralg says:

    Excellent post. Agree 100% with everything you wrote. Thank you!

  8. Bill Malcolm says:

    Apparently kenney thinks people are motivated by the only thing he is: money.

    US experience, as you note, has shown that some people prefer to listen to voices in their head and raging nincompoops spouting nonsense on Fox News and a zillion US and Canadian conspiracy websites, where dunderheads gather to deny reality. Bribes don’t affect these kooks. Some of them even attack health workers in BC, Alberta and Italy, so illogical and physically anti-social are they.

    Barring mandatory society-wide vaccination for the common good, the next best thing is indeed a vaccine passport. It doesn’t make me happy that such measures have to be resorted to, but as a member of the majority who bothered to get my jabs, I refuse to allow louts to ruin my life. The tail is wagging the dog when the majority are held to ransom by oafs, So tyranny of the majority is all we have left. Either that or we all go insane.

    The Covid testing positivity rate in Alberta is 10.8% according to the AHS website. Here in Nova Scotia, it runs about 0.22%. There is NOBODY in hospital here. None. Zero. At least my niece from Calgary is back here to study at university. It’s about 50 times safer for an individual to be here rather than in Alberta, and has been since the beginning of the pandemic 18 months ago. That’s how bad Alberta is. Pathetic. Gross public official incompetence there, a Covid Zero policy here.

    Herd immunity will never develop because the virus is constantly mutating. Vaccination offers the only hope to stop the pandemic before mutations ruin its effectiveness — if everyone gets on board now Unfortunately, a new more authoritarian society will likely develop simply because the majority can only stand a limited amount more nonsense from the anti-vaxxers. A pity that societal common good and community is rejected by selfish dopes who have zero common sense and blunder around in a total haze. Well, they say the Great Reset will change our society — it didn’t have to be this likely new authoritarian way except for vax refusers. No doubt the super wealthy will profit from the increased surveillance society we’re going to have. Which is the exact opposite of what the refusers hope for, so there will be more kicking and screaming. But they’re going to pay for their “stand” and will end up not being part of general society going forward.

    The milk of human kindness exhibited by health workers to treat unvaccinated louts with Covid who insist it’s just a cold as they deny reality, is about to run out in Alberta out of sheer necessity. Let the unvaccinated look after themselves is what’ll likely happen, because medical resources are stretched to the limit as it is. Next week or the week after, some hard questions will have to be asked in Alberta. Don’t count on kenney to ask any, nor his tame public health people. Health workers will decide the common sense approach for their own survival. Dystopia indeed, and Alberta is thy name.

    • Carlos says:

      Well said Bill – we the people that are concerned with our community and the common good are now being attacked by conspiracy theory idiots who know that they can get away with it supported by their guru Jason Kenney.
      We do not even dream of having zero people in the hospital – all we are dreaming is for a diplomatic away of saving this province from the hands of full idiots give us an election.

      • Dwayne says:

        Carlos: It’s still bizarre, yet unsurprising how there are people who support the UCP, when it’s clear the UCP has done many very big mistakes, which cost Albertans a lot of money, and also their lives. If we had another 4 more years of this, it would be too much. 40 more years of it would be craziness. In Alberta, things went sour and bad with the Alberta PCs, when Peter Lougheed stopped being premier. It seems we are seeing that same scenario play out. The services we are supposed to depend on, are being ripped apart, leading the way for more privatization, the people who need the help aren’t getting it, and rich corporations are laughing all the way to the bank.

    • Bill, thanks for the fulsome comment. I was particularly struck by your point that this kind of madness will give rise to a new authoritarian society. I’m reading a book by Tom Nichol in which he says the damage to the common good wrought by the narcisisstic, entitled, vengeful few could drive the had-it-up-to-here majority into the arms of an authoritarian leader who promises to put the narcisissts in their place.
      I’m glad your niece is free of this place. Our mission over the next two years is to rid ourselves of Kenney and his wretched party. I don’t know how we’ll rid ourselves of the selfish idiots who are now angry that he’s gone too far in reimposing the mask mandate. This is ironic given the CMOH has issued exemptions left, right, and centre, and the fact most of these morons don’t wear masks anyway.

  9. Carlos says:

    I will try one more time as Word Press is not cooperating and it displays 4 times I apologize

    Welcome back Susan – I hope you had time to recover a bit from what is now our regular brain shocking experience. The best time was when Jason Kenney disappeared.

