Despite acknowledging the fact that healthcare is a provincial jurisdiction, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is pressuring the federal government to intervene in Alberta as the situation grows dire.
In a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister of Health Patty Hajdu, Jagmeet Singh, along with Edmonton MPs Heather McPherson and Blake Desjarlais, criticized Alberta premier Jason Kenney's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It is with the utmost urgency," Singh writes, "that we write to you to request emergency support for the people of Alberta as the province copes with a disastrous fourth wave of COVID-19 and a provincial government who is either unwilling or unable to implement public health regulations that will prevent unnecessary deaths, increased rates of infection with the very real risk of variant development, and the unprecedented and massive collapse of our cherished public health system."
He points out that intensive care units across Alberta "are on the very real point of collapse with a shortage of beds, healthcare workers, and medical equipment such as ventilators."
Singh goes on to claim that Alberta has not yet instituted a vaccine passport, suggesting that it will soon become the responsibility of the federal government to step in and ensure Albertans are protected. While the province's proof of vaccination system currently only requires one dose to gain entry, according to the Edmonton Journal as of October 25, proof of both doses will be mandatory.
"We recognize," Singh concludes, "that health is predominantly a provincial jurisdiction but, considering the dearth leadership shown by Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Government, we implore the federal government to use the tools at its disposal to protect Albertans."
Following the decision to lift all public health restrictions on July 1, Alberta has seen a spike in COVID cases unparalleled elsewhere in Canada. The province's hospitals have been pushed to their capacity with COVID patients. It has been reported that other medical procedures have been postponed or cancelled due to the increase in COVID-related hospitalizations. One man even had his brain tumour surgery cancelled.
Since the responsibility of healthcare falls at the feet of provinces, not the federal government, action will have to be taken by Premier Kenney if the situation is to improve.