Kenney’s COVID plan is “inaction masquerading as action,” says AFL

Kenney is putting us on the path to becoming Canada’s North Dakota

EDMONTON – The so-called “bold steps” announced late yesterday afternoon by Premier Kenney are nothing more than half-measures that will do nothing to stop our hospitals from being overwhelmed or our economy from being dragged under by the escalating pandemic, says the president of Alberta’s largest workers’ group.

“The Premier’s speech to the province last night would have been laughable if the stakes weren’t so high,” says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

“It’s clear our Premier is in the thrall of an ideological delusion that prevents him seeing the crisis unfolding in front of him or hearing the urgent calls for action coming from health care workers, public health experts and economists from across the province and around the world. We are all going to pay the price for his hubris.”

Like thousands and thousands of other concerned Albertans, McGowan mocked the Premier’s new measures, describing them as “inaction masquerading as action.”

“It will now be illegal for people to have gatherings in their homes; but people can still gather in malls, casinos, bars, bingo halls and churches. How does this make any sense?” McGowan asked. “And he’s making masks mandatory in Edmonton and Calgary, cities where municipal authorities had already passed mandatory mask bylaws weeks ago. How is this anything other than political theatre?”

McGowan also raised questions about the Premier’s purported concern for workers, the poor and constitutional freedoms.

“His crocodile tears were almost too much to bear. He says he’s worried about workers and the poor. But this is the same guy who just finished cutting the minimum wage, gutting worker rights and cutting support for people with disabilities. At the same time, he says he’s worried about constitutional freedoms. But this is the same guy who has curtailed the free speech rights of protesters and undermined the association rights of union members.”

McGowan even questioned the veracity of Kenney’s anecdotes.

“Does anyone really believe that Kenney spent the weekend calling frontline health care workers? Or that he had a conversation in a food court with a ‘refugee from Venezuelan socialism’ who asked him not to close down restaurants?”

McGowan says he stands by the detailed COVID-19 plan endorsed last week by the unions affiliated with the Alberta Federation of Labour, which calls for a lockdown, a province-wide mask mandate, a zero-COVID strategy and more than a dozen other measures.

“I’d love to be proven wrong, but I believe the plan announced by the Premier last night is doomed to failure,” concluded McGowan.

“The Premier is clearly wrong that his government has been doing a great job battling COVID-19: it’s their policies of inaction over the past five or six months that have gotten us here. He’s wrong that the main problem is social gatherings. He’s wrong that our health system still has excess capacity. And he’s wrong that “keeping the economy open” will be better for jobs and the economy, ignoring the fact that economic activity collapses when the virus rages. The approach being pursued by Premier Kenney is essentially the same approach pursued by Donald Trump and Republican governors south of the border. Sadly for us, the results are likely to be the same. After yesterday’s address, I fear we are on the way to becoming the North Dakota of Canada.”

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Ramona Franson
Director of Communications, AFL
rfranson@afl.org