    I fully agree with you that above all else this is immoral. Not a surprise.
    Jason Kenney is now hanging on to those 30% that still support him, basically made up of anti-vaxxers, white nationalists, Christian Fundamentalists and whoever else is against everything that the majority of us relish. So now he pays them so they continue their loyalty.

    It is a slap in the face for the rest of us that wish the UCP would sink once and for all.
    The level of anger in this province is at a level I have never seen anywhere I have lived before. It is also an embarrassment in the Canadian context but again this is what Jason Kenney really is – an incompetent full of himself idiot. I am sorry to be blunt but I have to confess that this it is for me – I cannot even imagine what this province will look like at the end of this government – a playground for bigots and in serious need of growing up group of failed pretentious snobs.
    No to 10 dollar day care, no to vaccine passports, no to September 30 holiday to celebrate reconciliation with out indigenous people but of course Yes to cut nurses salaries in the middle of a pandemic, Yes to exemption of alcohol curfew for rodeos, Yes to evade responsibility when crisis hits the province. A full Monkey Business that frustrates all of us. After this pandemic and this government the mental crisis in this province will take years to heal.

    • Hello Carlos! As you said the level of anger in this province is off the charts. Kenney has not united the conservatives but pitted them against each other and has given us even more reasons to loathe them. This is not sustainable.
      I truly believe the $100/jab policy was an attempt to show Albertans the UCP is doing something, anything, to save the cratering healthcare system–we saw through that in a heartbeat–because Kenney and his MLAs wouldn’t stand for the introduction of the vax passport or returning to real restrictions. Like Klein, Kenney and his MLAs think $100 will buy loyalty when it barely buys two cases of beer.
      What I don’t understand is why Kenney thinks the nutbars who truly believe Bill Gates is tracking them through the vaccine, or it will make them sterile or whatever lies they’ve bought hook, line, and sinker, would change their minds for $100.

  10. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Since autumn is fast approaching, I thought I’d share something fitting, from Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. It is a Bob Dylan composition, that was redone for his country music album, Nashville Skyline, recorded and released in 1969.

  11. mikegklein says:

    I recently heard someone citing Josef Stalin saying words to the effect, murder one person, that is a tragedy, murder a million people, that is a statistic.

    The government’s focus all along has been on statistics.

    When one person now dies of COVID-19, is the virus killing that person or is lethal negligence killing that person?

    • Dwayne says:

      mikegklein: Under premier Ralph Klein, when people passed away due to the effects of Ralph Klein’s needless cuts to healthcare in Alberta, their relatives sued the government, and the government had to settle out of court, or reach some type of agreement for financial compensation, which was kept “in camera”; that is to say it was never revealed to the public. When this happens under the UCP’s abysmal leadership, I think the same thing will happen.

      • mikegklein says:

        Thank you Dwayne. You know I was either never aware of that or had forgotten it. Needed to happen. “In camera” for policy misadventures flies in the face of what I believe are principles of democracy. I has always seemed to me that we need to focus on each person as we deliver public policy. Statistics are best used as measures of effectiveness after the fact, not in planning delivery. using statistics as the government has done and is doing is driving the car with blinders on focusing our eyes on the rear view mirror.

        Focussing on each person might eliminate most or all the waiting times for “elective” surgery, elective because they will “only” relieve pain or enable mobility such as knee and hip replacements. But if we want to have healthy people, how can these be elective? Yet, because we have care delivery focussed on statistics, bearing an “acceptable” failure rate we cannot help but run into pandemics and epidemics that remove access to necessary care.

        I wonder how Canadians would feel about having 100% federal funding of health care, with provinces maintaining responsibility for delivery. What would happen to many affordability arguments?

      • Dwayne and Mike, I wasn’t aware that the Klein government settled with the families of people who died due to Klein’s reckless cuts to healthcare. This is good to know because I think the same kind of argument could be raised here.
        Dr Hinshaw admitted her modeling to support reopening was based on the UK experience, and that the UK experience was not analogous to the Alberta experience because the UK had a higher rate of vaccination and more people had caught covid and had natural immunity.
        On Friday Shandro tried to make the argument that Delta is different and the goal posts moved, but this is something the experts everywhere recognized a while ago. The goal posts didn’t move, the government wore blinders.
        Both Kenney and Shandro made a point of saying they were simply following Hinshaw’s advice so they’re going to throw her under the bus at the first sign of trouble.
        All this is to say I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s lots of evidence to support a lawsuit against the government for completely botching its pandemic response which led to excess covid deaths and illnesses in addition to excess non-covid deaths and illnesses due to the drastic reduction in elective surgeries.

