Government of Alberta to table report on COVID data next month

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has long challenged the efficacy and long-term effects of government mandates on household incomes, the economy and mental health. She previously called the unvaccinated Albertans the 'most discriminated against group' she had seen in her lifetime.

Government of Alberta to table report on COVID data next month
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The Government of Alberta is expected to table a review of pandemic-era health data next month after condemning “freedom-busting” mandates for nearly two years.

Led by Dr. Gary Davidson, a Red Deer physician who accused the province of exaggerating the impact of COVID-19 on hospitals, Alberta secretly organized a task force to offer recommendations on better managing future pandemics.

It was quietly established in late 2022, with few details released to the public since its inception.

The former chief of emergency medicine at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre claimed hospital admission numbers were overblown and further manipulated to justify public health restrictions during the fourth wave.

Alberta Health Services rejected those accusations as false.

Nevertheless, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith valued Davidson’s "contrarian perspective."

"I needed somebody who was going to look at everything that happened with some fresh eyes and maybe with a little bit of a contrarian perspective because we've only ever been given one perspective," she told reporters on Tuesday.

"I left it to [Davidson] to assemble the panel with the guidance that I would like to have a broad range of perspectives."

The province will receive the final report next month with Smith promising to disclose its findings to the public.

When asked about the task force’s secrecy compared to the Manning panel, Smith replied: "We wanted them to do their work."

According to a Leger poll commissioned by Rebel News in November 2022, 73% of United Conservative voters supported COVID amnesty for pastors and small businesses, compared to 86% of NDP voters who supported prosecuting those charged.

Although Smith could not give amnesty to those charged under the Public Health Act for violating COVID health measures, the premier has long challenged the efficacy and long-term effects of government mandates on household incomes, the economy and mental health.

"I don't think I've ever experienced a situation where a person was fired from their job or not allowed to watch their kids play hockey or visit a loved one in long-term care or the hospital," Smith told reporters on October 11, 2022. At the time, she called unvaccinated Albertans the "most discriminated against group" she had seen in her lifetime.

According to the Fraser Institute, public lockdowns devastated the economy and are considered a "radical and untried social policy."

"Ultimately, estimates of the benefit of lockdowns in terms of lives saved were made based on data. Analysts used many procedures to identify the causal effect of lockdowns," reads the essay COVID-19: The Lessons We Should Have Learned.

"All lockdown efforts amounted to almost nothing," added the Institute, who could not provide an estimate of these costs.

The Government of Alberta pledged to improve future responses to health emergencies following an apology for the "freedom-busting" health restrictions of former Premier Jason Kenney.

Review chair Preston Manning, who also criticized the COVID mandates, proposed a series of recommendations to Alberta Premier Danielle Smith last November 15 after consulting health experts and public stakeholders.

"Reject provincewide school closures as a policy option in responding to a provincewide public emergency, except in the most exceptional of circumstances, and then only for the shortest possible period of time," reads a government release at the time.

"The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting global turmoil was unprecedented," said Manning. "Alberta, like the rest of the world, had to make decisions quickly and with limited, changing and even conflicting information."

Although the panel did not include an overall inquiry into the government’s pandemic response, it struck a balance between protecting residents from harm and defending their Charter Rights.

"Amend the Alberta Bill of Rights and Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Health Professions Act to protect the rights and freedoms of all Albertans, including workers and healthcare professionals, and the freedom of expression during public emergencies," the report recommended.

United Conservative delegates last November 4 notably opposed the public disclosure of private medical information by employers, businesses, and healthcare providers.

Two days prior, the province tabled Bill 6, the Public Health Amendment Act, to ensure decisions made during states of public health emergencies do not undermine Charter Rights.

"There are valuable lessons we learned from the Alberta government's response to the COVID-19 public health emergency," Smith told reporters.

"We must apply those lessons to strengthen our management of future public health crises, and the panel's recommendations will be key," she said.

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