Kenney’s 'Trumpian' narrative that COVID-19 is a disease of the elderly will lead to more infections and deaths

“This is the worst kind of message to be sending to Albertans as they return to work,” says AFL

EDMONTON – Not only are Premier Jason Kenney’s comments about COVID-19 only killing the elderly ghoulish and cruel, they’re also dead wrong, says the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

“Neither of the two workers from the Cargill meat packing plant who died from COVID-19 were in their 80s", said Gil McGowan. “They were otherwise healthy, middle-aged Albertans who died because their employer and the government regulators didn’t take this disease seriously enough."

McGowan says Kenney is tearing a page from the playbook being used by American president Donald Trump and a number of Republican governors who are using misleading language and slippery political talking points to downplay the risks of re-opening the economy and sending people back to work.

McGowan pointed to a Twitter thread posted yesterday by Andy Slavitt, who led the roll-out of “Obamacare” under former U.S. president Barack Obama.

Slavitt said: “COVID-19 is a disease of the middle-aged in some ways more than even of the elderly. As we open up and go back to work, it’s possible we’ve missed something important – the danger to many of the returning 50-64 year-olds.”

“What we saw last night in the Legislature was an example of what Jason Kenney is best at: crafting political narratives", said McGowan. “He repeatedly said that COVID-19 was largely a disease of the elderly. And he repeatedly referred to it as a type of influenza. These are not slips of the tongue. He is trying to build a Trumpian narrative that is at odds with the science. And he needs to be called out.”

McGowan says Kenney’s narrative is dangerous because it will give people a false sense of security as they return to work.

“The science says that we’re not out of the woods yet and that we need to continue to be cautious and vigilant in terms of following the guidance of public health officials in both public spaces and workplaces. I’m afraid our Premier’s Trumpian narrative - which says that this is no worse than the flu and only a danger to the elderly - is going to lead to infections and deaths that could have been avoided.”

“This is the worst kind of message to be sending to Albertans as they return to work”, concluded McGowan.

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