  12. Dawn says:

    Thank you for another cogent article. It is excellent.
    In addition to the $100 bribe for non- vaccinated individuals to get immunized, there are other challenges.
    The premier did not speak about this on Friday but deceptively, it is in the documents that churches and gyms are exempt from masking. And the Airdrie rodeo was exempted from public health COVID measures related to eating and drinking.

    It is a failure of democracy when the small minority create harms for the majority – and are then rewarded for it.

    • Dawn, this is an excellent point. In the past when Kenney/Shandro/Hinshaw announced restrictions they’d point out the exceptions. They didn’t do that this time and most of us learned about these exemptions on Twitter.
      As I recall the two groups that brazenly flaunted the booze and mask restrictions the last time were churches and rodeos.
      How cowardly of Kenney and crew to sneak in exemptions for these groups without fessing up to it.
      A lack of transparency and accountability is another sign of a failure of democracy, in addition to rewarding the minority who harm the majority.

  13. Mike Priaro says:

    I support vaccine passports. They will be needed regardless.

    • Mike: I was listening to Andre Picard on the radio today. He agreed with you, he said vaccine passports are inevitable.
      Kenney mentioned he was doing the “policy work” to make it possible for people to get a QR code that’s machine readable. This was to “facilitate people’s choices” in case they’re in line ups at events that require proof of vaccination or traveling to provinces with vax restrictions.
      Kenney couched this “policy work” in terms of “choice” when he should be pushing a mandatory vax pass system in support of public health. But there you go, it’s all about the individual with Kenney and his ilk. they don’t care about the greater common good.

  14. Joanne M Helmer says:

    I agree with you. Every word. But so what? Unfortunately, you and I are not making the rules. The majority of Albertans seem to approve of Kenney’s actions.

    • Carlos says:

      I am sorry Joanne but less than 30% of Albertans approve of Jason Kenney not the majority.
      The silent majority is struggling to survive this show of incompetence.

      • Joanne M Helmer says:

        His government was elected. And the polls are not showing that the silent majority are struggling. i wish it was otherwise but so far, it doesn’t seem to be.

      • carlosbeca says:

        When I said struggle I did not mean financially although many people are.
        I meant that the majority meaning the 70% that do not support him are tired, frustrated and angry.

    • GoinFawr says:

      “The majority….”?!

      Go on Joanne, pull the other one! Polls say the very opposite, not to mention the fact that the opposition NDP are receiving donations from Albertans at roughly twice the rate
      of the Used Car Party.

      Seriously, if your woefully misinformed claim has any basis in reality Kenney should introduce the UCP much promised recall legislation now, making it law BEFORE his term is up then, so we can test it. If he does I’ll give you great odds on any wager you’d care to place on your assertion.

      • Joanne M Helmer says:

        Sarcasm doesn’t change the fact that 30 per cent of albertans would still vote for Kenney, according to a July Postmedia poll. After all the impossible things Kenney has done and the UCP is only 10 per cent behind the NDP? That is not very reassuring.

      • GoinFawr says:

        “sarcasm” ? Not at all. Heh, you have an interesting way of, phrasing things.

        Eg. “only” ten percent Please

        This is Alberta, for the NDP to lead a poll at all, let alone by 10% means it is not even close, I assure you.

        So not to worry Joanne, be reassured, I am confident that number will continue to grow, rely on it.

      • carlosbeca says:

        Sorry Joanne but a majority is not 30% so I am not sure what you mean.
        It is true that 30% still support him but in a province like Alberta he can poop on people and he will still get those 30% that is the red neck nature of this province.

      • Carlos and GoinFawr: I think Joanne made a valid point when she said a majority (if one can call it that in our first past the post system) elected the UCP and 30% of Albertans continue to support them even after Kenney’s abysmal pandemic performance. This is astounding.
        However as GoinFawr said the NDP have a significant lead on the UCP in the polls and continue to out raise them in donations. This gives me tremendous hope that the UCP will be a one term and done party.
        Nothing would give me greater joy than to see Kenney slink back to Ottawa with his tail between his legs.

    • Dwayne says:

      Joanne M Helmer: I do not think for a second that the UCP were elected. There is telltale signs of this.
      https://www.elections.ab.ca/investigations/findings-decisions/administrative-penalties/
      This is the only way I can reply to you.

    • mikegklein says:

      Joanne makes an interesting point. There is a solid core base for UCP of approximately 30%. If they become bitterly divided as well, who knows how many of even those will stay away from voting. Majority – minority is also a little moot between elections with a majority government in the legislature. Will the UCP divide so sharply and bitterly that they hold a non-confidence volte on their leader and remove him? Who knows. In the meantime, perhaps just like the virus, we have to learn how to survive the situation, literally, I’m afraid.

  15. David Watson says:

    Great to see your blog back in my inbox Mrs Soapbox! Hope you and family had a good rest. Once again you took my random thoughts and laid them out in a razor sharp precision. I have no hope for the premier but the shallowness of the caucus and feebleness of the arguments to support this, as you said, immoral bauble is mind boggling. We can not forget this the next time.

    • Why thank you David! Good point about the shallowness of caucus. It took me 5 minutes to google the Colorado government website to see how “successful” Colorado’s $100/jab program really was. You’d think one of Kenney’s MLAs would have done this over the 2 day cabinet meeting wouldn’t you.
      At the press conference Kenney made another ridiculous argument in support of the $100 debit card. He said it would help the low income person who can’t afford the gas or a taxi to get to the local pharmacy for a jab. This makes no sense. To get the $100 the low income person has to go to the pharmacy, get the jab, go home, get online, submit proof of vaccination, sent it to the government and wait for his pre-loaded debit card to arrive. The money comes AFTER he gets the jab, not before. What’s Kenney saying, this low income person is a time traveler?

  16. jerrymacgp says:

    I, for one, have missed your cogent comments on current affairs here in Oilbertastan. I hope you had a safe, healthy & enjoyable break over this eventful summer.

    Labour Day today, and here in Oilbertastan, the essential health care workers that have been under such stress after 18 months at the pointy end of the pandemic, are under virtually unprecedented attack by this government. Comparisons have been drawn to the darkest days of the Ralph Klein era, when we were all told “take a five percent cut and save your jobs”, but we took a 5.3% cut and lost jobs anyway — as his government blew up one hospital in downtown Calgary, closed another in Edmonton, and sold another one in Calgary to the private sector. As a Registered Nurse and UNA Local President who lived through those dark days, I submit that this time is even worse — because none of that crap back in the 90s went on in the context of a GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

    We have staff shortages leading to bed closures & even Emergency Room closures, not just in the two big urban centres but in small cities and rural communities all over the province — this government’s voter base. We have surgeries being cancelled to make room for yet more COVID patients — including a Cardiac Rehab client of mine, an 85-year-old women with an extremely painful hip who needed a non-surgical heart valve replacement procedure to make herself fit for the hip replacement surgery she’s been waiting over a year for. She had the heart procedure done a couple of months ago, and her hip replacement had been scheduled for two weeks from now — but all elective surgeries have now been cancelled. So she gets to continue to suffer, because too many people — including this government — won’t do the right thing.

    We have a health care system whose staff have been going flat out for a year & a half. Let’s not forget, even when we’ve seen case count and hospitalization statistics subside at the end of each “wave” of the pandemic, those of us inside the system haven’t really gotten any respite. Those statistics only document the beginning of each patient’s trajectory. For every ICU admission that leads to recovery, there is a prolonged period of post-ICU convalescence and rehabilitation, even without considering the phenomenon of “long COVID”. Then there’s the upsurge in demand for care for non-COVID patients, as pent-up demand for non-emergency care, on hold during each “wave”, kicks in.

    In the midst of all this, AHS is seeking a 5% cut in monetary compensation, and significant rollbacks and takeaways in collective agreement provisions that date back decades. We can’t know how much of this was actually hatched in the Calgary office tower which houses AHS corporate headquarters, and how much in Minister Shandro’s, Minister Toews’, or Premier Kenney’s office, because of their “Public Sector Employers Act” [Statutes of Alberta, 2019 Chapter P-40.7], which allows the government to give AHS & the other health care employers secret directives to take certain stances on their collective bargaining process.

    Click to access P40P7.pdf

    The bottom line, this Labour Day, is this: this UCP government hates workers. Their actions can lead to no other conclusion.

    • Thank you Jerrymacgp. Your comments are bang on. My daughter is a nurse as is my neighbour. The stories they tell are mind boggling. My Twitter feed is full of stories about nurses being pulled out of neonatal care to work overtime in ICU. Their pain is palpable.
      There is something horribly messed up with a government that craters the healthcare system by opening up too soon and too fast, then complains it can’t open surge beds because it can’t find enough healthcare workers; a government that complains the nurses are overpaid, then recruits contract nurses at almost double the top hourly rate of Alberta nurses.
      And today Jason Copping issued a Labour Day press release thanking “those who have continued working to provide critical services to Albertans and keep our economy running.” His thank you reminded me of Kenney’s thank you to the 2.6 million Albertans who got the jab just before he offered $20 million to those who refused to get their shot and were responsible for plunging Alberta into a healthcare crisis.

  17. Kathy says:

    Is there a way to create an independent vaccine passport – perhaps issued by the Red Cross or agency sworn to confidentiality? Or time for the feds to step forward and offer this so the passport can be accepted nationally and internationally?

    • That’s an interesting question Kathy. I don’t think the feds can step forward with a passport that can be used within the province because healthcare is a provincial responsibility and Kenney would go berserk. He’s also said Alberta won’t share its information with the feds for the federal passport (I think we’ll have to send our health information to the feds ourselves, assuming that is possible).
      As far as an independence agency doing it, I don’t know what that would cost or how well accepted that would be.
      So until Kenney gets a brain we’ll be stuck with what Shandro called a “convenient paper card” issued by AHS (God knows when) and the QR code thing-y that can be put on your phone (again God knows when), Until this happens we’ll be carting around the paper documents we got from the pharmacy or a photo of our My Alberta health page which shows all our vaccinations.
      The snag with all of this is unless Kenney makes vax passports mandatory, we’ll continue to be surrounded by idiots who refuse to get vaccinated but insist restaurants, cinemas, etc, can’t bar them from entry. In their narcissistic world, we have to accommodate them, they don’t have to accommodate us.

  18. GoinFawr says:

    Even at the best of times you need a valid driver’s license to prove that you are, and continue to be, responsible enough to operate a motor vehicle without being a constant, looming threat to everyone else on or near public roadways/spaces.

    Vaccine passports operate on an analogous principle, with the following critical difference: they are TEMPORARY, only necessary for as long as a minority of selfish lunatic fringe keep a pandemic alive and mutating.

    • Yes, excellent analogy GoinFawr. My kids had to present vaccination records when they went to university in the states. We were not allowed to apply for our green cards without proof of vaccination for a swack of illnesses. Nurses have to be vaccinated against many diseases as a condition of employment. This is not a new concept. And yet Kenney freaks out because, well, I don’t know why. “Freedom!!!”???

      • GoinFawr says:

        Antivaxxing Joe Rogan acolytes are free to eat horse paste while they continue to incubate and then spread the mutations keeping this pandemic alive.

        Click to access effects-of-ivermectin-therapy-on-the-sperm-functions-of-nigerian-onchocerciasis-patients.pdf

        The conclusion of that study:

        “We observed significant reduction in the sperm counts and sperm motility of the patients tested. On the morphology there was significant increase in the number of abnormal sperm cells. This took the forms of two heads, double tails, white (albino) sperms and extraordinarily large heads. It is suspected that the above alterations in the already determined parameters of the patients’ sperm cells could only have occurred as a result of their treatment with ivermectin”

        So it very negatively affects the morphology (two head, no tail, two tails), motility, and count of the little guys, 85% of the time.

        And that’s after taking the HUMAN version of the drug. YEEhaw!

        ps
        Welcome back Susan! Missed you!

      • Carlos says:

        Well if it reduces fertility for males than it is no so bad that Jason Kenney supporters are the ones using it. We do not need any more clones of that species.

  19. joan farkas says:

    Well said as usual Susan. Jason Kenney is a scourge on Alberta

  20. JCurrie says:

    Missed you Susan…hope you had the “best summer ever” but expect, unless you were far away from Alberta in a safe place, that didn’t happen. I have only lived in Alberta for a few years ..came to help out with family. I have been shocked at the incompetence, corruption and cruelty of this gvt, all on full display during COVID. Ignoring data showing the inevitability of exponential growth, denying new science on transmission, disinterest and non-support for mask-wearing, rotten tracing, incompetent vaccine access, showing NO awareness of how to make this work and generally making AB the most unsafe place in Canada. I HAVE been impressed at the leadership shown by those on the front lines and wonder how long these people will be willing to stay with a gutted healthcare system. Some type of vaccine passport is inevitable, at some point when the healthcare system keeps crashing as it will. But I wonder if it will ever be enforced? Small thuggish groups have power to intimidate far beyond their numbers if they are enabled by even an unpopular govt. BTW love the comments on this blog…thank you.

    • Carlos says:

      JCurrie
      I am not surprised you love the comments on this blog because from the post by Susan to all the subsequent comments, it is the true reality of this province as opposed to the post media papers that at best say nothing.

    • JCurrie. thank you. I was struck by your comment about living here for a few years and being shocked by the incompetence, corruption and cruelty on full display during covid.
      It reminded me that we’ve been stewing in the UCP’s toxic governance for so long we’ve almost (but not quite) forgotten it doesn’t have to be this way.
      We’ve in a constant state of red alert, some of us are flagging (that’s why I needed the summer off). But it’s fall. We need to regroup because its going to get worse.
      I have to hand it to the grassroots groups that have popped up to fill the information void to help us get through this. Groups like ABVaxHunters and ABBedHunters, and people like Dr Joe Vipond are outstanding advocates for the rest of us.
      PS the comments on this blog are great, aren’t they!

      • JCurrie says:

        Yes, as a new observer of the AB scene, I think poor governance has gone on so long that things have become normalized ..the bar has been set so low. Also, there is far too much to object to , many of the rip-offs have been done in secret AND there is a lack of funded civil society groups to take leadership roles…that sector maybe never existed here but still operates in BC and some other provinces. I still am shocked when I look at the stats saying that Alberta is the richest province…perhaps #2 right now. You would never know that based on the provincial narrative and its poor me stance. The wealth has evidently not been redistributed or reinvested in the province and cities. What Albertans do as volunteers is absolutely awesome but it is a tough fight. I appreciate this blog to help me see the other narrative.

  21. Guy says:

    Great to have you back again Susan. I hope that your summer break was as enjoyable as possible. You obviously didn’t allow any rust to develop on your analytical skills and writing talent while you were away. This was an excellent post. Thank you.

    If nothing else, it seems to me that this gift card policy is more-or-less consistent with the UCP’s pandemic response from the beginning which I believe has been guided by asking themselves the question “What is the absolute least that we can do so that people can’t say we’re not doing anything?” Perhaps the least astonishing aspect of this farcical policy is that the UCP are now resorting to bribery as a means to resolve a public health crisis.

    • Guy, thank you so much.
      I couldn’t have summed up our situation any better myself. Alberta has the lowest immunization rates, the highest case rates, and its healthcare system is about to collapse. Kenney will go down in history as the most incompetent uncaring leader this province has ever had. Quite a legacy for the man who would be king.

  22. Karen says:

    Thank you so much for such a fantastic write-up. I fully agree with your opinion. Now we just need Jason Kenney to listen to Albertans who want a vaccine passport!!

  23. Claudette Whiting says:

    I check in to Susan’s blog to hear a voice of sanity, and feel a moral and ethical vibe.
    I so miss these in our UCP.

    THANK YOU ALL for sparking hope.

  24. Carlos says:

    Cannot do a reply with Word press today so this is a reply to GoinFawr

    Well if it reduces fertility for males than it is no so bad that Jason Kenney supporters are the ones using it. We do not need any more clones of that species.

  25. carlosbeca says:

    Well finally it posted the two messages I posted – I apologize

  26. Carlos says:

    Here is an article that I think tells the story in our province

    https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2021/09/07/Political-Parasite-Invades-Alberta/

  27. Carlos says:

    So now they silently dropped the 3% cut in the negotiations with the nurses
    what a bunch of Morons

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